Joe Pichler: A long way to India
For a good 30 years now, Austrian Joe Pichler has traveled the continents of this world on his bike tours. After South America and Africa, he has now been touring Asia for three months, India being the destination.
Photos and Text: Joe Pichler
Things are becoming serious: as the day of departure comes closer! My apartment looks like a branch of Touratech with an integrated camera and electronics department. It is amazing what you can stow away on a motorcycle.
Ready to roll! Everything is packed and India is calling. Simply follow the rising sun.
After a brief stop in Dubrovnik, straight through Greece. Unfortunately we met neither bears nor wolves. Today we are having a rest day on the Aegean coast before the adventure „India - a distant temptation“ starts proper.
Here in Turkey, we usually stick to the main roads, but a few detours on gravel tracks just had to be.
3,400 km are now behind us. Here in Cappadocia is where the real fun starts.15. June
The trip to the Nemrut volcano leads through a true-to-life moonscape.
The Dogan Motorsiklet shop in Erzurum looks pretty nondescript, but plays an important role for the continued journey:
1. Here we get a new set of Metzeler Karoo 3s
2. Our passports with visas for Pakistan arrive per UPS. We can now continue our tour as planned, via Iran – Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan – Kyrgyztan – China – Pakistan to India!
We have arrived in Iran. That means, a head scarf for Renate and a water pipe instead of beer for me.
Hossein from Urmia helped us with a stress-free entry into Iran. For motorcyclists who only want to enter Iran, he can arrange entry without the need for a carnet!
Through the Iranian province of Kurdistan on two wheels. The border to Iraq lies within reach and Bagdad is only 250 km away in a straight line. But here in Howraman you notice nothing of the crisis.
The saying from the 17. Century „Esfahan nesf e jahan“ („Esfahan is half the world“) may appear slightly exaggerated. But Esfahan is still a fascinating city with a friendly and cosmopolitan population.
Refuelling is a pleasant experience in Iran. With a price tag of 24 cents per liter, our travel purse hardly feels burdened.
The Dasht e Lut is one of the most beautiful deserts in Asia, but also one of the hottest. At 18:00 hrs it is still 49 degrees C, but that does not stop me from leaving a few tracks in the hot desert sand with my 1190 ADVENTURE R. Thank you Iraj, for your support in Lut.
On our last day in Iran, we met the lads from the motorcycle club in Bojnurd. Because of a silly law in Iran, they are only allowed to ride their hot bikes on a single day in the week - the Friday! Only small bikes with a maximum of 250cc are allowed to be on the road for the remaining 6 days.
640 km through the Karakuma Desert. This was the longest leg of our tour, on a pretty poor asphalt road most of the way at temperatures over 40 degrees C. But in Turkmenabat I had my first beer for nearly 4 weeks. Cheers!
Down sleeping bag and heated grips. Things we had not needed for weeks suddenly became important again in the mountains of Kyrgyztan. Thanks to Urs and MuzToo for their useful tips!
We erected our tent at the base of the 7134 m high Pik Lenin amidst a breathtaking landscape. We had so far taken our entire camping gear with us for 15,000 km, for nothing. But these are the moments when it is payback time.
We made it! First, five hours for exit procedures, then 125 km in convoy, but now we have arrived at the Khunjerab Pass. At 4639 m, one of the highest border crossing points in the world. Now the route goes south, along the Karakoram Highway. The road has been disrupted since 2010 at Attabad, following a massive landslide. We needed to cross the 18 km long reservoir by boat.
Now we have been stuck in Amritsar for four days. The Indian Customs liked my new tires so much, they simply did not want to give me my Karoo 3s back.
This here is Mr. Babu. Our savior in an emergency. He had a new set of Metzeler Karro 3s in his luggage. Many thanks to Shravan Krishnan from KTM, without his help it would have been impossible to get the tires through Customs. As everything is closed for the night in Srinagar I had to change the tires myself. Of course, I had ma Touratech compressor with me and have have changed tires numerous times in my life. But the Karoo 3 rear tire is a tough beast and my face is bathed in sweat. But the first set held up for an astonishing 13,000 km.
Zanskar can only be reached via the 4,401 m high
Penzi-Pass. And we have to return by the same route,
but it paid off.
Here the Indians have again exaggerated a bit. The Khardung La is neither 5602 m high, nor is it the highest road on this earth. I have already been at 5796 m in Bolivia. But, at 5,359 it is the highest point of our trip. We rode some 19,012 km over the last three months. My KTM 1190 ADVENTURE R took us through hot deserts, dusty steppes and driving snow to the roof of the world without any problems.