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Part of my route plan involves the three countries mentioned. I was hoping I´d have plenty of time at hand, but now it looks like that might not be the case.. and I`d like to spend some time in India anyway, so perhaps Im trying to get there quickly.
Am I too optimistic to think I could make it from Greece all the way to India in, say, 2-3 weeks? Looking at the route, it seems theres close to 2000kms in Turkey, at least 2000kms in Iran, and more than 1000 in Pakistan. Ive done 5000kms in a shorter time several times, but Ive never been to these 3 countries, so I dont really know about the road conditions in each country and their rural areas, etc.
I´ll be starting off September, riding 2-up on a Vstrom650. On good roads its relatively easy to cover up to 500-600kms per day, but I guess they wont be good all the way?
Do you think it would be a good idea to fit some more offroad-rubber, or can you do the whole stretch on standard "dualsport"-tyres (if you keep on the main roads 90% of the time, that is?) I´d figure tyres of these sizes probably are not widely available in these countries, so maybe it´d even be worthwhile to carry an extra set of them, too (though I´d like to avoid that, as we will have more than enough luggage already?)
Is getting gasoline possibly a problem in any of these areas? My bike can do 350kms with that load, and I will probably carry 5 liters extra which gets us close to 450kms.
All info & experience regarding these, or any other things considering this route, would be heartily welcomed! Pekka
If it's a matter of going to India as quick as possible you can make from the Greek border to Iranian border in 2 - 2,5 days in Turkey... And (apart from being too expensive when compared with other countries) fuel will not be a problem for your VStrom.
But if it's also a matter of travelling, then I would suggest at least one full week for Turkey.
Follow Greece to Istanbul - 1 full day
Istanbul to somewhere in Western Anatolia (Izmir, Kusadasi...) - 1 day
Somewhere south (Antalya) or inland West (Denizli-Hierapolis...) - 1 day
South coast line (Antalya-Anamur-Silifke Mersin) or east to Konya - 1 day
Nevsehir - Cappadoccia - 1 day
Adiyaman Nemrut Mountain - 1 day
1 more day in East (Van-Dogubeyazit) and/or Southeast (Diyarbakir-Mardin)
ok, thank you for that! Yes, I also do hope that I would have at least a few weeks for each country, because it´d be a shame to just ride through and miss all the exciting places (just checked out some travel reports from Turkey, and it does look very interesting to say the least!) Then again, its probably never possible to see everything on one trip, will be easier for me to return to Turkey some day, rather than India I guess...
Do you know if there are any sensitive areas in the east of the country at the moment? Are you free to travel all over the country, any specific places that are perhaps best to avoid?
Also, do you happen to know if there is service available for bikes such as mine in the east of the country? Maybe if I´d get a set of new tyres before crossing into Iran, then perhaps it could be possible to not carry them with me, as they need a lot of space.
btw, how much does ´expensive´ fuel cost in Turkey..? See, I live in Finland, and over here its nearly 1,4 euros per litre at the moment!! It surely is a big plus that the bike isnt very thirsty, when covering long distances.
You need neither dual sport tyres nor a 5l canister. Fuel is available everywhere on your route. Petrol is most expensive in TR at 1.4 Euro/l. Fill up before crossing the border and run your tank down before Iran.
Get road tyres. Two-up you don't want to go off road anyway. Get whatever lasts. Tyres are available in Adana, but may have to be ordered in. There is nothing beyond that. I travelled the coast road and stayed on that to the Southern border crossing near Yueksekova. Very scenic and I didn't encounter any travel restrictions, but pesky army checkpoints that took half an hour to record my details.
Roads in Iran are excellent. You can cross the country in a few days easily. Normally, foreigners currently get police escorts from Zahedan to the border, altough I managed to avoid all checkpoints until Mirjaveh, 7km before the border.
Good highway in Pak until Dalbandin, where you should stay the night. Poor single lane tar road with a fair amount of traffic until Quetta. I don't know the roads beyond that as I travelled through Loralai Northwards.
It seems that you crossed very recently from Iran to Pakistan.
I intend to go from Zahedan to Quetta in the beginning of June (around the 7th).
Could you tell me how is the situation now ? Has there been any big problems involving travellers recently ?
Could you also tell me about these escorts ? Are they mandatory ? Do we have to pay for it ? Is it in Pakistant and Iran ?
etidar, you posted almost exactly the same questions that I had in mind! I´d also greatly appreciate any answers to these.
Also, has anyone gone from Iran to Pakistan in the extreme south?? I mean places like Panjgur or Turbat in Pakistan, or anyway closer to the Arabian Sea, and then to Karachi. Thats because I´ll be heading to the south of India, so crossing into India as south as possible would suit me fine.
Or maybe that is not possible at all (poor roads, no international borders or other problems) and you need to go further north to cross into India, is that so? I need to do some more research on this..
Apparently, the authorities consider Zahedan unsafe at the moment. All foreigners coming from Pak are collected at the Mirjaveh checkpoint and escorted past Zahedan. Somehow, coming the opposite way, I managed to cruise through all the checkpoints without being stopped, in one case deliberately hiding behind a passing truck, so I didn't get an escort until Mirjaveh, for the last 7km. Yes, the escorts are mandatory, but the cops are friendly and I don't think you have to pay.
