Orient 2004
 - tracking volcanos in Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey

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18 years ago, after successful trip to Bulgarian mountains Pirin, I started to dream about to climb Mr.Ararat. It was in hard socialistic times of Czechoslovakia and soon I found it impossible (to get to Turkey, mountain was closed for turists). In 2003, we requested (as a first Czech people after many years) official permit to climb Ararat via Turkish embassy. The application form is sent to Ankara for approval. It's free of charge! Finaly we received permission but just three days before our planned departure. In the meantime we cancelled trip (and I went to Oman, which was great!).

In 2004, we applied once more ... and after three months of waiting we decided to go there anyway and hope to arange necessary on place. To visit "just" Turkey was not enough adventureous. So I draw the plan much more attractive (see the map below). From Prague to Baku in Azerbaijan. Than by land to Iran, climb volcano Sabalan 4811m as aclimatization, climb Mt.Ararat 5160m in Turkey and by bus to Istanbul and fly back to Prague.

It was my first International "expedition", we were three - myself, Daniel Michálek (friend from trips to Africa and S.America) and Lothar Frisch from Frankfurt (Germany). He is organizer of expedition to Mt.Erebus (Antarktica) in 2006. So the language was English and preparations were also more professional. We had an 30-page "project" description with all necessary data. Iran 30-days turist visa we received in Prague without problems (big change since I went there in 1998). Azerbaijani visa we will recive upon arrival on the airport in Baku. The time plan was incredably tough (time window when everyone could go) - just 12 days!! At the end all went smoothly, we climbed both volcanos and even "on a top" we visited "Iran Capadocia" - rock hewn village.

The biggest positive surprise was Azerbaijan: safe, great Baku (UNESCO), extremely nice and beautiful mud volcanos. Everyone know russian (it's good to know russian from school :-) ... and everyone loves Czechs! They know our fooball and ice hockey teams and even some of them were in Czech in the past. My second visit of Iran just confirmed that Iran is TOP country for travelers (safe, cheap, great monuments, mountains, very nice people, ...).


[ Azerbaijan ]   [ Iran ]   [ Turkey ]

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