THE HIPPY TRAIL - part I
Istanbul to Tehran across Central Anatolia, East Turkey, Iranian Azerbaijan and the Alborz Mountains
> Journeying +7 months from Istanbul to the Himalayas where part I covered Turkey and northern Iran <
A journey through Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and parts of India to reach the Himalayas, isn’t that a thing of the past? That was our initial thought as we got the gist of doing the classic Hippy Trail. We are children of the 1980s, but we know the “Hippy Trail” term and concept. During our childhood and later this term kept conjuring up images of wild, free, and near-broke but optimistic youths traveling in minibuses, trucks, and on motorbikes on dusty paths across the Near Orient. So, we started to study different possibilities and routes to take us overland from Europe to the Indian Subcontinent, and got hooked on the idea. We discovered that the "original" Hippy Trail was never a single thread across the Near Orient, but a web of selected routes. Beyond Turkey and Iran, it would typically continue through Afghanistan or through the southern parts of Pakistan to reach the Himalayas in Kashmir, North India, or Nepal. At that time it was all about dropping out of straight society and avoiding authorities, while using cheap transportation and living on local food.
Our journey along the Hippy Trail took place in the 21st century and we spent +7 months traveling from Istanbul through Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, and into the Himalayas. Our experience is that the thrill remains! Still, there is plenty of mystique, good times and uniqueness attached to the far-flung lands of the Near Orient. We can confirm that it's still possible to press on via hitched rides, cheap buses, and slow trains. And, still, we managed to travel on almost no money. We saw that the “hippies” on the hippy trail of today are not counter-culture-hipsters or beatniks, but rather hardcore travelers who spend anything between two months to one year to do the entire route.
The first leg of this journey covers Turkey and Iran. We start in Istanbul from where we've kicked off several longer journeys and travel across Turkey's coast down to the Aegean cities. The route goes through Üsküda, Sirince, Selcuk, Izmir, Gökova, Köycekiz and down to Daylan. From there, we push south to the Lycian Coast exploring pristine beaches, limestone villages and mountains along the way. Obvisously, this part of Turkey is done off-season which is much more charming.. Highlights on this stretch are Ekinick, Dalaman, Fethiye, Patara, Kas, Ücagiz, Finike, Demre and Cirali - and also a four day trek on one of the most beautiful stretches of the famed Lycian Way. Along the way from Istanbul to Antalya we explore numerous ancient temples and historic sites,ancient temples and exploring historic sites,including Ephesus, Troy, Assos, Treos, Pirene, Pergamum, Miletus, Kaunos, Amuntas, Tlos, Letoön, Sidyma, Xhantos. Pinara, Myra and Olumpos. Then, we cross north-east to Cappadocia via Akseki, Yarpuz and Konya. The latter is the islamic heart of Turkey and a must-see place. After a rendevouz with a snow storm (but also good wather), we continue east to Kayseri, Malatya, Nemrut Dagi, Diabakir and finally Dogubazazik. For more on the remote Kurdish provinces in East Turkey see our 'Kurdistan' page or our climbing adventure on Mount Ararat in Turkish Kurdistan.
In Iran, we travel mostly off-the-beaten-track from Iranian Azerbaijan to Tehran along Jolfa, Tabriz, Mausuleh, Kandovan, Zanjan, Lahijan and Rasth. These places was part of the old Silk Road where for one thousand years traders would transport not just silk but all manner of exotic gods such as jade, gunpowder and rhubarb – while also “carrying” many ideas, beliefs and technological advances from the invention of paper to the great religions of Buddhism and Islam. Finally, before arriving in Tehran, we do some trekkking in Iran's Alborz Mountains - the highest chain in the entire Middle East. For more on Iran see our 'Persia' page, our island hopping adventure in the 'Persian Gulf' or our climb of 'Damavand', the highest mountain in the Middle East.
Continue to 'Hippy Trail II' for leg two on this journey.