|Canada||Langley, BC||N 49.15460°||W 122.64707°||Another night of gorilla camping in the streets of Langley.|
|Mexico||Baja Seasons||N 32.06437°||W 116.87930°||We had identified two RV parks as candidates for the nights stay using a well know camping guide authored by Mike and Terry Church. The first of these, Clam Beach RV seemed largely deserted, though a few campers and RVs were visible, when we pulled in through the main gate and for some time we could not find anyone to ask about staying the night. However eventually a caretaker appeared and through sign language we determined that the establishment was closed. Our second choice just a few miles down the road was Baja Seasons, an hotel and apartment complex with an attached RV park. Here we found an attendant who took our money for one nights stay (US$34). According to the Church guide this place was a high quality establishment with many facilities; but in practice it turned out to be a bit less than that. At some point in the past the Baja Seasons must have been an impressive place. A large attractive main building, with common room (and fire place), laundry, and games room. Outside a pool and hot tub, and an amenities block that once sported a steam room and sauna. However today almost none of that works and the place is showing many signs of deterioration. In the RV park it took two tries to find a site with electricity, and the water and dump seem to work. There are perhaps 20 other RVs parked here but only one of them seems to be occupied. The good news about this place is that it is QUIET and right next to the beach.|
|Mexico||Estero Beach||N 31.77610°||W 116.61128°||The Estero Beach Resort is another hotel, residential complex with an attached RV park that we found from the Church guide. It is well signposted from Mex 1 and the Church guide gave a good description of how to locate it. The complex is situated on the northern shore of a river mouth and faces both the river estuary and the beach. The RV park (and establishment generally) is in pretty good repair and has all the facilities one would expect from a good American RV park - power, water, dump, toilets, (warm) showers, laundry, swimming pool and wifi if one walks up to the hotel. Also has American prices - $36 for full hook up.|
|Mexico||Fidel's El Pabellon Palapas Alvinos||N 30.37038°||W 115.86351°||Once south of San Quintin we started looking for the sign to Fidel's El Pabellon a beachside camping area selected from the Church guide. The large blue sign was easily spotted but the turn off the highway was a little more challenging - really nothing more that a pile of packed dirt stacked up against the side of the raised highway. Thereafter we followed a dirt road that also was showing signs of the recent heavy rains. The Church guide suggest that this road was suitable for RV's of all sizes. In its current condition we would not agree with that assessment. More signs led us to our destination and after a little scouting around Fidel appeared to show us the ropes and collect the $10 fee. The place has toilets, showers, water and electricity (if you want it). We spent only a few minutes exploring the place before retiring to our camper to escape the strong cold wind.|
|Mexico||Rancho Sanata Inez||N 29.72974°||W 114.69822°||The camping area at Rancho Santa Inez is accessed by a turn to the left just after passing through Catavina at the top of the hill after the creek crossing. The area is a large lightly treed area covered in white granite gravel/sand. There is no formal organization into camping spots. A small building provides basic (and partially functional) toilets. Before evening we were visited by the local 'caretaker' who collected the 100 pesos fee. There were 4-5 other groups camped here.|
|Mexico||San Francisquito (almost)||N 28.36938°||W 113.08751°||
With the day waning it was obvious that we would have to spend the night somewhere beside the road so we simply picked a place where we could get 50 yards off the track and behind some scant vegetation, a token effort to shield us from passers-by. Mind you passers-by were few and far between. We had only seen 5 vehicles all day.
|Mexico||Ojo De Liebre||N 27.74755°||W 114.01642°||
At the visitors center we paid our 65 pesos and drove a little way along the waterfront and chose a palapa to camp next to for the night.
|Mexico||Ciudad Constitucion,||N 25.01777°||W 111.67749°||
Our choice tonight for a camping spot was an establishment that seemed to function as a Balneario, an RV park and tent campground as well as an orange farm - called Camperstre La Pila Balneario and Trailer Park - it is located on the southern side of town immediately left after the Leys supermarket. It was a dusty though tidy establishment with toilets, electricity and cold showers. When we arrived the family in residence was having a new year celebration and so simply directed us to the camping area with the guidance that they may collect some money tomorrow. Throughout the afternoon we chatted to two of the children, who curious about us and the vehicle kept riding past on their bikes.
|Mexico||La Paz||N 24.09610°||W 110.38670°||
We spent the night at Campestre Maranatha on northern side of La Paz. A well maintained RV park with good facilities including wifi and laundry. There were a good number of other gringos there in large and small RVs. It is only a short drive from a good Walmart, Home Depot and Sams Club
|Mexico||Cabo San Lucas||N 22.96039°||W 109.89597°||
We camped for the night at the Vagabond RV and Trailer Park on the eastern side of Cabo. It was a little difficult to find or at least access as we passed it by before noticing the sign and then returning was a little complicated. If you are following the instructions in Church and Church keep a sharp eye out as you enter the "lateral road". The park seemed to be mostly long term campers or residents. Many of the RV spaces have been turned into dwelings (I don't know what else to call them). Some of these dwellings still have an RV of some kind as the center piece but others have dispensed with the RV altogether and are now simply permenant structures.
|Mexico||Los Barriles||N 23.68714°||W 109.69916°||
We found a place at East Cape RV Resort about a block back from the beach in Los Barriles. This is very well apointed and well maintained RV park with all of the expected facilities including a hot tub and laundy.
|Mexico||Ciudad Constitucion||N 25.04882°||W 111.67965°||The place we chose was called Misiones on the northern side of town. The vegetation did indeed provide good shelter from the wind. The place had good wifi, electricity (that was too dirty to run the microwave), very low water pressure, a sewer dump and cold showers. We understood from the guide book that this place was originally owned and run by an Austrian but has since passed into Mexican hands. It had a nice communal area, swimming pool and everything was clean and tidy.|
|Mexico||El Requeson||N 26.63817°||W 111.83165°||We chose a famous beach called El Requeson for our camp. This beach is famous for the spit of sand that joins the main beach to a small island. The entry road was in bad condition and the only facilities were a couple of very broken down pit toilets. But it is without a doubt the best camp we have had on the Baja.|
|Russia||Ussurisk||N 43.79742°||E 132.00755°||The end of our journey tonight was the town of Ussurisk about 100km from Vladivostok. Vladimir had arranged for some of his off-road friends to meet us at the approach to the city and escort us to their large family house and compound. It felt a bit strange sitting in someones house using their facilities and barely being able to talk to them. But we really appreciated the hospitality.|
|Russia||Spassk||N 44.60546°||E 132.90650°||After our return to the highway from Gayveron, Andrey and his family led us to a cafe and truck stop just north of town where we shared a meal and where after many goodbyes they departed and left us to spend the night. We expect to spend many nights in Russia parked at a cafe amid cargo trucks.|
|Russia||Lushegorsk||N 46.44765°||E 134.29079°||Throughout the afternoon we saw only a few places we deemed suitable as over night stops and with the day coming to an end and towns becoming fewer we determined that we would find somewhere to stop in Lushegorsk (I apologize for my perhaps poor anglisization of this towns name - I have not yet worked out how to put Cyrillic script into my pages). Inside the town we passed a couple of unlikely fuel stations before stopping in front of a large lot occupied by a number of 6x6 buses (that's right, buses - its a statement about the quality of the minor roads in the area). Again with Russian note in hand (this time, "can we park here for the night") I approached a couple of locals and was told "No" (and a lot of other stuff I could not hope to understand) and was pointed back down the road in the direction of a large blue building that I think was some form of low budget hotel. After a discussion with the gate keeper and an exchange of 100 rubbles we had a place for the night among the trucks again. But hey -- better than by ourselves on the side of the road.|
|Russia||M60 km 151||N 47.33547°||E 134.51392°||We decided on an early stop today at yet another one of those signposted parking places. Throughout the afternoon various trucks have stopped and then proceeded. But the place seems busy enough to be safe.|
|Russia||Khabarovsk||N 48.51427°||E 135.06618°||While the navigation might have been without a problem the checkin at the hotel was not. To cut a long story short it turns out that we had neglected to finalize the registration of our visas when we left the hotel in Vladivostok and as a result the Guru could not allow us to register as guests. Fortunately they directed us to a near by hotel (the Abrikol) that does not require visa registration. While we have no idea why some hotels require registration and some do not we were pleased to have a place to shower and connect. It is worth noting that we would not have managed our way through this complex situation without the help of Sergey a contact name we had been given by Sallie in La Junta, CO. as no one at either hotel spoke any English. There is more to come on this topic as while we might have a hotel for a night or two we are now technically illegal and may have problems exiting Russia.|
|Russia||Khabarovsk||N 48.51427°||E 135.06618°||Our hotel is called the Abrikol and is actually a lot more than a hotel, with a restaurant, bar, ten pin bowling alley, sauna, and an outside play/entertainment area built in a rustic time style. There is an ample parking lot out front (which is where we are parked), good hot water for showering and very fast wifi internet. We did not attempt to negotiate a price for just parking and using facilities but paid full price for a room, 2500 rubbles per night. The ladies at the front desk have been very helpful calling taxis and generally helping us weird foreigners.|
|Russia||Birobidzhan||N 48.89202°||E 132.84739°||
We continued west after Birobidzhan along the bypass until it rejoined the highway and then (a little east of the junction) found a кафе (and truck stop) across the road from a gas station to spend the night.
|Russia||Near Novobureyskiy||N 50.02794°||E 129.73836°||We chose one of these new generation rest stops for our nights camp. It is somewhat west of the town of Novobureyskiy|
|Russia||Blagoveshchensk||N 50.25648°||E 127.53637°||Michael and Anton turned up a little later in a Nissan Patrol all decked our for off road adventuring and then led us into town and parked us beside a nice large hotel, right next to Lenin Square on the water front. Andrey joined us, Anton departed and the 4 of us spent the next hour or so walking the river front. The river front has been renovated in recent years (and large construction is still underway) and made for a very pleasant and interesting stroll in the nice sunshine. The river is still frozen and no boat traffic is operating. There is however a pontoon bridge across the river that is carrying- heavy commercial traffic between China and Russia.|
|Russia||Svobodni||N 51.35978°||E 128.15208°||Back at Alexander's house Michael left for his return drive to Blagoveshchensk and we went to bed.|
|Russia||Ushumun||N 53.18381°||E 126.42212°||We picked one of the road side rest areas near the town of Ushumun for our nights stop. When we pulled in there were two small trucks parked there, one with 3 fuel barrels in the tray and another was a small fuel tanker and the drivers where sitting in the sun talking. We wondered what was going on. It did not take long to find our as vehicles pulled up to take on fuel from these guys. Small vehicles (like cars, vans and small trucks) were sold fuel from one of the drums and large trucks got fuel from the tanker. Now fuel stops are relatively scarce on this section of the highway but not so scarce as to be a problem for most vehicles. We guessed it was some kind of black market operation.|
|Russia||Near Chul'man||N 57.05402°||E 124.85832°||Late in the afternoon we found a road side parking area and gratefully stopped weary but satisfied with the days progress.|
|Russia||Nth of Aldan, M56||N 59.23203°||E 126.68635°||It had been a long and tiring day so we were pleased to find a road side cafe just passed the Amga crossing where we pulled in and spent the night. This was a relief as we had not seen a suitable place for many miles. When we arrived we were the only vehicle in the parking area but other trucks arrived during the evening.|
|Russia||Yakutsk||N 62.03430°||E 129.74209°||This morning we continued north to the village of Haptagay where we met Alexander and parked the truck at the house of his mother-in-law. Here we were treated to a wonderful Yakutia breakfast and an opportunity to see inside one of the more traditional Yakutia houses made of squared logs. While having a rustic feel the house was cosy and comfortable with all the mod-cons.|
|Russia||M56 - km 130||N 60.95060°||E 128.75801°||We drove about 60 kms down the road and parked in a rck pull-out beside the "highway".|
|Russia||M56 – 1340km||N 54.10573°||E 121.63263°||A very large roadside parking area on the southern side of the road. It had the usual pit toilet that most visitors had decided against using (preferring the surrounding ground) and as a special treat the area was right next to a large radio tower and had its own religious shrine.|
|Russia||M56 – 1738km||N 53.10520°||E 118.07590°||We stopped for the night at one of the now familiar parking area/picnic areas at the turn off to Uryum (Урюм) about 470 km east of Chita.|
|Russia||M55 Road Side Parking||N 51.31112°||E 112.34986°||From Chita the highway changes its name from M58 to the M55 (don't ask me why) and we traveled west in warm weather and bright sunshine until we found a flat patch of ground beside the highway for our nights stop.|
|Russia||Lake Baikal||N 52.82122°||E 107.98045°||We spent an hour or so at a local up market hotel getting internet before departing north out of town towards the eastern shore of Lake Baikal. A generally good, but unexpectedly hilly road (our first switch back of the journey so far) eventually brought us to the town of Gremyatsinsk on the lake shore; although at that point the lake was not visible. A couple of kilometers farther down the road and we found a large informal campground in a pine and birch forest right on the lake shore. What a beautiful sight it was, a nice grassy flat area backed by trees to the east and the still (largely) ice covered surface of Lake Baikal to the West.|
|Russia||Angosolka||N 51.75469°||E 103.73517°||
Good places to pull off the road were scarce today so at the end of the day we chose a small parking area that had anough space for us and maybe two other vehicles.
