Road trip over Tas Yolu – Stone Road in Erzincan, Turkey
Hairpin bends, sharp cliffs and mountain tunnels of the Stone Road await to test your driving spirit.
If you are up for a thrill consider a road trip taking in the Stone Road (Tas Yolu) of Kemaliya in eastern Turkey – dubbed “the most challenging road in the world”. I enjoyed a titillating drive on the Stone Road as part of an 8-hour road trip in a Mazda CX-50 from Elazig to Cappadocia.
It is a short stretch of 10km/6.5 narrow, unpaved miles tucked away in the Munzur mountains connecting Divrigi in the region of Erzincan with the quaint Ottoman town of Kemaliye. The rocky gorge is so deep that the sun hardly ever reaches the bottom.
From Elazig, the drive was through a beautiful sandy rugged landscape. It seemed remote, yet there was plenty of action, roadside with sheep herders tending their flock, errant cows popping up on the road, geese strolling nonchalantly on the side of the road honking at passing traffic and people working in vineyards.
Soon the roads turned to gravel, rocky mountains towered above on one side while sheer cliffs offered a drop into the Euphrates as the river followed our route.
And then I saw it; the Kemaliye tunnel, a short tunnel that leads onto the twisty yellow-hued, gravel-strewn Stone Road, seemingly no wider than a belt.
The scenery was gorgeous, but there were several moments when my focus was solely on how well my Mazda would grip and handle those bends.
At that moment, I didn’t care that it took 132 years to complete. Or that it took the blood sweat and tears of the locals hacking through five kilometres of rock. According to a memorial on the road’s first bridge, some sadly lost their lives while carving through the unpassable rock face of the Karanlik Kanyon aka The Dark Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world.
All I could think (actually shout) was that they could have made these dirt roads wider FGS. At its narrowest, the road is less than two metres wide. I simply forced myself not to look down as I passed around 450 metres of cliffs that reached 800 meters/2,625 feet at their highest.
It was unthinkable to accelerate beyond five miles an hour while navigating those bends with their precipitous drops.
On the bright side, I got out of the car from time to time to gaze with some awe at the drop and the compelling scenery of the gorge naturally created by the emerald green Euphrates, the longest river in Southwest Asia. Indeed the river has its thrills with river boats sailing through the gorge. I could see tourists looking up at the scenery, and I imagined folk were wondering what it was like in the skies.
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