Europe, Asia ·
678 Days ·
242 Moments ·
3 February 2019
We are helping on site, but you can also help us out!
There are a few things that the centre could need, like: scales, heat lamps, laboratory equipment and more enclosures. Especially the DNA tests obligatory for releases are very expensive. So if you want, you can donate some money via
Or via our fundraising page:
The centre is doing a great job and it can really need all the financial support you can give. Unfortunately there ist just few money granted to conservation organisations by governments, but exactly these need way more to achieve their goals.
So please help us out! And if you have more questions don't hesitate to ask us!
2 February 2019
We've been volunteering at the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Centre for 3 weeks already.
It is a great opportunity for us to learn more about conservation, about these amazing animals and to exchange knowledge and ideas with other passionate animal lovers!
All species of freshwater turtles and tortoises of Vietnam are endangered, most of them critically. Regardless, there is still massive poaching going on for food consumption and traditional medicine. When these poached turtles get confiscated by the police, they get handed over to our rescue centre. Many of them are injured or sick, so we care for them to make them fit again. If possibe we breed them to have a captive reserve population of the most endangered species.
After we get DNA data to find out where the animals are from, they can be released back into the wild. But safe habitats are rare nowadays and we have to make sure that they don't just get hunted down again one week later.
It is a lot of hard work, but it's worth it!!
7 January 2019
The last days with Loremie and Jürgen we spent in Mai Chau area. We slept in a very simple bamboo house, went shopping in the Thai village and rented two scooters again to discover the rice field surroundings.
Then one last day in Hanoi with lunch at our favorite buffet restaurant "Peace Vegan", some more sightseeing, a pleasant massage and a delicious Pizza at "4 P's".
Thank you so much for coming and sharing all these amazing experiences with us! We enjoyed the time with you a lot and we were so impressed about how perfectly you adapted to our travelling Asia lifestyle. You are great travel companions and lovely parents 😘.
5 January 2019
Cuc Phuong National Park.
We visited the park where we're going to volunteer and it is such a beautiful place!
We slept two nights in a traditional wooden stilt house and used the days to explore the park by hiking and cycling (after fixing some of the rotten rental bikes).
We cycled uphill for 18 km straight into the ancient forest. There we hiked a loop of 4 hours with a whole lot of stairs and a huge cave where we couldn't see the end.
My mum even had an up close wildlife encounter with a terrible forest beast, but she was brave and kept on walking until the leech was satisfied and left her two hours later.
We also took the opportunity to visit the three animal rescue centers of the park: primates, carnivores/pangolins and - most important - turtles! They take in endangered animals that were hunted, smuggled and confiscated. They told very interesting and moving stories and we're proud to be able to help the turtle conservation center from next week on!
3 January 2019
With the new year, new experiences! We left the cold Cat Ba with a bus to Ninh Binh. This town has a perfect location to reach several sightseeing places. The best way to do this is of course by scooter, like the locals do 🛵 !
We climbed up 1200 stairs on Hang Mua where you have a beautiful view of the surrounding area with rice fields and steep mountains. ⛰️
We discovered the area of Tam Coc, with its Pagodas carved in the mountains. ⛩️
We visited Bai Dinh, the biggest Buddhist monastery complex of Vietnam. 🏯
And took a little row boat through the labyrinth of water and caves of Trang An.🏞️
It was an amazing start of this year!
31 December 2018
An alternative New Years! We had a great time on Cat Ba Island and in the beautiful Lan Ha Bay.
First we took a tour boat through the Bay and explored some lagoons by kayak with our crew and our captain Joe. We where very lucky, because we managed to see the endangered and rare Cat Ba Langur! Jürgen, Lukas and I were also a little unreasonable by swimming with Joe into a lagoon with only 9 °C outside 😪.
After the beautiful but cold boat tour we moved to a floating homestay to celebrate new years there. It was an unfortunately very cold new years! The 6 of us spent the evening playing "categories" (Stadt, Land, Fluss) outside at the table, while a group of people was partying next door and got drunk so fast that they missed the final countdown. So we finished the year counting down: 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1... ... ...silence all around us, the quiet sea in this beautiful bay... we look into each others eyes and screamed: Happy New Year!!! 3 minutes later all in bed 😜.
27 December 2018
Cat Ba, the largest island of the famous Ha Long Bay.
We arrived on the island by ferry on a lovely sunny day. Elis and I were extremely happy to finally jump into the sea again after so many dry months! We all enjoyed one relaxing day at the beach with view on all the smaller limestone cliff islands pointing out of the sea.
We quickly found our favourite restaurant "Yummy", where we had a little cyclists' dinner party with 11 cycletourists, who happened to be on the island at the same time!
At the next day we hiked through Cat Ba National Park together with Cladam. The landscape with its dense monsoon forest was just amazing! Though the hike turned out much harder than expected because of the wet and slippery rocks. We saw a lot of spectacular trees, a perfectly camouflaged frog and snake and several tropical squirrels.
In the end we had to hurry to catch the last boat. It carried us back to town between all the beautiful little islands of Lan Ha Bay.
25 December 2018
Christmas with my parents in Hanoi.
It is so great to be with my parents again after 9 months! :D
They arrived early on the 24th and we will have a nice holiday together for 19 days :)
It was a very special Christmas for all of us so far away from home. We enjoyed our Christmas Eve dinner on a beautiful lantern balcony and at the next day we met with our good old friend Adam and his girlfriend Claire to get a Christmas massage all together. :)
We had a really good time in Hanoi and met a lot of lovely people. Even my mum seems to enjoy the trip, despite the crazy traffic and all the noise and smog. :P
We wish all our friends and followers a wonderful time of lights, whatever and wherever you celebrate! 🌟
20 December 2018
The road from Ba Be Lake to Hanoi was beautiful. We also visited the Me Linh station for biodiversity, which is where some species are kept, about which Lukas wrote his bachelor thesis. It was really interesting to be finally there after two years. From there it is another 60 km to Hanoi and unfortunately the roads get busier and louder and the air gets smoggy.
But finally we reached Hanoi! And this marks the end of 9 intense months of non stop cycling through central Asia and China. And the beginning of Southeast Asia.
We will have a 2 months break from cycling from now, which we will surely enjoy and in which we will gain energy to continue cycling again.
16 December 2018
Before we left Ba Be National Park, we explored it's largest cave. It leads 700 m into the mountain and was only recently opened for tourism. When we entered, there was nobody else and even the light was off. Luckily we had our torches to shed light on the magnificent rock formations with curtains of stalactites.
15 December 2018
Some views of Ba Be lake and its surrounding; our 4 hours Kayak tour and the great food at Jun Cafe!
After 15000 km and 19 countries we celebrate with delicious Vietnamese spring rolls, tofu-tomato and coffee ☕😍 and a beautiful round of kayaking!
What else can we say: we plan a few thousand kilometres more on this journey and some other great countries 🇻🇳🇰🇭🇱🇦🇹🇭🇲🇾🇮🇩!
14 December 2018
After many ups and downs we reached Ba Be National Park with its beautiful landscape. On the way to the lake we cycled on a small road through the jungle and by chance we hit upon one of the famous caves of the national park.
We found a nice homestay in the small village Pac Ngoi, of course with Karaoke next door. The forest in this area is just amazing with gigantic trees that tower far above the canopy around.
11 December 2018
One week of Vietnam already! The people are greeting us again on the road, screaming "Hello!"; the landscape more and more tropical; coconuts 😍 ; many stray dogs; clean rivers; kids playing on the road and racing with us on their bikes; more rice terraces; karaoke everywhere. We really experienced already much in this country and so far we do like it! The only problem is that we are a bit tired of cycling after non stop cycling for 8 months and the rain and the up and down here in northern Vietnam doesn't help 😌. But luckily we will have a long break starting from Christmas and I am sure that after, we will happily get on our bikes again 😊.
6 December 2018
Leaving the rice terraces a descend of 40 km expected us! The air became hotter and thicker, finally tropical weather!
The last two days in China were great: plenty of tropical fruits on the side of the road and an amazing landscape with no traffic! From now on our dinners and most likely breakfasts will consist of fruit fruit fruit. Everything else is too heavy on the stomach at this temperature and with this humidity. Uuu getting excited about the next country: Vietnam 🇻🇳!
3 December 2018
This is how we always imagined China: rice terraces!
After a steep climb of 2000 m in 30 km we reached the breathtaking rice terraces of Yuanyang between the Hani villages. We spent two days there, relaxing and enjoying the peaceful landscape. The fields here are still maintained in the original way: buffalos to plow them, ducks to clean them from weed and parasites.
The villages are still very rural, so you can experience how they slaughter their animals. Not the most beautiful thing to see, but at least they know where the meat comes from!
1 December 2018
We continued cycling south from Kunming along the big Dian Lake. It seems to be a famous attraction to feed the seagulls here, so there are thousands of them! The water quality looks and smells accordingly bad. The shores of the lake are interesting to cycle along with small fishing villages as well as huge construction sites for hotel complexes and amusement parks.
We spent one night in the hammock directly at the waterline and woke up to an extraordinary sunrise! At the next day we passed a large junk yard with a crazy mountain of trucks and buses. We continued up and down through vast agricultural areas and finally after a looong descent down to 200 m a.s.l. we arrived in tropical climate again with banana and dragon fruit plantations.
25 November 2018
One more week on the road, cycling up and down hills but as a reward lots of fresh fruit. Then finally in Kunming! There the amazing Claire hosted us! She is also a cycletraveller, who settled down in Kunming for a year. And now her flat is home for many cyclists passing by. During our stay, 4 other guests arrived (Alejandro, Mig, Pablo and Jamie) and we lived together in a nice little cyclist commune.
It was great to exchange all our stories and to cook and play music together. :)
We didn't see that much of the city, only a bike shop, Decathlon, Carrefour and (twice) a really great Buddhist vegan buffet. :D
But we managed to do our 3 month Vietnamese Visa. There we also met two other travelers, Vera and Till and with them we spend a pleasant evening in "The Park" pub :).
To all of you we wish a wonderful time in China and around the world! We hope to meet you all soon again, this time cycling and hiking together and a bit of street music ;)
12 November 2018
After fog, smog, rain and snow we were really happy to see the sun again. Luckily the past days have been beautiful and although we were above 2000 m asl. it didn't feel cold during daytime :). We finally used our hammock in our long lunch breaks. I (Elis) had completely forgotten how much it relaxes me to lay in the hammock!
The landscape is again completely different. After a very long descent down to 600 m asl. we cycled through an amazing canyon and reached the banana belt (30°N). Ah it's becoming summer for us again :P.