While we were having dinner a German overland vehicle came past and stopped for a short chat. It was an older Mercedes truck carrying a pair of adults, 3 children and a dog. They were on a 4 month round trip from Germany through Russia to Mongolia and home. This is the first group of overlanders we have so far seen.
|Russia||Irkutsk||N 52.28276°||E 104.27366°||
With Yuri's help we talked to reception at the Inturist hotel and organzed to park the truck in their parking lot behind the hotel building. Nice and secure and out of sight of the general public. There were two other overland vehicles there, both German. A Toyotal Landcruiser and a small pickup truck with a slide in camper.
|Russia||Listvyanka||N 51.87022°||E 103.69562°||
At the point where the lake merges with the Angara River (the only river that flows out of the lake), maybe 3 km from Listvyanka, there is a small pullout, a large sign for the Baikal Hotel, and a spectacular view across and down the lake. That is where we parked for the night.
|Russia||Sludyanka||N 51.71934°||E 103.69562°||
We camped for the night at a cafe/Truck stop in the town of Sludyanka. This town is situated on lake Baikal where the M55 first joins the lake.
|Russia||Cafe M55||N 51.26859°||E 107.55134°||
We camperd at the second of the M55 right near the town of Llinka.
|Russia||Road to Kyakhta||N 50.81698°||E 106.54119°||
We picked another roadside pullout in a pine forest for the nights stopping spot. Throughout the night a number of trucks stopped to check on tires, lights or other things, and many passing vehicles sounded their horn (we don't know why) but these things only put a small dent in what was otherwise a good night.
|Mongolia||Darkhan||N 49.11184°||E 106.03564°||
Our nights camping place was simply a place on the grass about 20 yards off the road. We had a couple of sets of visitors during the remaining daylight hours but they were only people curious about the vehicle.
|Mongolia||Ulaanbaatar||N 47.91154°||E 106.98118°||
We eventually found our way to the GPS coordinates of the Oasis and even sighted the place. But thick traffic and road construction appeared to have closed the only access road we could see. So with no other obvious options available I simply turned off the paved road across the construction site and into the lane that appeared to give access to the hostel. With the help of the manageress (Sibel) and the cooperation of other guests, vehicles were shuffled around so that our "monster" could be accommodated.
|Mongolia||Ulanbaatar||N 47.91364°||E 106.91275°||
With the truck now parked at the drilling company facility we needed a new place to stay. Fortunately the guys that helped Mike organize his trip (Chinzo and Turuu of drivemongolia.com) introduced us to a well located (just behind the Irish Pub in downtown UB) and newly established hostel called Chuca's Guesthouse (Chuca is Turuu's wife so it was all in the family).
|Mongolia||Lun||N 47.78853°||E 105.13405°||
Finding a camp for the night was simply a matter of pulling off the road onto a patch of the infinite sea of grass and getting far enough from the road that noone could hit us. Across the road from us a family in a Ger (Mongolian felt house) was tending to a large herd/flock of animals (mixture of goats, sheep, and horses).
|Mongolia||Somewhere||N 47.28775°||E 103.25745°||
Our camp for the night was simply another exercise in pulling off the road far enough not to be a target for the fast traveling Mongolians.
|Mongolia||(Near) Tsenkher Hot Springs||N 47.31929°||E 101.73789°||
We camped the night just beside the track with a couple of herds of horses about 5 km from the hot springs.
|Mongolia||Tsetseleg||N 47.43829°||E 101.49205°||
Once back on the highway we continued into Tsetseleg and the FAIRfield Guesthouse (N47.47852 E101.45769). We think we got the coordinates for this place from Chris and Ann. The place is owned by Murray Benn and offered us the use of their facilities (obviously for a small price) but suggested we camp 5 km out of town down by the river (a safer and more pleasant option than parking infront of their establishment).
|Mongolia||Tariat||N 48.13439°||E 99.86575°||By late afternoon we drove through the small village of Tariat and were only about 10 kilometers from Terkhiin Tsaagan Nuur (also known as White Lake). We continued a little past the village and simply stopped on a likely grassy spot beside the Suman River (which empties the lake). Throughout the remainder of the evening we were passed by up to 100 vehicles coming and going across the rough roadbed or those wheel tracks in the grass. The vehicles ranged from small Japanese cars to low loaders carrying earthmoving equipment. Despite the extremely rough nature of the road it truly was a highway. While waiting for the sun to set and night to arrive we amused ourselves watching the antics of the various animal herds and their herdsmen.|
|Mongolia||Chulutt Gorge||N 48.13405°||E 100.27263°||We camped for the night next to the Chuluut Gorge in a beautiful stand of old Larch Trees.|
|Mongolia||Khanui River||N 48.38974°||E 101.24196°||Late in the afternoon as the valley narrowed and the road passed close by the Khanui River we found a flat spot on the bank only a few yards from the river. Ahead we could see tomorrows route, climb out of the river valley and head north east.|
|Mongolia||Selenge River||N 49.25491°||E 100.80035°||Once off the ferry we drove a few hundred meters south along the river in a stand of Cottonwood trees and parked for the night.|
|Mongolia||Atsimag Nuur||N 49.65986°||E 100.49463°||About 25 km short of Moron (according to our GPS) we came upon Atsimag Nuur and decided to camp for the night on the flat gravel shore of this modest sized lake. We had only been stopped for a few minutes when we noticed a sulphur like smell and on investigation we discovered that Atsimag was one of the salty lakes we had read about, and the smell was from the salt encrusted edged of the lake.|
|Mongolia||Moron||N 49.65093°||E 100.16707°||From the LonelyPlanet Guide we had the name and GPS coordinates of Bata Guesthouse and after a little negotiating of closed streets (a work crew was putting in water lines) we found the place on the northern perimeter of the town. As described in the guide the place was simply a hashaa (a yard surrounded by a fence and with either one or more wooden buldings and/or a couple of gers). After a sign language discussion with the lady who seemed to be in charge the gate was opened and I managed to squeeze the truck through the gate. There is probably space here for 2 or 3 Toyotas, or one other car in addition to our truck.|
|Mongolia||Khovsgol Nuur||N 50.48326°||E 100.16141°||Hence we did not explore this trail very far before finding a flat spot close to the lake, but still on the track for our nights camp.|
|MOngolia||Moron||N 49.65093°||E 100.16707°||
We camped the two nights parked in Bata's Guesthouse. This time around we had the company of other tourists. A Canadia, a couple of Taiwanese girls, and Tom a guy from the Olympic Penninsula working on his PhD studying Mongolian forests.
|Mongolia||Delgermoron River||N 49.57504°||E 99.42136°||
After collecting water we moved a few hunderd meters down the road to a flat open grassed area beside the river and made it our camp for the night.
|Mongolia||KM 153||N 49.50227°||E 98.35660°||Late in the afternoon just after rejoining the track that went through Tsaagan Uul we stopped for the night, simply by pulling off the track onto a flat patch of grass. During the afternoon we were visited by one passing vehicle but we did not understand what they asked, and during the night we were passed by a couple of mini-buses.|
|Mongolia||KM 245||N 49.48290°||E 97.34587°||
We followed the Tesiin River for much of the remainder of the day. Finally departing the river the road climbed a small pass to a large Ovoo. We found a flat spot up the hill above the Ovoo for our nights camp. During the afternoon 3 or 4 cars passed us and a young man from a Ger camp in the Tesiin Valley came up to see us and satisfy his curiosity.
|Mongolia||KM 317||N 49.64777°||E 96.52384°||
We stopped for the night about 15 km short of the town of Bayantes and decided to use the gentle breeze and bright sun to our advantage and do our washing (or at least Nina did our washing - my only contribution was the clothes line, and hanging out the washed clothes).
|Mongolia||KM 428||N 49.75052°||E 95.14758°||
After our target of 110km for the day was reached we camped on the grass in a wide valley. Interestingly the valley we chose for camping is the first time we have seen large scale cultivation since our first day in Mongolia. Large tracts of this valley have been plowed.
|Mongolia||KM 549||N 49.91798°||E 93.26729°||Again we chose a flat bit of grass a few hundred yards off the track and a few km west of the village Zuungovi. And again one of the local herders dropped by to see who we were and what we were doing.|
|Mongolia||Uvs Nuur||N 49.98928°||E 92.70552°||
To get to the shore of Uvs Nuur we had to drive a few kms across untracked sand and grass but eventually we found a nice camping spot right on the lake shore. Contrary to the advice we found in the Lonely Planet guide the edge of the lake was not muddy/swampy and there were no mosquitoes to greet us.
|Mongolia||South of Ulaangom||N 49.62445°||E 92.07304°||
Late in the afternoon we pulled off the road a good distance and settled in for the days camp. We had a couple of visitors late in the afternoon curious about who we were and what we were doing.
|Mongolia||Khar-Us Nuur||N 49.11928°||E 91.96563°||
Eventually we started to pack up and get ready to move our camp a few km down the lake. This seemed to be the only way we could get our visitor to bid farewell and return to his ger.
|Mongolia||Khovd||N 48.08218°||E 91.61549°||
After our shopping experiences we headed out of town to the west along the road to Olgii and found a spot to camp in a small valley beside the road.
|Mongolia||Churgin Guur||N 48.34855°||E 91.30003°||
At about the 50 km mark the road took a big detour north to a newish bridge across a river called the Churgin Nuur. With a water supply and nice hot sun we decided to make this another washing afternoon. So that's how we spent the middle of the afternoon.
|Mongolia||Tolbo Nuur||N 48.51295°||E 90.17018°||
More kilometers and more bad roads brought us to the shores of Tolbo Nuur a lake about 60km south of Olgii where we spent the afternoon and night.
|Mongolia||Olgii||N 48.96260°||E 89.96183°||
After some looking we found the Travelers Guesthouse, a compound with 4 gers, a house and a few out buildings and (just) enough space for our vehicle. The place has wifi, reasonable showers, pit toilets and the lady that runs the place is helpful and speaks good English and will do the laundry for a price.
|Mongolia||Olgii||N 49.60616°||E 89.46568°||
While Nina handed out sweets to the hord of local kids I contemplated what to do for our nights accomodation. I happened to spot a "hotel" with a large fenced yard and noticed that a lady in a blue hat seemed to belong to that hotel. So after a brief sign-language discussion I was helping her open the gate and then squeezing the truck through the gate into the yard. We spent the remainder of the evening watching the antics of the local people, the many truck drivers that had arrived (with their loaded vehicles) from Russia and the many recalcitrant yaks and their frustrated owners.
|Russia||Altai region||N 50.24051°||E 87.81741°||
Around 4:00 we found a small meadow below the highway, negotiated the steep rocky track down to it and made that our camp for the night. We are visible only from a short section of the highway, have good views of the nearby snow capped mountains and are surrounded by a larch forest.
|Russia||Kurata||N 50.80671°||E 85.99264°||
Just before (east of) the village of Kurata we found a picnic sign in a small stand of trees beside a small river and decided that it would make a good campsite. Insects were a slight problem but not enough to move us on. Late in the afternoon a German family (the ones we met near Irkutsk) arrived and parked for the night also. A bit later a couple of Russia guys turned up in a small Chevy SUV; so it was a nice little group of campers who occupied the site.
|Russia||Katun River near Manzherok||N 51.81242°||E 85.76400°||
By mid afternoon we were traveling along the banks of the now very wide and fast flowing Katun River and the traffic and vacation activity was quite hectic, campgrounds, hotels, rafting outfits and even a small water park. We found an informal campground squeezed between the road and the river and spent the afternoon talking to our neighbours, cooking and watching the rafters flash by on the fast river.
|Russia||A Field M52||N 52.68065°||E 85.06043°||
Towards the end of the day we started looking for a place to stop for the night and eventually selected a side road and parked on the edge of a cultivated field containing some kind of crop with pink flowers.
|Russia||Barbaul||N 53.34682°||E 83.77539°||
After our chores were done we found a better place to park (across the road in a large paved parking lot, right behind the Lenin statue). The police lady who seemed to be in charge of the lot told us (via iPhone translation) that it would be ok for us to park in the lot all night. So we settled in and then went for a walk to check the place out, and for Nina to take photos of the many wedding parties that seemed to be over-running the town.
|Russia||A349||N 51.39050°||E 81.13898°||
Camping the last 3 days has simply been, find a nice patch of grass/forest beside the road and pull in.
|Kazakhstan||Karpovka||N 49.07981°||E 80.76004°||
Around 5:30 we came to the River Tsar and decided to stop on the south east side of the bridge for the night. A herd of horses were using the bridge and river to get relief from the heat and during the evening a number of travelers stopped to cool off in the river.
|Kazakhstan||Kurata||N 48.19138°||E 80.46519°||
A little while later we found a track heading east and camped in the grass about 100m from the road.
|Kazakhstan||A350||N 45.66881°||E 80.27062°||
Resorting to a favourite South America trick we found a gravel pit for our evenings camping spot.
|Kazakhstan||A350||N 44.17170°||E 77.64818°||
At the start of a long section of road construction, about 130km from Almaty, we found a wide area to pull off the road for our nights camp. It was not quiet as the road crew seemed to be working 24/7.
|Kazakhstan||Almaty||N 43.23290°||E 76.93925°||Without much trouble we found our way to the Holiday Inn. They found a place for us to put the truck on their property and checked in we showered and tried to relax after deducing that this Holiday Inn was costing us $300 per night. The receptionist confirmed that our visas had not been registered with the migration police but that on Monday they (the hotel) could do that for us for a fee of 10000T (US$67).|
|Kazakhstan||Almaty||N 43.23311°||E 76.93931°||
Our second night at the Holiday Inn. Nice hotel, helpful staff, but proof that Almaty is an expensive city.
|Kazakhstan||Almaty||N 43.32945°||E 76.95857°||
As night approached we moved a little further down the street to a wide almost empty parking lot and thought we had found a good place for the night; but we were wrong. Over the next few hours a number of cars and motocycles gathered in the parking lot and we were treated to a display of trick motorcycle riding (wheel stands both front and rear) and cars showing the drivers drifting skills. This later display completely freaked Nina out so at about 10:00pm we departed from the parking lot back to the quiet street where the Mercedes dealer was located and found an area to pull over and park for the night.
|Kazakhstan||Charyn Canyon||N 43.32945°||E 76.95857°||
As the LonelyPlanet says "it's no Grand Canyon but it is worth a visit". We found a flat place to park at the level of the plateau that forms the top of the canyon; turned the truck to take advantage of the breeze (a cross breeze through the camper windows) and settled in to a comfortable evening.
|Kazakhstan||Almaty||N 43.32954°||E 76.95852°||
We camped tonight in the same street as a few nights ago; just up the street from the Mercedes dealer.
|Kyrgyzstan||Bishkek||N 42.88047°||E 74.59387°||
The Silk Road Lodge is mentioned in the LonelyPlanet, is owned by Celestial Mountain Tour. It is a nice establishment at least partially British owned, has a sizeable yard for parking vehicles off the street. And was prepared to allow us to park our vehicle in their yard and live in our vehicle. In the end we took a room to have the advantage of air conditioning and showers.
|Kyrgyzstan||Issyk Kul||N 42.59729°||E 76.83517°||
After a while we left our lakeside picnic spot and continued down the road until we found a road side parking area where we spent the night.
|Kyrgyzstan||Issyk Kul||N 42.74405°||E 78.04720°||A parking lot beside the road.|
|Kyrgyzstan||Issyk Kul||N 42.17813°||E 77.33405°||
Late afternoon we stopped by a small lake just a few hundred meters south of Issyk Kul. Somewhat later we were joined by a Red VW California van from Poland and met Pioir, Daria, and their 9 month old baby Katia. Somewhat later again we were joined by two German cyclists Wolfgang and Daniel. We all sat around chating, sharing stories and drinking beer and wine. The cyclists had had a close shave during the day and Wolfgang showed us one of his saddle bags that had been hit by a passing car but fortunately did not knock him over. Eventually the cyclists moved on and the Aussies and the Poles stayed for the night.
|Kyrgyzstan||Beside the A367||N 42.14298°||E 75.33522°||
As the afternoon wore on we left the western edge of Issyk Kul and headed out onto the A367 towards the M41. The M41 is the main road from Bishkek to Osh and the A367 will connect with the M41 without us having to retrace our route back through Bishkek. We just pulled off the road into a grassy patch for the night.
|Kyrgyzstan||Kyzyl Suu||N 41.97390°||E 74.16733°||
Our camp for the night was a flat rock strewn patch of ground on the inside of a curve in the Kekemeren River.
|Kyrgyzstan||Somewhere on the M41||N 42.21016°||E 73.14467°||
Around 4:00pm after gradually climbing for a while we found a nice pullout at 9200 feet and pulled over for the evening; this seemed like a good "next step" in our altitude acclimatization. We spent the afternoon checking the oil level in that leaking wheel hub, reviewing our food supplies, making a list of what we needed to buy for our coming 15 days in the Parmirs and cooked up a large pot of noodles.
