After 3 weeks of Northern Caucasus in Georgia we will be traveling Iran. Is wildcamping okay? Any experiences?
Kirstin & Vincent
Adding the bird-view to our journey’s and adventures was one of the reasons we started with Paragliding two years ago.
How special is it to fly over this World Heritage side: the White Terraces (natural travertine formations and hot pools) in Pamukkale and the ancient city Hierapolis.
We were really lucky with the weather: 20 degrees and wind from the good direction. Even when there are no thermal activities we are enjoying these short flights a lot, and starting several times from early in the morning until late in the afternoon.
Tandem flights are (next to ballooning) very popular here, so with the local pilots it’s easy to get a lift back up to the launch.
It’s also special to visit the site by foot, first the ancient city, the theater and old bath house, than barefoot the terraces and pools. There are groeps of tourist from all over the world but mainly Chinese. It is one of Turkey’s favorite destinations because of this natural beauty. .
Pamukkale, is a natural site in Denizli Province in southwestern Turkey. The area is famous for a carbonate mineral left by the flowing of thermal spring water.
The surface of the shimmering, snow-white limestone, shaped over millennia by calcite-rich springs, dripping slowly down the mountainside, mineral-rich waters collect in and cascade down the mineral terraces, into pools below. Splendid.
On the top of the travertine formation the ancient Greek city of Hierapolis was built. The first buildings on the site of Hierapolis appeared in the 2nd millennium BC. One of the most important sights is an ancient theater that is located on the hillside, the overall height of its steps is about one hundred meters.
Hierapolis was famous for its thermal springs and became a healing centre where doctors used the thermal springs as a treatment for their patients.
You still can visit the thermal springs, so we took our swimwear and enjoying the 37 degrees warm water.
To be prepared for the next etappe of our journey – driving into the Caucasus- we decided to change the tires, Continental 14R20 now after 50.000 km. It took a lot of research, apps and emails but finally they arrive just in time in Istanbul at Ünsal’s workplace. The turbo also has to get replaced.
Again we can use all his facilities at his workplace and the help of his mechanics.
Travelling overland is for us driving through unknown countries, about meeting other people and cultures.
Once again we have to repeat that the Turks are very friendly and the selfless hospitality is very special.
We will leave Ünsal, Turkan and their kids Mert en Yigit now. They invited us not only to park our Unimog at their place during our Christmas holidays but also in their family. Also sharing the same passion and humor, exchanging thoughts and to know we could ask anything made this such a great experience.
We left the truck in Istanbul and went home to see our kids, family and friends. At this moment we are preparing for the next part of our journey; Kaukasus; Eastern Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Do you have any good tips or suggestions? Please leave a message underneath this post.
The Caucasus or Caucasia, is a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, mainly comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. The Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus range, have historically been considered as a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
Mount Elbrus in Russia, Europe’s highest mountain, is situated in the Western Caucasus. On the southern side, the Lesser Caucasus includes the Javakheti Plateau and the Armenian highlands, part of which is in Turkey.
The Caucasus is divided into the North Caucasus and South Caucasus, although the Western Caucasus also exists as a distinct geographic space within the North Caucasus. The Greater Caucasus mountain range in the north is mostly shared by Russia and Georgia as well as the northernmost parts of Azerbaijan. The Lesser Caucasus mountain range in the south is occupied by several independent states, mostly by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, but also extending to parts of northeastern Turkey, northern Iran and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh.
The region is known for its linguistic diversity: aside from Indo-European and Turkic languages, the Kartvelian, Northwest Caucasian, and Northeast Caucasian language families are indigenous to the area.
We wanted to check the area around Bursa because there is one of the bigger skiareas of Turkey in the Uludağ National Park. In goed years the ski season already starts mid of December.
Perhaps a chance for us for a snowboard season opening in Turkey… Bursa is a World Heritage Area as the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and now a modern city. A Teleferik reaches the skiarea Uludağ from middle in the city.
Until now there is only snow at the top and no Paragliding allowed up there.
We decide to snowboard there when we’ll back in February. Therefore we search for another place where we can fly in Gürsu. Here we also want to do some little maintenance at the Unimog and get it washed again. The road s here – some screws loosen – fantastic how Vincent always tries to fix or repair everything and never gives up.
Finally we also find somebody who upholster the passage to our cabine with us. So great: somebody trying and finding or knowing somebody who can help, we have to drink a couple cups of çay and coffee and at the end we get invited to a local restaurant. It’s unbelievable how hospitable and friendly the Türkish people are.
