A Whistlestop Tour Through the Middle-East
After a drastic route change, necessitated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, McCutchen rode into Turkey.
Almost immediately she was approached by a Turkish family who invited her for dinner. During her few days crossing the country she found the people incredibly generous, she was even gifted some fresh goat’s milk!
Crossing into Iraq, she was joined by a local film crew hired by a friend who is making a film about McCutchen’s trip. The group crossed the country in blistering heat, ranging between 118F and 130F. The journey also involved a lot of checkpoints and bureaucracy, but these issues weren’t always unwelcome, as she explained in a recent update: “On the way to my campsite we were stopped at one of the many checkpoints in Iraq, where we waited for hours while pictures of my passport and visa were sent to a colonel over Snapchat! Once the wait was over the police told me that I couldn’t camp, so we stayed at a local hotel. It was the first time in two weeks that I got to sleep in a bed, so I actually had no complaints.”
After arriving in Erbil, McCutchen had to fly to Baghdad and organise a car back to sort a separate visa for federal Iraq. That sorted, it was on to Kuwait and then straight into Saudi Arabia. To cope with the heat she chose to ride through Saudi Arabia at night, smashing out a 21 hour session to get to Riyadh.
From here it was a quick side-jaunt to Muscat, Oman, to pick up an Iranian visa. In early September she crossed into Iran and sped across the country in only five days. “Aside from my maps taking me on a slight detour, making my guide think I had been kidnapped, the journey was honestly uneventful,” she wrote.
Next up was Pakistan. At the Taftan border she was joined by a mandatory security escort who accompanied her roughly 900 miles through Balochistan, leaving her just short of Lahore. From Lahore she headed straight to Islamabad before taking some time to go visit the Karakorum mountains to the north.