The whole route is available here as a Google Earth kmz file. Just download and click to open the route in Google Earth (as long as you've got Google Earth on your computer).
All of the separate sections are available here to download and use to plan your own route. It's a good way to see the absolute emptiness of Mongolia and the magnificence of the Ile valley and the Tien Shan in China. The Altai and the Karakorums look pretty good too.
Posted by Simon Taylor
The second part is also available from here: http://www.blurb.com/user/store/yodod
Here's a film made using World Wind, Nasa's simulation software, of our route across the desert in Iran. We took 10 days cycling from Neyshabur to Yazd.
See here for more details. If you want to see this route in Google Earth just click here for the kmz file.
Iran - Crossing the desert from Simon Taylor on Vimeo.
Finally we reach the end. We’ve had our adventures and made loads of friends, especially in Iran, and over the last 12 months we’ve learned so much about the world, about different societies, cultures, languages, history and about how all these disparate people deal with life in the varied regions through which we’ve cycled. Mongolia, Pakistan and Iran were highlights but everywhere was interesting in it’s own way.
We’ve had time to reflect upon the things we’ve seen, to bore people with our experiences (they did make the mistake of asking) and increasingly to spend more and more time following the valiant attempts of the Iranian people to get the freedom that they all wish for and so deserve. ‘Where is their vote?’
We’re starting to crave bacon, sausages, different clothes, a little bit of consumerism and we miss our friends and family. We’re not really sure where home is so we’re off to England and then Canada before heading off to Dubai to teach there for two years.
The route guides should be good for a few years of cycling so feel free to make use of them, visa info changes constantly so make use of the Thorn Tree on Lonely Planet of you need more up to date info. Feel free to email us for information using the email link if you’re thinking about cycling anywhere along this route yourself and want advice. If you use the guides and they’re wrong then let us know and we’ll update them.
Thanks for reading and a huge thanks to all our friends who helped us while we’ve been away….Jules, Jo and Rob, you’re all absolute stars.
Simon Taylor and Isabelle Bedard June 2009turkeyontheroad
We’re at the end of our journey and have reached our final destination for this cycle ride. We’d always intended to get to Butterfly Valley and now we’re here it’s absolutely magic.
It’s changed, there are new tree houses, people here have changed but the valley is still beautiful.
I first discovered this place about 18 years ago and have been coming back every year or two to relax and switch off from the world of work in the UK.
About 25 years ago a farmer from one of the local village perched high up on the cliffs, sold the orange and lemon tree covered valley to a private person who promptly chopped down all the trees ready to develop the valley for mass tourism.
The end of the valley was (and still is) a breeding site for thousands of butterflies and luckily the land was then bought by a co-operative of Turks with the sole idea of preventing it from being developed. They managed to get the land protected by law and each year one of the co-op runs a small eco friendly camp and restaurant in the valley for a few months in the summer. You can camp on the beach or stay in wooden ‘tree houses’ but no-one can build any permanent structures so nothing much changes, especially when huge storms destroy most of the wooden huts every winter.
With all the rain that Turkey has had this spring, the valley is lush and more beautiful than ever, the waterfalls at the end of the valley are poring with water and climbing up to the top waterfall has become even more exciting.
Here’s some more photos from in the valley and also from George House and some of the coastal paths above the valley:turkeyontheroad
It’s easy to visit and it’s also possible to sleep in hotels built into the rocky towers which are everywhere and make up large parts of the villages in the area.
Several million years ago there was a big volcano in the area which one day suddenly exploded, sending billions of tonnes of ash and millions of hard rocks shooting up into the air. All this stuff eventually landed and created a flat landscape of ash littered with smaller hard rocks. Eventually the ash hardened to make a rock called Tufa. (Ari: tufa is like the rock your mum uses to carve sculptures)
People from the outside called the towers ‘Fairy Chimneys’ because they thought that fairies lived in them.
They had rooms where pigeons lived in little holes in the walls and the people collected the pigeon poo to use as fertiliser on their gardens, where they grew grapes and fruit.
About 1000 years ago all the Christians in the area were threatened by Muslim invaders and they even built underground cities that they hid in while the armies marched over the top looking for them. Instead of having normal churches they built their churches into the cliffs or underground where no-one could find them and destroy them.
Here’s some more pictures of some of the fairy chimneys and the valleys in the area, the best bit about it is that you can just explore and climb around inside the chimneys looking for tunnels and undiscovered rooms:turkeyontheroad
This summit is much more famous and more often visited by tourists, as it is an absolutely spectacular sight. Perched on the top of the mountain is a 2000 year old pyramid and on two sides there are flattened terraces covered in giant statues looking out over the rising and setting suns. The whole summit complex wasn’t ‘discovered’ until 1881 when a German engineer employed by the Ottomans to study transport routes found the summit. It wasn’t even excavated until 1953.