|Kyrgyzstan||Kockkor-Ata||N 41.03101°||E 72.53519°||
Just past the town of Kochkor-Ata, and its particularly hectic market, we found a large patch of ground on the edge of a corn field and pulled in for the night. We were far enough from the road to feel safe from passing vehicles, but unfortunately close enough to have a night long "serinade by truck".
|Kyrgyzstan||Gul'Cha||N 40.24676°||E 73.33938°||
In Osh the parking lot we were shown is off Kurnmandzhan-Datka Ulitza south of Abikadirova Prospekt at GPS 40.52059 72.80048. It is near the Hotel Osh and an office of the Drug Police. On the road to Sari-Tash about 10 km before Gul'cha we simply found a place to get off the road.
|Tajikistan||Before Murghab||N 38.28278°||E 74.04653°||
Again tonight our camping spot was just a spot about 100 meters off the road.
|Tajikistan||Wakhan Road||N 37.61834°||E 73.07743°||
With our explorations over we headed ack to the main road and looked for a camping spot near some salt lakes visible from the highway but we were not scessful. So we decided to go to the turnoff to the Wakhan Valley and find a camping spot a few kilometers along the Wakhan Road. No sooner had we turned onto the road than we spotted two backpackers hitch hiking. WE relaxed our normal rule of "no hitch hikers" as on this road rides a scarce. So we picked up Alexander (from Belarus) and Anna (from Russia). After pacing them and their gear in the camper we drove about 1 km to an abandoned herders camp nestled up against a stone bluff and with some buiding ruins to offer or passengers a protected spot for their tent.
|Tajikistan||Zong||N 37.01212°||E 72.58414°||
We could have parked for the night near the shops in Langar but it did not seem suitable for Alex's and Anna's tent so we continued past Langar down the valley through a couple of other villages with their narrow, tree lined main streets. However we did not find a suitable tent site so at the village of Zong (I think) we simply pulled off the road onto a small patch of ground. Alex and Anna found a home-stay in the local village. Nina and I spent some time chatting to the local kids and playing frizbee with some of them. When our bed time arrived we had a ittle trouble convincing the bolder of the young boys that the games and treats were over.
|Tajikistan||Ishkashim||N 36.72710°||E 71.61140°||
Ishkashim (ишкошим) is a somehwat larger village than the other we had passed through today, but it still feels like a village rather than a town. Also it has the tree lined main street, mud brick houses and stone fences, though to be fair there are some substantial concrete buildings. After some checking around we found Hauni's Guest House in the main street next door to the police station. It has a large yard in which we could park our truck. It already had 6 or 7 Toyota Land Cruisers (tourist agency vehicles) a motocycle and a couple of tents (for guests that were too late for rooms or beds). It is a great place. Vali, the young man that owns the place speaks good English and is very willing to help guests find whatever they need in the village. And most important of all the showers have a very good supply of really hot water.
|Tajikistan||Khorog||N 37.48733°||E 71.55915°||
We got to the town of Khorog around 4:00 pm, dropped Alex and Anna at the main bridge and then went looking for the Pamir Lodge, which according to the Lonley Planet is the place where all overlanders congregate in Khorog. We eventually found a small side street off the main thoroughfare where we were supposed to turn, but the narrowness of the street gave us pause. However a local man came up an assured us that this was indeed the way to the Pamir Lodge and it was "OK" for us to go. So we crawled up this incredibly bumpy, narrow street past men painting a fence (who had to get out of our way), over broken drains, around piles of rocks (another man was building a fence) until we came to a straight narrow section of street at the end of which we could see the gate to the Lodge. The only problem was that between us and that gate was a canal with a concrete cover and the cover was not quite wide enough for us - with some encouragement from another volunteer guide I drove over the canal with a piece of each tire hanging off the side of our little "bridge". That however was not the end of the delicate manouvering as getting into the lodge's yard was another exercise in "squeezing" our truck into a place that was honestly too small for it. Once parked we did not take long to realize that getting out tomorrow would be even more interesting as there was nowhere nearby to turn around, so we would have to reverse out and back down that straight street over the canal - however that was a problem for another day. At the lodge the showers where good, the wifi did not work most of the time, and the people managing the place were a little reserved. They seemed friendly but we know that other people have found their reserved nature to come across as unhelpful. This is not a place for 4 wheeled vehicles like ours. Anything bigger than a Landcruiser would find this place a squeeze.
|Tajikistan||Gunt River||N 37.71388°||E 71.93674°||
So once on the main road we headed out of town on to the Pamir Highway and up the valley of the River Gunt. Our plan was, that over the next couple of days we would drive the Pamir Highway maybe as far as where we turned off into the Wakhan Road thereby completing a circuit. By all accounts we had read the part of the highway that travels through the Gunt River Valley is spectacular. But tonight we drove only 20 or so km before finding a spot by the river and off the road for our nights camp.
|Tajikistan||Wakhan Road||N 37.61834°||E 73.07743°||
In any case we eventually bumped and shuddered our way to the Wakhan road turn off and drove a couple of km down that road to the campsite we used almost a week ago. By the time we got there the wind was howling and it was cold but we were snug in our camper cooking dinner.
|Tajikistan||Gunt river||N 37.71388°||E 71.93674°||
Once underway again we got some good mountains views. There are some really spectacular peaks bordering the Gunt River. Again for our camping spot we picked a patch of flatish ground some distance off the road near the river.
|Tajikistan||Khorog||N 37.52521°||E 71.50588°||
Rather than return to the Pamir Lodge and its tight entrance we decided to try the Serena Inn Hotel for our nights camping. This is (according to the Lonely Planet) the best hotel in town. We had heard from some German overlanders that one could park at the Serena for only 20 Somoni's per night - which seemed a bit unbelievable for a "high class" hotel - so we decided to try it. Sure enough they allowed us to park on their premises, it was unfortunately another tight fit, but a very pleasant environment. Big lawns and gardens and right by the river. Just after we arrived at the Serena a wedding party turned up for a celebration. It was the same wedding car we saw earlier in the day. Nina could not resist and got into the act as the second photographer and as you can see the wedding party welcomed her. Later in the evening the German couple that told us about the place also arrived.
|Tajikistan||M41||N 38.27985°||E 71.33652°||
Towards the end of the afternoon we found a place on a high bluff with space for us to pull off the road and with a good breeze blowing so we stopped thinking this would be a good camping place, and it was for a few hours. But about 8:00pm a Tajik border patrol knocked on our door and through the usual sign language told us that "we could not park here" and that 3 km down the road was a place we could park. Indeed 3 km down the road we found a police check point, and a truck stop. The officer manning the checkpoint clearly knew we were coming because he pointed us to the "parking lot" almost before I asked him where it was.
|Tajikistan||Kalaikhum||N 38.35278°||E 70.63801°||
About 20 km south of Kalaikhum at about the time that I was getting tired of driving and tired of the roads we happened to see the Swiss couple (Peter and Barbara) in their litte motorhome parked in a nice spot between two fields. So we pulled in behind them pleased to have the bumping finished for the day.
|Tajikistan||Kalaikhum||N 38.30131°||E 69.25612°||
Around 6:00pm the road climbed to pass beside the south western end of Nurek Resevoir, towards the top of the climb we found a parking lot big enough for us and far enough off the road to be safe from crazy Tajik drivers. As a bonus the place had a breeze and the outside temp was down to 85°F. The temperature alone made this a good camping spot.
|Tajikistan||Yanghnob River||N 39.24096°||E 68.54380°||
After a bit more spectacular mountain scenery and roadway we found a good piece of ground, well off the road, next to the Yanghnob River and pulled over for the night. I spent some time fixing one of the latches on a kitchen drawer while Nina did some cooking. After chores were completed we were visited by a group (maybe 8) young Tajik guys who spotted us as they drove past. They stayed for a little while wanting to get photos in every possible arrangement of us, them and our vehicle. About 5 minutes after they left, they returned to present us with a small highly decorated knife as a gift.
|Tajikistan||Urmetan||N 39.44859°||E 68.38097°||
We drove only about 20 miles along the Panajakent road (until the canyon widened out) before returning a bit to a nice flat area for our nights camp. We occupied some of the evening by defrosting the refrigerator; as you can see in the not-too-flatering photograph of me above.
|Tajikistan||Buston||N 40.42929°||E 69.58329°||
We eventually camped about 30 km short of Buston in the desert a good distance off the road and spent the last half of the afternoon cooking. Also contrary to our expectations and fears the day was only hot, not blazing, and the outside temperature did not even get above 87°F.
|Uzbekistan||Buka||N 40.73528°||E 69.12712°||
The truck was very hot after standing in the sun for 4 hours so once on the road we started looking for a shady place to stop for a while and maybe even for the night as we are not scheduled to be in Samarkand until 4th Sept. Eventually we found a large stand of trees that was shading the edge of the road and we pulled in for a break. No sooner had we stepped out of the truck than a group of men having a meal on raised platforms under the trees came over to talk, offered us water and fruit and invited us to join them; which we did. After some time a few more men turned up one of whom spoke English (he had spent 2 years in England). Eventually we worked out that the larger group were all school friends who were simply having a couple of meals together, and one man and his family used the place as a shashlik stand and sold food to passing travelers, mostly truckers. One of the group of friends was a chef who had worked for some time in Moscow and after some time he cooked up a large batch of (what the Russians and Tajiks call) Plov but which the Uzbeks call Osh. One of the differences between the Plov we had in Ishkashim and the Osh being prepared here is that the Uzbeks use yellow carrots and lamb fat rather that standard red carrots and cooking oil. The meal was good, but filling. Eventually everyone except the shashlik family went home, we moved the truck from the road edge onto the property for safety and went to bed.
|Uzbekistan||Zarmin dam||N 39.82645°||E 68.39070°||
South of the town of Zomin the road began to climb along a river valley. Close to the town many road side food places exploitd the shade of the river side trees with there open air, shaded, eating areas and a little farther south we started to climb past a dam and the river that feeds it. We stopped to chat with some ladies selling produce beside the road just after the dam and a few miles later we were able to get down into the river valley, and into the shade of a cliff for what seemed like a good camping spot. Throughout the evening we had a number of groups visit the river but without disturbing us. Overnight the temperature dropped and we had a comfortable night.
|Uzbekistan||Samarkand||N 39.65254°||E 66.97339°||
At the now well mentioned round-about we turned south along the eastern part of the city ring-route and followed it past a very extensive truck service shop. It would have been very easy to get our truck serviced here compared to the effort it required in Dushanbe (other travelers note). After some miles on the ring route we turned west onto the road from Penjikent which according to our map would take us right into the tourist part of the city, Registron Street and the locale of our hotel. The Penjikent road did as we expected but we never ever expected the street that it became. It was like being back in Tajikistan or Mongolia, broken pavement, uncovered man-holes, piles of stones and gravel, cars and buses everywhere. But never the less it got us to where we needed to be and as we exited this street into Registon Street everything changed. Smooth pavement, nice sidewalks, nice trees and views of the famous Registan. We found a parking spot and then I went looking for the hotel. With the GPS in hand it took me 10 minutes to find the hotel and then seek out a route that would allow our truck to pass through into the hotel parking lot. As it turned out there are two entrances to the hotel area but only one with enough clearance for our truck - and that turned out to be a turn off Registon Street almost right across the road from the Registan. The parking lot is not particularly secure (no locks, fences or gates) but it is big enough. We spent the afternoon looking around, and using the hotels email and electricty (and as it would turn our this was a good thing for they would be absent for the next couple of days).
|Uzbekistan||Navoiy||N 40.12212°||E 65.14706°||
Just past the largish town of Navoiy which is the home of an international airport that can handle 747s and seems to be a major base for a cargo operation Korean Air we found a designated roadside parking area. That was our home for the night. As the sun went down the temperature dropped below 90°F and we settled in for a relaxed comfortable night.
|Uzbekistan||Kyzylkum||N 40.60318°||E 62.64162°||
The road today was mostly OK, though as you can see in the photos there were a few rough sections. For our camping place tonight we simply found a patch of sand near a cell tower amongst the small dunes and scrub.
|Uzbekistan||Ayaz qala||N 42.01413°||E 61.03063°||
There are three separate ruins at Ayaz qala two of which sit on hill tops. Nearby there is a yurt camp for those that need accomodation. From the end of the sealed road a rough track leads up to a rough parking lot just below the walls of the ruin on the tallest hill. We parked there and went exploring. The qala is in poor condition and nature seems to be reclaiming the area despite some limited efforts by people to do repairs. The location is fabulous. Situated on the only hill for miles one is given a great view of the flat land of western Uzbekistan (or Khorezm province as we would later learn). Inside the walls we met a group of young people armed with camera equipment who appeared to be making a movie; later (through mime and very little English) we would discover they were making an MTV style film clip. We spent the night in this parking lot with a fabulous view of the stars.
|Uzbekistan||Khiva||N 41.38380°||E 60.36153°||
The Hotel Sorbir Arkanchi is about 200 meters from the North gate of the walled city. It has plenty of parking space both on the front apron of the buildiing and also down the side inside a gated area. The services or facilities leave a bit to be desired. No internet, hot water that is at best luke warm, and also water that is often turned off altogether. After being there a few days we deduced that this is the hotel for buses and their drivers. There always seemed to be a good number of large and small buses parked at the place and at breakfast each morning the room seemed to be filled with bus drivers. We did not see other tourists in the place even once. It seems that it costs $20 per night to park a motorhome without a room. There are some other possible parking spots for travelers with vehicles. The Asia Hotel (close to the south gate of the city looks like a possibility - there is a sign to this hotel pointing left at the entrance to the town on the road from Urgench). In addition there is a large area near the west gate that mgiht work.
