Check out all the photos of this trip on our Facebook page ” African Trails Overlands and Safaris” as we have been having problems with the photos.


Our last country for the trip and it’s a whirlwind of activity. First stop is Goreme and the famed fairy chimneys and underground cities of Cappadocia. Formed when Mt Erciyes erupted, Cappadocia is like something from another world with its honeycomb cliffs, and columns, pyramids and mushrooms of rock (and a few other interesting shapes which can be left to the imagination!).  The town itself has an old world charm and we soon familiarize ourselves with the local markets, eateries and of course the bars. At the Cave Bar the guys meet Ed from Georgia which is a nice reminder of home for Ches, and soon the southern accents are flying! (Thanks again Ed for your hospitality in Goreme). Downtown, Mike and Rebecca climb hillside to view the Goreme Open Air Museum from above, with Jose and Carrie stopping in to see the medieval frescoes of the monastic churches.

As the next day dawns Dean, Ches, Vicki and Rebecca are up with the sun and up in the air floating above Cappadocia in a hot air balloon.  The views are breathtaking, and we drift above the pink-hued Rose Valley and then across the aptly names Love Valley (we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!). We climb to 400m and then drop down to navigate a cliff-face and through some trees before a relatively bump-free landing and some celebratory champagne.  It’s an indescribable experience and one definitely worth doing.

Back on terra firma and the group heads off on tour. We start at the Goreme Panorama, with stunning views of the entire landscape. Then it’s underground to Derinkuyu, the largest underground city in Cappadocia, which covers 8 floors and contains a myriad of tunnels, shafts and rooms cut into the rock. We then hike the Ilhara Valley, a canyon full of rock-cut churches dating, stopping for lunch river-side and then on to the Selime Monastery, the hive-like caves featured in Star Wars. We stop to view the vista and the birds of Pigeon Valley before finishing with a demonstration of onyx jewelry making.

After a full-on day of sight-seeing it’s a quiet night, but we are all excited by a surprise visit from Joost who is in Turkey as part of another whirlwind world tour.

Leaving Goreme and it’s a long drive day to Olympos, famed for its ancient ruins, Chimaera (eternal flame) and tree-house lifestyle. Also known for its party atmosphere we make the most of the cold beers and the dance floors of the local bars. Waking with a few sore heads amongst us, Jose, Carrie, Shadow, Sue and Rebecca take a dip in the Med via the ancient ruins of Olympos. Mike, Dean and Willy are on the water early, sea-kayaking through caves and under bridges to see the underwater ruins, with Dean and Mike finishing the day rock-climbing. Ches and Mark also take to the sea and head out for a day of fishing.

From Olympos the next stop is Oludeniz with its lagoon perched right beside the national park. One of the hot tourist spots of the Med, we make the most of the turquoise waters by taking in a boat cruise stopping at the Blue Cave (where Mike earns himself a free beer by taking a leap of faith off the cliffs above),  Butterfly Valley and St Nicholas Island, and taking frequent dips in the crystal clear water.  A great day is had by all and we finish with a group dinner to farewell Sue, who heads back home to the UK.

Being the tourist spot that it is, Oludinez also gives us the opportunity to catch up on some much needed chores. While the lads watch the Aussies beat South Africa in the rugby, Vicki, Ches, Carrie and Rebecca discover the wonders of a Turkish bath (and after nearly 10 months on the road, being scrubbed from head to toe is truly welcome!), massage and a long-needed pedicure.

Clean and shiny we leave Oludinez for Selcuk and the ruins of Ephesus. On route we stop to see the white ledges of Pamukkale, the travertine pools which hang over the ledges of the plateau. It’s slippery work wading through the pools but we are in awe of the stunning site of this natural wonder. From Pamakkule it’s onwards to Selcuk, the gateway to Ephesus. The ruins of Ephesus are renowned as the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean, and we find the Library of Celsus with its sheer size and detail the most impressive, while the Roman men’s toilets provide the best photo opportunities.

We leave Selcuk and head up the Aegean Coast towards the Gallipoli Peninsula. We do a final ferry crossing from Canakkale to Eceabat, leaving Asia behind and crossing back into Europe.  Eceabat is a small waterfront town, but an ideal base to visit the battlefields of Gallipoli. Gallipoli is the backbone of the Anzac legend and touring the site is a wealth of information on the history of the Allied campaign to knock Turkey out of WW1 and open a route to Russia. We visit the war cemeteries and pay our respects to the hundreds of young men (the youngest only 14) who lost their lives at this site. We stop at Lone Pine, The Sphinx and the Nek, before walking past the last of the sunken trenches where the Allies and the Turks battled each other, in some places from a distance no greater than 8 metres apart. It is a sobering experience and we leave the site with greater understanding and regard.

From Eceabat we are on the final leg through to Istanbul. Although flooding has closed some of the roads we get a drive-by tour of the city as we find a spot to park up the truck.

After 43 weeks, 301 days, over 43,000 kilometres, 29 countries, 29 passengers, 9 flat tyres, 1 prop shaft, frequent flip-flop blow outs, too many beers (and toilet stops) to count, and endless fun and adventure we arrive at our final destination, Istanbul.

Our heartfelt thanks and indescribable appreciation to Mark “The Weasel” Pearce, our driver, tour guide, super-mechanic, life-saver, spaghetti chef extraordinaire, RAS founding member (not to mention the Roxette singing and dancing) and much more, who took us all the way from Spain to Istanbul!