Cycling from Turkey’s capital to the Iranian border

by tkos on September 28, 2012

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This is where the adventure is kicked up a notch and you need to start planning your route a little more carefully. The way I see it, you’ve got three options to get to Iran. You can either go along the coastal road of the Black Sea. I’m led to believe it is a beautiful and very green route but there are some mountain ranges to navigate through.

You can go the middle route which is a little more barren, less people, less tourists, less to see but pretty direct.

Or you can go the highly recommended for being beautiful, (by locals) southern part of Turkey near the Syria & Iraq borders and the much disputed Kurdistan region. Check with your embassy if this is advised before you go. As much as Westerners are not targets and the Kurds are famous for being friendly, the risk is getting caught in the crossfire, especially off the highways.

We opted for the middle route.

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 What we loved the most:

  • As not that many tourists (especially cyclists) venture into this region of Turkey, this is where you really start getting strange and inquisitive looks from locals. ALL of them friendly and suer helpful! People will literally stop you in the road and invite you to their home for the night. Use your judgement, but unless alarm bells are ringing, just go and do it! We had many amazing experiences with kind strangers that helped us out for a night when we had nowhere to stay. It truly was incredible! We ended up being invited to sleep in two separate mosques, a barn and a whole range of homes. Hotels are scarce along this route and the weather can be brutal. It’s awesome!
  • The barren lands of emptiness. It sounds a little strange to list this as a highlight, but there is something special about cycling through the middle of nowhere., with just the views from the mountains that you slowly ascend. You will reach an altitude of over 2000m on several occasions. It’s a little hard, but the views are worth it.

What was a stick in the spokes:

  • Although we heard about them a lot, we didn’t see them until ‘Dogubeyzit’, where children pick up rocks and throw them at you just after you refuse to give them money. It was a little disappointing to see. My advice now that I look back on it? Pick up some rocks first and throw them at the kids!
  • Dogs. Clever and cunning, they will attack in packs. We bought a couple of dog dazers but never used them as we then read that they send the dogs even more berserk! Simple tip though, as strange as it sounds, if a dog is chasing you just stop, get off your bike (ensure your bike is between you and the dog) and wait till the dog gets bored. Pick up a rock if you can also. This worked every time for us, especially after we quickly learnt that you cannot outrun them! Initially a little scary, you end up having a bit of fun with it.

What we didn’t, but should’ve done:

  • We cycled through late October into early November, completely miscalculating the weather. Having been under this deadline since we realised from September, we faced some pretty cold temperatures and cycled through snow on a number of occasions. What we would do differently is cycle a couple of months earlier.

What’s it worth?

  • You can’t spend a lot of money in this part of Turkey if you tried. There is just nothing to spend it on! Our records are a little hazy in this part, but I believe it to be less than £20 per day.

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TownKM'sNightsWhere we slept
Ankara06Couch Surf
Kirikalle771Hotel
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Erzincan713Hotel
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Erzurum912Couch Surf
Horasan841Local Kind Stranger
Eleskirt491Local Kind Stranger
Agri501CouchSurf
Diyadin621Hotel
Dogubeyazit431Couch Surf

 

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