We need 2 days for this trip. It is not such a log distance (approx. 140km) and the meter of hights are no problem at all. What is really timeconsuming is the fact, that the scenery is just too beautiful to rush through. We have to stop all the time, marvel at the mountains, the canyons, take picture, start biking again, stop again, marvel again, take pictures again…it goes on like that all day. When riding through these canyons we feel like little ants. On the right and left side are these huge and steep cliffs, only the river and the road wiggle through the valley. Once again we realise how lucky we are be on this trip.
It is the first time on this trip that we will be camping, as there is no hotel around. On the way we buy some fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, yoghurt, fruits, bread and 5 liters of water. Everything else we already bought during our stay in Erzurum. Just in time before it gets dark and after having passed a little but very steep hill - with the additional 5 l of water it was rather tough – we found a nice little place after 100km, just at the lakefront of lake Tortum. Actually, it was an official campground, but it was still closed. Nevertheless we decided to spend the night here. We pitch the tent just in front of the lake. It takes some to pitch it, as we don’t have the routine yet. Back home we just pitched it once in our garden to ensure we can manage it. We didn’t bring any instructions with us, but we finally succeded getting our “hotel” ready for the night, remembering what we did wrong back home. We also stored our air mattresses and sleeping bags in the tent. Markus got the gas cooker ready, while I was preparing dinner. It was a simple but delicious meal: salad, soup with pasta, bread and some cookies. Markus also lighted a fire, the moon was shining, it was like in the movies, very romantic, wouldn’t all the morquitos been around!
During the night Markus waked up: his air mattress was loosing air. He was really angry! At 2am he wrote a complaint mail to Transa (that’s the place we had bought the mattresses). In the meantime he got an answer, but nothing that would solve the problem right now; Transa suggested to bring the mattress back!
The next morning it took a bit more time than usual to get ready. We are just not used yet to pack the tent, the cooking gear and everything else.
Early afternoon we arrived in Yusufeli. Yusefely is a village with approx.. 8000 inhabitants. It is the region as such that is known for it’s scenery, the trekking possibilities and also the historical Georgian churches and monasteries. Unfortunately, the village Yusufely won’t exist much longer. Turkey is building one of the biggest dams worldwide. 1/5th of the electricity of Turkey shall be produced here. Yusufely will therefore be flooded, the inhabitants will be transferred to some other places. It is very pecular for us to walk through the village, see all these people who have an unknown future ahead of them. As they don’t have much, they don’t have the opportunity to escape, they just have to wait and see, what the government is going to offer them once they have to move.
Yesterday ( Saturday) we went for a daytrip with our bicyle but without our luggage! What a feeling to be travelling with a light weight! We went up the valley to Altiparmak. There was a lot of traffic and it was very dusty, mainly big trucks were passing us due to the dam project.
Altiparmak is known for a historical highlight (according to the travel guide). A Georgian basilique dating form the 10th century, which at some later stage was also used as a mosque. Unfortunately we couldn’t enter the building. Like many other historical building, which we wanted to visit during our trip, this church is under construction right now. What a petty!
The ride back was easy, as it was mainly going downhill. Unfortunately Markus had a little accident: he used his breaks on gravel and fell. I was more scared than he was. Luckily, it is nothing serious, some scrapes on his left arm. It could have ended much worse.
Today (Sunday) we wanted to leave early to our next destination. When the clock was ringing at 6.30am we simply dind’t feel like getting up and decided to stay in Yusufely one more day. As we are ahead of our timeschedule, we don’t have to rush.