As we walk to our bikes for any early start, a cat scampers away, we see that my seat and tank are marked with paw marks: was the cat looking for a good night’s sleep, or, as we hear the sound of chickens from behind the high gate in front of which the bike was parked, a more sinister and likely reason comes to mind. Breakfast……
After the usual photographs for the hotel staff, we are off in the cool of the early morning. The route is straightforward for a change and in 15 minutes we are on the Persian Gulf highway heading for Kerman.
The road is dual highway with bypasses around each Last mountains before the Banda Abbas coast, Iran. We are able to maintain a higher average speed than normal and are making good progress towards Kerman.
We start to notice some faded animal signs along the route, each just before a parking area. Closer inspection reveals them to be warnings not to stay overnight because of the danger of cheetahs. Cheetahs in Iran??? A little research that night shows that there is an asiatic cheetah that is genetically different from the African one, having separated some 30,000 to 60,000 years ago. Sadly it is estimated that there are only between 40 and 70 left in the wild and few in captivity. I had only though that cheetahs existed in Africa. Let’s be positive and believe that the remaining few can survive and flourish, but sadly the faded signs will probably be monuments for their eventual demise and the inability of man and animals to successfully coexist.
We are making good progress and while initially following the signs to Kerman, we now see a fork in the highway with Bandar Abbas, our ultimate destination indicated, so we follow that. We quickly become aware that we are not travelling east anymore but south? A check of our map reveals that the small 2nd class road is now a four lane highway taking some 100 kms off our journey and bypassing Kerman. Turn back or continue? The lure of the mountains ahead call us onward and we are not disappointed: gentle snaking turns, wind up between jagged peaks as we climb into cooler air and great scenery. Perfect motorcycling road with two lanes in each direction. We climb and descend and find ourselves out of the desert environs, with more cultivation and at a higher elevation.
(Anthony’s is too polite to mention my Shewee mishap. Here we are, on the side of a desert road with not a single tree or anywhere to hide behind away from the sight of passing motorists on this 4 lane highway, we stand side by side. But of course, I have my scarf on, so what is a woman doing standing right beside a man peeing. How naughty of me. This puts me into a fit of giggles. And in my rush and giggles, my Shewee is not positioned correctly… The feeling that I have ‘missed’ makes me laugh more… which is only making things worse…)
Half a dozen double parked trucks at the side of the road, the sign we have found to be a good place to have lunch. We have found worldwide that if the food is good, truck drivers will return. It is how we choose our lunchtime stops – no trucks no stopping for us. Kebabs are sizzling over a simple charcoal tray outside as we enter the cafe. Only truck drivers and us. We are made welcome and join four of them at a table. Only one menu item, chicken kebab with bread, yogurt and raw onion. Makes choosing simple. The final result is a long kebab, about the size of a small spear with huge chicken portions. One driver has about a dozen chicken legs on his. Really good value at $3 each. The cafe interior would not look out of place in the 1960’s, plastic tablecloths, pictures of country houses on the wall and a large flat screen tv showing about a dozen excellent quality close circuit video camera feeds from in and around the cafe. No idea why this is or what they use it for.
By 1pm, we have covered over 340 kms, which for us is normally a day’s travel, and after the leisurely lunch, it is still only 2pm. We are told Bandar Abbas is about 300km away. We decide that we will push on and look for a suitable campsite, or if not, carry on as far as we feel possible. As we continue south in the afternoon, we see no place that looks to entice us from the highway. The temperature is rising, a truck driver had told us Bander Abbas was up to 50 degrees Celsius last week. We climb up through the mountains again and we start to see water in, what up to now, have been dry river beds. Palm trees have started to appear and the feel of the landscape is changing.
No suitable campsite forums and we are under a 100km away from Bandar Abbas.
We decide to go all the way through. This will be the furthest we have ridden in one day, but the temperature has now climbed to high 30’s.
A rest stop, a chat with a police patrol in a land cruiser and the obligatory photos, then we are off again on the lat 30 km, following a small white car which offered to guide us into the city. Using the GPS we head for the waterfront where the hotel Anne has found is situated. Land reclamation has provided a new broad waterfront avenue which is not on my map. Our hotel is found, we navigate a couple of side streets to the entrance, park the bikes and stagger in and while we are being checked in, we sit in a couple of comfortable chairs sipping a complimentary glass of pomegranate juice reflecting that we have just ridden 640km in 10 hours, the furthest we have ridden in a day ever! What will Bander Abbas hold for us tomorrow?