After a hefty slog through the mountains intermingled to the Black Sea with great views (pictures are coming), we stayed in our first hotel after a very sweaty day.
The next day, we successfully navigated the D915 and can honestly say it’s the most fun we’ve had a road even topping the Transfagarasan. Luckily, we got our sump guard in Cappadocia (even if they did decide to attach it to our suspension) because this road needed it. After starting off well, we took a wrong turn but there were no complaints as we saw a lovely cool valley making a refreshing change to the heat that we’d been enduring. Once corrected, we bumped into another team and traveled together up the mountain. The road quickly deteriorated from tarmac to dirt track as we delved further south. This continued up to a very sketchy looking bridge which we crossed and the road quickly became some rocks thrown down with a deathly drop. We wound round hairpin after hairpin slowly crawling up, sometimes have to do 3 point turns to make it round and get run ups for enough speed to make it up. After a very tight pass of some Austrians going the wrong way down the one way road, eventually we were at the top and fixing Genghis Carn’s roof rack which was one of the casualties.
From here, we dropped down over the other side and began to head for Georgia. A wrong turn led onto a motorway which again turned out well because after leaving Brother’s be Trippin’ in Istanbul, they just so happened to be on the same motorway at the same point at the same time! We continued the drive to Georgia with them but quickly lost light so set up camp just off the road in a secluded area where no one would find us… but they did.
Not long after setting up camp and getting some soup on the stove, lights climbed up the hill towards us and it quickly became apparent we were about to be questioned by the Turkish army. They took our passports and wondered what we were doing and why. We packed as quickly as we could, throwing everything into the car and did as ordered by Mr Big Gun Man. After realising that we are just a bunch of reprobates on a jaunt over to Mongolia, they escorted us back to the road and off we went. Lovely chaps.
We came to a mutual decision that we would probably leave Turkey at this point before getting into any more trouble and sped to Georgia round mountain roads trying to not fall asleep. The border was a quick process as opposed to the teams at the other border had been experiencing and soon we had our stamps. In the first town, a hotel took us in for the night even though it meant some sleeping on the floor. At that point of the night, we didn’t care and for a fiver, it was perfect. The next morning, Bro’s be Trippin’ left to go paragliding leaving me insanely jealous and we headed off to Tbilisi which we had heard nice things about. We met back up with Yurt Lush and spent an hour or two here which was not enough and needs another trip.
From here, the convoy was over for Genghis Carn and Sightseers. They headed to Azerbaijan and we headed for Armenia. The border crossing should’ve been easy had I not managed to enter the country as a pedestrian leaving the car in no-man’s land. After some discussion, the border guards stamped me back out of Armenia and then back in with a car so now I have been to Armenia twice and Georgia once all in one day! Quickly after leaving the border, a child ran after our car shouting for insurance which was an interesting way of saying welcome but we quickly escaped him even with our 0-60 time of embarrassingly far beyond 10 seconds. Never have we seen someone run so fast in flip flops. The roads deteriorated very quickly into pothole slalom courses and eventually flattened a wheel rim which took a good hammering to get out. Needless to say, it was very slow going. After giving up our original destination, we attempted to find a hotel which took us into an odd town which we don’t think receives many tourists given the looks we got as dogs barked at us trying to find something that didn’t exist. We continued on until a no entry sign but came to the conclusion we can safely ignore it. It turns out that it was no entry as the road was still being built. It took us across what appeared to be a landslide with rocks the size of the car before we found another hotel that actually existed. We quickly agreed to stay despite the expensive price tag as we found out that the road would be this bad for another 30km.
In the morning, we went for a dip in the pool and the Rally Rascals turned up. We convoyed across this 30km of “road under construction” before dropping into a village by accident which barely had roads and reminded us of the D915. Eventually we found tarmac and finally started to make progress. We passed Lake Sevan and onwards to cover a fair amount of distance towards Iran driving the Silk Road of Armenia. Crossway Hostel had us for a night then it was border day. We drove mountain after mountain tacking alongside Azerbaijan (and according to the map going in) before finally hitting the town of Agarak on the border. All the while, my stomach had been turning and steadily getting worse over the day. By the evening, I felt like death and that night was lacking in sleep due to spending most of it on the toilet or with my head in the toilet.
The next day we left Armenia for the delights of Iran which will come in a future post.
Just a reminder, we are still collecting money at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/sightseers if anyone is feeling generous and would like to donate.