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Eastern Trail Nirvana: New Route From Europe to Asia on Dirt

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We’ve all had the urge… that inner wanderlust calling… To pick a heading on the compass and go, letting our curiosity and desire to get far, far away from it all guide our way. That’s exactly the inspiration that created the ‘The Eastern Trail Nirvana,’ a 15,000 km (9320 mi) route that travels across 19 countries over remote dirt roads and trails.

The Eastern Trail Nirvana quickly leaves the urban European cities of Belgium and stays to mostly dirt roads, two-track, trails and unmarked dirt paths all the way to the far reaches of Kyrgyzstan. High-mountain steppes, lowland forests, wet and snowy mountain passes, river crossings, and dry, unrelenting deserts, the Eastern Trail Nirvana offers every kind of riding and weather you can imagine.

Adventure Motorcycle

Making this Europe to Central Asia route even more alluring is that great care was taken to avoid major cities (any cities, really) utilizing rarely traveled paths and trails that offer austere beauty along with riding challenges. The route was also selected with the most exciting trails and the least amount of paperwork hassle at borders in mind. Rocks, sand, bogs, and sticky mudded-up roads are just some of the riding conditions that await any rider who is willing to start this roughly 2-month journey. This route is all about being alone with your bike, the road, and nature. Being self-reliant and being ready to deal with issues as they come.

Along the way not only will you see, ride through, and experience the many sides of nature, including UNESCO World Heritage sites, there are a few man-made gems as well. From WWII, there are bunkers, ruins, and mine areas that litter the backroads. As with all good routes, there are also some interesting abandoned structures including an entire abandoned air base. On the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina the Zeljava Air Base was once the largest underground air base in Europe.

This is where the Easter Trail Nirvana’s creator comes in, Joris Ooms, who rode this entire trail mostly solo. The bike he chose was a 1998 Suzuki DR650SE he bought specifically for this trip for $1,700 euros ($2,085). Easy to work on, fairly light, off-roadable and, as he puts it, “allows bush fix,” the DR went from pretty much bone stock to a pragmatic, yet well equipped light ADV machine in Joris’s garage. Not only did this make the bike safer and more capable, after the build Joris was intimately acquainted with the DR650 therefore making trail side repairs that much easier and less of a stress.

Adventure Motorcycle

We caught up with Mr. Ooms to ask a few questions about his intrepid journey.

ADVP: Was there any particular reason you undertook this trip in a budget-friendly way?

JO: First of all, i don’t have a lot of budget available. Next to that, I prefer to be by myself, be self supported, and keep control. That means I keep it simple and use common sense, only use or do what you know will (might?) work and has been verified by myself. For some reason, this automatically translates in lower budget, which is a big bonus. There have been many (expensive) lessons in past trips that led to this type of travel style.

ADVP: What was the most unexpected part of your trip?

JO: The rollercoaster of impressions in Kazakhstan for sure. The steppe and desert close to and through the Aral sea was a hostile and risky environment, and at the same time the most fulfilling experience. During those days, I felt happy and content, which I didn’t really expect in advance. Almost every day had an unexpected positive twist, but those three days were special.

Adventure Motorcycle

Adventure Motorcycle

ADVP: We know some long-term travelers have to find jobs to sustain their budget. How did you support yourself monetarily?

JO: Sort of linked to first question. This trip was planned in advance and I did put budget aside for it. Being focused on camping, simplicity and doing your own thing did allow me to keep monthly expense to a low limit. Avoid cities, don’t go partying, skip the guided tours, avoid toll roads, limit visits to restaurants, know your bike, and do all service yourself, etc … all of this helps to control your budget.

To follow along Jori’s whole journey through the Eastern Trail Nirvana and see what you’d be getting yourself into, check out his ADVRider thread here. Also here are the GPX tracks (Note: these are for personal use only).

Sean Klinger Author ProfileAbout the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs. 

Photos Courtesy of Joris Ooms.

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