After settling in to our hotel room we ventured out to explore the walled city. We were surprised to find that there are many family homes inside the walled city and the the north and south ends of the inner city feel more like an ordinary neighbourhood than a historical area. The tourist area (renovated historical buildings, cafes and souvenir shops) mainly occupy the middle section of the town between the east and west gates.
|Uzbekistan||Khiva||N 41.38380°||E 60.36153°||
Interestingly the fellow who was our guide today, who called himself Jonnibek, is mentioned in the LonelyPlanet guide book but the contact details given for him in that book are incorrect - a combination of typo and obsolete email address. He would be a useful resource to any vehicle based tourist who needed help. So his email is firstname.lastname@example.org
|Uzbekistan||Nukkus||N 42.47655°||E 59.61225°||In Nukkus we had a booking at the ARZ Hotel (АРЗ in Russian) but like other cities no real idea of how or whether we could get our truck to the hotel or whether we could park there. The agent that booked our Aral Sea Tour had given us the name of the driver for the excursion and the impression that he (the driver) could help us find a parking place. So on the outskirts of Nukkus I called his cell phone - unfortunately he spoke no English and I no Russia (or Uzbek) so we had (like other cities) to try to navigate to the hotel by ourselves. The pattern is now pretty familiar. Use the GPS to drive towards the hotel until something blocks us (low trees, low wires, "no truck" signs), then walk the remainder of the route to the hotel. Make contact with the hotel staff (if we are lucky one of them will speak some English), evaluate parking options, and find a suitable route for our truck to parking. In this case all of that was easy. One of the reception staff spoke Engish, the hotel had a large fenced parking lot, and there was an easy though not obvious route from our temporary parking place to the hotel. So all was good. The hotel turned out to be good also, nice rooms, air conditioning that worked, wifi that worked, but water that is only just warm enough to have a quick shower.|
|Uzbekistan||Aral Sea||N 42.47655°||E 59.61225°||
We spent more time washing the mud off our feet and legs than we spent putting it on, but once "clean" we piled back into the car and drove 1/2 mile up into a low saddle that had some protection from the onshore wind for our nights camp. Our driver brought out a niffty spring loaded tent that pretty much erected itself and laid our thin mattresses, sheets and blankets for our bedding; he (the driver) would sleep in the car. That same felt mat from lunch came out to be the dinner table - the food was the same as lunch also with the addition of coffee. Another guide with a Latvian couple as his clients camped in the same place and he prepared that Plov dish for their dinner.
|Turkmenistan||Dashogus||N 41.84483°||E 59.93236°||
After our tour we again hit the road following our guide this time towards the town of Dashogus, the capital of the Dashogus province, another border town, the town where the guide lives and where we were going to spend the night. The guide had arranged for us to park the truck at one of the local hotels (the UZBOY), have dinner and breakfast in the hotel and generally use their facilities.
|Turkmenistan||Devils Gate||N 40.25119°||E 58.43679°||
We camped a few hundred meters from the crater behind a small hill to get some protection from the craters hot exhaust gas. The top of that same hill also gave a good view of the crater.
|Turkmenistan||Ashgabat||N 37.88416°||E 58.36265°||At one point we were stopped by one of the numerous police patrols and told that "trucks cannot go this way". Eventually our guide convinced the policeman and we continued on our way to the Aziya Hotel on the southern side of the city. We were a little disapointed with the hotel. Old Soviet style hotel with no wifi, hot water that is only luke warm, but it is close to the road we need to get to Iran.|
|Iran||Mashhad||N 36.24112°||E 59.61820°||
Last night over dinner we discussed at length and without conclusion whether we would try and enter the city of Mashhad, the next big town about 100 km down the road from last nights camp. Mashhad is an important town for tourists and Muslim faithful as it has a well known shrine complex. But it is also a big crowded city and we are still unseasoned in the art of driving Iranian towns and so last nights discussion went back and forth between yes and no. However this morning while studying our GPS maps to ensure I understood the alternative routes I happened to see a place on the southern side of Mashhad near the airport called Qadir Camp and it was marked by a tent symbol. At first I was a little sceptical; a camping ground - we have not seen a real camping ground since the US. But with nothing to lose we decided we would try to get to Qadir Camp to see what it was. Arriving at the northern entrance to Mashhad we were confronted by a no-truck sign so we took the eastern bypass road that turned out to be a toll road as well. We traveled some distance along this toll road, maybe 30 km, until we came to a road heading west back into the heart of Mashhad. Fortunately we found no more no-truck signs and this road took us all the way into the heart of the city with its manic traffic. As a brief aside we had been discussing during the morning whether Iranian drivers were as crazy as Central Asian drivers. The answer we concluded was yes, lane lines mean nothing, u-turns anywhere you like, and stop in the middle of the road. We did however conclude that Iranian pedestrians are a little more cautious than the Central Asian counterparts. However so far it seems that small motorcycles are much more prevalent in Iran than Central Asia and they seem to obey no rules of any description. So after our traffic experience we arrived at the entry road to Qadir Camp and pulled up behind a European campervan. It was one of the guides from the Seabrdige-Tour group we met yesterday at the border. It seemed that the rest of the group would be along later and that the group was going to spend the night at this place. While Nina chatted to the guide I went to the entrance/ticket booth and "talked" to the guys there about whether we could camp in the place. I noticed that there were dozens of groups of locals with tents set up relaxing in the warm afternoon sun, so it really was a camp ground - amazing. After some discussion the answer was yes and I was instructed to "get car" and "follow me" and a group of men some on motorcycles and one on a bicycle led me through the very extensive campground to the place where they were going to put all the tour group vehicles. So for at least one night we became honourary Seabridge-Tour members - sort of.
|Iran||Kermen||N 30.91319°||E 56.97399°||
Late in the afternoon the road climbed into the Payeh Mountains and the temperature moderated. We took that as a sign to find a camping spot where we might get a comfortable night.
|Iran||Dasht-e Lut||N 30.80097°||E 57.77116°||
After the sun went down the temperature moderated slowly. By 8:30 Nina was able to convince herself to try and get some sleep inside the sweltering camper but I decided to layout a tarp, blanket and sheet and sleep under the stars. I have not done this in years. About midnight a gusty wind arrived and, after wrapping up my make shift bed, I adjourned to the camper.
|Iran||South of Rafsanjan||N 30.13250°||E 55.95542°||
Then we retraced our route back to Kerman, onto the Western exit highway to a town called Rafsanjan, and then up into the moountains west of Kerman where, thanks to the altitude, we found some cool air and a place to camp.
|Iran||South of Yadz||N 31.47961°||E 54.66017°||
From Maymand we retraced our route back to Shahr-e babak, then north to intersect with the main road from Kerman to Yadz. We stopped about 60 km south of Yadz, well poised for an early entrance to the city of Yadz tomorrow.
|Iran||Shiraz||N 29.61189°||E 52.53864°||Our hotel is right in the center of Shiraz and this has given Nina a chance to visit a number of nearby clothing stores selling head covering garments for Iranian women. She is in the process of accummulating a sizeable collection of these things. Some of her collected items look very nice, others are a bit comical. When photos can be uploaded I will include some of Nina trying on these garments.|
|Iran||Road To Esfahan||N 32.11809°||E 51.88134°||
About 70 km from Esfahan we simply found a road side parking area and stopped. We did not want to brave Esfahan traffic with dark approaching.
|Iran||Esfahan||N 32.59449°||E 51.66769°||We had the names and gps coordinates of two potential parking/camping places in Esfahan. Parking-esfahan.com
(a truck repair shop and parking area) on the Northern side of the city and Isfahan Tourist Inn
on the southern side. So this morning we set off early to make our way to Esfahan-parking. As
expected the traffic was dense and a little crazy but the road system of Esfahan was up to the task with
good freeways all the way. We got to the correct GPS coordinates and could not see esfahan-parking anywhere.
A quick call to the phone number we got from their website and we were told - sorry, we sold
the workshop some time ago. Bummer. That meant a drive back through and around the city to
our second option.
The Tourist Inn turned out to be a real gem of a camping place. Our earlier mistake actually worked
in our favour with the Tourist Inn. Because of that mistake we approached the Inn from the North
which put us on the same side of a divided road as the place. Had we come at it from the South
as we would have without the earlier mistake it would have been very difficult to see and impossible to
turn into their entrance way.
Anyway, the place seems prepared for motorhomes. It has electricity, a toilet and shower block
just for us campers and the showers are hot.
|Iran||Hamedan||N 34.67448°||E 48.75039°||
Eventually daylight ran out and we stopped a little way short of our destination of Hamedan. We simply picked a roadside parking area next to the highway.
|Iran||Takht-e Soleiman||N 36.60090°||E 47.33312°||
We could probably have camped in the parking lot of Takht-e Soleiman, but decided against that on the basis that there were too many people curious about us and in particular a couple of young guys seemed to keep hanging around. They were probably OK but part of our usual practice is not to take chances. So we drove some distance down the road and found a nice flat spot some distance off the road.
|Iran||Near Gilvan||N 36.76980°||E 48.84635°||
We found a large informal camping area, flat area well off the road, and settled in for the night.
|Iran||Masule||N 37.16250°||E 49.02295°||
We drove a few kms back down the Musueleh access road to camp. Throughout the evening a few cars stopped to look at us and we had a conversation with one young couple.
|Iran||Canrood||N 38.34712°||E 48.84517°||
near Hosseins house.
|Iran||Tabriz||N 38.02550°||E 46.36948°||The city of Tabriz was our next stop and was where we planned on camping for the night. We had a few misadventures on the way to Tabriz as Hossein and his driver seemed to have no idea when it came to the well known practice of "follow the leader". No sooner would Hossein say to us "just folow me" than they would tear off weaving through the traffic and within minutes be completely out of sight. But having observed Iranian drivers the problem may be genetic as we have not yet seen a single driver in Iran that exhibits any degree of patience or thought for other vehicles on the road. We have even seen pedestrians standing in the middle of a lane on a freeway reading emails on his phone simply expecting traffic to avoid him. In any case we eventually found our collective way to a place called El Goli which translates into something like "peoples lake". It is a large park near the southern part of the city's ring road, allows camping in vehicles or tents, has a nice lake and a number of restaurants.|
|Iran||Khoy||N 38.55281°||E 44.99118°||No sooner had we started down the ring road than Hossein called to say "take the city center exit from the round about we will camp in the city". We declined his suggestion continuing along the ring road until we found a small roadside mosque where we decide to park for the night. We quickly had a small group of local truckers and mechanics looking at the vehicle and through sign language and their few words of English we established that it was ok to park here for the night. Eventually Hossein turned up and told us that he and his driver would continue to the border tonight and would meet us tomorrow morning at the entrance to the border town of Bazargan still 170 km away.|
|Turkey||Dogubayazit||N 39.52947°||E 44.10824°||
We parked in the street in Dogubayazit and took a walk around just to see what things were available. We got some money - yeh - ATMs work. There seems to be a lot of internet cafes and will try one tomorrow. Found a baker selling something we recognize as bread. After shopping we headed approximately south along the main street towards Ishak Pacha (Isaac's Palace) and found a spot at a local camping ground called Lalezar Camping
|Turkey||Lake Van||N 38.91328°||E 43.58849°||
Not long after the road started running beside Lake Van we came upon a picnic area and decided this would do for the night. Just after we stopped a German couple and their 2 children in a converted UPS van stopped to say hello. They are on their way to Iran, Pakistan and India.
|Turkey||Goreme||N 38.63727°||E 34.85390°||
Late in the afternoon we found our way to Goreme, one of the towns in the Cappadocia area of Turkey, and to Kaya Camping a camping and caravaning park (caravaning is what it seems Europeans call RVing). Seems like a nice place, electricity, hot showers, wifi and washing machines. There is only one other vehicle/couple staying here, interestingly they were one of the vehicles in that Seabridge tour group we encountered in Iran.
|Turkey||Ibradi||N 37.00665°||E 31.58083°||
By late afternoon we were looking for any flat spot off the roadway as an overnight camp when we spotted a rough side road that would give us protection for the traffic on the narrow mountain road.
|Turkey||Tasagil||N 36.89258°||E 31.23738°||
Around 3:30pm the rain came back in force so rather than drive through a torrential downpour we stopped on a side road near a gas station for the night. Not a very attractive position but safe enough.
|Turkey||Antalya||N 36.86390°||E 30.64213°||
Just west or is it south of Antalya where the road runs right beside the sea we stopped in one of the many parking places. There were a few other vans, motorhomes and trucks also spending the night parked beside the Mediterranean.
|Turkey||Kas||N 36.19641°||E 29.63257°||
Eventually we arrived at the seaside town of Kaş (pronounced Kash) where we planned to spend a few days at a camping ground. We had heard from Peter and Barbara (the Swiss couple we met on the road in Tajikistan) that the place was pleasant. We did a little, accidental, tour of town/village as the road through the town that our GPS picked was closed and so we had to back track. Getting into a spot at the campground was also a bit of a trick as it is a very tight place. But we finished up parked about 20 meters from the water.
|Turkey||Kas||N 36.20481°||E 29.63679°||
After lunch and a lot of talk about travel and a few beers it was getting a bit late in the day to start moving so we simply stayed in the street in front of the apartment for the night.
|Turkey||Pamukkale||N 37.91449°||E 29.12135°||
Late in the afternoon we arrived in the township of Pamukkale. At the town entrance we saw signs to two local camp grounds and started heading for the closest (which the sign said was just a little farther up the main street). Along the way a guy waved us over by making a "tent" with his hands and we proceeded to negotiate price and services for us to park in his "campground". It looked more like the grass yard of a delapidated motel and restaurant. But it had electricity and toilets. It also had showers supposedly but a little trial indicated that the water flow was cold and slow.
|Turkey||Somewhere along the road||N 37.85275°||E 28.65691°||
Late in the afternoon we found a big parking lot beside the road and pulled in for the night. When we got there the lot was empty but during the night it turned into a major truck convention with vehicles packing the place so tightly that someone was there during the night helping the truckies manouver in and out.
|Turkey||Ozdere||N 37.98586°||E 27.14284°||
With our visit to the ruins complete we bundled back into the truck and followed along the coast road for some distance until we found a rough parking lot on a spectacular headland overlooking a large tourist hotel which at this time of year seemed all but abandoned. Later in the evening I was roused from bed by a police patrol wanting to know who and what we were, but a brief conversation plus a display of passports and visas and they left us to a peaceful night.
|Turkey||Bergama||N 39.10040°||E 27.15558°||
Our destination for the day was the town of Bergama (the ruins of Pergamum) where we had read were some (more!) interesting ruins and a camping/caravan ground. We planned on maybe spending a couple of nights at this camping ground in order to take care of a bunch of business and organizational things
As promised it had toilets, electricity, wifi but only a trickle of hot water.
|Turkey||Burhaniye||N 39.52295°||E 26.99899°||
Once done with our sightseeing at Pergamum we headed back towards the coast and followed the road through many communities until late in the afternoon we found an abandoned gas station with a nice flat concrete driveway for us to park on for the night.
|Turkey||Burhaniye||N 39.52295°||E 26.99899°||
Aproaching the town of Troy we saw a large, clear blue sign announcing "Homeric camping/caravan" so we turned into the towns main street as indicated by the sign but alas the camp could not be found. At the other end of the main street we found another sign for the same place pointing back the way we had just come. Very strange. Nina asked one of the locals having tea at a small cafe and he enthusiatically jumped into his car signalling us to follow. Back at that second sign he pointed at the sign but indicate that other than the sign he had no idea where the caravan/camp was. But he did take us to the ticket booth at the entrance to the Troy archealogical park. They pointed us 300m back down the main road (not the towns main street) to a different but entirely suitable caravan camp.
|Turkey||Burhaniye||N 39.95649°||E 26.24889°||
We spent another cold night in the same caravan camp
|Turkey||Eceabat||N 40.18231°||E 26.36033°||
We spent the afternoon soaking up the towns "atmosphere" and camped for the night in the waterfront car park. No one seemed to care that we were there. Dinner was döner at a local cafe.
|Turkey||Kilitbahir||N 40.14605°||E 26.37981°||
After all the sightseeing we headed back to the east coast with a plan to spend the night in the same parking lot and tomorrow visit the old fort and artillery battery at the town of Kilitbahir, a little south of Eceabat. But - at Kilitbahir we were confronted by an old stone arch across the road with very convincing signs informaing us that it was only 3.8M tall in the middle and considerably lower on the edges. So we simply parked in front of the artillery battery for the night.
