Day 9: Trabzon to Dogubayazit
We headed south with Team Quokkastan into the mountains to visit the Sumela Monastery 46 kms from Trabzon. The Sumela monastery was founded in the 4th Century AD by 2 Athenian monks and over the centuries fell into disrepair and was restored by various emperors. It was abandoned in 1923 during the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. It is situated in the Altindere National Park at an elevation of 1200m. It overlooks forests and streams, being perched on the side of a mountain. The drive there was so scenic, with dense forests and numerous rushing streams. It was a sight to behold sitting on the cliff face.
After the monastery, we had an early lunch at a nearby cafe to prepare ourselves for the long drive ahead.Lentil soup, bread, beans and chai. Great food!
As we continued south and later east towards Erzurum, we drove through some incredible valley scenery. Breathtaking at each bend.We had to stop and take pictures.
As we went further east near the Iranian border, the land, being on the rain shadow side of the mountains, became drier and flatter, but phenomenally interesting at the same time. Long sweeping roads, usually double divided roads of good standard, lead us on.
Finally, nearing Dogubayazit, we saw an Iconic site. Mount Ararat. Turkey’s highest mountain at 5137m, covered with snow at the tip. Also obvious along the way were walled military compounds, heavily fortified and armed. Both a sign of being near the border, as well as being in a predominantly Kurdish area.
After meandering through Dogubayazit looking for our hotel, as even Tom Tom did not recognise the streets in this town, we we fortunate enough to get close, and Jeff asked a local where it was, only to have it pointed out 100m away. Nirvana.
It is a fantastic hotel. The old backpackers by the same name was knocked down and this was only finished 2 months ago. Our rooms face Mt Ararat and the roof top terrace looks directly at it. All mod cons, superb standard. We had some wine with the kurdish friend of the owner on the rooftop terrace discussing all things about the town and learning about kurdish culture and aspirations. We then went off to a local diner for pide and salad before retiring for the night. Tomorrow Iran!
Andrew and Jeff
Mongolia Charity Rally 2015