March 07, 2011

Struth! Fully Loaded Iraqi Bike Adventure


IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says a former UK soldier has put together a holiday that takes "adventure tourism" to new heights: its by motorbike through the rugged north of Iraq.

Steve Askin has the backing of a major British adventure-travel company, and has arranged for Iraqi police officers to accompany the riders. He's also put together his own staff of "local fixers" who'll be armed with AK47s, M4s and Glock pistols to ride ahead of the motorbike convoy to secure the route to be travelled through, and to keep guard over camp-tents at night.

The police and guards will also take care of such annoyances as not only bandits, but deadly snakes and scorpions that thrive in the region – although Askin admits there's nothing much they can do about the weather: daytime temperatures reach 40-degrees under cloudless skies.

Steve Askin has been working as a security consultant in Iraq since leaving the British Army six years ago and says his holidaying bikers will cover some 1500km in six days.

"People will say I'm crazy, but I've lived in this country for years and can't wait to show other foreigners just how beautiful it is", he says. "Biking through the mountains and villages is truly breathtaking. I can't think of anywhere else in the world that can top it".

And as well as the rugged terrain, extreme temperatures, bandits, snakes and scorpions, participants will end each day with a test section in which Steve Askin says "we'll leave the hard behind and take on the extra hard."

The trip is limited to ten bikers and will begin and end in Erbil. It will cost £3000 (about $4800) and can be booked through

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