8 November 2018
Going up again between the beautiful mountains, through dilapidated villages and plenty of goats and pigs. Then, when we started climbing to get to the 2900m pass, the snow started ❄️. The landscape looked amazing like that, but we were freezing so much! We took 5 hours to do 25 km and when we reached the top the snow got heavier. We managed to do 4 more km till we got to a house. The guy there let us warm up, but denied us to sleep there. So out in the cold again we pitched our tent under a shelter, cooked with ice and warmed ourselves up in our sleeping bags.
Luckily the next day the sun came out and we had a beautiful decent 😉
3 November 2018
We waited a few days longer in Chengdu to meet up with our buddies Vanessa and Simon, to cycle together to Leshan 🚴🚴🚴🚴. We separated in Kashgar, where they took a train to Beijing to then flew for 2 weeks to Taiwan.
Finally together again, we cycled through small villages alongside the Min river, experienced together the continuous annoying honking of the cars and trucks and enjoyed a cheap hotel in Meishan.
After two days we reached Leshan, where Lukas and I were hosted by Chen Yi, a local nurse teacher :) We tasted the local food and tried to see the worlds largests Buddha (70m tall carved into the rocks), but it was so smoggy that it was hard to recognize. The most crazy thing we saw, was that people where swimming in this big rivers, where the currents were very strong 😱 and then walking on the riverside promenade in their swimsuits.
We also had the pleasure to eat home made Chinese food by Chen Yi and her friend. Thank you so much for hosting us and for the amazing food 😍.
31 October 2018
The symbol of China, the symbol of Sichuan Province, the symbol of Chengdu is the Giant 🐼! Additionally to that it is the symbol of international species conservation, so we had to see them too.
The Chengdu Panda Base is like a Zoo showing just one animal species, but it works perfectly well like this.
We never saw so many excited kids and adults. It was nearly more interesting to observe the behaviour of the Chinese tourists than that of the pandas 😂.
We spent nearly 7 hours wandering around, observing pandas and humans, reading about the pandas, their nutrition and the studies that are being conducted.
The aim of the Panda Base is to breed a stable population in captivity, raise awareness about this highly endangered species and, one day, to release young pandas into the wild.
Pandas are simply cute and funny and the Base gives a lot of interesting information about them!
27 October 2018
Chengdu, what a charming city!
We spent full 8 days in the capital of Sichuan and enjoyed it a lot. We stayed the first two nights in a very nice Hostel (Mix Hostel), where we got to know other travelers with interesting stories and met old friends again.
Then we surfed two nights on Iren's couch, a funny and very honest girl, who teaches English here.
One evening we went to the famous Chengdu opera, which was an interesting and very entertaining mixture of colourful costumes, puppet theatre, shadowplay, clowns, long beards and fire.
From there we moved on to John & Mary, two other really nice couchsurfers, who invited us to a Halloween party! :D
It was for sure the most international party we've ever been to with couchsurfers and English teachers from literally all over the world. What a great evening! :)
In between we shopped some new gear (Did you know there's Decathlon in China??), wandered around the beautiful city parks and - of course - ate a lot of good Sichuan food! :)
21 October 2018
While we cycled towards Chengdu the landscape became more and more tropical, with beautiful high mountains covered in tropical vegetation, bamboo, rain and heavy fog in the afternoon and unknown birds singing every evening 😍.
18 October 2018
A quarter of a century! That's how old I became 😱 and I celebrated it wonderfully with my beloved Luki ❤️.
We actually started already the day before by cycling only a few km downhill, eating lots and lots of food in an ancient city and buying lots of food for the next day.
On my birthday we cycled to the Zhaga Waterfall, a gigantic waterfall, falling between willow trees and bamboo. The place was simply relaxing and spread somehow peace and joy! We walked through the park, observed the local tourists taking pictures and cooked a great meal.
In the evening we found a great camp spot and cooked what we love the most: Langosh! We also experimented with fried brownies and we covered them with Bananas and peanut butter 😍. Delicious! Ah what a great day! Thank you Lukas for making it so special and Thanks to all of you for all your wishes 😘!
16 October 2018
From winter to autumn.
After all the frosty days, we suddenly found ourselves cycling through a surprisingly golden October valley. The trees showed themselves in their most beautiful colours! :)
The weather changed between rain and shine every few hours.
Sadly we couldn't enter Sichuan's most famous national park Jiuzhaigou, because it was heavily destroyed in an earthquake last year. We could see its impact also on the road and the villages we cycled through. So much destruction. Still everybody joined forces to rebuild the roads and damaged houses!
13 October 2018
Back into the green!
We finally descended below the tree-line again, between beautiful Tibetan villages.
One evening we just wanted to ask for some bread in one village, but instead we were invited for the night by Maria and her mum. She cooked a wonderful dinner for us and also the breakfast was amazing! Additionally she gave us a big bag filled with home made "Tsamba"-powder for our future breakfasts. Thank you so much Maria! You are always welcome to our homes!
After this filling breakfast, we had enough energy to climb up the 1000 m in 17 km. Up to 4000 m again. The road was beautiful and quiet, just some birds singing and our audiobook.
On the very top we were surprised by a majestic Himalayan vulture, which flew just a few meters above us, one of the largest flying birds of the world!
Finally after packing ourselves properly, we speeded down the mountain, into the green again!
11 October 2018
We continued cycling through the wetlands and endless grass plains with enormous herds of yaks and corkscrew sheep. It was quite hard to find campspots, because there were always fences on both sides of the road. We camped one night close to a lake and had a wonderful double sunset with the reflection on the water. But when we woke up in the morning, the whole tent and the grass around was covered in ice!
The next night we spent with a lovely family, who run a little shop at the side of the road with some rooms to rent and, best of all, an oven powered by yak shit, which heats the room and the food. :)
They showed us how to make "momos", the Tibetan dumplings and served us a lot of "tsamba", our new favourite travel food: roasted barley flour mixed with tea, yak butter and sugar. :D
10 October 2018
Leaving the Monastery we entered the National Wetlands Reserve and with it the Tibetan Plateau above 3000 m a.s.l.. Unexpectedly the winter catched us: the yaks and we were suddenly covered by snow.
Luckily, after a snowy night in the tent and a long descent, we found a comfortable hotel for one night. -10 °C outside!
The next day the sun came back again, but the nights still remain freezing. Probably it will stay like this for the next two weeks, until we reach Chengdu at a pleasant altitude of 500 m.
6 October 2018
We cycled further up and South and passed a lot of prayer flags and smaller Buddhist monasteries until we reached Labrang. There we stayed two nights in a cozy Tibetan hostel, where we met some other nice travellers. First we visited an old Chinese temple, but it seemed empty now just after the "Golden Week" holiday.
After that we went into the main tourist attraction: the famous Labrang Monastery. It is one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries of the world with over 2000 monks living and studying there.
We joined an English guided group with only one other tourist (from Germany, of course). Our guide was a very funny monk, who explained a lot about the monastery, the way of life there and the meaning of the different rooms. One room was full with colourful sculptures made from yak butter! :o
We spent the rest of the day strolling around the monastery and the old and new parts of the town around with our new friend Henrike. We even found a lovely vegetarian-only restaurant!
4 October 2018
We took a smaller street to escape the busy, smoggy and terribly loud main road. It was a tough time with lots of up and down and parts of the street were completely destroyed. But it rewarded us with some amazing wild campspots and some insights into rural life in China (Did you know that corn grows on trees here? :P).
Suddenly there were no mosques anymore and instead we saw our first Tibetan monasteries and villages.
2 October 2018
China presents itself just as we imagined: green terraces, monasteries on every peak, loud and smoggy cities and curious children 😊.
We left Lanzhou cycling southwest towards the big Labrang Monastery and experienced our first wild camping night on an abandoned terrace.
The area we cycled through was still mainly characterized by the islamic culture.
In every village the old monasteries had the crescent moon on top, which is in my eyes a funny combination, and some villages had new gigantic mosques.
30 September 2018
42 hours on a train. From Kashgar to Lanzhou, over 3000 km to escape the desert and the massive police control regime of Xinjiang!
We actually enjoyed the ride a lot and it didn't feel so long. We finally had the chance to relax a bit, watch movies, listen to podcasts, eat junk food and sleep a lot.
The food we bought was unluckily not what we expected, which seems to be the standard situation here 😅, but we finished it all!
We also met this beautiful young girl, who would never stop playing with Lukas' hair and both our rings.
And finally we reached Lanzhou, got our bikes back, which we sent via Cargo, and started cycling again!! 🚲
29 September 2018
28 September 2018
The border crossing took several hours, but went pretty smooth. We had a first check directly at the border, then 150 km taxi drive down to Ulugqat, where the "temporary" border is. There finally we got our entry stamp!
We found a cheap motel to stay for the night; more like a jail, than a motel, but good enough for a rest. Lukas and I also had our first instant noodles there 😹!
The next day 102 km down hill to Kashgar on the highway. Luckily only two passport checkpoints.
And finally in Kashgar, our final destination on the Silk Road, the beginning of a new chapter of this adventure!
A mixture of Turkish, Persian and Chinese culture: small roads which remembered us of Iran, the big Mosque, the Turkic language and the great Chinese food 🍜.
We spent a great evening with some other cyclists at the night bazaar and I (Elis) tried to eat with the chopsticks, with not much success 🤣. And then we said goodbye to the others and jumped into the train! See you soon great friends 💟
25 September 2018
And here we go! With a beautiful landscape and 4 great cycling buddies we cycle to China. In Osh we met Pierre again (who we met in Samarkand before) with his friend Jean-Charles (JC) and in Sary-Tash Simon and Ness, so we decided to cycle the Irkeshtam Pass together into China.
We camped just 5 km before the border and in the evening 4 other cyclists arrived, coming back from China though.
They had bad news to tell, because three of them spent 4 days at the border and in the end they were refused to enter with their beautiful dog.
22 September 2018
On our way back to our bikes in Sary Tash, we stopped for one relaxing day in Arslanbob. There we hiked up to a 86 m high waterfall and walked through the world's largest walnut forest. It was really relaxing and for sure worth the visit 😊. In the evening we then managed to take a hitch by a wonderful family, all way to Osh. Just one day away from our bikes and then up to China!
18 September 2018
The last two days with Lutz and Sophia we spent in Bishkek.
We visited the main street and the Osh Bazaar with its great variety of everything :) We also tried the famous Thai restaurant with the ale brewery next door. That was really great! But even greater was the italian restaurant "Dolce Vita", which brought me back home for a few hours 😋.
Ah the last two weeks passed by so fast! Thank you so much Sophia and Lutz for coming to visit us, we had a memorable time with you. Hope to see you soon again ❤️❤️.
