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  • Writer's pictureemanuelegallone

Overland trip from Dubai to Milan

Updated: Feb 11

Everything started with the idea of connecting the dots... The dots of living in Dubai and always flying back and forth with Italy, my home country.

Connecting the dots with a flight is always feeling a bit like skipping some steps of a journey.

In summer 2022 I had the luck of some free time (as I was in between jobs), therefore it was the perfect timing to do this drive, UAE to Italy, in a fair way, without skipping steps. Without flights.

So we get together with my family and one friend, Lucas, an enthusiast overlander, which was crazy enough to support this idea, and make a plan for the trip together.

Lucas, his Defender 110 2017. My wife Debora, our daughter Sofia and our Toyota Hilux 2021. The team was complete!

Few were the options for road-trip route. Guided by a consideration on the UAE summer temperatures, often hitting 48-49degC, we decided to skip the way through Kuwait, Iraq and instead ship the car on a boat from Sharjah (UAE) to Bandar Abbas (Iran) and take a passenger ferry there.

From Iran, we would have had only road ahead of us, first into Turkey and then the eastern Europe into Italy.

This is final the route we actually followed, recorded every moment by our GPS and you can also check it in details at this link:

Total Distance: 8,826 km

Total Ascent: 51,594m

Duration: 30 days (1st of July 2022, to 31st of July)

Nights camping: 26#

Countries Passed: 9#: UAE, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy

Let me tell you now some of the trips highlights:

UAE and Iran

Crossing into Iran was probably the hardest logistical step of the onward trip. On one side because the car had to be shipped by boat, not in our presence, but via a car ferry. On the other side because Iran is a sanctioned country and, above all others on the trip, it requires the Carnet de Passage for the cars, stamped by the customs at export and import, with e tedious process.

Here is a Instagram post, where I summarized all the bureaucracy and costs involved in the "export" from UAE to Iran:

Skip bothering you with the bureaucracy, we managed to ship the car and we took a passenger ferry Sharjah to Bandar Abbas.

Arrived in Iran we we slept in an hotel to collect the car the morning after, but in the middle of the night an earthquake woke us up two times... It was so strong that was felt also in Dubai! Our hotel shook and cracks were in the walls at morning... Quite scary!

Anyway, the next few days went very smooth and we crossed most of the beautiful landmarks of Iran: Shiraz, Persepolis, Isfahan, Kashan, Teheran, the Caspian sea, the northern mountains and some of the natural wonders of this outerworld land.

Iran not only has some of the most beautiful Islamic heritage we have ever seen, rich into its complexity and details. But it has also impressive colorful landscapes, ranging from yellow, green, red, pink, purple and blue!

Our core trip goal was to be in the nature for a month, camping every night and enjoying the beautiful views that this trip was gifting us!

Time for leaving Iran behind and crossing the border into Turkey. Iran has been a blast. Really amazing landscapes. A little too hot for a road trip in summer, which forced us to drive during the peak sun hours and spend more time then wanted in the car.

Definitively a a necessary comeback in winter, to a more relaxed visit in the south!

Turkey, beautiful Cappadocia!

Here we go now, with a crossing into Turkey by the Barzagan border. Not a quick cross, having to explain again the Carnet and why we drive on Dubai plates. But 2-3 hours we are through and on the way to explore another amazing country. First stop in the lands of the eastern Turkey, towards the direction Erzurum city.

Here in Turkey the temperatures are much cooler then Iran and exploring around is a pleasure even day time.

We decide then to spend 3 days in Cappadocia, which was a necessary destination of our trip. And rightly so. The most impressive place of the whole trip! Not only for the hot air balloons flying in this amazing landscape. But also the richness of the nature here, the crazy complexity of the strangest rock formations and the history of the older civilizations craving homes and even entire underground cities into these stones!

With a piece of our hearths left there we have to set off to observe the timetable of our trip. Ahead of us still some attractive destinations so we're still excited to go and reach them!

Last few snaps of Turkey and hop we go again!

Entering in Easter Europe: Romania

Passing quickly through Bulgaria, which we have seen before, we enter into Romania, which was into our todo destinations for a long time! And summer it's the best time to visit it, due to the quite chilled winters of the Carpathian mountains!

Here in Romania we explore the Carpathians mountains, with its stunning castles and forests. We find not only the lush nature that we were looking for but also a very welcoming population, nice smiling and inviting people!

Roaming around Croatia and Slovenia

The last part of the journey. It started to feel almost over and the feeling was a little sad. So many beautiful spot visited so far. But it's not over yet.

We have Croatia and Slovenia ahead of us and some of the most remarkable spots to see! Can't want to get to the Mediterranean sea and enjoy the cristal waters of Croatia!

These two countries in Summer are a little packed of tourists, especially on the most famous spots. Therefore we limit the usual, easy to access, destinations to the minimum (Plivitce and Scocjan Caves) and else we get to some croatian islands less busy and with amazing sea landscapes

Arrive in Italy. Into the dolomites

This trip has been, for the major part, a nature explration trip. And so we decide to finish it with the same spirit. Heading towards the dolomites and spend few days there into the forests, walking around peaks and valleys.

It has been a dream trip, but it was also long and camping all those nights was not as relaxing as some of the pictures show. Therefore cooling down and enjoying few days in the mountains, far from

Back to Dubai

Someone might wonder how did we get back to Dubai.

Well, simple. We flew :-D

And the cars have been shipped into a container from Genova to Jebel Ali UAE. In fact, as I write this, the cars arrived in JA and are waiting to be discharged into the port, to then hit mainland and be back in our hands!

Here is a instagram post where I summarize all the bureacracy, steps and cost involved into the shipping and "import" back into UAE: 

What a journey!

Thanks everyone to make this possible! Thanks to my trip mates, my family and the support of my friends in sorting out logistical issues and giving us the motivation to make this happen.

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