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Enter the Bliss

Isolated from the mainland for millions of years, Yemen’s Socotra holds scenery unlike any other place on Earth, literally. This outstanding biodiversity compelled UNESCO to declare it a World Heritage Site, and Times magazine to dub it
the Arabian Galapagos. We are the first team of motorbike explorers to ride on the most alien looking place on Earth.  We’ll test our skills on the majestic Haghier mountains, take in 360° panoramas in the shade of the upside-down umbrellas of Dragon-Blood trees, and ride through canyons hiding freshwater pools. We’ll scuba-dive to dozens of shipwrecks, or unwind on white sandy beaches, snorkeling in turquoise crystal waters, home to unique underwater flora
and fauna. Please tread carefully. To end it all in style, we’re embarking you on the first hot-air balloon flight over the island, where at sunset, a breathtaking paradise will be at your feet.
But please, treat it all with the utmost respect and care.

Difficulty Difficulty
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Difficulty

We have a very strict leave no one behind policy, and the majority of the terrain is not very arduous, but some challenging bits can be expected. Especially if we look for them. Some experience on off-road is required.

Length/Altitude Altitude
MAX 0 KMs MIN 0 KMs

Length

Being an exploratory trip, this is an approxmation based on 4x4 scouting.
Altitude is between sea-level and 1200m.
* 250-350 miles.

Weather Weather
MAX 0 o MIN 0o Celsius*

Weather

In a word: Sunny. In two words: sunny&hot. Luckily there is the sea and a bunch of oasiseses to cool down.
* 77°-100° F.

Location

Socotra is a place that seems to hover on the edge of the imagination, a true natural oddity. Located at the crossing of the powerful Indian Ocean and the gentle Arabian Sea, it is one of the most fascinating places on Earth. 18 million years of biological isolation left behind a truly unique ecosystem where flora and fauna embrace bizarre shapes.

The Motorbikes

There is nothing quite like the feeling of freedom and possibility you get when riding an enduro into the unknown. You can do anything, go anywhere, and sometimes be repaid with hidden treasures. Just keep an open mind, open heart, and open throttle. This bike has won more Enduro World Championships than any other, and it can take you there.

The rugged and unstoppable KTM 450EXC is undisputedly one of the most powerful enduro machines in its class. The combination of minimum weight and high-tech powerhouse made it a benchmark of its domain, and the answer for those seeking race-ready performance and playful handling over any terrain.
We’ll be riding these playful beasts the way they’re meant to be ridden: with no luggage, free to drift any curve, and jump any obstacle.

What to expect

We will be the first team to explore the island by motorbikes. From the east to the west and high up on the Diksam plateau, we will scour the island and try to unveil all its beauties. We’ll get dusty from head to toes and we’ll fight the heat of the Arabian sun, but the rewards will be plenty. From heavenly freshwater pools hidden in rugged crevasses, to the baffling forest of the Dragon Blood trees, from the thrilling rides on the exotic coastlines of the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean to the magnetising appearance of the Haghier mountains – Socotra is not a place like any other. You will get the chance to ride your bike for the first time while heading for the nearby Di Lishah beach where you will get to swim in warm turquoise waters and recover from the tiring flights. Our next destination will be a large lagoon where Greater flamingos, Little Egrets and Herons delight on shrimps and other invertebrates. Explore the highlands. Rough ride ahead The next day we'll head for the mountain area through the Ayaft Gorge – the greenest place of Socotra. Expect a deep narrow valley that soon widens up to lush vegetation, natural ponds and crystal clear swimming pools seasonally created by the powerful Monsoon showering the island each year.

The valley has its own micro-climate that is protected from the summer monsoons by the Skand Mountains – leaving the region full of lush vegetation almost all year long. Seasonal rivers are home to endemic species of crabs and dragonflies that are laying eggs in the freshwater pools. Tamarind and cucumber trees are ubiquitous here. Socotri sunbirds, sparrows starlings and hundreds of other species are all taking shelter in this prodigious region dominated by an unforgettable panorama of green trees, unique karstic formations and the all mighty Haghier Mountains. Abandoning the beaten path, we’ll head through narrow gravel roads for the small Socotri settlements hidden in the crevasses of the Valley – where most of the people don’t speak Arabic and have been conserving their own ways of living for centuries. These are the mountain Socotrans – descendants of the same people who started 2100 years ago the commerce with frankincense – the aromatic sap of different endemic species that brought fame and wealth to the Socotri people in ancient times. We’ll set camp next to one of the many freshwater pools and continue the exploration of the area. If luck crosses our way, we will be invited by cheerfull mountainards to taste a cup of local tea or sour goat milk.