|Turkey||Selımpaşa||N 41.08491°||E 28.40668°||
As the day wore on the traffic got a little thicker but nothing serious as the roads continued to be good and mostly 4 lane. Just as the sun was going down we arrived at Istanbul Mocamp near the town of Selımpaşa. To our relief the caretaker was present. It did not take long to get hooked up and settle in for the night. That was after showers under hot but trickling water in a well ventilated shower room.
|Turkey||Istanbul||N 40.98572°||E 28.83617°||
After a long roadside discussion using the iPhone to translate he offered that he knew a good place to park for the night near the airport. Exhausted and having no other good options as it was now late in the day we agreed. So another half an hour of follow the leader through heavy traffic brought us to a very large concreted area with dozens of cars, mini buses and large buses parked. After saying goodbye and thank you to the taxi driver we settled in for the night. Thoughout the evening vehicles came and went in a steady stream. We eventually deduced that this was where some rent-a-car companies stored their vehices and where buses and hire cars waited for their clients to arrive at the nearby airport.
|Turkey||Istanbul||N 41.00137°||E 28.97738°||
The parking lot, a small lot right next to the water, is well known among the European Caravan/RV/Motorhome fraternity, it is even in some of the caravan guides such as CamperContact.com Advice to other travelers; if you are aiming for this parking lot make sure you get onto Kennedy a long way our from your destination. Our problems yesterday arose because our GPS chose a route that tried to cut across the city. This is clearly a well know and well used overnight place in Istanbul for Caravans as the sign with prices even has a category for caravans. However the facilities are limited, one grubby asian style toilet, a small dock for some decrepit looking small boats, and a constant stream of locals coming to park and buy tea/coffe from a kiosk made from an abandoned van. But still one can forgive or live with much of that as it is literally a 1 km walk to the Blue Mosque.
|Greece||Vergina||N 40.48505°||E 22.31974°||Driving down the narrow main street of Vergina we thought we had made a mistake by bringing the truck into the town center and were about to turn around when a sign advertising parking for buses came to our rescue. The owners quickly materialized after we pulled in and in short order we had organized to stay for the night, to get electricity, water and internet (though the signal was not strong enough for us to use from the truck).|
|Greece||Near Delhpi||N 38.78499°||E 22.48301°||
Eventually we found a spot nicely off the road about 40 km from the town of Delphi (famous in antiquity for its Oracle) and settled in for a very quiet New Years eve.
|Greece||Delphi||N 38.48013°||E 22.51482°||
We spent a little time exploring the town, though this was not very exciting since most businesses were closed because this is the off season and then drove a few km down the road to a nice big parking lot where we idled away the remainder of the day. Boy it is nice that our camper is so comfortable.
|Greece||Athens||N 38.00914°||E 23.67213°||
Camping Athens proved easy enough to find and get to. It was made easier by the fact that we approached it from the North and East. Had we come from the West we would have had to pass it by and make a permitted U-turn at the next intersection. We had a bit of a challenge with the trees and the height of our truck and only a couple of the camping pitches would accommodate our height and then only after some careful positioning.
|Greece||Athens||N 38.00914°||E 23.67213°||
The apartment is 2 rooms plus a bath/toilet. It seems to be dug into the side of a steep hill and has a spectacular view of the ocean and nearby island. Nina pointed out that the online ad for the place calls it " a cave"
|Greece||Xiropigado||N 37.48069°||E 22.72873°||
One of the problems with narrow coastal roads is that there are not many places to pull off to spend the night. So this afternoon we spent some time looking before we found a little parking lot next to a tourist information sign. We had been there a while when a couple of local guys stopped by to chat and ask who and what we were. George, the one that spoke English had lived for 38 years in Durbin, South Africa and was a rugby fan.
|Greece||Monemvasia||N 36.68722°||E 23.04258°||
After our exploration of Monemvasia we moved the truck across the spit to spend the night with the other motorhomes. Nina observed that it was a great camping spot and that we could see water from every window.
|Greece||Lobkadika||N 36.63998°||E 22.46311°||
We ended the day just after the village of Lobkadika. We found a nice wide area off the road that even had a flat concrete pad for us to park on. Traffic was very light and we had a quiet night.
|Greece||Near Sparti||N 37.15532°||E 22.44068°||
After bypassing the downtown section of Sparti the road climbed into some more hills and we managed to find another nice wide pullout under some gum trees for our nights camp.
|Greece||Near Olympia||N 37.67170°||E 22.06447°||
So we spent the afternoon with more mountain roads and narrow villages before finding another nice wide space beside the road for our camp.
|Italy||Ancona||N 43.61267°||E 13.50530°||
After a long session of talking we were interrupted by one of the security guards who told us that we could not spend the night in the waiting area but that we could park in the street with the "other trucks" a few hundred yards away. So thats what we did, and that brought the evenings catching-up to an end.
|Italy||Faenza||N 44.34346°||E 11.84751°||
We continued on the A14 all day and as the light started to fade (about 4:30pm) we pulled into a service area near the town of Faenza and picked a spot among the trucks for the night.
|Italy||Fusina||N 45.42649°||E 12.24363°||
Our destination in Mestre was Camping de Venezia which is only a little way from and to the north of the causeway to Venice. It seemed like a good position and a number of camping guides, as well the establishments own website, said it was open all year. But of course when we got there the entrance way was blocked and a sign told us it was closed. Fortunately there is another campground in the area. But of course well south of the causeway and from the map it seemed much less well situated as a base for visiting Venice. But with no other options we spent some time navigating around the city and finding our way to Camping Fusina. We were delighted to find it open, almost deserted, and right near a ferry dock which had an hourly service running right to Venice.
|Austria||Muhlbachl||N 47.14021°||E 11.44851°||
Once into Austria we bypassed a number of motorway service areas in the hope of getting to a lower altitude. We eventually stopped about 40km from Innesbruck at a place with a large parking area, large restaurant, and gas station. As the night progressed we were joined by 20 or 30 trucks.
|Germany||Munich (Langwieder See)||N 48.19865°||E 11.41065°||
The place we found (Campingplatz Langwieder See) is north west of Munich in an area called Langwieder See. We had no trouble finding the place as it was on our OSM map. The guide book thankfully warned us that 95% of the occupants are permanent and so despite the German surroundings it was a bit like driving into a US trailer park. The US flavor was added to by the faux western theme of some of the buildings and common areas. Interestingly electricty is charged for, not by the day, but by the metered use. The showers are coin operated and are not timed but dispense a predetermined amount of water for each coin.
|Belgium||Kasterlee||N 51.23226°||E 04.98020°||
Our camp tonight was Camping Houtum near the town of Kasterlee. We are about 75km from the port of Antwerp where we have to drop the vehicle Monday morning. It was a nice place, electricity, water and dump at each camping "pitch" and a nice new shower/toilet block. However at this time of year all outside water was turned off. The new block had a very high tech charging system for showers and all uses of hot water. Each guest got a pass or charge card. To start the shower for example one places the charge card in a reader and that turns the water on. At checkout the amount of water used is charged. Could get expensive with a couple of teenagers along on a family holiday.
|Belgium||Antwerp||N 51.22104°||E 04.22229°||
We will stay in Antwerp for a couple of days until the vessel departs to ensure we are on hand in case we are needed at the port for some reason. We have a nice AirBnB appartment right in the downtown section of the city.
|Belgium||E313 (near Beringen)||N 51.07159°||E 05.14512°||We eventually stopped for the night at a motorway rest area or service center. The place was inundated with semi-trailers most of whom seemed to be stopped for the night. The place was so crowded that the trucks were parking where ever they could find a patch of unoccupied pavement. No heed was given to the signs that designated parking areas for cars only.|
|Germany||Thilhove||N 50.84552°||E 07.39494°||After a bit of careful manouvering to get the truck into their yard we settled into some afternoon coffee/beer and chatted catchng up on lifes happenings.|
|Germany||A3 (near Krauthauser)||N 51.00793°||E 10.25145°||After lunch we got underway again following the main east west motorway route to the east. Finding a spot to stop for the night proved a little challenging. We called into a number of roadside rest areas to find them overflowing with semi-trailer trucks settled in for the night. However eventually a gas station and restaurant complex with a very large parking area saved us as we found a small spot amoung the horde of trucks.|
|Poland||Piotrowice||N 51.03108°||E 16.65053°||Towards 17:00 we started looking for a gas station or rest area and after trying one place that seemed to be total chaos we eventually settled for a large flat gravel lot on the west bound side of the motorway. We were a bit surprised by this lot, as it was almost empty when we pulled in, whereas most of the gas stations were filled to overflowing with parked trucks.|
|Poland||Warsaw||N 52.30010°||E 21.08661°||Mid afternoon we entered the outskirts of Warsaw and followed our SatNav through some tricky manouvers making our way to a campground called CampingWok (www.campingwok.warszawa.pl) which according to our guidebooks was south of the city center. So when we finally pulled into a very narrow street and saw a sign for CampingWok we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. That did not last long as the young women behind the counter told us they had a group coming and ... no room for us. At about the time we departed CampingWok a torrential rain storm started dumping water on Warsaw so we spent the next hour or so trying to extracate ourselves from the city. As if the heavy rain was not enough we ran into a number of streets closed for roadwork, the result of which was that we eventually gave up and simply parked in a side street for the night.|
|Poland||Białystok||N 53.29375°||E 23.12405°||After our brief visit to the city we got back on the road. Most of remainder of the day was 2 lane blacktop of mixed quality, traveling through a mix of farm land and dense forest. The really noticeable feature of the days travel however was the density of truck traffic. It was like one long caravan of semi-trailers. Late afternoon we found a small grassy glade just off the road surrounded by forest and decided this would be a good place for the night.|
|Lithuania||Vilnius||N 54.68057°||E 25.22628°||We made it all the way to Vilnius today and were pleased to find the camping ground in the city (called creatively Vilnius City Camping) that we had read about, a little more accomodating than the one we tried in Warsaw. It is only a short distance off the A1 motorway, easy to get to, had lots of room and no height restrictions. Though to get there we did have to drive down a street against a no trucks sign - a practice that we are becoming very familiar with.|
|Latvia||Riga||N 56.95609°||E 24.07818°||Riga City Camping was easy to find on the island in the river just near the old city. Though as usual we had to drive down a number of streets with posted no truck signs. The place is right next to the Exhibition Center. Today it was quite full. Like the Vilnius campground the facilities are all housed in shipping containers fitted out for toilets, showers and other facilities - it does not look as bad as that sounds. the facilities are clean and functional. There is another campground in the same area called Riverside Camping Riga but we did not check that one out|
|Estonia||Pärnu||N 58.38553°||E 24.52543°||Despite some effort to find alternatives we eventually found ourselves in the town of Pärnu and at the gate of the towns only campground/RV park. The first glimpse of this place suggested that we had no chance, of either finding an available spot or of actually squeezing our truck through the entrance. However our pessimism was not justified. They had spaces available and we had no trouble at all getting through the gate. Indeed once parked in our assigned space we noted just along from us was a US Winnebago Journey DL (for those not in the know this is a 35+ ft long class A motorhome - one of the big ones on US roads). Turns out it was owned by a British couple who we got chatting to about various things motorhome and travel related.|
|Finland||Helsinki||N 60.20942°||E 25.12423°||Our arrival in Helsinki was another exercise in taking the wrong turn and having to negotiate cobbles and trams. This time right past the famous water front market and the absolute center of downtown Helsinki. But all obstacles can be overcome with perserverence and luck even being "beeped" by a tram for parking too close to the tram lines. Thus after a few adventures we eventually found ourselves at the gates of Rastila Camping Helsinki. They were able to find us a spot in their overflow area and we settled in for a quiet night. Rastila is really a nice place. Good facilities, a beach, a restaurant, saunas, even a close metro stations to make it easy to visit the city.|
|Finland||Lappeenranta||N 61.07209°||E 28.31512°||We spent the night in the parking area from where we took our stroll along the canal. For part of the evening we had the company of a young man who seemed bent on becoming a motorcycle stunt rider. He spent considerable time practicing wheelies right next to us. The amusing thing was that he was doing these stunts on a scooter.|
|Finland||Lappeenranta||N 61.87176°||E 28.85986°||The parking area we camped in is along highway 14 as it leaves the town in front of a building called the Jäähalli.|
|Finland||Koli||N 63.03938°||E 29.71282°||We camped for the night at a place called Future Freedom not far from the highway as it passes the Koli turnoff. It is locate next to a small lake and it has nice facilities. The owner was kind enough to show us an alternative entry way to avoid the low clearance gateway. With our hot water out of action the campground was a welcome opportunity to have a shower.|
|Finland||The road||N 64.56691°||E 28.33714°||We camped in the forest just behind a rest area somewhat north of Kajaani. A note to other travelers. As it turned out we stopped a bit too early. Over the next 20 miles there were a number of nice parking areas next to lakes and equipped with toilets.>|
|Finland||Juuma||N 66.26864°||E 29.40434°||Approaching Juuma were a whole bunch of cars parked on the side of the road almost blocking progress. So I parked while Nina went to investigate. After a few minutes she returned to tell me we could proceed, and that the cafe at the end of the road would allow us to camp with some other motorhomes on a small grass patch for Euro 10 per night. She also had the news that the cafe was right next to a hiking trail that led to the Bear's Ring and was a suitable starting point for a lesser hike (12km) called The Little Bear's Ring or Piene Karhunkierros.|
|Finland||Rovaniemi||N 66.48332°||E 25.74611°||We found a camping spot a little south of the city on a lake/canal front. We got the coordinates of this place from the camping log of the travelin-tortugas. They described it as a boat launch for the local yacht club. But recent works to install large water pipes have made access more difficult and we pretty much had the place to our selves.|
|Finland||Vuotso||N 67.79953°||E 26.78194°||Traveling North from Rovaniemi we found a nice little peninsula jutting into a lake or canal as a camping spot. The spot had a bit of breeze to keep the insects down a bit, and easy access to fresh water so that we could do a load of washing.|
