Day 15 – Dogubayazit to the Iranian Border, Gurbulak

The sound of a JCB dumping boulders the size of your head into a roadside, just downhill from the campsite you booked deliberately away from the city… is probably not what you expect as a morning alarm, still this was our opening scene for Day 15, a.k.a. “Buffer Day 1” – a day we had deliberately planned minimal driving more so as to guarantee a convenient border entry time for passing into Iran.

The campsite’s toilet facilities by night, did not improve by day, and the team decision was unanimous in going for a flannel bath instead of the very daring shower of questionable hygiene. We had a whole day ahead to make it into the border, so formed a strategic plan:

  • Visit the Ishak Pasa Palace we had camped underneath
  • Carefully venture into Dogubayzit to send off 2 parcels to free up room in the Micra, and to purchase a sun reflector screen (we had lost somewhere between Erzincan and Murat Camping) and a hammer – our lump hammer suffered from a broken handle the night before, having forced the tent pegs into what might as well have been a marble slab.

News reached us quickly from other teams that this day of ticking a few boxes for the road ahead was a waste of time. Iran had suffered computer failures for its Customs department and border crossings were averaging 18-24 hours. A heads up came from Team Jager Battalion – 2 Brits and an Austrian sporting a 2004 Vauxhall Aglia as their carriage of glory. The rendezvous was set for 6pm Turkish time at the last petrol station before the Iranian border.

With a few hours to spare, we toured the palace – Ishak Pasa was a later addition to the Ottoman Empire, built in the 1700’s. It’s size form the outside didn’t allow you to take in the scale and the efficient use of space inside – large courtyards and beautifully chiselled sandstone decoration covered every pillar and entrance portal, with views from the windows and terrace looking to the Dogubayazit vale. A solar reflective roof had also been installed on various sections of the palace so as to protect the recent restoration works; this offered a much cooler and refreshing gust of wind through the hallways, away from the morning heat.

We headed back to the car and returned to the Dogub. centre in search of a post office before our rendezvous. Being out of touch with the day of the week didn’t not help us in this task – Sunday does not make for good Post Office hours. A final meal in a restaurant away from the dust and noise of the high street, we made for the edge of town through the security checkpoint and met up with Team Jager Battalion at the last petrol station before the border. Their team collectively sported wonderful personalities and a real welcome with tea, and snacks shared all round. We held fast in the Turkisk passport checkpoint ready or the morning, hoping our visas and purchases of Carnets would go smoothly and without stress.

Next post will be in 2 parts -what happened through the day, and how (or not how) to pass through the Turkey-Iranian border crossing.

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