16 September 2018
In Karakol we found one of the few Orthodox churches of the mainly muslim Kyrgyzstan: an impressive wooden building.
We camped another night at the beach of Issyk-Kul and walked up to the nearby "Fairytale Canyon", a stunning landscape with red, golden and brown rock formations. There we met our new friends from Altyn Arashan, Nadine and Tobi again.
Together we travelled to a small salt lake in the East of Issyk-Kul. It was good fun to float effortlessly on the water, just a bit too cold to fully enjoy it. :P
14 September 2018
We heard, that there are beautiful hot springs up in the mountains in Altyn Arashan, so we hiked all the way up there. We found a nice yurt camp and stayed two nights in our fancy silver space yurt. At the first evening we went to the free outdoor hot springs, which were not so hot, but the location was just amazing!
At the next day we went horseback riding for 4 hours, which was a great experience, but also quite painful. So we were very happy to rent one of the commercial hot spring huts afterwards. The water there was extremely hot, but good for our hurting legs and backs. :)
That evening we went to bed early to enjoy the silence of the mountains and to finish reading Tshingis Aitmatov's "Dshamilia", the most beautiful (Kyrgyz) love story in the world. Lutz was reading loud and when we arrived at the most romantic part, suddenly a party started in our neighbour's yurt with the best of apres ski: "Dicke Titten Kartoffelsalat!" What an absurd moment xD
10 September 2018
One last campfire evening with all our cycling buddies at the shore of lake Issyk-Kul and then we parted ways. Especially saying goodbye to Adam was hard, because we spent the last 4 months almost 24/7 together. Thank you for this amazing time!! We are already extremely looking forward to a team reunion in Southeast Asia! :)
Together with Sophia, Lutz, Simon and Ness we continued to Karakol in the East of the big lake and from there we started a long hike up through the Jeti-Oguz valley and over a high pass. Up there we were suddenly surprised by a thunderstorm and hurried down to find a safe campspot. When we looked back at the next morning, the pass was covered in snow and so we decided to not climb higher up, but to continue our tour further down through the beautiful valleys.
6 September 2018
A small jump, from Sary-Tash to Cholpon-Ata for the Nomad Games 🐎.
So we left our bikes in safe hands (hopefully) in Sary-Tash and hitched to Osh. There we spent a relaxing day and then took a Taxi all way to Bishkek, to meet with Sophia and Lutz. Yes! Lukas' brother and my great uni friend Sophia came to spend two weeks with us in this new great country!! And we started with some very traditional games:
In Cholpon-Ata we met also our other cycling buddies Lukas, Linette, Rob and Linn and we watched some Horse-Wrestling fights and Dead Goat Polo all together.
We arrived too late at the archery location, but enjoyed the special festival atmosphere of the world's largest yurt camp. ...and of course the after games party xD
31 August 2018
No-man's land between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan stretches out for 30 km. A beautiful valley in brown and green colours. And there the first trees again!! Tajikistan on the other side of the mountain dry and yellow, Kyrgistan suddenly so green. Same mountain, other side, so green. We were all very happy to see this green again.
All very excited to visit this new country, a break for everyone from cycling, the country of horses and the World Nomad Games.
30 August 2018
From Ak-Baital pass down to Kara-Kul lake a long descent alongside the Chinese border fence. In Karakul village we filled our pockets and stomachs with soup, bread and Snickers (our new addiction) and camped at this beautiful lake with an amazing view on the border mountains (all above 5500 m; Lenin Peak at 7500 m).
Slowly the journey through the great Pamir reached an end. Two more "short" passes to go and we are in Kyrgystan!
Some last cycling group pics with our wonderful cycling buddies 👫👪❤️ and up up up to the border.
28 August 2018
Next to Ak-Baital Pass there is Ak-Baital peak at 5102 m.
This was the closest we've ever been to a 5k peak, so we decided to camp at 4500 m and try to climb the summit at the next day. Sadly Ness didn't feel well in the morning, so she guarded the camp, while Elis, Adam, Simon and I set off for this mountaineering adventure.
Linette and Lukas, who did the hike before, gave us some useful tips, but still it was not easy to find our path in the wayless, super steep and rocky terrain.
Finally standing on the pointy summit really felt like on the roof of the world, what a panorama! We even found an eagle's resting place up there with some bones and blood of its prey.
The way down was not easier with lots of gravel surfing, but we all managed it gracefully and arrived savely at our basecamp. There we decided to spend a relaxing evening and another night at this freezing altitude. What an extreme day! :D
27 August 2018
Ak-Baital Pass, 4655 m above sea level.
One of the highest rideable passes of the world, the highest pass of the Pamir highway and (most likely) the highest pass of our entire tour. After a good week above 4000 m we felt well acclimatised for this challenge. It started easy with a slight but steady climb up until the last 8 km. Then it got steeper and steeper and the headwind became stronger. The last km looked almost vertical and I (Lukas) had to get off the bike and push because it was too hard and I was quite sick. Luckily Elis and Adam helped me a bit and so in the end we all stood at the top of it in an incredible gale force headwind!
So we briefly enjoyed the view, took some photos, ate a snickers, felt proud of our SLAVE team and hurried to get a bit lower again.
26 August 2018
Murghab, the last outpost of civilization in Tajikistan.
The "town" feels a bit like a harbour with its famous container bazaar.
Here we had a surprisingly big reunion of old silk road cyclist friends. We met Linette, Lukas, Vanessa, Simon and François again and got to know Yvonne, Arnold and Jordi.
We had a little party in something like a bar and spent the night in a large yurt.
At the next morning we convinced Ness and Simon to postpone their China travel and first cycle to Kyrgyzstan with us :D So our team is now 5 cyclists strong!
25 August 2018
Next to the road we found this massive Marco Polo ram skull. Hard to imagine how strong these animals must be to carry around this heavy bulky head all day long.
After that we cycled down into a valley which looked like a fantasy landscape with the mountains dropping long shadows in the slightly hazy air. What a breathtaking view!
And finally we reached the main M41 Pamir Highway again with incredibly smooth asphalt after two weeks of sand, dust and gravel. We completely had forgotten how silent, fast and easy going our bikes can be.
24 August 2018
After Zorkul lake we cycled over a 4000 m high and very dry plateau, where all the streams on our map had dried out. So we were relieved to see the dark blue colour of a small lake far on the horizon just like a fata morgana.
Later that day we saw a herd of cows in the distance, quite hefty cows. When we came nearer we realised that they were yaks! We were super excited to see these mystical animals from up close: the representative of the letter "Y" on the letter train in elementary school :P
During the descent from the plateau we spotted some animals on the ridge next to us. Through the binoculars we found out that they were Marco Polo Argalis, one of the largest wild sheep species, endemic in the high Pamir.
We arrived late at a homestay with amazing hot springs inside. The water was so hot, it felt like being boiled alive!
There we celebrated Adam's birthday with a surprise jar of Torku chocolate and delicious yak yoghurt :D
22 August 2018
From Kargush at the end of the Wakhan valley we took another detour of the Pamir highway: the Zorkul nature reserve. It is so remote, that in our five days there we saw only one car passing by and we met much more marmots, donkeys and Afghan camels than humans :D
We camped one night high up with view over the freezing cold Zorkul lake in moonlight under the starry sky.
19 August 2018
More impressions of the Wakhan valley between Ishkoshim and Kargush: Beautiful landscapes but exhausting and partly uncyclable gravel and sand tracks. At least we had tailwinds every single day, which supported us on our looong way up. :)
17 August 2018
We continued our tour through the Wakhan valley and saw our first icy 6000 m peaks on the Afghan side. On the way we met Eileen and Andy from New Zealand and were a little jealous about their superlight bikepacking MTB setup on these bumpy bumpy roads.
Together we visited the famous Bibi Fatima Hot Springs and enjoyed a very needed bath in the hot water (apparently very good for fertility). :P
15 August 2018
The Wakhan Valley: empty street, exept for some cows and cyclists, terrible road, beautiful landscapes and cold and hot springs along the way. These are our first impressions of the valley which separates Tajikistan from Afghanistan through the Panj river.
12 August 2018
Dear friends! You might have wondered, where we've been the last three weeks. We didn't forget to tell you, we just had no mobile phone signal at all up in the great Pamir mountains!
And this is how the adventure started:
After we lost some time in Dushanbe, we decided to take a taxi to Khorog in order to have more time in the mountains.
So we teamed up with Ana and Alberto and strapped all our 5 bikes onto the roof of the car. It wasn't such a great idea, because the road was terrible and after 14 hours the bikes were heavily scratched, but luckily nothing important broke.
We arrived in Khorog after nightfall, but still got hosted by Daler, who explained us a lot about the safety situation in Tajikistan, about Pamiri culture and about his military time. Another cyclist, Gilles, stayed there with us and told his story about cycling through China and the Pamirs. We were super excited to start our own mountain cycling adventure from there!
11 August 2018
8 days in Dushanbe; the longest time we've spent just hanging around in one place so far.
The main reason was Elis' mum coming to visit us. They were so happy to see each other again and spend some family time together! ❤️
We were all hosted by Safo, an old friend of Bettina, who not only gave us two appartements, but also drove us around and invited us to loads of great food! :)
Sadly Elis had to spend two days in the hospital with a kidney infection, but now she's well again.
We had a wonderful dinner at Safo's house and got to know all his beautiful family.
In between was also my birthday, so I got a delicious camping pot cake and Safo took us out for a day of relaxing at a nice pool which was filled with cooold river water. :)
Of course we also used the time to do some necessary shopping and organising and - as always - to meet old and new cycling friends.
Thank you Safo for your amazing hospitality and everything you did for us!!
1 August 2018
We've heard that one of the highlights of this area of Tajikistan is "Iskanderkul", a large, high and super cold glacier lake. So we decided to give it a go and cycle all the way up there. It was a crazy steep 1000 m climb, but definitely worth it, because the lake looks like out of fairytale, mirroring the surrounding peaks in its turquoise water.
We even found a little hidden private beach in front of an abandoned restaurant, where we camped directly at the
The loong descent at the next morning gave us the opportunity to enjoy the winding road and steep cliffs much more than during the exhausting climb before.
Down at the main road again we searched not long for an empty truck, to take us through the "Tunnel of Doom", apparently the most dangerous tunnel in the world: 5 km long, bad air, bad surface and very narrow. We were very happy that we didn't have to cycle through it! After that a 45 km descent all the way down to Dushanbe awaited us.
