Pedalling out of Konya we made the most of a very strong tail wind, and despite setting off late in the afternoon we were able to clock up a whopping 76kms in just a couple of hours. As the sun was setting we came across a petrol station so stopped, camped behind it’s restaurant and ordered a kebap to celebrate our progress! We were now travelling east along one of the ancient ‘Silk Road’ trading routes, and the next day we visited the Caravanserai (motel for camels) in Sultanhani. The building was the size if a football pitch, half open and half covered with and incredible detailing on the stonework, it was very impressive. That nights camping was at a picnic spot just outside Akasary. Whilst inspecting the grass for a pitch, we were invited to drink cay, and eat with Yakup and his family. So kind and very generous!
The following day we’d stopped to take photos when another cycle tourist appeared over the hill. With his pointy beard and decorations all over his bike, Baptiste looks like a proper nomad! From first impressions it was difficult to tell if he was friend or foe, but after a quick chat we discovered he’d started cycling from his home in Switzerland, seemed pretty normal and speaks great english! We were heading on similar routes so have joined forces for a while. Our specialities are: Baptiste – languages, Rebecca – chef, Tim – Bosun!
Together we’ve found some epic camping spots, from the top of a hill with 360 mountain views to the balcony of a disused farmhouse, and even the rose garden of a inner city mosque.
Over the next couple of days we explored the beautiful Cappadocia region, where every cliff face, mountain and rock appears to have been carved out into homes, churches and underground cities. With headtorch we explored and explored until we got caved out!
At Kasaray we had now reached the edge of the “usual” tourist areas so we dismantled the bikes and jumped on another coach to take us 350km east to Malatya and into the mountains proper. Riding into the city centre Tim decided to practise his cycle-messenger skills by overtaking [slow moving] buses and running fingertips along their windows. Such fun! Whilst walking in town that evening a guy stopped us and said “hey – you 3 are on bikes?” (we weren’t, the bikes were back at the hotel), we were confused, how did he know? It turned out that he had been on one of the buses that Tim had overtaken!! Ahmet insisted on cay, dinner, ice cream and more cay! Great turkish hospitality!
Leaving the city we headed South into the Nemrut Dagi National Park.. it was very hot, very steep and very hard, but the views were magnificent! !!
After making the first pass it was back down to the bottom of the valley, Tim reached 71kmh on a steep bit!! Whilst looking for a place to camp, a farmer arrived (on donkey), and insisted that we stayed at his house! We were treated to a full traditional experience, eggs and milk fresh from the animals that were stabled under the house and who also kept us warm at night. Baptise’s langauge skills (and perseverance with his phrase book) came in very useful!
We knew it would be hard to reach Nemrut (Rebecca later commented that if it wasn’t so beautiful, it would be an army mission!), we thought that there were 2 valleys to cross before we could finally attempt the summit, but at 1800m we started heading downhill again! Back below 1000m for the third time we realised we were wrong and with a 12km climb to the summit at 2200m, we set up ‘Base Camp One’. Low on energy, food and water, we knew we had one more day of climbing to complete the mission. It was so steep it was barely rideable, but at least it was surfaced and we were relieved to find a hotel near the summit for food and water!
The statues at the top made it all worth the effort!
We’re now heading North away from Syria and avoiding a couple of regions with a penchant for AK-47s…. according to the Home Office… eek!
PS The routelog and other pages have been updated. All our photos so far can be found on the link on the right. Click ‘sets’ to see them sorted by country.