More than once a car just tried to stop us while we were driving. They were so enthousiast that they invited us immediately to visit their city or homes and stay for çay (tea).
Again we are lucky – really accidentally we meet a local tandem pilot – he joined us with flying and his wife wants to bring us back to the truck.
We spend two nights up on 800 m with again a great view over Gürsu, the valley and on the mountain-tops of the Uludag NP, and with only some goats 🐐 and sheeps around us.
We are taking some more little roads up to Bursa and crossing a canyon. It’s a National Park… the Sadagi Kanyoni National Park.
After a foggy morning the sun surprises us – perfect for a 4 km walk/hike through this little wonderland between rock walls. A slippery rocky canyon hike with a bit of climbing and water crossing.
Hmmmmm 😊 wet shoes, wet dog but absolutely worth.
If possible we stop for all the invitations we get for çay – a little glas of strong black tea, mostly you have to add sugar.
Such a great experience to meet local people- trying to talk with hand and feet, sometimes without words and sometimes with the translation app… “çay için teşekkürler”
Some farmers invited us this time in a poor little village – so friendly, their eyes, smile and laughter….
We are deeply greatful for encounters like this.
After our cultural, archeological and city trips the last days we are happy to be back in nature.
We are stopping bij some flyabable sites of the Paragliding Map app. People marking launch and landing places in there – but in Turkey it is so far always an adventure what they mean with a rated ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ place to fly. Sometimes the landing is in the middle of a city, or in a riverbed. Sometimes it’s impossible to reach with the truck.
But sometimes we get a little present as place.
In Halitpasa we are at the right place at the right time. Meeting coincidentally a very funny groep of local pilots who took us (all together, 8 pilots with gear!!!!) in and on their only pick-up car up to the launch. Happy after an hour soaring flight in great late evening light and a lot of fun with these guys.
We reach another launch in Merkez the next day. Marked with a huge banner over the road. Haha The landing is a little rocky flield between some farms at the boarder of a very little village (some houses), the launch a grasfield with probably a beautiful view over the lake…. If it wouldn’t be this foggy.
One pilot just wants to start and even with the fog we decide to fligh also…. He offered us to bring us back up afterwards.
Sometimes we are over-enthusiastic: Vincent’s glider get stocked on one of these plants and one of the lines get cut.
The gliders are wet from the fog and muddy from this landing-field …. 😬
But… some of our favorite places for the night are exactly these take off places up on the mountains.
We arrive in Ìzmir with a grey sky.
Even when we get a perfect parking spot at the pier we take the bikes to explore the city. But our bicycle tour only gets very short… we don’t come further than to the Kemeralti bazaar.
Passing Konak Meydani with the famous clock tower, the symbol of Ìzmir, and the very small Konak moskee we park the bikes to dive into the labyrint of the browsing Kemeralti bazaar.
We are spending the whole afternoon in these uncountable narrow people-filled streets, where the juice and nut vendors just form the first front of the great maze of shops modern and traditional – accurately described as the true heart and soul of the city.
Izmir, or Smyrna in ancient Greek, has always been an important Aegean sea port, and as such, a city where people from all over the place lived and traded, mostly harmoniously.
YOU FIND EVERYTHING IN A TURKISH BAZAAR Getting lost in these crowded and colorful streets is gorgeous… unexpected treasures everywhere. No tourists here at all – no one bothered us to buy, unlike we heart of some touristic parts of Turkey. I love to buy some spices, herbs, vinegar soaked vegetables and fish, to sit in one of the little tea corners for çay and just watching the locals. People are dressed modern and we see almost non women with hidchab (headscarf).
As a lot of you know me I want to try almost everything especially in the shops with sweets: Turkish honey, nougat nuts…. Hmmmm.
Back at the Mog it starts to rain again. We search a city campsite (only third night at a campsite in our 3 month road-trip now) and spending there a sleepless night because of a Turkish wedding next to the campsite, barking dogs and trucks…..
We leave early for a run at Ìzmir’s iconic seafront promenade Kordon. Walking and bicycle paths, grassed stretches, surrounded with bars, cafes and restaurants and the iconic sea on the other side.
It’s a great morning run with beautiful sun and 18 degrees warm temperature.
Leaving the growing city with the view on the skyline from modern Ìzmir and the amazing city quarters along and up the hill.