29 July 2018
After all this time in the flat desert, we couldn't wait to see the famous mountains of Tajikistan. So we left our bikes in Zafar's hostel in Panjakent and went for a hike to the Seven Lakes; a row of lakes along a mountain stream formed by natural dams after an earthquake. Each of them has a slightly different colour from deep purple to bright turquoise. The hike was tough because our legs were not used to walking anymore, but the dramatic landscape was worth the effort!
We camped at the sixth lake and in the evening Mahmood appeared, an Iranian guy who spent 9 days at the border - the last one with Elis. We had a nice evening together and at the next morning we hiked up to the 7th lake where Adam and I took a quick bath in the ice cold water.
From there we walked down to the 4th lake, where we found a bus full of students, who took us back to Panjakent. It turned out to be a party bus, with loud music and dance! :D
28 July 2018
Finally we left Samarkand at the 26th July and cycled just 10 km before the Tajik border. There we found a beautiful last camp spot in Uzbekistan in Misha's field. On the 27th we where ready to leave the country and so we did. At 10:30 we left Uzbekistan but I (Elis) did not manage it into Tajikistan the same day! 😑 There was a small mistake on my Visa application and so I had to apply again and pay again 50 $!
I waited 24h in no-man's land while Lukas and Adam reapplied for me and bought food in case the procedure would take longer. Luckily, after one night at the border I got my new Visa and I was able to cross. I was really lucky that it worked so fast, I don't think I would have resisted other two days there 😌. I always wanted to experience it once in my life to be stuck at a border crossing and for sure the Tajik border was the most comfortable one to be stuck in. The people where super nice 😊.
But hey! I am in Tajikistan now! Ready for the mountains ⛰️
26 July 2018
Samarkand, the famous Silk Road capital.
We had to spend much more time in the city than we planned, because we set a wrong entry date on our Tajikistan visa. But what seemed to be annoying turned out to be one of the most memorable weeks of this journey.
This was because we shared our hostel with around 18 other world cyclists!! It was such a great community and because of all the interesting and different travel stories the time seemed to fly.
Of course we also used the time to wander around and (through the back doors) check out the sights of this old, historical place. But in the end we spent most of the time on the comfortable couches, enjoying the company of many new and some old friends :)
Thank you so much you beautiful people for this amazing time!
20 July 2018
We left Bukahra with the knowledge that we would go to a lake; a real, clean water lake! This idea made us all very enthusiastic and the lake was really beautiful. We had a wonderful night and morning there, until at lunch time a car came. The people took a still living goat out of the car and killed it with a knife in front of our eyes!! 😭😵. I know they do not know different, but I (Elis) had to run away and cried a lot! Probably this is part of the experiences we will get on this tour, but I really don't want to see this anymore!
The next days were way better. We found a second lake thanks to our cycling buddies Linette and Lukas and enjoyed a beautiful evening together with beer, fire and water melon! The people there were super friendly and left us the only good shelter to protect from the sun 😊.
The last 80 km to Samarkand were on a up and down road and many kids run from the fields to say "Hallo" to us.
Next Samarkand, the last city before the climb 😁.
16 July 2018
We cycled out of Khiva together with Jack, but didn't make it very far. After another series of unpatchable flat tyres we ran out of replacement tubes and had to hitchhike 400 km to the next city. This didn't bother us much, because we were all pretty fed up with desert cycling and the road was in horrendous condition again. Getting a lift was easy and three truckers took us all the way into Bukhara, one of the great Silk Road capitals.
When we rolled through the streets looking for a place to stay, a man called us into an old caravanserai: Jamik, a Couchsurfing ambassador. He offered us to stay in the beautiful building, which is now used as an art gallery.
From there we explored the old city with its magnificent mud brick architecture. In the huge and busy bazaar we finally found new tubes to repair our bikes. In the scorching midday's heat I (Lukas) joined the local kids bathing in a well. :)
Thank you Jamik and all the other artists for your amazing spontaneous hospitality!
12 July 2018
The old oasis town Khiva was the first place for us to relax a bit after all these weeks of nonstop cycling through the desert. We were amazed, how beautiful and sophisticated the buildings were, although they only consist of a lot of mud and a bit of wood.
The old town is surrounded by a massive mud wall and was transformed into a big museum. You can just walk around and have a look into all the old buildings, madrassas and mosques and most of them contain exhibitions showing the history of the local culture and other interesting things.
We found a perfectly relaxing guesthouse (Otabek) directly in the heart of the old town and spent three full days there for Elis to recover from her bad travellers' disease and to prepare for the next stretch of desert cycling.
In the guesthouse we met Tatjana, a backpacker from Belgium and Jack, another fast cyclist from Britain, who has a lot of funny travel stories to tell. :D
And we even saw a little bit of rain, but only from the distance. :P
8 July 2018
On the way to Khiva we met some old friends again and made some new ones. Vanessa and Simon, who we met in Tbilisi and the Dutch couple Lynn and Rob.
Traveling on the road with 4 more cyclists felt like we were a Caravane. A Caravane cycling towards an Oasis: Khiva, the first UNESCO city of Uzbekistan! 🐪🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🐫
On the way we stopped at the Amu Darya river and did like the locals, we jumped in! 🏊 Although we are conscious of the chemical pollution of the river and the murky, brown water, what would you do if you have nearly 50 °C in the shade?? 🏜️ At least we can be sure now, that no parasites will affect us 😅.
3 July 2018
How many of you studied the Aral Sea cathastrophy back in school?
It felt very strange to actually be there, but hard to belive that we were standing on the bottom of the Aral Sea. Better said: Aralkum ("Aral Sand").
Not much is left that remebers one of all the water and fish that once was there, a few ships and the sand full of shells.
Moynaq used to be a fishermen's village but now the seaside is over 100 km away.
We were surprised that none of the information boards told about the reason for the sea to shrink... Although it is well known that it is one of the biggest man made disasters!
The Aral Sea was fed by two big rivers: Amu Darya (south) and Sir Darya (north-east). While the north Aral was stabilized by the building of a dyke, the south Aral is disappearing from year to year and the Amu Darya no longer touches its bank.
It was worth it to go all the way to Moynaq, but also really sad. We left with the thought: What else will we destroy?
2 July 2018
Some more impressions of our time in the Uzbek desert:
The people are very nice, some workers gave us a trailer on wheels to escape the hot hot weather and also showed us where to find a well. There my bike needed to be fixed (maybe for the 10th time) and since Lukas loves it, there he goes! Thank you!! 😘
Then we met some hitchhikers from Germany and Canada going to Europe and had some time together while they were waiting for a car or truck to pass by.
In the great Dinur Hotel we found a cool map of the silk road and Sasha (the owner) gave us a room for free to have a nap in the afternoon 😉!!
Then a bit of headwind and finally a long descend towards Kungrad. The panorama changed drastically, no more desert, a green area arises in front of us. The valley of the Amu Darya river, which used to be the main water source for the Aral Sea.
On the last 8 km into Kungrad some locals accompanied us. It is great how many people cycle in this country!!
30 June 2018
A typical day in the Uzbek desert:
Wake up before sunrise and if possible leave the camp during sunrise. Cycle on terrible roads and then on a always straight asphalted road. Observe the flat and flat and flat area around us and occasionally some clouds like in a children's book, nothing else. Oh! Yes flies, a lot of flies here in Uzbekistan. Then find a shady place for a long looong lunch break, normally from 11 am to 6 pm. For now we found some good places, although we had to cycle at least 60 km to reach them. Then try to sleep and relax with well above 40 °C in the shade! Spend the rest of the lunch break trying to patch the tubes, which tend to dissolve on the boiling roads. Food for some energy and cycling again until 9 pm. Sunset and a tea and then early sleeping time!
27 June 2018
One week in the Kazakh desert. From Aktau we cycled down into the Karagije depression with the lowest point at -132 m below sea level. It was the bottom of a sea once and you can find seashells in every rock. From there up again to 240 m in a vast steppe with many scenic plateaus.
We met a "top secret" transport of something huge that looked suspiciously like a space rocket. They were driving exactly cycling speed, so we surpassed them several times during the week.
The last 3 days led us through a plain steppe/desert on a straight road. So we started cycling before sunrise, managed to do 70 km before the hot noon, passing horses and camel herds, and take long lunch breaks in the Чайхана (tea stops).
In between we all had flat tyres, maybe because of the heat or just bad luck.
All in all a challenge, but also rewarding. The highlights of this week: the beautiful sunrises each morning, the stunning night sky and the herds of horses galloping alongside us.
20 June 2018
2 am arrive in Aktau. 4 am ready to leave the port and find a good beach to sleep a few hours. 4:30 am beach found, now sleep! 8 am breakfast surrounded by some curious kids from a boxing school 😃. Rest of the day: chilling with François, Tom, Adam and Luke in a Restaurant. In the evening we started our cycling into the desert and just after a few kilometres out of the city the first Camel encounter 🐫 😯. François will be in our team for the next days 😉 Welcome!
18 June 2018
Crossing the Caspian Sea by boat requires a lot of patience: We arrived at the port of Alat on Friday afternoon, we entered our ship on Sunday at 7 am and it started 7 hours later. Luckily we shared the time with a lot of friends, because in the end we were 10 cyclists and 4 backpackers on the boat! 😁 We played games together and exchanged our travel stories.
Also the crossing itself took longer than expected, because we had to wait 30 hours in a protected bay for a storm to pass. After three days on the water we got kicked out of our beds at 1 am, because we finally reached the port of Aktau. And after 2 more hours of border business we were free to explore this new country: Kazakhstan! 😁
Thank you François, Tom, Tom, Linette, Lukas, Luke, Daniel, Adam and Adam for making all the waiting time a memorable pleasure! 😄 Safe travels and see you again somewhere out there! ...Niiiiiiinja!!!
14 June 2018
The seaside south of Baku starts very ugly: Oil pumps, industry and huge hotel complexes underlined by a busy highway.
But after several km we finally found a free beach, which was of course scattered with glass and plastic, but at least the water was relatively clean. So we decided to camp there and at the next day Adam and I had a relaxed time swimming and lying on the sand. :)
Meanwhile Elis, Linette and Lukas(2) cycled back to collect their Uzbek visas.
In the afternoon we united again and cycled together further south on our last kilometres of Azerbaijan. There we found a nice campspot at a small abandoned port.
12 June 2018
And so we arrived in Baku, the buzzing capital of Azerbaijan. We were especially excited to finally be at the sea again, but the water in the city center was ugly, oily and smelled bad. So we postponed the swimming and continued cycling to our host Movsum. He welcomed us late but warmhearted and in the end we spent 3 nights at his place.
We used the time in the city to collect our Uzbek visas (Elis had to reapply, because her application from Tehran was mysteriously lost.) and to once again search around the bike shops for parts.
