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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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  #1  
Old 13 Jul 2006
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4x4 through the 'stans

I'm planning a trip to enter Kazakhstan from Russia, then go through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Iran and back to the UK.

Has anyone entered these countries with their own vehicle? What insurance arrangements did you make? Can you buy insurance in Russia or Kazakhstan which covers all the CIS countries?

I know that taking a vehicle into Turkmenistan (which I'm not planning to visit) is an expensive undertaking due to fees charged at the border - do the other 'stans have similar operations?

I guess there aren't many people who have entered Afghanistan in a private vehicle - I've heard no Carnet is required, but what of taxes? The part through Afghanistan is dependant, of course, on the current security situation at the time (just over a year from now). I plan to visit Kabul, Bamiyan, Ban-e-Amir, Minar-e-Jam, Herat and then go into Iran. Mazar-e-Sharif and Balkh would be nice, if they are 'safe' at the time.

Has anyone managed to get an Iranian transit visa (our tourist visa) in any of the 'stans? I dont want to get stuck in Afghanistan without a way out!

Many thanks for any replies,

Dan
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  #2  
Old 13 Jul 2006
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Afghanistan...

There's interesting info on Afghanistan on lonely planets thorntree.

As it looks to me today, rather go for the costs of crossing Turkmenistan then chance it in Afghanistan. Kabul is said to be safe. Away from kabul things change. With you're own car, there's very little chance of passing by unnoticed.

If you do find a safe enough route trough afghanistan, I'm pretty much interested. I'm planning a similar trip in a lada saloon car end of next year.

Rob
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  #3  
Old 13 Jul 2006
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The summer before last Turkmenistan was not especially expensive to cross. There were $50.00 or so in fuel surcharges and maybe $20.00 in other nonsense, but once you are in, it is very inexpensive if you stay away from hotels.

For all the up to date details, contact David at www.stantours.com
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Old 14 Jul 2006
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Thanks for you replies...

Afghanistan in a Lada would be interesting. I thought about taking a Niva 4x4 through the 'stans (spare parts, local knowledge etc), but decided to stick with my Hilux - a far trustier steed, I hope!

As I said, I don't actually plan on visiting Turkmenistan, it's more a last resort if it looks like crossing Afghanistan would carry a serious risk of kidnap. Stantours reckons about US$250 for a 4x4.

As far as I'm aware, western Afghanistan, (e.g. Herat, Ghor provinces) Bamiyan and Kabul are OK. I think Mazar-e-Sharif is slightly less secure, but the Kunduz is meant to be safe. Nowhere in Afghanistan is 'safe', however you define this but it's not as bad as the Foreign Office might like us to believe. The isolated incidents in the north and west are a world away from the Taliban and drug runners in the south. Met a couple of Japanese who had been through Afghanistan when I was up in NWFP (Pakistan) three years ago. They reckoned it was fine, although the Japanese can pass for local Hazara, if appropriately attired, so maybe they are less of a target.
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  #5  
Old 31 Jul 2006
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Turkmenistan

It's not that bad to cross Turkmenistan. $50 for a transit visa and about $100 for the car.
I had to pay some sort of tax in Tajikistan, but I'm not sure that's needed. Also Uzbekistan have some cheap road tax, but I never pay it.
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  #6  
Old 3 Sep 2006
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Afghanistan in our 4x4

Hi guys in India now after coming thru Rus Kaz Kyrg Tajik and Afghan

had to buy insurance at border of rus and Kaz $40 dependant on engine capacity and when the police stop you they usually ask you to produce it.

It cost nothing to import the vehicles and in Krg they didnt even stamp the visa.

Leaving Taj i got a bit of a hard time but just acted dumb and eventually they get board and let you go.

Crossed the Panj river into Afghanistan and had no problems getting to Kabul and then to Peshawar but the border guards hadnt seen a tourtist for a long time. A friend went the same way and said my name was 2 months old at the crossing into Pakisatan.

We worried alot about the visa and border situation in the stans, and whilst each crossing was slow it was never a drama. We didnt register our visas in any country and we only ever got told off it was never a problem.
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Old 3 Sep 2006
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mongol rally

www.mongolrally.com

worth a look for the stans...
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  #8  
Old 24 Sep 2006
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that is interesting. I am aiming to drive to india in novemebr and had assumed that afghanistan would be off limits. do you think this route would be passable in winter or is it likely to be blocked? what did you do for visa, get it before you left or enroute, if so where?
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  #9  
Old 25 Sep 2006
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afghan bike experience

hello,
from pakistan, they have been to afghanistan (3 weeks) then to ouzbekistan turkmenistan iran. this was in spring 2006. I just met them : they were 2 on 2 yamaha 125cc (they are french nationals so no real problems for the visas there).
have a look on : http://www.desrevespleinlemonde.com/
http://www.desrevespleinlemonde.com/...fghanistan.htm

You can also contact them through their website.
If it can help ...

happy trails and be very carefull
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  #10  
Old 8 Feb 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robbert View Post
There's interesting info on Afghanistan on lonely planets thorntree.

As it looks to me today, rather go for the costs of crossing Turkmenistan then chance it in Afghanistan. Kabul is said to be safe. Away from kabul things change. With you're own car, there's very little chance of passing by unnoticed.

If you do find a safe enough route trough afghanistan, I'm pretty much interested. I'm planning a similar trip in a lada saloon car end of next year.

