We are often approached by people when they see us on our bikes. They are curious and ask who we are, where we come from and we notice that a lot of them are honored that we come all that way on a bike to their country. Many invite us to their homes. We mostly apologize and decline because we are on our way to a camp or hotel. When there are no pensions or hotels we sometimes use the app “Warmshowers” for cyclists. Via this app we made contact with a German couple who told us about “The Dark Canyon”, a route they had cycled and thought was fantastic. We looked into it and since it was more or less on our Eastward path we decided to take the challenge.
From Soganli we cycled to Kayseri where we stayed for a few days and from there we took a bus to Divrigi where we started cycling towards Kemaliye. Just outside Divigri we stopped at the Divigri Great Mosque which was build in 1228. We admired the huge ornamented portal. Amazing craftwork! Unfortunately the Mosque was under renovation and we were not allowed to enter it.
Not much further the steep road turned into a gravel road and soon we had to push our bikes uphill. It was hard work but it awarded us with some stunning scenery. Beautifully colored fields and mountains. Later in the afternoon we found a well where we cooked a meal and camped. The next morning we cycled on and struggled up further which turned out to be our most difficult climb ever…steep climbs of 20% on gravel roads! In this beautiful landscape we had to push one bike at the time further up the mountain. Eventually we reached the top where we stumbled upon some workmen. They offered us chai after they had watched us…slowly with much effort coming their direction. We continued after exchanging friendly and polite thank you’s and goodbye’s. After a few hours of normal cycling we stopped and camped on some farmers land who had given us permission to sleep there. Next day we cycled downhill to the beginning of the Dark Canyon. Slowly the mountains came closer together and there we saw the canyon. It could have easily been a scene of “Lord of the Rings”. It was beautiful. We cycled high on a gravel road on the edge of steep cliffs. Down below in the gorge was a bright green river. The road slung its way through dark tunnels where shafts of light came from other tunnels which were dug sideways towards the gorge. It was a thrilling and wonderful adventure never to forget.