Of course we also did a bit of sightseeing and saw the flame towers, the old city and the oil fields. We met old and new cycling friends and had a nice pub evening, the first in a looong time. :D
Thank you so much Movsum for your hospitality, nice talks and the good time! :)
10 June 2018
The north road in Azerbaijan from Georgia to Baku is just beautiful! The colours change from dark green of forests, to light green and yellow of the fields, to yellow-brown of the rocky desert. Cycling through this beauty remembered me once again, why I chose cycling to travel. You can really see and feel the environment around you changing, you can breathe it and smell it. It is simply so great! Today we also met two other cyclists (this road is for sure more crowded than in Iran or Turkey). Linette and Lukas from Austria and the Netherlands, cycling to Singapore. So we cycled and had a great evening together 😊. And tomorrow we reach the capital, Baku. A few days of break are also welcomed 😉.
5 June 2018
Right after we crossed the river, we met two other cycletourists: Yasmine and Arthur (velo-aventure.com), who are on their way from France to Iran! We cycled one day together and had a nice big shared camp in a beautyful forest. Then we split up because they ride faster and don't sleep so much 😋. But we met again in Shaki, a quite nice, but super steep town with an almost Persian palace.
There we had to spend a night in a guesthouse to do our tourist registration, but it was a cozy place and we had a nice evening together. See you again soon guys and safe travels!
3 June 2018
First impressions of Azerbaijan:
On the first evening in the 13th country of our tour we found a campspot that just seemed perfect: flat green grass, some trees, clear starry sky and a tiny little river flowing around us. But it remained perfect only for a few hours, until in the middle of the night it suddenly started to rain. It was not simply rain, but the heaviest and longest pour we experienced so far. No problem for our strong tents, but when Elis creeped out around noon, she alarmed us sleepy guys, because the water was rising dramatically and we suddenly found ourselves trapped on an island in the middle of brown, roaring torrents! We had to move our camp further up and away from the water because there was a good chance to get flooded away. So we spent a forced day off in our wet tents, waiting for the water to calm down again. Luckily we had enough food and drinking water!
At the next morning the river was much easier to cross and so we left our soaked island after breakfast.
1 June 2018
We spent two more days in Tbilisi, were we experienced a real Georgian party (Goga! Happy birthday again!) with a real "Tamadan" and lots of food, and one relaxing day on which I updated our wabpage a bit (follow-the-sunrise.webs.com). Then on Wednesday here we start again. Goga and a friend took us with the cars out of the city and we cycled 35 km further, till we found a wonderful spot to camp.
Goga and Nino, thank you so much for your hospitality and help! We had such an amazing time in Tbilisi! We will for sure come back and visit the rest of the country with you :) and do not forget: Goga you will be my Tamadan when I become 50! :o
So we spent two more very relaxing days on the beautiful roads of east Georgia, until we arrived at the Azerbaijan border.
There a sign saying "Azerbaijan border, good luck" catched our eyes. We were very excited and this sign was representing our feelings and giving us hope, that the crossing would go well. And so it did. Thank you Georgia!
28 May 2018
Yuhuuuuu! We all got our Chinese visas :D.
This was probably the biggest bureaucratic obstacle of our tour. Waiting in front of the consulate felt like an exam, but when we saw our passports with the 90 days, double entry visa in it, all the adrenaline left us! So we celebrated with delicious "lobiana" and "khachapuri" and a good coffee with our cycling buddies :D.
Here we come China!!!
26 May 2018
We didn't want to just hang around in the city while waiting for the visas and so we decided to spend the weekend hiking in the Caucasus mountains. Harry joined our expedition group and George brought us a good part of the way out of the city. From there we hitchhiked North towards the Russian border, to the foot of the famous, 5000 m high, Kazbek mountain. On the way we picked up Bianca, another hitchhiker and former cyclotourist; she decided to join our hike.
So we started all 5 together in Stepantsminda village and climbed up to the quite touristy Trinity church. Searching for a place to camp, we went further up the mountain and found a perfect spot with an amazing view.
At the next day we made our long and steep way to the glacier at 3200 m, right below the summit. We had to walk through much more snow than expected; a challenge especially for the barefoot and crocs hikers :P
But the dramatic landscape paid back for our efforts!
It was great to share this experience with you guys!!
24 May 2018
After two nights in the hostel we were invited by Nino, a collegue of Elis' mum to her family's house. So we moved over and were welcomed by her husband George. He is a wonderful host and showed us his beautiful city and, of course, the great Georgian food :D He even took us out for a sunset at an old monastery.
He explained us a lot about Georgian history, language and culture; for example about the "Tamada", the toastmaster, who is very important at every party, to hold speeches and entertain the guests during the whole evening.
We also learned, that the Georgian word "mama" means "dad" and "deda" means "mum" in English. Such a confusing (and sometimes funny) language :D
23 May 2018
First impressions of Georgia: they apparently love washing powder xD, a beautiful nature, a bit less hilly than Armenia and a lot warmer :). On the road to Tbilisi we found our friend Mahmood, sleeping under a tree. We woke him up and cycled together to the capital. There we looked for a hostel together and found "MyHostel". A cozy old house with very interesting people. Like Marcelo from Brazil, who is skateboarding around the world, already for 9 years :O. So interesting stories and such an interesting guy! Go Marcelo!
After preparing all documents to apply for the Chinese visa, we went early morning to the embassy. In front of the consulate we met 4 other cyclists, Harry, Tom, Simon and Vanessa, all with the intention to apply and all going to Baku next. So we chatted and exchanged information, with the hope of meeting again the next days. For sure we will meet to pick up our passports, hopefully with visa, at the Chinese embassy on Monday :).
19 May 2018
The last days in Armenia were almost only downhill, which was very nice after all the climbing we did before. Also the weather was a bit more on our side and it rained only one hour per day :P We found some beautiful spots to camp, each very different from the other: one at the big Sevan Lake, one after the last big climb next to a cascade and one in an abandoned factory.
Thank you Armenia for the somehow relaxing time we had! Next time we visit you, we will leave the bikes home and hike up every peak :P
17 May 2018
Armenia why are you so rainy?
It is so great to cycle with Adam again, especially because we're planning to travel together for the next three months until Kyrgyzstan! :D
So three bicycles started from Yerevan and climbed up to the Geghard Monastery. Adam's first cycling days after the winter break were really challenging. Not only because of the hills, but also because of the weather, which is very reliable: Every day starts nice and sunny, but in the afternoon there is always a heavy thunderstorm with several hours of rain. We hope this will change for better in the flatter terrain of Georgia.
The monastery was very impressive, because half of it was carved into the rock of the mountain. When we continued from there towards the Sevan lake, we had a great view of Mount Ararat. Later we met Mahmood, a cycletourist from Iran who is going the same direction, so we cycled together for some hours. :)
13 May 2018
Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
First thing we did when we arrived in the city was searching around the bicycle shops for a new and robust wheel (not so easy in a country with less developed cycle tourism). The mechanic at the Bianchi shop promised us to find the right parts and build a new wheel at the next day.
In the evening we were warmly welcomed at Liliana and Umberto's house (an old friend of Elis' dad).
And at the next morning it was finally time to meet up with our great cycling buddy Adam again! We used two relaxing days to stroll around the city and update each other about what happened in the last 6 months. We visited the cascades arts museum and from the top of it we had a great view over the city and a huge thunderstorm.
After three hours at the Bianchi shop we left with a shiny new wheel which looks quite strong. Let's see how long it will last :P
Thank you very much Lili, Umberto, Noah and Gohar for your hospitality and the great food! :)
11 May 2018
200 km before Yerevan we had our first major hitch, when the bumpy road was just too much for Elis' rear wheel (Decathlon quality :P). Several spokes ripped out of the rim and one tangled decoratively around the hub. So we stopped for the night and at the next morning we hitchhiked (this time literally) to Yerevan, the only city with proper bicycle shops in Armenia. After 10 minutes a truck stopped and took us directly all the way into the capital.
10 May 2018
In the little mountain village Tatev there are three tourist attractions to see: First of all the famous old monastery with its beautiful rock and wood carvings. Second is the longest free hanging cablecar in the world, which we could have used to skip a very deep valley.
But we decided to roll all the way down (and up again later) to see the third and least known attraction: the warm mineral water spring at the devil's bridge. The man made pools at ground level were already nice, but the real wonder lay beneath it. We climbed down a quite suspicious ladder and entered a secret cave that the river had washed out of the rock. It is a breathtakingly beautiful place with the warm water dripping down from the ceiling and forming travertine terraces on the ground.
In the evening we had a nice campfire and burned mushrooms with some new friends we made there. :)
8 May 2018
After a heavy rain shower, which transformed the street into a river in seconds, we climbed up the "easy and smooth" road to get to Tatev Monastery. On the way we met two wonderful cyclists, Stouf and Elo, who where cycling towards Iran. We spent a wonderful evening together, sharing food and experiences of our traveling. They are already 1.4 year on the road and stop sometimes in permaculture farms to help out. It was so wonderful to meet you guys, we have so many things in common! Hope to meet you somewhere on the road again, maybe this time cycling the same way! Follow them on c-levo.wifeo.com
5 May 2018
Armenia: once crossed the border a completely different world opens in front of us. It feels a bit like beeing back in Serbia or Romania: people look different, talk different, eat different and have another Religion then Iranians! We fortunately did not had to drink Vodka for now, but had already delicious bread and cookies :). After the 2400 m in Iran we now have a new record of 2535 m! 1900 m up in only 25 km, that was pretty hard! Armenia will continue to be challenging for us, since it is a continuous up and down on pretty terrible streets. Slowly but safe we cycle!
3 May 2018
From the desert to the jungle! (as Iranians would say, since their translator doesn't know the word forest)
So, from Kashan we took a night bus to Tabriz, which we reached early in the morning. We went back to our favorite free camping place and recovered there for 2 days. And then up the mountains towards Armenia! The colours changed slowly from brown/yellow to green and some trees emerged. It felt like being in another country.
Our last 3 days of Iran were beautiful and peaceful and we climbed our highest pass so far: 2400 m. So we say goodbye to Iran! Thank you to all the wonderful new friends we made in Iran, we will see you again!! But now we are very excited to visit a new country. Armenia here we come!!
2 May 2018
What a horrible behaviour! We love Iranian people, but for sure most of them don't care at all about animals! Next to the free camping in Tabriz, behind the wall, we heard some dogs barking. When we checked for them, the morning we planed to leave Tabriz, we found one of them chained to a tree in the middle of the sun, without water (in the second pic you can see where he was chained). We where so worried! He was hyperventilating and his body was way too hot. We first went with lots of fresh water and the poor dog drank without breathing in between. Then we unchained him and hardly managed to take him into the shade (first pic). He followed us without complaining, but was so week that he fell down a few times on the short way. The other dogs were: 2 small Husky puppies and another dog in bad condition.
