This is an adventure tour. Expect three to four days of unpaved roads therefore one should have at least some experience and skills for riding on loose gravel, rocky and rutted roads, small stream crossings and the usual unpredictable conditions found when exploring beyond the pavement. Accommodations will range from luxurious to rustic with possibility of a home stay in the more remote areas of the Caucasus.
MotoDiscovery enjoys a reputation for riding to distant lands often overlooked. Today’s traveler seeks exactly this kind of experience, one that boldly veers away from the norm. The ride from the Black Sea to the Caspian with a special journey through the remote Caucasus Mountains will not disappoint.
Beginning with your arrival in Istanbul you will see why this city enjoys such a reputation. The layers of history overwhelm the senses. From Istanbul on the Bosphorus a quick flight (included) to the Black Sea city of Trabzon will have you staged for your journey towards the Caspian Sea.
Riding east along the Black Sea we enter the Republic of Georgia, an enchanting and progressive country making the most of their independence from old Soviet rule. Along the way we’ll climb to the 12th century cliffside cave monastery of Vardzia and enjoy spectacular vistas from the seat of your BMW motorcycle.
Armenia will be a pleasant surprise with its unique architecture and an exceptionally pleasant population. You’ll learn of the tumultuous history of this region, so much so that there are no gateways with bordering Turkey nor Azerbaijan! The contested territory of Nagorno-Karabach still flames armed conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan, an issue rooted in centuries of religious and tribal differences. The legendary cognac of Armenia will lighten the mood however, we guarantee. And if fortunate we’ll see the impressive views of mystical Mt. Ararat we depart the city of Yerevan. This towering snow covered mountain may sit on distant Turkish soil, but the legend of Noah’s Ark resting here has long identified it as a symbol of Armenia and their strong orthodox faith.
After our travels through Armenia we make our way to Azerbaijan. On crossing the border it becomes obvious that the wealth of Caspian oil has made its way to the roads and infrastructure. The “black gold” is not all used to power industry. In Naftalan you will have an opportunity to take a soothing warm bath in an oil that is known for great healing and medicinal powers. Sound strange? Indeed it is but worth the experience. Finally we arrive in Baku on the Caspian, a city that eagerly displays a western character with towering buildings and monuments. It is Houston and Las Vegas with an Islamic flare, decadent yet with a degree of style. The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on earth, its shores also touching Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Caviar anyone!
From Turkey we enter the Republic of Georgia, an enchanting and progressive country making the most of their independence from old Soviet rule. Riding into Armenia will be another ground breaking effort by MotoDiscovery. You’ll learn of the tumultuous history of this region, so much so that there are no gateways neither with bordering Turkey nor Azerbaijan! This isolation tends to preserve cultures and this tour assures one of fascinating people to people encounters, the kind of engagement that makes for exciting international touring.
After our travels through Armenia we make our way to Azerbaijan where we will dip our toes in the Caspian Sea, the largest enclosed body of water on earth, its shores also touching Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Caviar anyone!
Riding north into Russia we fall under the spell of the Caucuses. It is a point of discussion but some consider this Europe’s highest mountain ranges and the line where Asia begins. It is also a region known as home to the most culturally and linguistically diverse inhabitants on earth with over 40 languages and 300 dialects.
The riding will be spectacular as we depart the pavement into remote Dagestan and make our way into spectacular mountains unique in every respect. It was apparent on our first journey in 2014 that many villagers had never met an American. The welcome was genuinely enthusiastic with constant invitations to stop and eat or have tea. This region of the Caucuses will demand some level of off road riding skills however any inconvenience is worth the reward of traveling this overlooked but exceptionally beautiful part of the world.
From Dagestan we enter the Chechen Republic reminding us that there are many Russias in this huge country. Grozny, a city entirely reduced to rubble during two wars over the last two decades, is freshly rebuilt, modern and contemporary.
Reentering Georgia from Russia via the Military Highway, an ancient strategic pass through the rugged Caucuses, we’ll enjoy the delightful city of Tbilisi with its fine architecture and genuinely warm and friendly people. The final leg of our journey will be the return to Turkey, but not before stopping at the birthplace of Josef Stalin and an interesting museum. We overnight in Kars, a frontier town from where a short ride will have us looking beyond the Aras River gorge into Armenia from the ruined 11th century city Ani. A return flight to Istanbul is arranged from Kars where one final night will have us gathering for a celebration in the old Sultanahmet city centro. Extended stays in Istanbul are encouraged and of course we can arrange any activity excursion or services required.
This is another MotoDiscovery collaboration with our Turkish friend Kazim Uzunoglu. This unique teaming of experience, passion and imagination continues to result in out of the ordinary touring experiences. The ride from the Black Sea to the Caspian could be our best yet.