Rob

Well, I am digging up some old threads on the HUBB, found this one!

So, what happened was that in May 2007 I started my trip, Russia, KZ, UZ, KG, TJ. Whilst in Bishkek a bunch of Koreans got kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan (missionaries!) and that put me off going. So I continued from TJ back to UZ, then did in fact cross Turkmenistan, which I enjoyed.

But... Afghanistan was always in my mind. From 2008 the Khyber Pass became closed to foreigners, but in 2009 I managed to cross, and then drive across Afghanistan (with another little detour through Turkmenistan. Its all covered in my blog linked below.

I do kind of wish that I'd done it in 2007 though, as it would have been safe to drive right across the Central Route and see the Minaret of Jam. Oh well!
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Old 9 Feb 2014
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Thanks for your documentation, I'm going to read it whane I have a little time.
But I have one question:
Do you think that situation had changed since you tarvelle there (about crossing borders of Turkmenistan,Ouzbekistan,Kazkhstan,Russia with my own car)?

RR.
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  #12  
Old 9 Feb 2014
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Hi roro

I guess by 'situation' you mean entry procedures. Well as far as I know no, they haven't really. I went through again in 2011 and it was pretty much the same.

Russia - need insurance. Now there is Putin's customs zone consisting of Russia Belarus and Kazakhstan, so when you enter one of these countries with a car, you have three months in the entire region with your car.

Kazakhstan - need insurance

Uzbekistan - nothing in my experience, except some strange eco-tax at the Gusht-Koprik border directly north of Tashkent (this was soon closed to foreigners after I came through, but it might have reopened, not sure...)

Kyrgyzstan - nothing as far as I know. Very relaxed

Tajikistan - don't need insurance, but have to pay $20 or something for the car, and have a max of 15 days, although this can be extended in Dushanbe.

Turkmenistan - still need to pay all sorts of things at the border. When I first visited in 2007, diesel cost about US$0.01, and on a 580 km transit from Konye-Urgench to Bajgiran, I paid $127 from memory. In 2009, diesel was maybe US$0.40 or something like that - much more expensive than in 2007 (though still cheap), and for a 750 km transit from Imam Nazar to Serhetabat I paid $245. So basically the fuel has gone up in price, but they still charge you the same, or greater fuel tax. Still, Turkmenistan is one of my favourite countries and well worth the expense! I'm hoping to go again this year on a third transit, this time 850 km, so we will see how much they tax me then

As for Afghanistan, well that will almost certainly change this year. I'm waiting very nervously to see what happens. I do have a little idea to go and try to cross the Zabol - Zaranj border and go to look at some stuff in the desert, but I need to check things with my contact there as Nimruz is not the safest of areas...
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  #13  
Old 9 Feb 2014
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Clarification if possible

My plan for this year is to enter Russia via Ukraine and into Kazakstan via Astrakhan, 30 days in Kazakstan, then back into Russia via Altai and then into Mongolia hopefully for 2 months. I was then hoping to to get to Magadan and return to the Uk crossing Russia and into Ukraine. Am I going to be struggling with 90 days in 180 rule. Would I start afresh when I leave Mongolia and head for Magadan. I was hoping to spend a bit of time around Baikal on my return. Any clarification would be much appreciated.

Boycie
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Old 10 Feb 2014
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Hi Boycie

So, are you saying that it will take you more than 90 days from Astrakhan to the Mongolian border at Tashanta (Altai)?

I think the 90 day customs allowance can be extended free of charge in most cities in the region (I would ten to do it in Russia rather than Kazakhstan), have a search on here however as I have never done it. You would probably need to have a Russian speaker though.

As far as the rule itself is concerned, technically I believe it's a 180 day rolling window, i.e. at any point in time, your vehicle may have been in Russia / Belarus / Kazakhstan for 90 of the 180 days preceding that point in time. It's probably better to ask someone like Mr Colebatch however, as he is likely to have come up against the rule.

However, for sure I had my car in Russia / Kazakhstan for more than 90 days in a 180 day window, I never even thought about it to be honest. When you re-enter the customs region they give you another 90 days. IIRC I exited Kazakhstan into Kyrgyzstan after having been in Russia / Kazakhstan for at least 60 days, and certainly more than 90 out of the preceding 180. After a few hours I went back into KZ and got a whole new 3 month validity.

Bottom line, as long as your visa is OK, you should be fine with your vehicle, though I stand to be corrected!

I am planning UK - Kyiv - Astrakhan then down through western KZ into TM this May ish, maybe we will cross paths?

Cheers

Daniel
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Old 10 Feb 2014
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Hi Daniel
Thanks for the reply and sorry for not making my plans very clear. With my 6 month multi entry business visa (hopefully) the plan is Ukraine to the Kazak border via Astrakhan 4 days, across Kazakstan entering Russia via Semey, 7 to 10 days before entering Mongolia exiting back into Russia at Erdeenstay. The plan was then to head to Magadan and return keeping inside Russia until the Ukraine. Was hoping the 90 days would be reset each time I entered Russia, thus giving me 90 days for the Magadan and return leg of the trip. If it starts when I first enter Russia I will be stuffed.

Am afraid I am a complete novice on this as I have only ever done southern Morocco before, so am feeling excited but very nervous and putting a lot of faith in my trusty 4runner.

Hoping to leave UK third week in April, hopefully our paths might cross en route.

Cheers

Boycie
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