Update 14 - Troll Life - Shiraz
to Bam, Iran.
11th January 2002.
After recovering from the wet weather induced colds
we picked up in Shiraz and sightseeing at the stunning
ruins of Persepolis, we continued east with Juan, heading
for the attractive oasis town of Bam. This 750km stretch
was considered by all of us as the most memorable cycling
of the trip so far. It was also the hilliest and highest
(a 2800m pass), which added to the indelibility.
had turned into trolls too, after a tip from our Belgian
friend David. There are many small bridges under Iranian
roads and some of them are just big enough for 4 people
to lay their sleeping bags under! They also keep you
and your bike nice and dry when it's raining, which
it often did. The tent wasn't needed at all. Some bridges
were even partitioned, so we had a kitchen and living
quarters! Don't knock it until you've tried it! A disused
house, a building by the side of the road and a Red
Crescent Society refuge were also homes for the night
on this stretch. Watch bridge1.asf
and the second part bridge2.asf
to find out how cosy they are.
panoramic delight commenced just a couple of hours into
the first day and forced an early lunch. Lake Maharlou
is a small salt lake with mountains encompassing its
shores, however its main attraction are the pink flamingo's
that live there. Such an unusual site in the middle
of barren and mountainous terrain was most welcome.
we headed further east the views got better, and the
terrain more lumpy. The approach into Neyriz was incredible
- a 15km descent overlooking Bakhtegan salt lake, with
wonderful lava formations by the roadside. A landscape
We crossed our first real desert plateau approaching
the dusty town of Sirjan. Nothing but tumbleweed and
distant mountains to focus on for over 100km. The road
was quiet too - not so many lorries and cars as we have
been previously used too. It was here that we chose
to skip the established tourist jaunts of Kerman and
Mahan and go straight to Bam on the hillier road to
the south, and through, the Zagros range of mountains.
It was the right decision.
you ignore the physical effort of getting over a 2325m
pass approaching Baft, a 2560m pass just before Rabour,
another one 30km later, a 2700m pass before Darbmazar,
a steep 15km climb soon after to another at 2815m, then
a monster 50km downhill into the Jiroft valley (750m),
then a climb back into the mountains to 2275m, then
this 330km is a must for any cyclist! Mt Lalezar (4374m)
and MT Hezar (4420m) give way to hillsides of every
colour you can imagine - from dark reds to light blues
and greens. The lava that created them flows so erratically
it was a spectacle well worth experiencing. We later
discovered that we are the only known people to have
cycled this route from Sirjan to Bam - this put a smile
on our faces.
is described as an attractive oasis town - and it certainly
is! For miles around it's surrounded by hills and sand,
but as you approach the outskirts the prevailing colour
suddenly changes to lush green, with date palms lining
the streets - a very welcoming site. We finally arrived
at the Akbar hostel very dirty and smelly after eight
days of cycling and camping. A shower was the first
thing on our minds!
Bam must be one of the main highlights of any trip to
Iran. It is an awesome large clay constructed citadel
dating back centuries. It housed thousands, but was
abandoned as an effective citadel in 1722 after an invasion
by Afghans. We visited it early in the morning with
a guide when the shadows are best for photography, and
the colours are striking. Some parts of the complex
have been totally restored, but the attraction for us
was the sight of the crumbling original buildings. A
It was here in Bam that we decided to cycle to Pakistan
with Juan and David (and Kat on the bus!) after cargo
ferries to India from Dubai were definitely not available.
We heard from other overlanders on motorbikes who had
recently passed though Pakistan without incident. With
this in mind, our new plan was to cycle to the border
and then take public transport to Lahore, thinking that
would be safer until we were away from Afghan bordering
areas. Baluchistan deserts here we come!