|Finland||Inari||N 68.99361°||E 26.99393°||Our camping spot tonight was a small pull-off above a little lake, with lots of insects trying to get into the camper with us.|
|Norway||Kirkenes||N 69.72951°||E 30.04739°||We cheated a little on our camping log today as I have given the GPS coordinates of Kirkenes as our camping spot, but actually we camped in a gravel pit about 20km back down the road to the west. I just wanted to get Kirkenes as a spot on our map. Also we had to make a couple of tries at finding a camping site. Our first attempt was a big flat area that even provided a flat concrete pad, we thought this spot would be ok as when we pulled in a cargo truck was already parked there. Interestingly not long after we stopped the driver of that truck approached us asked something in Russian. We deduced that he wanted directions to the Russian border - so once again with map in hand we gave someone directions to Russia Some hours later a couple of soldiers turned up and in good English told us we could not stay here for the night as it was a restricted area. So we moved to our gravel pit a bit down the road.|
|Norway||Utsjoki||N 69.88956°||E 26.40410°||From Utsjoki we reentered Norway and continued along the Teno for another hour or so until we found a suitable pulloff.|
|Norway||North of Lakselv||N 70.32926°||E 25.07231°||The drive north from Karasjok was for a long period just a continuation of the forests we had experienced yesterday until we came to Lakselv, then suddenly we were in the Norway I had expected. Ocean bordered by big mountains. We drove a little way further north, passing many rest areas packed with motorhomes, to a nice camping spot on a bluff overlooking a small Fjord. We got the coordinates of this spot from the camping log of the Travelin Tortugas. Incidentally, tonights camp is our most northerly camping spot so far. It is a little further North than Dead Horse, AK.h|
|Norway||Knivskjellodden||N 71.12179°||E 25.70717°||We were tired and foot sore by the time we got back to our very welcome home on wheels. Nina had a rum and coke, I had a beer, some anti-inflammatories and pain killers. Then we both fell asleep. Obviously our camping spot for the night was the parking lot.|
|Norway||North of Alta||N 70.31195°||E 24.20570°||At Olderfjord we turned towards the town of Alta. Thereafter the road followed a series of rivers. Eventually we stopped for the night at one of the many marked roadside picnic areas.|
|Norway||South of Alta||N 69.82304°||E 23.20045°||A while down the road from Alta we found yet another marked roadside picnic area and decided to make it our nights resting place. Before bed we did a load of washing. During the course of the evening we were joined by a couple of groups in caravans/travel trailers, a group tent camping, and a couple of long haul trucks.|
|Norway||Finland Border||N 68.66223°||E 23.32980°||From Kautokieno our route headed towards Finland and the town of Enonteki. But we stopped for the night just after the border and well short of the town in one of our favorite camping spots, a gravel pit.|
|Sweden||Near border with Finland||N 67.95812°||E 21.60754°||Once into Sweden parking spots seemed a bit scarce as the ground was generally wetter than we have seen. We eventually found an old clearing and corral that was suitable for us to squeeze into.|
|Sweden||Jukkasjarvi||N 67.85114°||E 20.59898°||The Ice Hotel has a hostel where workers stay during the winter and is open for guests during the summer. They make this place available to motorhomes/caravans during the summer. So we parked in the hostel parking lot, plugged into the outside electrical outlet (used in winter to keep engines warm), and got a key to one of the hostel rooms for shower and toilet.|
|Norway||Narvik||N 68.45118°||E 17.70691°||Once down onto the coast we found a large gravel parking lot on the beach front for our nights camp. There were a few permanent looking caravans parked there that looked like they were selling souvenirs to passersby, and throughout the afternoon a number of vehicles dropped by and people went swimming or cooked barbecues on the beach.|
|Norway||Innhavet||N 67.63909°||E 15.92689°||A little south of Innhavet we found a signposted picnic area on a ridge overlooking a lake that was surrounded by some large glacier sculptured mountains. During the evening we had a visit from a couple of young Ukranians traveling towards Nordkapp and chatted for a while about travel and world events.|
|Norway||Bjerka||N 67.63909°||E 15.92689°||Just north of the town of Bjerka we stopped at one of the many sign posted picnic areas for the night. During the later part of the day a few other motorhomes, a caravan, and a couple of motorcyclists with tents stopped to call the place home for the night.|
|Norway||Grong||N 64.41076°||E 12.32689°||Just south of Grong we found a gravel pullout beside the road and deemed it a suitable place for the night. Later in the evening we were joined by a long haul truck, but mercifully he did not leave his engine running.|
|Norway||Roros||N 62.60331°||E 11.66064°||Finally we called it a day at a picnic area just short of the town of Roros. We noted that the information board in the picnic area suggested no overnight stays but we decided to ignore the suggestion. As the evening wore on 5 other campers pulled in and decided to also ignore the suggestion.|
|Norway||Kroken||N 61.68066°||E 11.75530°||Our camping is called Kroken, there is a sign at the entrance with that name on it. Has a pit toilet and a nice nearby river. It is set in a forest of thin straight pine trees.|
|Norway||Kvam||N 61.66714°||E 09.68656°||After descending from the fjell we were traveling on and/or near the E6 highway looking for a camping spot. We tried a number of smaller back roads through picturesque farm land and when that did not pan out we tried for a couple of campgrounds shown on our maps only again to be unsuccessful, they either did not exist or were closed. Eventually in the town of Kvam Wolfgang and Romy found the gravel parking lot for the community hall a little off the main drag. It worked out well, a quiet night, place for the kids and dog to play. We even had the company of another camper. Though that camper did not come out of his/her van to talk.|
|Norway||Sognfjell||N 61.56181°||E 07.95502°||We had traveled across the tops for some time when we got a text message from Romy with coordinates of a place a little back down our route. It took us a little while to retrace our steps and find the small side track but in short order we had found their white van and were offering greetings. The place was nothing more than a wider part of a primitive maintenance road, the way farther up this road was blocked by a large expanse of snow so for now this was the end of the line and an impromptu campground for a number of travelers. While not luxurious, the place had an unparalleled view.|
|Norway||Sogndal||N 61.20942°||E 07.15535°||A little out of Sogndal towards the Aurland ferry we found a roadside pullout for our nights camp. Not very picturesque but nice wilderness campsites are in short supply in these steep sided valleys.|
|Norway||Flam||N 60.86368°||E 07.10775°||From Aurland we drove along the coast the short distance to the town of Flam. We were surprised and relieved by the size of the campground as there was plenty of room for our truck amongst the hundreds of people staying there. After a little walk around town it became apparent that the campground is the biggest establishment in the town. Good facilities, nice hot showers, washing machines, kitchen and full dump facilities. But like other things in Norway pretty expensive at 265 NOK (US$40) a night + electricity.|
|Norway||Nesflaten||N 59.60175°||E 06.76227°||Eventually the day came to an end, it started to rain and we needed some place to stop for the night. The solution was a small parking lot just at the entrance of one of the zillion tunnels we passed through today. Nothing notable about the place except that is was flat.|
|Norway||Netflaten||N 58.85582°||E 06.01677°||After getting off the ferry at Netflaten we climbed up into the mountains on highway 580 and found a nice roadside parking place beside a paddock of fat fluffy sheep.|
|Norway||Gvammen||N 59.60513°||E 08.72141°||Our camping spot was another sign posted roadside picnic area near the town of Gvammen.|
|Sweden||Byalven River||N 59.25178°||E 12.80048°||The other observation from the afternoon in Sweden was a shortage of obvious places to spend the night. So when we passed a roadside picnic area near the Byalven River we did a quick U-turn and made it our nights home.|
|Sweden||Stockholm||N 59.29592°||E 17.92227°||Eventually we got to the southern side of Stockholm and Bredang Camping, a large and well packed camping ground within easy metro reach of Stockholm central.|
|Sweden||Granna||N 58.05295°||E 14.50909°||We spent the night in a road side picnic area near the town of Granna.|
|Denmark||Copenhagen||N 55.67099°||E 12.43487°||We arrived at our intended camping spot, Absalon Camping towards the end of the afternoon. We were a bit surprised as the place was huge with perhaps a couple of hundred campers/caravans. At reception we were told that they did not really have space for us inside but that we could park in the Quick stop (a place at the front of the campground where late arrivals could park. From our point of view this was perfect. The Quick spot had a hard surface, electricity and was closer to both the front entrance (and hence the train station) and all facilities than any of the inside camping places. As we paid for our expected two nights camping we got an insight into the high cost of living in Denmark, the camping was US$40 and in addition (if we had wanted it) $10 for 12 hours internet.|
|Denmark||Copenhagen||N 59.29592°||E 17.92227°||Our camping place tonight was a roadside picnic/rest area near the town of Oldenburg in Germany.|
|Kenya||Niarobi||S 01.25017°||E 36.75963°||We are staying at the Hotel Troy which so far seems like a good quality three star place that is costing us under $100 per night. It appears to be a large home that has been converted to a hotel. It is located right on the boundary of the Nairobi National Park. It has nice grounds, a very vocal black faced sheep, and extensive security. I must say the security arrangements, two steel gates and a stone fence topped with an electrified razor wire, at first glance caused us to wonder about safety but during our walk to the Mall today we got no sense of safety being an issue during daylight hours.|
|Tanzania||Arusha||S 03.36567°||E 36.70391°||The hotel is quite a change from the one in Nairobi, about 3 times the price, and much more of an international 3-4 star establishment. It seems to be mainly a transit point for people on safari and a smattering of business, government and NGO types.|
|Tanzania||Oliver's Camp||S 04.13232°||E 36.07589°||Our accommodation was at a bush camp called Oliver's Camp. The "rooms" consist of a thatched roof structure without walls and under the roof a very large tent is pitched on a concrete and wood floor to provide animal and insect proof accommodation. Each room has its own toilet and shower. Cocktails were served at 7:30pm around the camp fire and dinner in the communal mess tent at 8:00pm. The cocktails, beer, wine, spirits were complimentary (or more accurately included in the accommodation price), were a welcome end to a great day.|
|Tanzania||Four Seasons Serengeti||S 02.23444°||E 34.91888°||Our accommodation for the night was the Four Seasons Serengeti. A simply fabulous place, for those of us that get some enjoyment from luxury hotels. I don't even want to think about how much the night is costing us. But I will try hard to enjoy it.|
|Tanzania||Lemala Lodge||S 01.58067°||E 34.83534°||Late in the afternoon, dusty and hot, we arrived at Lemala Camp, on a small rise not more than half a mile from the Mara River. It is what they call a mobile camp. Meaning that each season it is packed up and moved to a different location. This one, it seems, will be moved to the southern end of the Serengeti within a month. Accommodation was a spacious tent, with inside toilet and shower. The toilet waste was piped outside into a drain pit. The shower was a bucket shower. Outside our tent there was a 10 gallon canvas bucket suspended from a pole and connected to a hose that ran to the inside shower head. One of the camp staff would fill the bucket with warm water and then hoist it (the bucket) to the top of its hanging pole and then inform us that the shower was ready. Inside Nina or I (depending on who was showering) would pull a chain attached to the shower head and turn on the flow of water. Seemed primitive but it worked, very like an Australian bush shower, but in Australia one generally does not get the camp attendant to do all the hard work.|
|Rwanda||Mountain View Lodge||S 01.42875°||E 29.55495°||We arrived at the Mountain View Lodge about 22:00 tired and ready for sleep. The altitude (6500ft), and tropical climate were immediately evident with mist beginning to settle and a definite chill in the air. We were pleased to find that our rooms each had an open fire and an electric heater blazing away. We were served tea and toast as a substitute for dinner and then happily fell into bed.|
|Kenya||Giraffe Manor||S 01.94681°||E 30.09065°||The special treat of the day was an afternoon, night and morning at Giraffe Manor, an old colonial home and estate which has been turned into an up-market hotel and a center where the public can visit and get up close to giraffes. As you can see from the photos the giraffes are really into their role of entertaining the guests. Comic relief is provided by the wart hogs as court jesters.|
|Zimbabwe||Elephant Camp||S 17.97396°||E 25.84757°||Another short drive through the town of Victoria Falls and we were soon at our accommodation, Elephant Camp which is located inside a private game reserve about 10 km from the famous falls. To say this place is luxurious would not do it any thing like justice. Individual tents for each couple, about the size of a small house, hot and cold running water, inside toilet, inside and outside shower, a private plunge pool, and air conditioning. All in our party thought we could be comfortable here.|
|Zimbabwe||Elephant Camp||S 17.97397°||E 25.84757°|
|Namibia||Zambezi Queen||S 17.97397°||E 25.84757°||However, we eventually overcame all the little trials associated with the transfer process and climbed onto the 3 story Zambezi Queen to find quite a comfortable vessel, a light lunch ready for us to consume and a well stocked bar to which we had free access (other than spirits and bubbly). Once underway on our cruise we discovered that only about 22 miles of the Chobe River is navigable so the next 2-3 days will be spent going up and down those 22 miles. On hearing this we joked a bit about being fish in a bowl and needing to have only a 2 hour memory. On the Botswana side of the river there is a National Park which had very large herds of Elephants, Impalas, many Hippos and Buffalo, a number of giraffe and assorted other animals. We spent the afternoon watching the animals and relaxing on the common deck or in our cabin. At our 6:30 briefing from the boss, Wayne, we got a run down on the rules and regulations of the vessel and discovered that at night the vessel would tie up to a mooring as no traffic was allowed to move on this section of the river after dark in order to restrict poaching in the National Park. We were also told that foot or vehicle traffic is prohibited in the National Park after dark as armed rangers patrol the park and operate on a "shoot first" basis. Wayne seemed pleased to tell us that in the past 10 years the national Park had not lost a single elephant to poachers, but more than a few would-be poachers had met the "shoot first" ranger patrols. We were told of on combined Botswana-Namibian ranger operation that killed 23 poachers in one evening.|
|Croatia||Zagreb||N 45.77539°||E 15.87486°||
So where are we staying during all of this. Well on the southern ring route that bypasses the city there is service center (you know one of those places with gas station, truck parking and restaurant). Well this one has both a motel and an attached autocamp (what we would call a campground in the US). Reasonably nice environs with grass and trees, a very presentable toilet/shower block, great hot showers, electricity and the motel has wifi in the lobby which we can use as much as we like. It is only a bus+tram ride of about 40 minutes to the city center. The place is called Motel Plitvice. During our stay here there has been a steady trickle of other motorhomes passing through. The motels website does not appear to work so I have provided a link to a youtube video of the place (it is worth a look).
