If you’re somewhat familiar with our original travel plan you know that we are heading for Turkey first and travelling further into Asia from there. But the missing link was how to get to Turkey from our hometown Arnhem. We could simply fly in but that would be against our intention to travel slow and therefore overland wherever possible. We thought about Italy and some Greek island hopping. Nice, but not so friendly to our budget. We thought about the inland route Vienna – Budapest – Bucharest – Istanbul. Interesting, but before we travel deep into Central Asia we definitely need some Mediterranean ambiance first. So we decided on Croatia!
We booked the night-train to Munich on Monday the 15th of July. So that will be the official start of our journey! The next morning at Munich we change trains for our first destination, Croatia’s capital Zagreb, where we will stay for 2 nights. From Zagreb there are some options. We could rent a car and head for the Plitvice Lakes and maybe Zadar before we return it in Split and hop on a ferry to one of the islands Hvar, Brac or Korcula. Or we skip the road trip entirely, take the train to Split and hop over to one of the islands right away. I guess it will depend on our urge to jump into the Mediterranean Sea.
To cut the costs of accommodation (it’s high season) we will bring a small tent and go camping. There are plenty of campgrounds on the islands so finding a place shouldn’t be a problem. The real difficulty is to choose where to go. Have you been in Croatia and more specifically on one of the islands between Split and Dubrovnik? Any suggestions for a nice campground? Cozy towns? Beautiful beaches? Good snorkeling spots? Please let us know!
From Croatia we have to get to Istanbul around the 7th of August. Just in time to celebrate the Sugar Holiday which marks the end of Ramadan. Although I don’t know how much we will be able to take part in that event as a tourist. After spending a couple of days in Istanbul we fly into Kyrgyzstan on the 11th. The original plan was to travel overland through Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan but the heat (Iran has temperatures above 40 degrees in mid summer) and the visa hassle (expensive, LOI requirements) already made us decide to fly into Kyrgyzstan instead.
Tibet instead of Pakistan
Another change of plans involves the decision to skip Pakistan. That’s a bit of a pity because Pakistan, and specially the Karakoram Highway area, was high on my list. Not on Carina’s though. She didn’t have a good feeling about Pakistan in the first place. Recent reports of bombings and increased risk of being kidnapped didn’t really contribute to that feeling to put it mildly 😎
Update June 24th: Our gut feeling seems to prove right: Tourists killed at North Pakistani mountain camp
So, as it’s a matter of give and take in a relationship (although the bombings started to worry me too), we figured out an alternative which actually isn’t bad at all: Tibet! After Kyrgyzstan we will travel into China following the ancient Silk Road from Kashgar to Lanzhou or Xi’ning from where we will try to get a permit to travel into Tibet. Since independent travel isn’t allowed in Tibet we will have to join a tour. Or create one ourselves as with the latest rules (April 2013) for visiting Tibet the group-size restriction has been removed (and the same-nationality restriction too). From Tibet we can travel overland to Kathmandu in Nepal on the Friendship Highway. So, our itinerary could be something like this: