Day 107-108: Covering ground in Turkey

16 Sep

We left Trabzon around midday, having spent the morning planning our route through the country. We’re aiming to cover 2500km in 2 weeks. It’s doable, but it will mean a few long days in order to have time to stop and enjoy some of Turkey’s highlights.

The ride was pretty straightforward for the first couple of hours – we just had to contend with on-going road improvements and heat at lower altitude. We’d plotted a route that took us off the highway and on to some back roads. The highway is all well and good when you just want to get somewhere, but it can be a real slog when it’s just long straights and constant traffic.

On the road south of Trabzon.


Rock formation.

We took the turn-off and followed a really pleasant country road through a couple of villages. Then after a while the road became a gravel track, climbing up through a pass around 2,200m. We hadn’t expected to be off road in Turkey, but it was worth it for the panoramic views.

The off-road track was slow going, so in the end we only covered 260km over about 4 hours riding.


Around 5pm we pulled into Erzincan, where we stopped to refuel ourselves and the bike. It’s a good thing food is cheap here, because petrol is eye-wateringly expensive. The going rate is around 5 lira per litre, which is $3.20 $NZ. It costs over $120 to fill the tank. Ouch.

We drove around for a while looking for a good place to camp, and eventually found a campground of sorts to stay in just out of the town. An older man and his wife have a small motel and also rent out campsites on the side. It was cheap, and off the road, so it suited us just fine. We were the first New Zealanders he could recall hosting in his 20 years of running the accommodation.

We woke with the rumbling of traffic and a factory next to us starting up and got on the road early. It makes a change from the dawn call to prayer.

Today we rode over 500km, from Erzincan to Sivas, and then on to the Cappadocia region. For most of the trip, we were surrounded by large open spaces, big sandy hills and fields covered in either melons or squash. In the northern part of the country, there seems to be large tea processing plants and you can smell the tea for miles around.

Going straight for a while.


Desert-like landscape

Rock face

Decoy police car, with realistic flashing lights. It works.

During the morning part of the ride, I’d been carrying a 1.5L water bottle on my lap – so it’s easy to get to when we’re thirsty – and it slipped off as I turned to take a photo of something. We were going to turn back to get it, but the road was separated by a large median bank, so we had to wait til there was a gap we could turn into. A few hundred metres later, we were waved over by a police officer. He asked for Igor’s drivers license and bike paperwork. He then said a camera caught us dropping the bottle off the bike and told us it was a fine of US$100. We laughed at him. He eventually chuckled, told us “okay, no fine”, gave us back our papers, and waved us on. Nice try, buddy, but you’ve got a few things to learn from the Kazakh squad.

Mosque in Sivas. We were in town just in time for the midday call to prayer.

Along the way, we came across this German rider. He has more stuff loaded on to his bike than we’ve seen on any other traveller so far. The highway cut swathes through large hills, and the wind rushed right through. It was gusty for us, but it must have been much worse for him.

The sun set over the mountains as we headed into the Cappadocia region. I don’t think Turkey runs on daylight savings, as the sun sets around 6.30 at the moment.

Leaving the city of Kayseri

Heading due West

We arrived in Urgup, the main tourist town in the area. It is like a Turkish version of Queenstown, with cafes, tour operators and merchants lining the appropriately dressed-up main street. The difference is that Cappadocia has caves where Queenstown has mountains. We’ve found a bed for the night in Goreme, about 10km further on from Urgup. The hotel is carved into the rocky hillside, so it’s known as a cave hotel. There’s probably a hundred cave hotels and pensions here. The roads are narrow and alley-like, and it looks like a fairy tale land as you approach it at night.

We’ve only just arrived, but I think tomorrow is going to be an amazing adventure.


3 Responses to “Day 107-108: Covering ground in Turkey”

  1. Judi September 16, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    That photo titled ‘desert like landscape’ is amazing. This certainly is a life changing experience for you. Loving reading about it all.

  2. Marjolijn September 17, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    You have learned a few lessons from road blocks checks and police. Good on you laughing off the ridiculous fine!
    You can exchange stories now with S and L, staying in Cappadocia. What a fairy tale sight.

  3. Simon Bayliss September 17, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    We loved Goreme. We stayed at a cave hotel called kelebek. That was where we did our hot air balloon ride. You must be having such an amazing experience seeing it by bike. We really enjoyed exploring the area and the crazy landscape, make sure you watch a sunset over the red valley. You will see the most incredible colours.
    Loretta and Simon x

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