My advice: stay at Akbar's guesthouse in Bam, leave very early in the morning and try to cross the border the same day without stopping anywhere. Note: last gas station open is in Mirjaveh village, you need to turn right well before the checkpoint. There are long queues at this station so you may want to buy from a street vendor instead. Alternatively, there is a pump just past Zahedan, might be worth filling up there instead. The checkpoint is hell, try to get a cop to guide you through.
The border closes early, as Pak is 1.5h ahead of IR.
There is a PTDC motel in Taftan not far from the customs house that is supposed to be good. I recommend staying there and also in Dalbandin, as the road seriously deteriorates soon after and I don't think you can reach Quetta before dark (650 km).
I didn't get any escorts to Quetta.
The head honcho in charge of issuing visas in Abu Dhabi told me that there is a new coastal highway from Gwadar to Karachi. However, getting to Gwadar could be a challenge. Lonely Planet writes that all of the coastal region is unsafe for travellers, there are no roads to speak of and it's off limits to foreigners. I don't have any first-hand info on that.
You can't cross the border anywhere else but in Mirjaveh and the only open border crossing into India is the one near Lahore.
In Pakistan I had escorts in Ziarat and Loralai. I recommend trying to travel without a permit, that way you are less likely to be escorted. Bypass Ziarat (nothing to see, but friendly enough place). Temperatures in the Indus valley will be around 45-50C. It's a lot cooler in the mountains. You will have to go down into the Indus valley from Zhob to DI Khan. In the latter stay at the hotel by the river, it's aircon and away from the dust. There is little traffic on the mountain roads, scenery is good, after Zhob there is a long section where all bridges and river crossings are gone, many under reconstruction. This will be a little tough two-up, there were numerous river crossings and dirt sections.
In Kohat try to use the tunnel, alhough on a bike you may be turned back. In that case you will have to use the pass. This is nicer, but the road comes out in Darra, theoretically off-limits. I rode through, but friends in a van got stopped and sent back over the pass, then detained for 4 h. It's a matter of luck, like so many things in the Third World.
Thanks a lot for this very precise answer.
I can hardly find anything else to ask but yet one thing :
- Is the Carnet de Passage en Douane required in Pakistan ?
- Is the Carnet de Passage en Douane required in India ?
- Has anybody yet abandoned a vehicle in India ? How do I have to do to be sure I get my CPD money back and I can return in India without being imprisoned ?
IMHO you can easily manage to ride from the border to Quetta within one day. No reason not to (from a tourist's point of view).
Rode from Quetta to the border within one day last November and arrived well before sunset, although I travelled in a convoy with some italian trucks for the first part of the trip to Dalbandin. They could not go faster than 60 k and had to get off the road and to stop quite often.
We started 1/2 hour before sunrise, but that won't be necessary if you go in in Summer. I guess the heat will be more bearable when you keep riding, too (the temperatures were pleasant to cool in November).
Yes, the road deteriorates after Dalbandin, but I did not find it that bad at all, just narrow and a little bumpy. I did not even have to leave the road for trucks. In case somebody tells you about sanddunes on the road: yes, there are some on a very short section, but they never covered the whole road. Also, the only construction zone I encountered was just 3 k long. Might have changed, of course.
Don't forget to refuel in Dalbandin, as fuel prices from the street vendors are about 50% of what you'll pay in other parts of Pakistan.
ok, this is all very valuable info, thank you so much for these!
I once had to ride thru some sand dunes in the Namib desert, but they didnt cover the whole road.. surely couldve quickly turned into a problem, if they did. Also wasnt a nice idea to get caught up in a sandstorm, do you know if such conditions are common in desert areas were discussing now? Must you carry all water with you like in Namib, or can you buy it along the way?
And what about the roads & travelling when getting closer to Lahore & proceeding towards the border of India.. anyone know the name of the crossing and/or the closest town on both sides? That road may be more travelled, as its between heavily populated areas, is that right?
And while its clear there are no-go, or at least relatively unsafe areas in Pakistan, it seems a lot more common to hear quite positive things about this country and its people. Few people have actually had (or reported) any real problems regarding safety?
Hi Pecha !
Being from pakistan, let me update you about some latest which you may find useful.
Sand dunes/Sandstorms. Sand dunes in route are not much of a problem. Just ride carefully across them. As for sandstorms, they may occur any moment but are less likely in september/ october. You can spot them from quite a distance. Best evesive action would be to park some distance off the road and cover yourself/ bike in a tarp/ sheet. If you already don't have one, I suggest you buy one as soon as you reach pakistan. In pakistan, you will see many men wearing big, shawl-like piece of cloth(especially in winters). Its pretty useful thing and has many other uses apart from weather protection. Sand storms are normally mild and last a few minutes.