The pyramid, terraces and statues were ‘created’ by Antiochus I Epiphanes in about 60-40BC as a tribute to his god and as a way of ensuring that he would join with ‘Ahura Masda’ in the afterlife. Ahura Masda was the name given to the ‘One God’ of the Zoroastians, the first Monotheistic religion, from which all the other Monotheisms have their roots. There are inscriptions on some of the rocks that suggest that Antiochus is buried under the pyramidal mound on the summit but no one has ever found the burial chamber.
For our route Westwards, we wanted to head up to the summit on the Southern road and then head down from the North to Malatya 100km away, and had read in the Lonely Planet that it was possible to cross from one side to the other. This proved no to be the case so we ended up carrying our bicycles and bags up to the summit from the road 700m away and then dropped down to the Northern road.
By the time we got our bikes there at 7am the whole summit was deserted as all the tourists had got cold and gone down. We had the whole place to ourselves and our bicycles. It was absolutely spectacular!
Here’s a brief slideshow:
If you really like a challenge, a 110km section with nearly 3000m of ascent and descent between Karadut and Malatya.
It can be done over 3 days although it would be more pleasurable and probably healthier to do it over 4 or 5 days and this would give you more time to soak up the amazing scenery of this part of South Eastern Anatolia.
The Nemrut Dag summit is a highlight although with no road over the summit you will have to carry your bike and panniers for about 1km from one side of the mountain to the other.
Anyway if you fancy a go, here’s a route profile:
Cycling in Turkey - Diyarbakir to Malatya via Nemrut Dag - 271km Petrol Station Siverek Diyarbakir Ferry Boat Summit Cafe Gunes Hotel Shop Tepehan Shop / Restaurant Narince Karadut Hotel / Cafe Petrol Station Malatya © Simon Taylor 2009 http://hk-to-uk.blogspot.com
And here’s full route information:
km 0 4 47 70 76 84 86 88 Cycling in Turkey – Diyarbakir to Malatya via Nemrut Dag (271 km) Diyarbakir (660m) ride up hill, back up the same road you came down to reach the old town Junction, turn left following signs for Sans Urfa Petrol station - there have been several up to this point, mostly up to about 30km. This is the top of the small climb (1050m) Gravel pit opportunity for camping Petrol station (960m) The top of the hill Starting to enter Siverek, Restaurant / Cafes on the right Urfa road goes left, road into Siverek heads straight on. Keep following this road onto cobbles (770m) Hotels on both sides at bottom of hill, Feran Palace, Otel Mercan, Otel Ayyildiz, all nice. The whole town seems very friendly and relatively prosperous. Many cafes, restaurants etc. To leave town go left and immediately right to cut across to another large road. Just say Feribot! Reach larger road, turn right Reach roundabout and turn left on to the Feribot road. You are now leaving Siverek town Small lake, possible hidden camping Valley to right with options for hidden camping and possible water Ferry Boat. Restaurants on both sides, easy to camp there. (560m) Boats are free for foot passengers nut make sure you get the one that just joins up with the Kahta road, don't go to Adiyaman!! The ferries go every hour from 8am until 9pm Shop Narince village (830m). Go right through the petrol station on the right to cut through onto the Nemrut Road which is signposted (after a while) as 23km from Narince. You can't see Nemrut yet, it is behind the hills infront of you Road climbs up to 965m and then drops down another spectacular valley, through rocky and completely different scenery Low point (820m). Go over bridge You are entering Karadut, you will see some places to stay. Turn left up the valley that leads to Nemrut Dag. Signposted 13km Karadut Pansiyon (1045m) We camped here for 10TL and the next morning they gave us a lift to the top (30TL for a vehicle) We did not cycle the 1100m up in 11km. IT would be fine but slow and there are plenty of places to camp higher up. You could even camp near the top, where they have water and also a cafe. The road up climbs very steeply and also has some downhill sections which would be very frustrating. It is beautiful up there. There is also the option to cycle 5km further and sleep at Cesme pansiyon, which would make the following day easier. Summit cafe and car park. From here it is about 