A true oddity On our way to the southern part of the island, we will continue the exploration passing through the Fermhin forest on Diksam plateau. This unique and oddly shaped forest is home to Socotra’s famous symbol, the Dragon Blood Tree. We are now in one of the most spectacular places of the island, where the sun is heating the plateau but we’ll shelter under the upside down umbrellas of the Dragon Blood trees. You will sit on the verge of gorges that drop 700m vertically to the valley floors leaving behind lost worlds still untouched by human civilization. This is the Diksam Plateau – the true and only home of the Dragon Blood trees. During ancient times, the resin extracted from the barks of this tree was used by the Roman gladiators to heal the wounds, reduce the blood loss and boost the recovery of the immune system. Conquer the Ocean Coastline On the southern part of the island, be prepared to be blown away by the late afternoon Indian Ocean coastline.

The plateau will suddenly stop and you will be facing the endless view of the Indian Ocean torn apart by powerful currents washing pearly beaches. We’ll probably set camp on the Amok beach and head quickly for a sunset ride to Stero – home of the gracious and voluptuous white sanded dunes. Following the coastline, our next target will be crossing the island through the remote coast village of Mahfirhin and head back to Hadibou in time to dust away the clothes and appreciate the pleasures of a cosy bed, hot showers and air conditioning. Time to relax and enjoy a free day of riding before stepping into the next phase of the exploration and getting acquainted with the more gentle facet of the island and its Arabian seashores. Discover an aquatic paradise Situated at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and more powerful currents of the Indian Ocean, Socotra benefits of a unique combination of underwater flora and fauna which accurately brings it to the top list of the aquatic paradises for snorkelers and divers: coral reefs and shipwrecks are naturally populated with jackfish, reef sharks, parrotfish, moray eels, sting rays, sea urchins and baraccudas and – nowadays quite a rare sight – sea turtles! Welcome to the Dihamri Marine Reserve – one of best places on the island to admire the diversity of Socotra’s underwater heaven.

It’s your time to relax: swim, snorkel or dive through the coral reefs rich with sea life or even take a bath in one of the nearby hot water springs that find their way to the sea shores. Get pampered and enjoy the Socotri cuisine that will amaze with the diversity of fresh seafood. By sunset will be taking shelter in Hoq – the biggest cave of the island. An unforgettable sunrise Due to the karstic nature of the plateau and mountains, there are many cave systems on Socotra, however the Hoq cave offers a spectacular underground channel of 2.5 km of beautifully shaped stalactites and stalagmites covered by centuries old writings done by local dwellers and shipwrecked seafarers. With the huge mouth of the cave behind us, and the crystal blue ocean below our feet, you will be experiencing an unforgettable sunrise. Sea to highlands: long way home. Then, Erissel, the eastern extremity of the island. You are set for another thrilling encounter, this time with huge white sandy dunes – 200m high piled-up dunes set against the sheer rocks and brought up from the plateau by the Monsoon.

Beat the sun’s heat, climb the dunes and sandboard all way down – you will have the sea shores at your feet!   Next stop, the cape of Erissel, the island’s avant post in the Indian Ocean. From this unique point, the entire eastern and southern coastline will be visible – leaving you with the opportunity to delight on a scenery that is worth every drop of sweat you left behind on this island. On our way back to Hadibou, we will cross once more the island – this time through Homil Plateau, home to the second most important Dragon and Frankincense trees. You’ll witness again beautiful karstic formations, lush green vegetation, freshwater pools and Socotri villages next to ubiquitous date palms and finger mellets plantations. Crystal Clear lagoons and dolphins Leaving once more behind the capital city, we will be heading West to Qalansiah to indulge on one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet next to crystal water lagoons where stingrays get trapped each year after the Monsoon season and spinner dolphins patrol the shores.

It is time to abandon the motorbikes, bathe in the warm turquoise waters of the Detwah lagoon and take a sunset boat cruise along the cliffs of the western coast towards the breathtaking white sandy beaches of Sh’uab. You will be witnessing local people catching rays by spear and fishermen picking up oddly shaped fish out of the sea! If you are a passionate fisherman, Socotra is a fishing paradise. Accompanied by one of the many Socotri fishermen, we’ll take a fishing boat trip that will make your dreams come true. We will set camp on one of these idyllic beaches and you will feast again on delicious fresh sea food brought by local fishermen or even caught by you. Balloon ride over the island The last day will be our treat: fly over the island on a hot air balloon – a chance to fully take in all this exquisite corner of the Earth has to offer.

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