So please dear Iranian people, try to treat animals in a better way! They deserve even more than us to live in this world!
29 April 2018
"I've been to the desert on a horse with no name" ...(or a camel)
We had this idea to take a tour into the desert near Kashan, so we searched around for tour guides and even found two other travelers to share the fun. :)
But in the evening our host Moein said that we could also go together with him, if we are back before he needs to open his shop.
So we started early at 5 am at the next morning together with Moein, two of his friends and our spontaneous new friends Niko and Robin all squeezed into a rumbling 4x4 car to chase the sunrise over the desert road.
Sadly there was not much of a sunrise because the clouds woke up earlier than us. Still we had hilarious loads of fun when we all played like kids in the sand of the mighty dunes! :D
We also got to know quite a lot of very handsome camels face to face. A beautiful encounter. ;)
On the way back we drove onto the big salt lake. Suddenly it looked like snow and ice in summer.
Thank you so much guys for this unique experience! :D
28 April 2018
In the afternoon we continued our Kashan sightseeing tour. First we went to the Tabatabaei house, which was constructed in 1834 by a rich merchant family. Its architecture and sheer size were so impressive!
On the way out, we stumbled into another holy shrine, where we were welcomed by a very excited imam, who explained us a lot about his religion and the special features of the place.
Later we followed Elnaz' invitation to the Fin Garden, a beautiful park with a surprising lot of water in fountains and channels. She and her family invited us to a delicious and big vegetarian dinner in their relaxing restaurant right in the garden. Thank you so much! :)
When we arrived in Kashan, we first went to Mr. Coffee, the cozy coffee house of our new friend Moein. After a really great coffee, nice talks and 4 falafels, Moein's friends invited us to come to their village for dinner. "Bring your instruments!", they said. There we sat in a beautiful garden and played some of our music in exchange for the sound of the traditional Persian Tar, which the house owner played like a master!
It was great but very late evening for us before we went back to Kashan, where we spent the night in a spectacular old house of a friend.
The next day we started of course with a coffee at Mr. Coffee. We spent some hours strolling through the old bazaar, where we observed the artisans at work, found a secret staircase onto the hot and sunny roof of the bazaar and refilled our travel kitchen with tea and spices. We ended up at Mr. Coffee (2) again, where we tasted an Iranian cocktail (non alcoholic of course). So refreshing! :)
26 April 2018
The past 6 days we cycled from Yazd to Kashan.
Our feelings about this road are mixed. The first part till Naein is filled with trucks, that partly don't care about two small cyclists on the street and honk you off the road. We got pretty mad, but the landscapes payed back.
The two first pictures are of an "ice house". In there people collected ice during the winter and stored for entire summer. Pretty amazing!
When we saw the "careful camels" sign, we really hoped to see one, but apparently there are no wild camels in Iran. Maybe in Kazakhstan we'll be more lucky!
We also experienced a desert sand storm. The wind came suddenly and through me off my bike, so we had to hide. Luckily we found an abandoned caravanserai to camp in.
We actually camped in many caravanserais the past days, since they are the only buildings you can find in this deserted area.
We were happy to find a quiet, alternative road 90 km before Kashan, which took us through small villages and sandy no man's land!
22 April 2018
Yazd! What a wonderful city with an impressive history. The first 2 days we were hosted by our great friends Honey, Mohsen, little beauty Roshana and their big family! It was a wonderful time with all of them: they explained us a lot about the Zoroastrians and their fire temples, about the water and air systems and filled me (Elis) with delicious food, while Lukas had the chance to recover from his stomach problems :/. Thanks so much for your hospitality and for being so wonderful people! We hope to see you in Italy soon again, to eat a good Italian Pizza ;).
The other two days we spent at a Hostel, the first one for us in Iran, and we found a cool one in the center, with a spectaculer view from the top :). While Lukas relaxed, I went out with Alex, a tourist from Belgium, and we met some other world travelers in the falafel place. We had a great evening talking about traveling and the different countries. So interesting! We will meet for sure in some other place!!
18 April 2018
Between Isfahan and Yazd there is a semi-desertic area with a gigantic salt lake and a wonderful caravanserai (Castle Rabbit) in between. We decided to cross this area since so many cyclists said that it was the best part of their travel in Iran. It was pretty impressive and, although we observed the sand dunes only from far away, it was an amazing and somehow relaxing view :). Four days of cycling with lots of water to carry with us, since between Varzaneh and the next village is no drinkable water. It ended with a tremendous headwind and rain. But still it was worth it! Our first week of cycling (after so long) gave us again so many impressions and the certanty that cycling is the best way to explore the different countries and learn their cultures.
13 April 2018
And so we started cycling again :) we were very excited and had a wonderful first day. It didn't take long that we got invited again in the Iranian style: a car stopped 100 m in front if us and Farnoosha and her husband came out. They told us to follow them to their garden and since we planned to stop anyway, we followed them. We arrived at this beautiful garden where their entire family was waiting. It was a lot of fun: we played volleyball, drank çay and coffee, ate a lot and danced all together! Thanks for the wonderful afternoon. :D
12 April 2018
After 4 month off from cycling, we are back! From Persepolis we planned to take a bus to Isfahan, but two kind guys took us all way with them. Thanks so much! Then we spent the night at Farzin's house. Thank you very much for the last minute invitation and the great breakfast ;).
Finally we reached our bikes at Reza's house. His brother and his parents welcomed us warmly and we spent a relaxing day, fixing the bikes and packing for the next day.
Thank you so so much for sharing your house with our bulky bicycles for such a long time!
11 April 2018
Shiraz is surrounded by ruins from different eras, but Persepolis is probably the most known one. In the morning we went to the bus terminal in Shiraz to check how to get the cheapest way to Persepolis and we found it. For only 2 € we took a small bus (for sure it was the first time tourists took this instead of the 6 € taxi) and reached Marvdasht and then with 1 more € to Persepolis with a taxi.
Persepolis was for sure a unique place. 520 BC a gigantic terrace (15 ha) was build on the bottom of Kuh-e Mehr mountain. On this terrace Persepolis arised.
It was very interesting to see through the virtual reality goggles how this city might have looked like.
10 April 2018
We arrived early in the morning with the VIP night bus and walked through the city until we reached the Citadel. After a great breakfast in the park we started visiting all the beautiful sights of Shiraz: Karim Khan Citadel, the Vakil bazaar, the Pink Mosque and the great Shah-e Cheragh, which is a very spiritual pilgrim location for muslim people. It's the Mausoleum of the 7th Imam's son and our guide told us, that the non-muslims who enter this place are chosen by god and for that reason really admired by the muslims. Many people took pictures with us in the Mausoleum (even more than ouside xD).
After a great but exhausting day in the city, we met with our host Hamid. We cooked together, drank together and played music for each other :). It was short but great. Thank you so much for hosting us and for the wonderful time we could spend with you! See you soon!
9 April 2018
After several days of almost non-stop hitchhiking and nightbusing, we reached Iran's busy capital. We were very happy to meet Hamed on the bus, who invited us to relax at his house. Later in the evening he and his friends showed us some of the most beautiful places of their city: The Persian Gulf Lake and the Nature Bridge. Thank you so much for the great time and of course for the superb Iranian dinner! :D
At the next day we went to the Uzbekistan embassy and applied for our visas (super easy). After that we visited the quite modern palace of the last king of Iran. In the afternoon we met Miri, another crazy worlcyclist and her hosts Honey and Mohse to talk a lot and enjoy Miri's delicious rhubarb cake. We hope to meet you again soon!
Then it was already time to leave, as we took the night bus to our next destination: Shiraz.
7 April 2018
Hitchhiking in Turkey is very easy and people are so great with us all the time. The past days we had again a great great luck. We managed to go all way from Kayseri to the Iranian border in 2 days and over 1000 km with one truck driver! We hitched with so many different people, with so different lifes. I got many wonderful presents and Lukas used the hitch time with the truck to crochet me a beautiful hat for the sun. We had delicious food, but not so much sleep. And one open question: why speed limit 82km/h???
6 April 2018
We started the day lately, but managed to get some great rides from great people. We reached Aksaray at sundown, but we had a place in mind we wanted to go back to: Kapadokya, to our great friend Heval. And so we did. We took a bus for 3€ each and went all way to Çavuşin. The Pal Café of Heval; a place you never want to leave! So relaxing and having so much success!
After a great evening we spent the night at our favorite cave (if you want to know where it is, contact us ;) ).
See you soon Kapadokya, we'll come again!
4 April 2018
With the sunrise we woke up, jumped one last time into the Mediterranean sea water and packed our stuff. Then we quickly hitched to Antalya, where our great host Deniz was waiting for us. Then he showed us the city and we had some great and interesting conversations. Thank you so much for your hospitality Deniz! We'll see you somewhere soon, maybe diving together in warm water. ;)
3 April 2018
Our last day hiking was really beautiful again. We visited Phaselis, an ancient greek-roman harbour, and found another beautiful bay to enjoy the sea for one more time :). We'll come back here for sure!
2 April 2018
The Lycian way.
We followed Adam's recommendation and hiked a small part of the Lycian way between Cirali and Phaselis. What a beautiful path! In this period of the year it's even better because the weather is perfect and there are just a few tourists. We spent two nights in one of these increadible bays, wich we shared with other great backpackers.
Finally at the sea! We missed it so much. And we have to recharge sea air for the next 8 months which we'll spend in central Asia.
It's on our to do list for the future: Walk the 500 km of Lycian way alongside the Mediterranean sea.
31 March 2018
The burning rocks of Chimera.
After an easy hitchhike from Pamukkale to Ulupınar (south of Antalya), we started our sunset/night hike up the mountain of Chimera. When we arrived at the top, under the light of the full moon, we saw the very interesting natural phenomenon of this place: The eternal flames burning from a natural gas source directly out of the ground.
We pitched our tent in a safe distance and sat down in the ring of fire to enjoy the warmth and the silence of the mountains. And of course we cooked some tea on the flames :P
28 March 2018
In the first picture you see our camp spot, only 1 km away from Hierapolis! An ancient greek city which extended above the travertine formations. We walked a few hours between Hierapolis ruins and enjoyed the peace and silence of a warm spring day. While all the other tourists were focused on the travertine pools, we enjoyed especially the lonely paths between the greek ruins. In the end we spent 4 nights here at Pamukkale, 2 days we just relaxed at our camp to recover from our colds and one day we visited the ruins. It was a wonderful relaxing time. Although without this cold it would have been even more beautiful :). Next stop: Mediterranean Sea!