Water: Clean potable water would be a problem. Best would be to always carry bottled water( Nestle, AVA, sparklette) are widely available. Always check the seals( some are counterfeits). If these are not available, re-fill at the nearest mosque. Being a westrener, you are more likely to fall victim to "Delhi belly" (bcz of spicy foods/ contaminted water) but you can buy drugs without doctors as well.
S&S : Contrary to unfortunate media hype, Pakistan is not as unsafe as the general perception in the west. Being mostly a tribal society, Pakistanis cherish their traditions of hospitality ( sometimes to the level irritation).Just follow the usual travel precautions, avoid travelling in the dark, don't tell anyone your travel plans etc. Escorts may seem irritating but I would strongly recommend while in Baluchistan. Just try to strike rapport with the cops and you'll find them more entertaining. For the rest of Pakistan, you don't really need them.
"Escorts may seem irritating but I would strongly recommend while in Baluchistan"
Have I understood correctly, that the police will escort you, only if they think the situation necessitates it, or they do it all the time... and it´ll basically be free of charge, or at least it will not cost a fortune?
And what exactly is it, that you may need these escorts for? Local tribesmen fighting each other, militants targeting tourists (now that wouldnt sound very inviting!) or what? Ive heard from many places that Baluchistan is a volatile area, and I would probably not ride through it, if there was a sensible option, but if Im wanting to go thru Pakistan from Iran to India, there seems to be few choices.
And the area closer to the Arabian Sea (west of Karachi & south of Quetta), thats not very highly recommended for tourists either, am I right?
To the best of my knowledge, I have never heard a tourist either being kidnapped or physically harmed while travelling in Pakistan. Individual travellers don't fit into the equation of tribe vs tribe, government vs tribe or government vs Al Qaeeda. These sort of things are planned well in advance.
If you are not CIA or Al Qaeeda, you don't need to worry too much about these things. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time would be rather unfortunate and could happen to anyone.
Escorts: Not mandatory for you, but mandatory for the cops. In the eyes of the government, its the local cops responsibilty to ensure your safe passage. If they fail, government comes down real hard on them. So they don't take ANY chances..( even if its as peaceful as a graveyard)
There is a nominal fee, but the head cop can waive it off he wants to.
Why I recommend: In Pakistan, police escorts are reserved only for VVIP's and foreign tourist, so enjoy those few hours of being a VIP. And they can guide you to alternative routes if your planned route is closed due to some reason. Added protection is always good.
Baluchistan is a volatile area, in fact whole Pakistan is after 9/11. But as i mentioned earlier, foreign travellers are never bothered if they are not a party to the complex tribal/ political set up. I would be more concerned about the crazy traffic rather than being kidnapped or blown up.
Areas around Arabian Sea: not recommended; 1. Far away from your intended route 2. Roads not suitable for bikes ( whatever they were, they got washed away in the recent floods. If you have spare time, why not do Karakoram Highway.
I am currently in Pakistan after doing this route, personaly I think that is way too short a time to do it in. Firstly you want see anything of the countries. Roads are good in Turkey and you can cover lots of miles, petrol is expensive at 2 euros a litre and watch for speed traps.
Iran has good roads but it is a big country and there are problems getting fuel. Check some other threads for more details on that, but there had just introduced a smart card system and have now started rationing, so I believe. No card no fuel and as a foriegner you cant get one.
Pakistan is hard going and the roads are shocking. It takes two hard and hot days to get from the border to Quetta. It was touching 50 degrees when I came through.You will want to take a break at Quetta, as the next section is harder.The road through to multan is the worst I have ever ridden , and I have been around a bit.At times you will more than likely have to get your pillian to walk as it is bloody hard. Once you get into Punjab you will be picked up by the police hoiw will insist on escourting you at 50 KMH. Plus you will have to stop many tme to fill in there silly books.
I`m painting a bad picture, but I would advise giving your self time , things will go wrong and there will be delays, you need to buld in time for this and for some down time. Plus I think its impotant to enjoy the countries that you are traveling through as this is the esence of motorcycle travel, other wise you might as well fly.
Plus watch out for the speed humps there everywhere and just the standard of driving, there only one rule here - every man for hime self!
Thank you Stuart, its excellent to hear from someone who´s doing it right now.. my plan is to go there September-October, so will probably be considerably cooler then. Dont want to leave it too late, either, as I hear it can actually get bloody cold in some areas. You are of course right, I should take my time and enjoy the trip more that way..
About fuel in Iran, I assume you had to find a way around this new rationing system - or did they just start it, after you had passed thru there? It seems that fuel in Iran has just gone from very cheap to probably very expensive.
And the "worst" roads in Pakistan, in what way are they bad.. pavement broken in many places perhaps? Are they passable with a normal car, or only 4x4´s do those stretches?
I was under the impression that main roads are paved even in Pakistan, may be wrong though. I´m hoping theres not a whole lot of soft sand (or mud) to ride through, because a 200kg bike, heavily loaded and 2-up certainly wont be the best tool for that job!
Would you recommend to get tyres that offer a little grip on soft terrain, too? I was planning to just get something that´ll last a long time, but if there are considerable distances with really bad roads, then I may have to reconsider.
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