The border crossing from Turkey to Iran at Dogubayazit took a full 4 hours, eventhough the border guards were extremely friendly and helpful. On good quality roads the group continued towards the Caspian Sea with the thermometer climbing to an unbearable 40 degrees. The people of Iran were definitely overfriendly with many of them approaching the group wanting to take “selfies”. The most popular phrase was “welcome to Iran”.
After sightseeing in Tehran and Isfahan, the four gentlemen headed eastwards to the hottest desert in the world, the Dasht-e Lut where the highest temperature ever recorded was 71.4 degrees! Everyone was carrying six litres of water. Whilst crossing the desert on a 300km long tarmac road, the temperature hit 45 degrees Celsius!
In Taftan the group crossed the border into Pakistan but were intercepted by the police as they were not permitted to ride unescorted and they were required to spend a night in the local police station where there were no beds and no showers!
The next morning, accompanied by a police escort from Balochistan the group travelled along the Afghan border towards Quetta and several heavily armed policemen were keeping a close eye on the four riders. Petrol stations were secured on all sides. The group could not leave their hotel without police protection. During the five day trip to Lahore, the four riders were detained 41 times by police controls.
In Bahawalpur, the four knights visit the National Park which is the residence of a childless rhinoceros couple. The Director of the Zoo proudly shows the group around the park.
In Lahore, the riders are welcomed by the Cross Route Club. Gerald and the President of the Mukaram Tareen Club are friends. The Cross Route Club organise a visit to the Lahore Zoo as well as some other events. The hospitality shown to the Rhino Ride is boundless. The 8 biggest TV stations of the area and various TV channels and newspapers interview Gerald. The Rhino Ride is live on TV. The whole of Pakistan is enthusiastic about the idea of helping the rhinos.
Gerald and his companions continue on to the Indian border towards the Himalayas. The roads in India are appalling and the traffic is unpredictable with no-one following traffic rules. Larger vehicles seem to have the right of way and surprises such as cows on the road or oncoming traffic in your lane of travel are the order of the day. It can happen that you need to dodge into a ditch to avoid a larger vehicle coming the other way but everybody seems to drive cautiously. According to Srinagar, one of the most dangerous passes in the world is the Zoji La Pass where you can find yourself driving along the abyss and there are no crash barriers. The group has spent weeks riding around in exhausting temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius.
On arriving in Leh, the capital of Ladakh, the riders travel up to the highest pass in the world, the Khardung La at an altitude of 5,600 meters. However, the first attempt fails as they need to wait two hours while the sun melts the ice and snow. At this height the air becomes thin but fortunately no-one suffers with altitude sickness. A quick drive to the lower Nubra Valley is recommended where unforgettable landscapes fly past. From there, the four drive via gravel roads to Pang Gong Lake, the world’s highest natural lake at an altitude of 4,200 meters. The night is spent in a hut at 8 degrees below zero.
Back to Pakistan, the group head north with a destination of the Karakoram Highway. It is here where Uli Pütz slips off the rear tyre and he injures his foot so badly that he can no longer ride. The motorcycle has to be loaded onto a truck and together with Uli, drives the 700km distance to Sost on the Chinese border. The four spend one night at the foot of the impressive Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world at 8,125 metres. The roads in the north of Pakistan are very bad in places and each rider needs full concentration to navigate around the biggest potholes. It’s impressive how the heavy GS’s withstand this shock absorber terror as all the motorcycles are loaded with more than 300kg.
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