700m walking to the summit. If you want to go to Malatya you will need to push and carry your bike and panniers all the way to the Pyramid and statues on the summit. This is hard work but can be done in about 30-45 minutes. The summit. The track to Malatya and the Gunes hotel can also be seen below you from the Eastern (sunrise) terrace. The track is dirt for a while. Gunes Hotel (1930m) This is where the tar road starts. Great places to camp all around here. With water flowing from small and large streams. Big descent starts (1980m) Very steep road, your hands will ache, it is switchbacks all the way and in some places the tar is less than good Village of Buyukoz starts Hotel on bend at lowest point (1010m) Tepehan – Shops and cafe (1400m); The road climbs 50m before a long descent Camping park. Lots of trees, toilets, places to camp. No idea about price. There are also plenty of places in this section for camping. The descent is steep 89 90 95 108 124 128 145 149 152 153 155 156 167 168 171 173 182 183 196 200 209 214 227 231 233 235 243 245 Bridge over river at low point (840m) Road joins old highway at a small village (1090m) Shops and restaurants. There was one shop on the ascent but it wasn't open on Sunday when we cycled up. Cafe /Shop / Restaurant The very top (1900m) Just before here there are places to camp, and also just after the top there is a water fountain by the road and some hidden areas just over the hill Road flattens and climbs a bit (1810m) Descent really gets going (1835m) 1360m, most of the drop has now been done. The gradient from here is less steep. There is a lake and possible camping around the shore, but you would have to ask permission as it is fenced. Over the bnext few km there are lots of orchards where you could hide your tent if it is getting late. Road joins the main road (1040m) Petrol Station Lowest point and then gentle climb (940m) Highest point before Malatya (1055m) Turn left at traffic lights, signposted Museum. Turn right almost immediately to join the main road into Malatya which initially runs parallel to the highway. This is now downhill all the way Inonu Square with the mosque and hotels behind the mosque (980m) 250 254 258 262 265 271 Information about this route This is an outrageous route choice, but great fun. It involves you carrying your bike over the summit of the mountain to get from the Southern to the Northern side. All the climbs and descents from Karadut to Malatya are very steep, nearly always involving climbing gradients of about 100m per km (1:10) The scenery is spectacular. The best time to be on the top of Nemrut is after sunrise when all the people have gone away because they have got cold. Unless you've not seen a sunrise before then the actual sunrise itself is nothing special. Don't bother being there much before 6.30am. Another option for the summit is to see sunset from a base near the Gunes hotel. Timetable for an enjoyable experience: Day 1 Cycle to the delightful town of Siverek, stay in a hotel Day 2 Cycle to Karadut Day 3 Cycle to top and then stay at Gunes Hotel (or camp nearbye) Day 4 Cycle to Malatya but be prepared for a long steep day Other options are to get a lift to the top, camp near Gunes hotel, sleep in Buyukoz's hotel at the bottom of the descent from Nemrut or camp near the top of the climb before you descend to Malatya. Look at the Route Profile for more ideas. The journey across the back roads between Nemrut and Malatya is viciously steep and involves lots of climbing. Do not underestimate it. © Simon Taylor 2009 http://hk-to-uk.blogspot.com
The present Nemrut Dag mountain (2950m) was 1500m taller, and about 6000 years ago exploded creating the lake and a huge crater inside the volcano.
There are now several crater lakes and a whole microclimate in the crater and interestingly for crazy cyclists there’s a 13km road that takes you all the way to the rim, climbing about 1000m from the main road.
Despite the warnings that the road was closed because of snow, we decided to have a go at camping on the rim. It was a bit hairy getting up to there and we did have to carry our bikes and bags up the final 100m to get to the actual rim because of landslides and a huge icey slope blocking the way. Once we were there it was definitely worth it.
We even attempted to get down to the crater although there was really too much snow to make the journey safe enough to do on our bikes, as we discovered later.