|Croatia||Plitvička Jezera||N 44.94912°||E 15.64366°||The Autocamp was a very large place but at this time of year with only a few guests. In the peak of summer it can (and probably does) hold thousands. Great facilities including nice hot water and wifi (of modest capability)|
|Croatia||Split||N 44.94912°||E 15.64366°||The campground we had chosen for the night was called Camping Strobrec and is on the coast a little south of Split. To get to it we took the Split exit from the motorway and followed the spectacular descent road almost into the center of Split before veering south on the D1. It turned out to be an excellent campground. Lots of spaces in a treed lot with its own private beach. Wifi, good showers, on site ATM. Definitely a place it would have been worth spending a few days.|
|Bosnia||Sarajevo||N 43.82885°||E 18.29726°||We had found online the location of an Autocamp (called Oaza in the Ilidza neighborhood) west of Sarajevo and that was out destination for the night. It proved easy to find, at least with the aid of GPS coordinates and a GPS system. The guy in the reception was at first taken aback by the sight of us in our big yellow truck but after getting over the shock he was very helpful. The camp ground was a bit down market from our previous couple of places. While it had nice brand new toilets and shower blocks there was no hot water as the only water heating was solar and today was cloudy. Wifi was available but only near reception. But there was electricity, a dump and water.|
|Croatia||Dubrovnik||N 42.66154°||E 18.06963°||Our destination for the day was Camping Solitudo on the peninsula just north of downtown Dubrovnik. We had explored this place a little when in Dubrovnik in June but at the time I never imagined that we would be back and have to find our way through all those narrow streets to this place. It is quite a large camping ground with generally good facilities and a great public bus service into the old town. At this time of year there were only a small number of guests.|
|Albania||Lake Shkodar||N 42.13837°||E 19.46573°||But in any case we eventually got to the front of the line and were processed out of Montenegro and then into Albania with out fuss. Out intended camping spot, Shkadar Lake Resort, was only about 20 miles down the road and we found it without trouble. A nice open grassy camping area with good modern facilities, wifi and electricity. We had drinks on the beach while the sun set over the lake and western mountains.|
|Albania||Tirana||N 41.47059°||E 19.69837°||Our camping spot for the night was a place called Nord Park, a hotel, restaurant and camping complex about 15 km from downtown Tirana. In the flesh it was not as impressive as its website but still a reasonably nice place; pool, electricity, wifi, hot showers, and dump and parking for campers behind the hotel.|
|Albania||Berat||N 40.77826°||E 19.85773°||Camping for the night. Again from our OSM map and internet we had discovered the possible existence of a campground about 15km before Berat and as we approached the spot we were on the look out for any signs that this campground actually existed and sure enough a series of blue and white signs displaying a stylized tent led us to a very narrow driveway. A little further investigation and we discovered that there was indeed a campground with all of the amenities, electricity, showers and toilet, dump and wifi - what more could we want. I don't know that the place has a name but the manageress Donna spoke some English and was very helpful. There is some major improvements being undertaken on the grounds and so one would expect this place to continue to exist. It is open all year as Donna lives on the premises.|
|Macedonia||Ohrid||N 41.15485°||E 20.65081°||A few miles inside Macedonia we turned down a very narrow country road and crept into the lake side village of Struga and found Camping Rino just as our map had predicted. About 15 km from Ohrid. The camping area is small and the entrance way was a squeeze for our tall truck but a bit of careful driving and some brushing of trees and we were parked securely in the lot with two other campers (one German and one Swiss). Electricity, water, toilets, wifi, a heated cafe what more could one ask. One of the really nice touches about the place was free expresso coffee each morning delivered to the door of the camper.|
|Macedonia||Skopje||N 41.99593°||E 21.55044°||We planned to spend the night at a place called Camping Bellevue which seemed from the various internet reports we had read to be attached to a Holiday Inn Hotel on the eastern side of the city. We discovered that there was indeed a good camp ground there but it was closed for the season. However, the hotel allowed us to park in their parking lot and gave us access to one of their "cabins" (really a detached hotel room) for shower and toilet. All in all a reasonable deal.|
|Bulgaria||Near border||N 42.25735°||E 22.55465°||The crossing took so long that by the time we had completed proceedings and were on our way in Bulgaria it was getting late and so we eagerly accepted an abandoned gas station as out nights camping spot.|
|Bulgaria||Veliko Tarnovo||N 43.14535°||E 25.62339°||Our destination was a town called Veliko Tarnovo and we understood from internet research that there were two campground in the area. We selected one called Trinity Rocks Farm a little north of the town and made our way there. We discovered that Trinity Rocks was owned and run by an English expat named Cliff who had decided on this area of Bulgaria as a place to settle because of the local Rock Climbing. The campground and its access road was quite a squeeze for our truck but we eventually got into a nice spot right next to the river. Though it required a bit of lifting of electrical wires for that to eventuate. We were pleased to find that the camp had electricity, wifi, hot showers (though the room was not heated and at this time of year that is becoming more of an issue) and dump facilities.|
|Bulgaria||North of Varna||N 43.30653°||E 28.05352°||We traveled some miles north of Varna in this fashion looking for a way down to the beach and generally beginning to give up hope when unexpectedly we came upon a sign to Laguna Camping and found a small rustic camping ground just off the road towards the sea. To our delight the place had its own small beach and so we had electricty, hot showers (in an unheated building) and a chance to put a finger in the Black Sea (too cold for a swim). So we considered todays bit of symbolism complete.|
|Romania||Bucharest||N 44.51738°||E 19.85773°||The reward for enduring the ring route turned out to be the campground, Casa Alba. Set in a nice forest about a mile from the US Embassy it is a collection of nice holiday cottages surrounded by a grassed tent area. In the middle of the cottages a paved parking area is equipped with electrical outlets for campers. But best of all - and one can thank the soviets for this - the shower and toilet blocks were centrally heated by one of those hot water heating systems, and because of that there was an almost endless supply of hot water for the showers. The one thing the Russians really know how to do is to heat buildings.|
|Romania||Bran (Castle)||N 45.51169°||E 25.36541°||Our day finished in the little town of Bran which is famous for its "Dracula" Castle, even though Dracula (Vlad Tepes) only visited the area once. By then I was a bit tired of narrow roads and impatient drivers. So we parked in a small lot behind the local school and police station. I had an afternoon nap while Nina went off for a look at the castle.|
|Romania||West of Deva||N 45.87583°||E 22.37481°||We camped in a small, "rustic" rest area beside a country road west of the town of Deva.|
|Romania||Belgrad||N 44.87859°||E 20.35531°||Our GPS had indicated a camping ground on the north western side of Belgrad on the banks of the Danube River, (spelled Dunav locally) but we had no other information about the place. So after a somewhat tense drive right through downtown Belgrad and a few navigational misadventures, and then a drive down a narrow country lane seemingly to nothing we were delighted to find a sign for Dunav Camping, the gates open and two other campers parked inside. Intermittent wifi, hot showers (in one of their cabins), electricity and a helpful English speaking manager made the place welcome.|
|Croatia||Zagreb||N 45.77544°||E 15.87521°||We stopped in at Zagreb Arena and it's great supermarket for a last stock-up on food and then headed to our familiar motel/campground Motel Plitvice. During our absence they have closed the campground for the winter so we parked in the lot behind the motel and connected to an outside power socket. They said they would give us a key to one of the motel rooms for showers and the hotel reception has a toilet.|
|Germany||Badenweiler||N 47.81000°||E 07.67649°||Monday morning after spending Sunday night near the town of Freiburg we drove to the village of Bardenweiler in search of a campground we had read about in one of our camping guides and sure enough there it was, and open. We planned to stay here until Friday morning when we are scheduled to drop our vehicle in Gaggenau where it will be stored until we return to Europe next year. Place was called Feriencamping The campground turned out to be an immaculate little establishment. The special treat being the showers and toilets which were very clean but more importantly heated, even the floors.|
|Nepal||Katmandu||N 27.72269°||E 85.35829°||Our accommodation in Katmandu had been changed at the last minute to the Hyatt, as the hotel originally planned was "out of commission" due to the SAARC Heads of State meeting that is taking place in the city. This seems to be causing a deal of chaos for all, as streets are closed, monuments taken over by visiting dignitaries and their security details. The government has instituted a "odds" and "evens" system with vehicle number plates to try and reduce traffic during the conference.|
|Iceland||Patreksfjordur||N 65.52228°||W 23.73516°||We pulled over early in the evening, in a gravel pit (one of our favorite camping places) on top of a rocky, barren, wind swept mountain.|
|Iceland||Pingeyri||N 65.86002°||W 23.31481°||There after we continued the in-and-out and the up-and-down with the fjords until we found a nice picnic area at the head of Dyrafjordur|
|Iceland||Drangsnes||N 65.70107°||W 21.58118°||We stopped for the night at a roadside pullout on top of a small hill, where we and the truck were rocked to sleep by howling, buffeting winds. Nina had to use her noise canceling ear-buds to get to sleep.|
|Iceland||Kollafjordur||N 65.55822°||W 21.47767°||Djupavik was our turn-around point, so we retraced our steps over the sometimes rough and muddy road and eventually found our way south to the town of Holmavik were we tried to take some of the mud off the truck. Interestingly almost every village/town we have seen has a free vehicle washing station. A little farther south we found a place on the sand among the sheep for our nights camp.|
|Icland||Akureyri||N 65.67798°||W 19.40641°||After that we completed the drive to Akureyri and its campground, took a walk around the town, and photographed the local church.|
|Iceland||Tjornes Peninsula||N 66.20292°||W 17.06126°||At the tip of the peninsula we found a side road that led down to the beach and a "falling down" rock and sod structure that we assumed was an old house. Late in the evening a guy (we presume a local farmer) came by to look at the water, but we suspect to check out who we were.|
|Iceland||South of Dettifoss||N 65.73243°||W 16.38654°||A bit south of Dettifoss we found a side road well off the highway for our nights camp.|
|Faroe Islands||Torshaven||N 62.04726°||W 07.16354°||We had no plans for what we might see in the Faroe so after a late "sleep in" to compensate for our 3:00 am landing we drove out of Torshaven to a campground called Giljanesi on the nearby island of Vagar.|
|Denmark||Ustrup||N 55.21598°||E 09.37265°||Our camp for the night was yet another truck stop - we have visited a lot of these in Europe.|
|Netherlands||Beesd||N 51.91073°||E 05.17947°||We spent the night at a roadside rest area near the town of Beesd|
|England||Rugby Truck Stop||N 52.38359°||W 01.18938°||There seemed to be no equivalent to the roadside parking/rest areas we have used in Europe and America. We eventually discovered that there are truck stops, or in the local language lorry parking. These seem to be attached to gas stations/restaurants and are secured, fenced yards where trucks park for the night. But they are not free. We found one near to Rugby (tomorrows destination) and for 24 hours parking it cost a little over GBP20 (about the same price as a US campground). For this price the driver could take a shower free in the attached restaurant facilities.|
|England||Priors Hardwick||N 52.21450°||W 01.32846°||We picked a nice grassy spot in the midst of farm land for our nights stop.|
|England||Blackmore Campground||N 52.07914°||W 02.21572°||The Blackmore camp is a very nice, well manicured, establishment with all the facilities one would expect. Interestingly there is another campground (or more accurately Caravan park ) next door called the Malvern Hill.|
|Scotland||Sligachan (Ilse of Skye)||N 57.29182°||W 06.17602°||We camped the night at a nice little camp ground near the Hotel of Sligachan.|
|Scotland||Little Assynt - Leitir Easaidh||N 58.18610°||W 05.10996°||
We camped for the night in the parking lot at the start of a hiking trail called Leitir Easaidh.
|Scotland||Thurso||N 58.59747°||W 03.52824°||The camping ground at Thurso had very good wifi and reasonable showers.|
|Scotland||John O'Groats||N 58.64359°||W 03.06755°||The town had a nice, though wind swept, campsite.|
|Scotland||Nairn||N 57.57155°||W 03.92774°||After our northward return journey we traveled a little way east to the town of Nairn and found a nice campground in a pine forest. Turned out to be part of the UK Camping and Caravan Club so we got a good discount.|
|Scotland||Nairn||N 57.57155°||W 03.92774°||We spent a second night at the campground near Nairn. Once back at camp I took the opportunity to check the oil level in the trucks hubs. It seems that the leak I have observed in the left rear hub may actually be oil rather than brake fluid as I first suspected. That particular hub required a top up of about 100ml of oil.|
|Scotland||Aboyne||N 57.08691°||W 02.76328°||We stopped for the night at a campground called Aboyne Loch Camping and Caravan Park. It is situated on a small lake near the town of Aboyne (go figure). Quite a nice place. The surprising thing though is that there seems to be only a few places for campers (either tent of motorhome) and the site is almost entirely occupied by what in America we would call mobile homes, almost all of which are painted a uniform green. The second surprise is that there is almost no one here, so it feels like we are camping by ourselves.|
|Ireland||Aran Island||N 53.12024°||W 09.66837°||We stayed at the Dormer B&B - a very nice place that we only managed to find out about because of a referral from another guest house. Thanks to Alice, the manageress of Dormer house for making us welcome on our "special" occasion.|
|Ireland||Westport||N 53.80664°||W 09.52793°||We will spent the next two nights in the town of Westport.|
|Australia||Sydney||S 33.82759°||E 151.23077°||We stayed in an AirBnB apartment in Cremorne just near Military Rd. It proved to be a very satisfactory arrangement. >|
|Netherlands||Venlo||N 51.40581°||E 06.05632°||Our stop for then night was a road side pullout where we shared the night with a number of semi-trailers.|
|Germany||Kettenheim||N 49.71744°||E 08.13495°||We spent the night in another road side stop, this one much bigger with space for maybe 100 trucks.|
|Germany||Badenweiler||N 47.80996°||E 07.67670°||
CampingWe stayed at Kur & Feriencamping. It is right in the village of Badenweiler and is easy to get to even for a vehicle the size of ours. The camping spots are tight for us and would be impossible for a vehicle much over 8m (we are 7.95m). The upside of this campground is that it is open all year and has first class toilet and shower facilities.
