This easily erodible landscape also lead to the construction of a multitude of underground cities in the middle ages as a means for the local christians to escape persecution - even more fascination & intrigue.
As usual, if there were mountains and back roads on offer I was heading for them, and so for 500km we did just that en route to the mysteries atop the mountain of Nemrut Dagi. It was tough riding littered with stark mountainous vistas, welcoming rural folk, intimidating and massive (but ‘mostly’ benign) Anatolian sheepdogs, searing heat (as the mercury rocketed into the mid 40’s) and cracking wild camp spots (well except for the one outside a casino that it would appear was a brothel).
Sunset and sunrise are the times to visit, as the statues are positioned on the East and West flanks of the tumulus mound to greet and bid farewell to our faithful star. As we camped there we got to experience both, moving experiences that won’t be forgotten.
Perched on the banks of the Euphrates, Diyarbakir is an ancient city dating back to 1,300 BC with records of civilisation here dating back 10,000 years, its antiquity and significance clearly tangible amidst the imposing basalt city walls encircling the old city and large beautifully intact Caravanserai (a Silk Road trading post).
On the advice of the locals and the presence of armoured military vehicles outside our hotel, we headed out by train until we were well into the countryside.
A rail ferry provided our transport across, which was most entertaining for a train nerd such as myself, and again my sea sickness was kept at bay by an 80km millpond.
For most west to east travellers this is a last stop in Turkey before heading into Iran. However, after six months on the road, wanderlust rather than clocking up miles across the globe was my driving force and as the Caucasus region was a week’s ride north it was begging to be explored…and so thoroughly was it finally explored that it lead to a new mantra for the journey.