Snow and ice at 20 °C!
This impression comes from the travertine rocks in Pamukkale. These beautiful formations develop because of the warm, calcareous water springs. Many tourists come here every day to relax in the shallow pools and of course to take the obligatory selfie!
We enjoyed the hot day and the warm water, since we both catched a cold. :/
25 March 2018
What a hitchhiking jackpot:
We were just standing around at the exit of Edirne, trying to attract cars with our beautiful thumbs, when Özcan and his lovely kids stopped by. Though the car looked full from the outside, he played some trunk tetris and managed to fit everything inside.
After we started, it came out, that we had almost the same destination 630 km away, so we drove all day together, took the ferry together and spent a night at his aunt's cozy house. The whole family was super welcoming! After they showed us their city Salihli, Özcan drove us to Denizli, just a few km away from our next destination: Pamukkale.
Thank you so much, it was really big luck to meet you! :)
24 March 2018
After another snowy morning in Sofia we hitchhiked through complete Bulgaria and finally crossed the Turkish border by feet. From there two nice guys took us the few km to Edirne in the dark back of their transporter! :o
In the small city we met our good old cycling buddy Günter again! It was so great to spend a day together, talk and share the hundreds of stories of the last one and a half year of travel!
See you on the other side ;)
22 March 2018
Cold cold cold! Though we had great luck with our hitchhiking :) we managed to get all way to Sombor, to our great friend Alex in a few hours and had some relaxing conversations (it's always so great to talk with you Alex!!). See you very very soon our dear friend :*.
Then the big challenge to get to Sofia, Bulgaria, 600 km. And yes we made it! Although we were standing at a small village in the dusk we got our last 170 km to Sofia with a great man :).
Thanks to all drivers who made this possible :). Next up: Turkey!
20 March 2018
The last two days we spent at my great friend Constanze's house! We occupied her room, had some great biologist like conversations (Dr. Pirolacta xD) , had some delicious "Sachertorte" with my cousin Giulia and I had some time in bed to recover from my cold :).
Today we hitched on towards Budapest with the idea of entering Serbia (500 km from Vienna). But we had to stop 150 km before the border, because it got dark and we were frozen and tired. So now we spend our first (and hopefully only) night in a motel on the highway. It's comfy and warm in here :) cheers!!
17 March 2018
We are on the road again!
Yesterday we separeted from Lukas' parents at a gas station on the A3 (it was very hard for everyone) and got pretty quickly to Nürnberg. There we were hosted by Julia and Uli, as last year :). This time we have a picture with Julia, since last time we did not manage to :P. Thanks a lot again you two! See you in Australia?!?!!!
Next stop: Vienna! We are already on a car to get there ;).
Continue following and supporting us on this crazy world tour! :)
9 March 2018
Dear friends, our journey will start again very soon!
Here our plan so far:
We will hitch back through eastern Europe and Turkey and stop for a bit in the south of Turkey - Lycian way :).
Then we will enter Iran again in April, do some sightseeing in the south and come back to Tabriz in the north by bus/train. From there we will enter Armenia and meet with our friend Adam in Yerevan. The journey continues with Adam through Georgia and Azerbaijan. From Baku we will take the ferry to Aktau in Kazakhstan, cycle from west to east through Uzbekistan and reach Tajikistan. There we will climb up the great Pamir Highway, with a pass at 4600m. We are very excited about that road. It's a must for touring cyclists :)
Once we managed that, we will enter Kyrgyzstan and cross to China, from there or from Kazakhstan.
Pfiuuu, quite a big plan! We are so excited!
And you? What do you think about our plan? Let us know and continue following us! Thanks!!
15 January 2018
Holiday from holiday xD great time with our friends in Austria :) but today not much skiing! Hopefully we can go back home tomorrow! :o 1 month left and we are on the road again! Stay connected ;)
24 December 2017
Since we both reached our homes now, this blog will be quite silent during the next months.
We are really glad that we decided for this pause. Nevertheless we are already missing our bikes and looking forward to continue this journey in spring!
We will most probably start again in early March. Of course we will let you know here, so stay tuned! :)
Until then we wish you happy holidays and a merry time of lights!
22 December 2017
Home sweet home.
Thank you Jac for helping me set this new hitchhiking record: Freiburg-Leverkusen in only 5 hours! :D
On the last kilometers I got really excited and then it was pure happiness to finally hug my family again after nine months of travel!
Seems like nothing changed.
19 December 2017
After some beautiful, relaxing days in Rome I had to say goodbye to Elis and started my way home alone. Alone for the first time since we started many months ago; what a strange feeling!
Luckily hitchhiking north worked flawlessly and super fast. I enjoyed travelling through the winter wonderland of Switzerland and after two days I reached Freiburg, where I met my good old friends Inga and Maike. We spent two days happy together before I continued. Möööooouuuh!
11 December 2017
Once we were back home, our friend Paul contacted us saying he is also in Italy.
With Paul and his travel buddy Julian we cycled together in Austria many months ago (bike2climb.wordpress.com). We were all in Iran during the past month but did not manage to meet there. So surprise! Paul visits us in Rome. We showed him the city and let him taste the great Italian food :). Have a good trip home! We will enjoy Rome a bit longer :).
8 December 2017
Back Home! :)
After a night in the ferry from Durrës to Bari, we hitched very fast all way to Rome. Our drivers were all wonderful people and we had great chats! Next time we will stay in Puglia for a longer time and visit the Trullo Santangelo (Agriturismo) of our new friends ;)
At home my dad awaited us and we where extremely happy to see each other after so long. We had a wonderful Italian Pizza! (although not the UNESCO Napoli Pizza xD ).
Good to be home again!
7 December 2017
Four countries in one day!
Yesterday we started thumbing in Istanbul and made it easily to the very silent Greek border. Two nice guys from Macedonia stopped and offered to take us all the way through Greece to their beautiful little country. Late at night we dropped out somewhere in the middle of the mountains at freezing -5 °C. Luckily only seconds later a nice man rescued us and after some hours of customs trouble at the Albanian border, he brought us to his bicycle shop. In there we spent a cold, but relaxing night after such a long day.
At the next day we took the chance to see Albania's capital Tirana, where we found our first Christmas market for this year. It is the first city on this journey where we saw churches and mosques equally spread next to each other.
5 December 2017
Should we call it "hitchflying"? :P
We were much faster than expected and crossed whole Turkey in only two days!
Now we are in İstanbul and met our dear cycler buddy Adam again :)
We started the day with a wonderful brunch prepared by our hosts Nadir and Fatma. Walking along the northern Bosphorus we enjoyed this very calm part of the metropole.
On the way we got a lift by some super friendly Turkish truckdrivers, who smashed all our prejudices and even prepared us a decent dinner in their surprisingly advanced outdoor kitchen.
We are already extremely looking forward to cycle together with Adam again, next year to China! :D
1 December 2017
We are in Turkey again!
In only 4 days of hitching, we crossed all Iran and arrived at the Turkish border. In Doğubeyazit, the first city behind the border, we met Romain, another crazy world cyclist, who came all the way from France and wants to go to the Iranian mountains for the winter, to volunteer in the earthquake region.
We spent our first and Romain's last night in Turkey at Zeze and Mehmed's house. Thank you for the hospitality, the delicious French food and the interesting discussion about Zoroastrian religion! :)
After a long day of hitchhiking to Tabriz, we stumbled directly into a birthday party. Although we were quite tired, we really enjoyed to get to know this part of Iranian culture. We ate, drank, took selfies, danced and sung into the late night. Now we know that Iranians definitely know how to party, even if it is forbidden and the birthday child was only 7 years old! :D
Thank you very much Moni for inviting and hosting us!
30 November 2017
After our first hitchhiking experiences in Iran, we reached Rasht. There we finally met our old cycle buddies Lena and Silvio (aka bikefiction.co) again! We spent two nights together, laughed a lot and talked and talked and talked about all the wonderful things that happened to us during the last months.
Thank you Mostafa for hosting all four of us at your not so typical Iranian place! :)
27 November 2017
Plans are made to change.
Dear friends: Some of you already know it, but for the others this will be quite a big announcement:
We are coming home for Christmas!! :D
The new plan is to leave our bikes in Esfahan and hitchhike back to Germany. We will arrive before Christmas and stay until March. Then we will hitchhike back to Iran and continue cycling.
The reason for this decision is mostly that we miss our friends and family at home. But it also fits nicely into our travel plan: When we come back to Iran in spring, it will be warm enough to cycle overland through the Stans to China. This way we avoid taking the plane to India.
We are extremely looking forward to see you all again at home! :D
Thank you so much Reza for feeding our bikes while we are not there!
26 November 2017
Our last day in Isfahan was pretty impressive again:
After I shrunk a bit on a huge bicycle, Reza took us out in the evening for a "little" walk on the city mountain.
It turned out to be a quite big hike up to the peak! We were very exhausted, but the view paid more than back for the effort! A sea of lights with little island mountains.
Thank you so much for this great adventure, for your hospitality, your relaxedness and all the great food!!
24 November 2017
Esfahan, "half of the world"!
We made it in time to this beautiful city, to extent our visas and visit all its beauty.
At the house of our host Reza, we also got to know Tom, a Swedish cyclist traveling to India. We spent a sunny day together around the city: We saw the huge Naqsh-e Jahan Square, the grand Bazar, the Chehel Sotoun Palace and the Si-o-Seh Bridge, which is beautiful, but pointless now, because the river is dry for 10 years.
The second day it took us 4 h in the police station to get our visa extension, but after that we went to the grand Bazaar and did some shopping for the families! We walked at least 10 km per day, but got delicious free felafel!
22 November 2017
The past days we cycled on a very calm road between wonderful mountains and the pampa. We camped and enjoyed the quiet time together! We also found an abandoned caravanserai!
19 November 2017
Two days ago we met a nice guy on the road, who invited us to his home in Arak. We wanted to go to this city anyway, so we were very happy about the offer!
When we reached the house of Amir and his family, we were overwhelmed by their hospitality!
They cooked fine vegetarian meals for us and we had a late but relaxed night. At the next morning Amir showed us the old Bazaar and his father's fabric shop.
Thank you so much for the great time, for the cake and all the food! ..and for the carpets :P
You are always welcome to our house in Germany!
16 November 2017
After many dry days in this dry country we were suddenly surprised by a naughty little river that decided to flood our road. Pushing through the ugly, dirty and knee deep water our parasitology lessons came to our minds. Luckily no underskin worm drilled into our legs!