|France||Chalon sur Saone||N 46.75007°||E 04.84964°||As it happened we had picked one of the RV type aires for our nights stay, and it was by shear coincidence that it was right in front of an RV sales and service shop just a little south of the town of Chalon sur Saone.|
|France||Aire de Portes Les Valence||N 44.86370°||E 04.86592°||A crowded truck stop was our camping spot for the night. Close to the motorway and noisy.|
|France||Le Boulou||N 42.52720°||E 02.83755°||Our plan for the night was to make use of another one of the aires, this time in the village of Le Boulou just north of the Spanish border. According to our guide book there were 21 places for motorhomes on a narrow roadway behind the local cemetery and near a football stadium. We were a bit surprised to find the place almost full when we finally got there. Of the 21 places officially marked on the ground 2 were unusable (power poles in the middle) and there were only a few un-occupied and all of those were on a noticeable side slope. But since we had no other options we squeezed into one of the spots. Throughout the remainder of the afternoon and evening there was a steady stream of other motorhomes arriving. Some looked and left while others improvised by squeezing into various un-marked spots.|
|Spain||Figueres||N 42.26073°||E 02.96503°||There seem to be two aires in Figueres and we chose the one which (from our guide) seemed to be the larger of the two. A gravel parking lot up the hill from the town and just below the the towns old fort Castel de Sant Ferran. This place has no facilities but is very close (1/2 km ) to the museum and other tourist attractions. It seems a very popular place with locals as we saw lots of joggers, walkers and people just hanging out.|
|Spain||Barcelona||N 41.27250°||E 02.04375°||We selected Camping 3 Estrellas for our Barcelona stay while back in the US as it seemed to be the only one in the Barcelona area open in March and had good public transport connections into the city. It turned out to be quite suitable for our purposes with all the required facilities, electricity, a sani-dump, water, hot showers and laundry facilities. Most of the camping spots (pitches the English call them, parcellas in Spanish) are occupied permanently by caravans or huts that are either owned by locals as holiday places or rented out to travelers as accommodation. Some of the accommodation (the free form exotic shapes in the above photos are a small prelude to what will be seem in Barcelona). Cost approximately 30 euros per night and I would not rate it better than 3 stars (which is its name).|
|Spain||El Frasno||N 41.41400°||W 01.51668°||We camped for the night in a gravel parking lot beside a gas station just short of the city of Calatayud|
|Spain||Salamanca||N 40.94756°||W 05.61388°||After what was for us (and our slow ponderous vehicle) a long day of driving (400+km) we got to the northern suburbs of Salamanca and spent nearly an hour negotiating our way along the Eastern bypass that was really only a series of city streets linking numerous round-abouts before finding the N-501 and our intended camping place at Camping Regio. Turned out to be a pleasant campground attached to a nice hotel and with a small number of campers from various parts of Europe.|
|Spain||Toledo||N 39.86650°||W 04.04799°||The camping spot we picked for Toledo is called El Greco. It is quite a nice campground with neatly organized camping pitches bordered with little hedges. It is part of a larger complex of restaurant and hotel. Good showers and facilities. Though the wifi is poor and only available in the restaurant.|
|Spain||Toledo||N 39.86650°||W 04.04799°||We found a nice little hotel (thanks to Rick Steve's guide) for Euro 55 for one night.|
|Spain||Cordoba||N 37.68278°||W 04.92051°||We picked a camp ground called Camping Carlos iii. It is a good distance out of Cordoba (about 20 km south), but we thought it would provide us with easier access and as usual there is public transport into the city. Getting into a camping spot turned out to be quite a struggle as the place has mulberry trees everywhere and their branches are a good deal lower than our 4.0 meters.|
|Spain||Granada||N 37.06863°||W 03.65222°||We initially tried Camping Granada on the northern side of the city but on arrival we were told in no uncertain terms by the lady manager that we were "too big". So we had to resort to an alternate, Suspiro Del Moro, this one south of the city. While Suspiro also had trees and relatively tight camping spots we were there early enough to get a spot that is pretty easily accessible.|
|Spain||Ronda||N 36.72097°||W 05.17236°||Camping El Sur is a nice place. Easier access for our big truck than some places we have been. Good showers, electricity and wifi access for an extra 3 euros.|
|Spain||La Linea||N 36.15648°||W 05.35667°||Our intended camping spot for the night was a marina parking lot on the harbor front of the Spanish town of La Linea not more than 300 meters from the Gibraltar border. In addition to general parking the marina provides an area for autocaravanas plus washing machine, dryer, toilets and sani-dump. It cost us 12 Euros to park for one day and for that we we were within walking distance of the border and an ocean front position. Seemed to us very smart of the marina as the facilities that motorhomes require are very similar to the facilities that are required by transiting yachts.|
|Spain||Valdevaqueros||N 36.07061°||W 05.67968°||As a result we simply drove to Camping Valdevaqueros and spent the day inside our motorhome out of the wind.|
|Spain||Sevilla||N 37.36245°||W 05.99469°||More good roads, 13 euros in tolls, and the 200km or so from Valdevaqueros to Sevilla passed quickly and we found ourselves in very dense traffic heading towards our selected camping spot for the night. Another area de autocaravanas. This one in the dock area of Seville. When we got there it became obvious that it was a vehicle work shop, and storage area for cars that had given over part of the area to motorhome parking. Through out the afternoon car-carrier semi-trailers arrived to collect and/or deposit cars. Surprisingly good facilities. Electricity, washing machine, dryer, toilets, showers, dump and fresh water. Though, I had to lengthen our electrical cable to get to the electrical outlet.|
|Portugal||Cap St Vincent||N 37.02555°||W 08.99000°||There is a large parking lot on the peninsula at Sagres and I am sure we could have parked there overnight with no facilities. Many motorhomes did park for the night in the gravel parking lot at the tip of Cape St Vincent. We chose a bare patch of ground off the road about 1/2 mile from the tip of Cape St Vincent.|
|Portugal||Evora||N 38.55790°||W 07.92701°||We camped the night at a place our Pocket Earth app calls Camping Evora but which calls itself Orbitur and is part of a chain of campgrounds in Portugal of that name. The camp has all the expected facilities, electricity, dump, showers, washing and drying machines and vehicle washing. And as a bonus we got to park under a loverly stand of tall gum trees.|
|Portugal||Nazare||N 39.59790°||W 09.05580°||The campground was another Orbitur establishment (Orbitur Camping Nazare). It was obviously early in the season for this place as only one of the facilities buildings was open and only a small number of campers. Comfortable place (though difficult to find a flat spot). About 20 euros for the night with electricity.|
|Portugal||Lamego||N 41.09078°||W 07.82111°||Camping Lamego is, as I have already said, a really picturesque and relaxing spot. The facilities are good and the host and hostess (Nuno and Clara Meneses) friendly and helpful. We were pleased to discovered that the Sanctuary was only a short 15 minute walk from the campground, with only a modest amount of uphill.|
|Spain||Santiago de Compostela||N 42.89428°||W 08.53302°||The campground in Santiago was interesting. This is another place we found in our guide to Aires. It is a parking lot about 1.5 miles from the center of the city. During the day it is used by tour buses to wait while their passengers are off looking at the sights. A small section of the very large parking lot has been given over to autocaravanas and there is a dump station and fresh water supply. During the night hours the buses are mostly absent and only motorhomes present.|
|Spain||Colunga||N 43.48443°||W 05.26004°||Another Aires tonight. This one beside a gas station. Provides dump, and fresh water. Toilets in the gas station|
|Spain||Bilboa||N 43.25979°||W 02.96366°||So now to the camping spot. We found out about this place from a number of sources, include our Aires guide, and every source described it as a parking place for motorhomes not a campground. It is situated high up on one of the hills surrounding Bilbao on a terraced lot with 24 hour security, electricity and water at every spot/pitch with the most spectacular view of the city. And there is even a bus service into the old town of Bilbao with a stop right in front of the place. Highly recommended.|
|Spain||San Sebastian||N 43.31504°||W 01.87409°||The campground we chose was called Oliden. It proved more that a bit tricky to find as the entrance is a very small little lane immediately after a bridge, a laneway not shown on most maps. It seemed like almost all the guests were permanent residents with many moldy tents and trailers (caravans) in evidence. We concluded from a number of tell-tales that this place did not see many tourists.|
|Netherlands||Eindhoven||N 51.43487°||E 05.42387°||The aires turned out to be a Park and Ride lot just off the A2 near Eindhoven. This meant we had a nice paved surface on which to do our repacking and only about 30km from the repair shop we need to reach on Wed morning.|
|Netherlands||Eindhoven||N 51.43487°||E 05.42387°||We camped the night in that same Eindhoven Park+Ride lot.|
|Canada||Richibucto||N 46.66456°||W 64.86392°||We spent the night in a campground called Jardine Municipal Park near the town of Richibucto.|
|Canada||Grand Falls||N 47.05919°||W 67.75208°||We spent the night in a Walmart at Grand Falls.|
|New York||Massena||N 44.92392°||W 74.87869°||The night was spent in a Walmart in the town of Massena.|
|New York||Fair Haven SP||N 43.34633°||W 76.68871°||We spent the night at Fair Haven State Park, a large and really nice NY State Park on the shores of Lake Ontario.|
|New York||Angola Hwy 90||N 42.63121°||W 78.94297°||After the falls we continued along highway 90 for a while until we found a rest area near the town of Angola.|
|Ohio||Findlay Walmart||N 41.05599°||W 83.59405°||Another Walmart. This one asked us to park behind the store in a secondary mostly unused parking lot. That worked for us as we did not need to hear/see customers driving past all night.|
|USA||Peoria||N 40.71106°||W 89.53360°||The heat caused us to look for a campground with shade and power, so we camped the night at Spindler Marina (also an RV park) on the eastern side of Peoria Lake just off highway 150.|
|Iowa||Omaha Hwy 680||N 41.49880°||W 95.79506°||Camping for the night was another roadside rest stop this time on I680 still in Iowa but bypassing Omaha.|
|Nebraska||Atkinson Mill Race Park||N 42.53784°||W 98.99869°||We camped at Mill Race Park in the town of Atkinson NB. A nice park right next to the golf course on the western side of town. Water, electricity and pit toilets. Even had its own storm shelter in case a Tornado wandered by.|
|USA||Angostura Reservoir||N 43.29632°||W 103.39194°||From Chadron we turned north into South Dakota and camped for the night at Angosta Reservoir south of Rapid City.|
|USA||Avon||N 46.68527°||W 112.65622°||Thereafter we followed I90 west to Helena before branching off onto Highway 12 and then 141. Tomorrow we will continue north and west to Eureka, MT to visit our friends Ken and Ivy. They were our neighbors back in Gig Harbor until retirement took them to a country lifestyle in Northern Montana. We spent the night in a roadside pullout amidst rolling farm land.|
|USA||Crow Lake Way Trailhead Hwy 12||N 46.95739°||W 121.30880°||We camped at a horse camp called Crow Lake Way Trailhead along Highway 12. A lot of fallen trees, clean pit toilets but not much else.|
|USA||Benton City||N 46.25433°||W 119.47660°||We spent the night at Beach RV Park in Benton City close to the shores of the Yakima River. The park was quite full, I think we got the last vacancy, and it looked like most of the residents were full-timers. Nice showers.|
|USA||Alpowa Summit Rest Area||N 46.43578°||W 117.42396°||The rest stop at Alpowa Summit proved to be too good an opportunity so we stayed the night. One of the things we like about RVing - you always have your home with you and it is always set up ready to live in.|
|USA||Five Mile Creek Hwy 12||N 46.35472°||W 116.16329°||Our camping place for the night was a River Access parking lot beside the Clearwater at a spot labeled "Five Mile Creek". Idaho seems to have made considerable effort to provide for its fishing enthusiasts as these "river access" areas were very common and generally well maintained.|
|USA||Knife Edge River Access Hwy 12||N 46.22706°||W 115.47405°||Another "river access" tonight. This one called Knife Edge on Idaho Highway 12 beside the ever present Clearwater River. This one was set up as a small camping ground.|
|USA||KOA Missoula||N 46.89488°||W 114.04404°||We stayed at the KOA in Missoula. Sparcely populated, nice showers and good wifi.|
|USA||Suba||N 45.85466°||W 114.01933°||We found a nice forest pull-off near the village of Suba for our nights rest.|
|USA||Near Ennis||N 45.31871°||W 111.84502°||We spent the night at a sceneic overlook with a great view of the Maddison River Valley. Late in the evening a Russian family dropped by to chat, they noticed the Russia writing and stickers on our vehicle and thought we might be Russians also.|
|USA||Suga City||N 43.88327°||W 111.53968°||Our nights camping spot just east of Sugar City, Idaho certaily met the requirement of lower altitude. But in other regards a parking pullout for one of those "Historic Points of Interest" is not a particularly attractive option.|
|USA||Grand Tetons||N 43.84172°||W 110.61324°||We camped for the night at a private campground at the foot of Signal Mountain at the southern end of Jackson Lake. It was one of only two campgrounds in the park still open.|
|USA||East Entrance Yellowstone||N 44.49533°||W 109.94527°||We departed Yellowstone via the Eastern Entrance towards Cody, Wyoming. A very pretty drive and one which we could not remember ever having travelled before. We spent the night in a roadside lookout a few miles east of the park entrance.|
|USA||KOA Billings||N 45.75979°||W 108.48143°||We spent the night in Billings at the local KOA. Interestingly this is the sight of the first ever KOA Camp ground and is the place from which that organization started. As one expects from a KOA, nice facilities.|
|USA||Fort Smith||N 45.31521°||W 107.94141°||We camped at After Bay Campground. No facilities other than pit toilets and water.|
|USA||Devils Tower||N 44.59017°||W 104.69749°||As already noted we camped for the night in the KOA at the entrance to Devils Tower. Luck was on our side as they close Sunday for the season.|
|USA||Devils Tower||N 44.59017°||W 104.69749°||Camping at KOA Devils Tower.|
|USA||Rapid City||N 44.10229°||W 103.14494°||We camped for the night at America's Mailbox on one of their "electricty only" sites.|
|USA||Badlands NP||N 43.89435°||W 102.41486°||We spent the night at Sage Creek campground, surrounded by wandering herds of Bison and entertained by the antics of the local community of Prairie Dogs. To our surprise we shared the campground with half a dozen other groups of hardy travelers who spent the night in tents.|
|USA||Rapid City||N 44.05767°||W 103.29492°||We decided to try a different Rapid City Campground this time so after some research settled on Rapid City Lake Park Campground in the south west of the city. A much more pleasant and picturesque part of Rapid City than the freeway/truckstop location of Americas mailbox. Nina particularly enjoyed the camps herd of deer and nice local walking trails.|
|USA||Hot Springs||N 43.40845°||W 103.39579°||We spent the night at Hot Springs KOA Campground. Interestingly the campground is not actually in the town of Hot Springs but some 8 miles away on highway 79. A pleasant place with all the facilities one expects of a KOA. Very friendly hosts.|
|USA||Hot Springs||N 43.40845°||W 103.39579°||Another night at Hot Springs KOA.|
|USA||Hawk Springs SRA||N 41.70862°||W 104.19307°||At the end of the day we found Hawk Springs State Rec. Area a nice little campground a few miles off the highway beside a reservoir with not a soul camping there.|
|Colombia||Strasburg KOA||N 39.73494°||W 104.31989°||We finally made it to Denver East KOA, in the village of Strasburg. Nice enough place with all the expected facilities.|
|Colombia||La Junta||N 37.98769°||W 103.53368°||About 5:00 we pulled into the parking lot of Terry Lee Enterprises and parked our yellow beast among the mixture if Unimogs and other vehicles that usually occupy that site. Tomorrow we will start 3-5 days of repairs, inspections and maitenance. Rob Pickering the owner of Terry Lee Ent. is our go-to person when it comes to our U500, and our truck has not had the benefit of his attention since 2014.|
|USA||Garden City||N 37.98718°||W 100.88249°||Not far east of La Junta we noticed the signature aroma of a feed lot. This is not the first time we have experienced "feed lot" aroma and like on previous occassions we wonder how the locals put up with the smell. We passed a number of these during the remainder of the days drive were even unlucky enough to camp within the orbit of one at Walmart in the perhaps not so aptly named Garden City, Kansas.|
|USA||Elk City SRA||N 37.25493°||W 95.77991°||Late in the day we pulled into Elk City Lake State Park and selected an absolutely fabulous camping spot on Sunset Point. A so caled primitive site (no electricity, water or sewer) but a fabulous view of the setting sun and the million or so birds using the lake as their food store. Nina of course could not resist taking a few hundred photos.|
|USA||Springfield||N 37.19933°||W 93.46169°||We spent the night at Springfield KOA, a not particularly great experience. The campground is nice, facilities a little worn but the noise from the adjacent railway line enough to damage ear drums.|
|USA||Buffalo River NP||N 35.98770°||W 92.76018°||Just inside Arkansas we stopped at Buffalo National River at Tyler Bend, a facility managed by the National Parks Service. Initially the stop was just for a rest, and escape from the torrential rain and a look around. But the place was pleasant with very few visitors so we decided to stay the night. The section of the Buffalo River that the park occupies is called Tyler Bend.|
|USA||Village Creek SP||N 35.16349°||W 90.71047°||After the Clinton Center we spent much of the day on I40 heading east. We stopped for the night at Village Creek State Park north of I40 at exit 241. A nice park, loverly forest, and a quiet night with electricity.|
|USA||Natches Trace SP||N 35.79180°||W 88.27192°||Fortunately the traffic reduced after we left the Memphis area and we utimately found a camping place at Natches Trace State Park a few miles south of I40 in Tennessee at exit 116. A very nice park and campground.|
|USA||Crossville||N 35.92656°||W 84.92589°||Tonight we are in a KOA at Crossville just off I44 in Tennessee between Nashville and Knoxville. A nice place with good facilities and most importantly good wifi.|
|USA||Cherokee||N 35.53092°||W 83.28367°||The KOA at Cherokee is somewhat out of town and presented a bit of a navigational challenge. A very large campground with friendly staff and adequate facilities.|