We now head off to another Nemrut Dag, about 500km West, with a pyramid on the top and loads of carved heads…hence the ‘Nemrut Dag Squared’ title
Here’s a slideshow:If you want more information there is a route profile here: Route Profile turkeyontheroad
Most cyclists travelling to or from Van take the Northern route and avoid Diyarbakir. We think this is a mistake as there is a direct route from Malatya over Nemrut Dag (with the heads on the top) to Diyarbakir, admittedly this is a little harder, but so much more spectacular on a bike. If you’re interested in cycling this way in either direction then make the most of these two guides:
If you want to cycle the 385km between Van and Diyarbakir then download and print out the following document:
km 0 20 30 43 51 53 Cycling from Iran to Turkey – Orumiyeh to Van (293 km) Orumiyeh (1400m) We stayed at Reza Hotel, friendly, cheap and central. From here head back to Roundabout and take road NW, signposted 'Turkey border' Village with shops (1400m) and then road starts to climb The top – great camping everywhere (1825m) Iran checkpoint / Shops / Village Turkish supermarket on right in the middle of nowhere Serou Border – Iran side very simple – just a stamp in passport, no forms, customs check. Bank on Iranian side for changing money..OK rates. Turkey side, visa available from Border official in small office, very easy process. In May time change was 1½ hours. The day becomes very long Small village + Shops Small steep track on right to completely hidden camping area 50m from road. Stream flowing and flat grass Tunnel (labelled 2100m but actually 2200m) Yuksekova (1870m) – Major town. Main street at 94km on left. Supermarkets etc Footbridge, Old-road bridge to left to good camping, followed immediately by a tunnel for the new road (1700m) Bagisli (1600m). Army checkpoint, shops Village with shops Village with shops (1835m) One shop on the right has a cafe inside it makes good food Village with shops (1890m) Baskale starts (2240m) Petrol station on left has Hotel above the restaurant, 20TL/night. Hotel not signposted. The river at the bottom (2030m) followed by a steep climb back up to the plateau (2120m) Pit on left for camping Army Checkpoint and junction (2030m)– go straight up the valley following the river Shops and restaurants on the right (2225m) The top. (2770m) Just below communication towers. (Labeled 2730m) Quarry for camping if you have water (2465m) This is in middle of a long descent Gas station / Shops (2050m) Guzelsu. Castle, plenty of cafes/shops etc. Good one at petrol station as you enter town. Road has dropped from reservoir to 1910m Petrol Station, cafe Junction at edge of Gurpinar,( 1800m) turn right for Van. Edge of town ahead of you. From here the road climbs steeply up switchbacks Spring on corner with seating area. Could get water and camp on the top. The Top (2260m) labeled 2230m. Great views of Lake Van. Good camping up track to left. From here a fantastic long descent to Van, one flattish section near the top. Van starts. The road you are on becomes Cumhuriyet Caddesi and enters town from the south eventually reaching the roundabout near the mosque. Roundabout near mosque (1755m) 54 74 76 92-98 126 130 139 148 155 175 176-177 Centre of town (2290m) Road drops steeply as you leave town 182 189 190 199 210 216 227 232 250 265 270 275 277 290 293 203-208 Good camping opportunities up side valleys on either side. Plenty of water. (2385m-2600m) 237-248 Road follows edge of reservoir hovering around 1990m all the time. © Simon Taylor 2009 http://hk-to-uk.blogspot.com
If you fancy a side trip up the splendid Nemrut Dag volcano (13km one way) then you might also want the route profile as well, although it would come in useful for the Van-Diyarbakir route as well:
Cycling in Turkey - Van to Diyarbakir (385km) + Side trip up Nemrut Dag (13km) Nemrut Dag Junction Bitlis Camping Tatvan Restaurant Village Cafe / Shop Restaurant Kozluk Village Petrol Silvan Petrol Petrol Diyarbakir Nemrut Dag Volcano Ski Lift Rim Village Junction on main road Van to Diyarbakir This is straight forward cycling. There are hotels in Van, Tatvan, Bitlis, Silvan and Diyarbakir. Plenty of wild camping higher up and you can also camp behind most petrol stations and use their toilets. Nemrut Dag Volcano This is an excellent detour if you have the legs for it. The road is open from mid May (if you're lucky) until late September. There is a village 4km up, a ski station which may be open for maintenance and can give you water at 8km. If there is still snow on the mountain then camping on the rim is a good option. There is also drinkable water down in the huge crater at one of the lakes. There are loads of places to camp down in the crater if you can find the potable water source, otherwise take your own. The drop into the crater is about 150m and the track is good unless it has rained or their is still snow around. The top is about 300m walk higher than the rim - a short 45 minute walk on an obvious trail. turkeyroadguide
- Cycling Guides
On the Road
People we met
- Reel Earth - UK
- Mr B's Place (Nepal)
- James & Tracey - UK
- Erin & Sam - US
- Vincent - Taiwan
- Biciclown - Spain
- Reto - Swiss
- Rita and Chris - Irani/Swiss
- Frank van Rijn - Holland
- 8 Bags Full
- Bike China
- Tim Barnes
- Betzgi's Cycle Tours
- Fred Ferchaux
- Mountainbike Mongolia
- Yak Site
- Bike Tibet
11,894 km of cycling and only 4 punctures, 1 broken frame, 1 broken wheel rim, 6 broken spokes, 2 broken pedals, 1 broken gear cable, 1 broken chain
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