Here we are, sipping our morning coffee in the hills of central Italy. Stunning views surround us. Patchwork fields, walled cities, long strips of beaches and a sea that changes colour from teal green to dark blue. We should be outside, enjoying all these sites while we have a “home away from home” for the next few weeks. Instead, we’re glued to our computers, trying to figure out the next step of our journey. It should be easy. We should have it all worked out by now. We don’t though. Instead we are just starting to unbury our heads from the sand and now our minds are spinning when we look at the bureaucracy that going beyond Turkey entails.
Iran and the string of `stans are all fascinating destinations to us for a variety of reasons. Of all of them, we have heard tales of generous hospitality for cyclists. We have no fear, despite the often negative news headlines, but which way to go and how to get there? We could try for a visa for Iran but we need a backup plan since chances of being admitted to the country seem to depend on the whims of the person in the embassy on any given day. Turkmenistan is a 5-day visa and so would entail a rush across the country and we need onward visas, so where to get them? Are the dates fixed? How long does it take? Then we realise cycling through Tajikistan means going along the Afghan border. Is it safe and will our family worry? So many questions to answer.
Then we hit on an idea. We will try for an Iranian visa and go straight through to Pakistan. Only two applications and two fascinating countries. Super. Wait. Then we read great accounts of cycling through Central Asia. We don’t want to miss that either. Uuuuuuuurrrrrgh! Such are the quandries we find ourselves in. The information available is sketchy and unreliable and we want to go everywhere and can’t decide on a route.
We have put up a poll so please vote and help us decide. Otherwise we might end up permanently stuck in Europe through sheer indecision!
- 14% – Iran, Pakistan, India
- 9% – Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan
- 6% – Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan
- 34% – Georgia, Azerbajan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan
- 17% – Just fly to Australia!!
- 17% – Georgia, Armenia, Azerbajan, Russia, Kazakstan, (Turkmenistan), Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, China, Pakistan, India
- 3% – I’ve heard fantastic things about Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and not a bad word about the security situation. Then through China to the KKH…if you can, and depending on the time of year a trip to Chitral is well worth it (including the Kalash tribes south of Chitral). Another fantastic route is to head up to Srinigar from Pakistan and over the Zoji La to Kargil and via the Lamayuru Monastary to Leh. Then a trip down from Leh to Manali via the monster passes…just a thought…happy to exchange emails if it helps…cheers (another Mather owner)