In the last days we experienced the coldest nights since last April with nice ice cubes in the bottles for breakfast. So we were happy when the guys at the fuel station allowed us to sleep in the heated prayer room :)
The villages in this part of Iran look really nice with their clay houses. Some of them are empty and in various stages of decay. We stayed in one of them for one night. In there we discovered the most prickly seeds in the world, a huge, bottomless hole of an old well and yet another breathtaking sunset!
14 November 2017
After yet another flat tire we reached the famous Alisadr Water Cave. It is the largest accessible cave of Iran and one of the biggest water caves in the world. It is really a magical place: An 11 km long underground lake with an island in the middle. Complete with an underground harbour and a pedalo boat shuttle. The ceiling of the cave is covered with stalactites and other amazing rock formations.
We spent one relaxed night in the park in front of the cave entrance. There we first met a really nice and far-travelled girl from South Africa and later a group of German tourists appeared and we had a good chat. Who would have guessed that so far from home. ;)
12 November 2017
The past two days where very intense. We cycled over 2000 m altitude in 160 km. Pretty exhausting, but the landscape paid back for our effort! After reaching the first peak (2350 m) it was already getting dark, and we were without water or food. So we stopped at a small village to ask for water and these great people invited us to stay for the night. The entire family was there and we sat there for hours talking, eating and drinking çay. The interesting thing was that I was the only woman between men and only the next day we noticed how many women actually live in that house, but eat and stay in a different room when there are guests!
The second day we reached Bijar after our new record of 104 km. Just arrived, a man invites us to stay at his (beautiful) house and after many çays, food and an earthquake (Iraq-Iran border: 7.2 M) we celebrated his daughter's birthday. Again a very long night and just a few hours of sleep. But we are very thankful to you all! Good luck Farnoosh!
9 November 2017
Sometimes it's good to take a ride!
The forecast showed rain for the entire day and we planned to do over 100 km, so why not accept a ride when one offers you one? Sahid took us all way to Miandoab, even 50 km off his way! Thank you so much :).
On the way to Miandoab we surpassed the wet and freezing Benedikt, who started very early in the morning (not as lazy as us!). So we met in Miandoab and searched for a place to stay for the night. We found a wonderful park! But a group of guys came, telling us it's not safe there and it is cold! So they started to organize a place for us to stay. And they found one! A friendly man hosted us and the guys gave us food :) It was a bit of a overwhelming situation so late in the night but we enjoyed the warm and interesting night. Thank you guys!! :)
The next day we reached our first real river in Iran and went to bed in our tents very early!
The next day we parted from Benedikt, who managed to go back to his >100 km rhythm ;) Gute Weiterreise!
8 November 2017
For the way out of the big city we protected our lungs with some really chic dust masks this time.
We heard of a place called "Kandovan", which is similar to Kappadokya in Turkey and decided to give it a look. What we didn't know is that the place is a real mountain village at 2300 m altitude! So we climbed much higher than expected and spent a night at the slope.
When we finally reached the top, we found a really beautiful village with it's houses carved into the stone. And all the rock houses were still inhabited. Definitely worth a visit, but maybe not by bicycle :P
7 November 2017
We spent 3 nights at Tabriz Free Camping and had some interesting days of sightseeing and shopping.
Walking through Tabriz was very funny, with all the people staring at us and welcoming us to Iran.
The Bazaar was the highlight for us: very old, with many little streets and everything you could need (new outfit for me -Elis-). If it wasn't for a local, who showed us around, we would probably still be wandering around there :)
The bicycle shop was also very cool: 25 $ for Lukas' parts, so cheap!
The only uncomfortable thing was the way back by Bus. We where pushed inside the Bus by the ticket man. Once we clarified with the driver where we had to go, we looked around us and noticed that I was the only woman! Then we realised that the women sit in the back -.- Very strange moment! But as a tourist it was ok.
Back at the campsite we found Benedikt there with two other Germans with their 4x4 truck (Ute & Holger). They are also heading to Oman, so we will meet them again soon!
4 November 2017
The way to Tabriz is a smoggy one. We rolled down the silent hills of northern Iran and suddenly found ourselves on a very busy highway full of old, smoking trucks. Literally a "breathtaking" experience!
When we finally reached the city centre, we were surprised to find some nice cycling lanes.
A guy taught us the correct way to buy bread in Iran: You have to use the broom in front of the shop to swipe off the flour and stones.
In the middle of the city we found a big park with real, green grass, where tourists can camp for free. There are even showers and a kitchen!
When we arrived, the park was empty except for one mysterious tent. At the next morning we got to know our neighbours: Bruno e Federico dall'Italia! They are hitchhiking around the world. Elis was very happy to have an opportunity to talk Italian again! :)
Some great photos of our first days in Iran, by our friend and cycling buddy Benedikt! Thanks a lot for these cool photos of us together xD it happens so rarely :)
2 November 2017
After a rainy night on the top of a plateau we woke up with the sun and a spectacular view! Ararat mountain to the west and Azerbaijan's exclave with its mountains to the north!
With the sun in front of us we cycled alongside the Azerbaijan-Iranian border and reached the St. Stephanos Monastery, after an extremely hard climb with the bikes.
We thought: "This road is for sure not made for cyclists, we are probably the only ones so crazy to climb up here", puff in that moment three other bicycles appeared behind us! A French couple with their guide! We all thought, we could stay there for the night, since on 'openstreetmap' it was marked as a camping place. We relaxed, had lunch together and then we asked....No camping here. Since it is border street it is forbidden to camp, and the street closes at 7 pm. So we hurried into the monastery and then parted from the others, since they where heading West.
It was a short meeting, but a great one! See you in France soon!
31 October 2017
In a flyer, we got at the border, we found a hot spring close to our planned route and decided to give it a try. The "Showt Medical Spa Complex" came out as three small concrete ponds under construction. Still the water was relatively warm and the view was fantastic! Elis had to bath completely dressed, but at least we could enter the water together. Coming out was freezing cold and windy! Luckily the boss of the construction engineers invited us to warm up and rest at his place. He and his two friends (Joseph, Mahmud and Behruz) provided us with çay, food and nice talks and it soon got so comfortable, that we decided to stay there for the night.
At the next morning they escorted us out of the village with the car. We felt really important :D
Thank you very much for explaining the Quraan and teaching us some Farsi; for your hospitality and all the effort!!
30 October 2017
After a good first and last beer 2 km before the Iranian border, we entered Iran. We bet, who and if we would have to unpack all our stuff and show it the Iranian police officers, and we were all sure about it. But No! They have an extra tourist room, where a kind lady asked us again where we will travel in Iran (more for our security) and answered all our questions. Out of the room, the officers made us a way through the crowd and so we entered Iran. First many people came to us with lots of Rials to change money, but we managed to get to the official change office. 100 $ = 4.400.000 IRR! First time Millionaires.
We spent the night alongside a canyon river.
Our very last night in Turkey we spent in a small, traditional Kurdish shepherd village directly at the foot of Mount Ararat. This is the mountain, where according to the legend, Noah's Ark landed after the great flood. With 5137 m it is the highest peak of Turkey and a very impressive sight. Sadly it is right now strictly forbidden for foreigners to climb it because of PKK and military conflict.
Once we got through the military control and reached the little house of Burhan's family, we found a very comfortable place to stay: Every room is covered with carpets and selfmade wool pillows. After we had a hot çay in front of the sheep shit powered oven, another cyclist appeared: Benedikt from Innsbruck. We will cycle together for the next days.
Burhan's sister and mother served us a delicious dinner on the floor and afterwards they unrolled heavy, warm wool mattresses and blankets for the night.
Thank you so much for your hospitality and for the little insight into real Kurdish culture!
27 October 2017
After a nice day off in Erzurum, we started climbing up the long way to the Iranian border. The landscape is so dramatic, that we almost forgot, how exhausting it was: Through deep canyons up to the highest pass so far.
One morning we woke up, because some annoying kids threw sticks at our tent. Very funny...
Fortunately, the rest of the day was much better! We finally had the opportunity to invite two shepherds for a çay; normally it's the other way round ;)
We even met two other German travellers: Anja & Peter. But they have a little bit bigger vehicle than we ride: A huge 4x4 overlander truck! They are heading the same direction as we do, so hopefully we will meet again someday.
We observed several very large, whitish raptors, we were not able to specify (see photo). If anyone of you has an idea what they are, let us know!
24 October 2017
If you want to laugh, here a video made by a Turkish TV about us:
23 October 2017
Today we finally got our Iranian Visa! Yuppi!
So now up to Iran!
Here a overview of our planed Tour through Iran. From Teheran onwards we will cycle again with Silvio and Lena (bikefiction.co), hopefully! We are really excited about this new country and meeting with these great friends again! :*
This great artwork is made by Giulia Pratillo! Thank you so much for this wonderful present! <3
We already set it as our title picture on our website (follow-the-sunrise.webs.com)! ;) Thanks!!
21 October 2017
Bye bye Kapadokya!
Thank you again Heval for the hospitality! And take care of your three young beauties (Birba and the other puppies)!
After a last night in our favourite cave we packed our stuff and started late in direction Kayseri. Adam came with us the first km, but then we finally had to say goodbye for now. :( He will continue South towards the coast, while we are heading East to Iran now. It has been an extremely wonderful month cycling together with you and we are really looking forward to meet you again somewhere along the way!!
(Follow Adam's future adventures on www.medium.com/@adamsultan or instagram: ridetheworld24)
At the next day a friendly truckdriver picked us up and transported us and our bikes the last 40 km to Kayseri. There we are now waiting for the night bus to Erzurum, hoping to outrun the winter by skipping these 600 km.
18 October 2017
What an amazing birthday! Balloons woke us up very early and gave us another amazing show at sunrise. Then we hitchhiked/ took a bus to Derinkuyu underground city. 8 floors underground, connected by stairs and tunnels, with a perfect water and air circulation system and even a big church 50 m under the surface. It was discovered by chance in 1963, although the aboveground town Derinkuyu was already unconsciously using the old underground city wells.
In the evening we looked again for a place to sleep and have a relaxing time. So we found THE PERFECT CAVE. Two warm rooms, a lot of shelves to put stuff, a great view and simply a perfect place to rest. End of the day: cooking bulgur with beans and tomatoes, a pudding cake as birthday cake and Lukas making a "Kalter Hund"/ "salame al cioccolato" for me for breakfast. Perfect birthday! Thank you Adam for the two jars of palmoil-free Torku Chocolate :) and thank you Lukas for the cake and for having this great adventure with me!
17 October 2017
Back to Çavuşin through the White Valley. It is very interesting, how in a pretty small area the structures around us change colour and shape. In this valley we found a lot of delicious apples and grapes and slept in a tunnel where we had a great evening around the fire. :)