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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 7 Oct 2007
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Baku to Turkmenbashi Ferry

I thought I'd through in my $.02 about the Baku-Turkmenbashi ferry as I've received many PM's, emails, etc. about this.

The B-T ferry is a rail car ferry primarily and takes on passengers and vehicles(including trucks), space allowing. It leaves on a scheduled based on when the rail cars are loaded onto the ferry and on some occasions, can leave sometimes 2-3 times a day. Once a day is the norm though and ask the Customs guys there info about the departure times and rail car loading to best gauge things. There is a similar ferry to Aqtau(Kazakhstan) but only a couple times a week.

The Azeri ferry company that runs it owns a fleet of about 5 ferries. It takes one day to cross the Caspian and docks in the harbor awaiting another one of the previously arriving ferries to unload. Once unloaded, that ferry awaits rail cargo from Turkmenistan to Baku to be loaded. This can take days and cause a backup in ferries in the harbor...so bring food enough for 3-4 days of a ferry ride, or sufficient porn to bribe the cook.

The reason an unloaded ferry will sit in the dock, is that the ferry crew only gets paid by the load, unlike most mariners. Therefore they won't give up their spot in the queue until they get a return load.

Finding the ferry dock in Baku is NOT eaasy. You must first find the main Customs office near the waterfront. Then keep past it heading north about 1-200 meters and on your right will be an unmarked entrance to a road. Continue down that road, and turn right and continue down that road until the dock.

The paperwork requires proof of entry into Turkmenistan, and vehicle import into Azerbaijan, you'll pay a ferry fee based on size, your ride fee, and a bridge tax....this is NOTHING compared to the Turkmenistan side so be patient when you get there.

I took the ferry in April 2007 so things may have changed since then.
Pics from there can be seen here...
Front Door


HTH
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  #2  
Old 11 Oct 2007
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and another thing

Hi Edde

Good to see you are still alive n kicking ! how's 'normal' life treating you ?


Just like to add a small line to Eddes information . . . . . .
We took our 4x4 truck onto the 'ferry' back in April 2007.
The schedule is indeed just as Edde describes but do not underestimate the delay ! we waited 2 days for a ferry and having finally got onboard it took 48 hrs to do a 13hr crossing !
You will also be 'expected' to offer a fee to the captain, payable as cash ! our two vehicles paid $50
Cost of ferry was approx $300 (access my site for exact details : www.travel.uklinux.net )

Cautionary note : VISAs - you may well get advised to obtain your Turkmenistan visa prior to arrival (i.e. get visa in Istanbul) but, but, but the problem with this is the tourist visa is issued with exact dates of entry and exit (no flexibility) and so if the ferry delays you 2 days your visa then has 2 dys less to run !
Now this is not disastrous as it is possible to visa extend (at a price, in the capital, but takes time).

A safer alternative is to OBTAIN VISA ON POINT OF ENTRY, you will still need an loi but it means the visa does not commence until you set foot on the turkmen soil.
This was no problem for us and is exactly what we did. (unlike our dutch friends who unfortunately had the problem described above !)

Possible to sleep in vehicle (camp ?) at ferry terminal on Turkmen side but be warned - MOSQUITOS lots of and big uns !

Phil.

PS - Edde - we arrive in LA on 24th, have spent 7 weeks here in Korea and going via Japan (just 1 week, on train) to get to US.
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  #3  
Old 11 Oct 2007
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It's not all bad!

Once I had found the ferry office in Baku I found getting across pretty easy. I didn't pay for a cabin to save cash and was told I would have a chance to get some food before we left, which never happened. Result was I had no room and was very cold and hungry, but the azeri guys that manned the negine room invited me down, fed me a load of bread and sausage andcopious amounts of tea, then I stayed in one of their rooms while they worked overnight, all for free!

The kindness of strangers can never be underestimated, especially if you are alone on a bike. However, with the benefit of hindsight I would have taken some more food! The ferry is normally pretty empty heading to Turkmenistan so you can (apparently) forego the cabin booking and bribe the captain for a room with about 10 bucks. Oh, and you get a free/compulsory medical before they will let you off the boat in TMbashi!

Fees on the TM side are hilarious, they just keep on coming, everytime you think you can leave you are sent to yet another window. Rumours that you need a guide to enter the country are crap though. My guide turned up a day late so they just let me go unaccompanied.
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  #4  
Old 7 Mar 2008
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Turkmanbashi to Baku Ferry

Greetings,
I am new here and found this wonderful blog through my research.
I and my daughter are planning to drive around the world in small car in May.
we will be shipping the car from Los ANgeles to Shnghai and drive thorugh China, stans then ferry to Baku.
By the way being students in college we have only 90 days to finish this trip.
My questions are:
is it easy to get AZ visa in Turkmenistan?
is there any phone or email for ferry timing from TM to AZ side?
I 've been hearing lots of not so good stories about this ferry.
any information will be appriciated highly.
Best
arun
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  #5  
Old 6 Apr 2008
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LOI turmeni

hi phil,
i would like to know how can i get the LOI turkmeni and where can i pick it up. i will cross from georgia to azerbaian, and it will be better for me ask for the visa at the port!
thanks a lot
salva
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  #6  
Old 8 Apr 2008
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loi for turkmen

Hi Salva

2 options exist for Turkmenistan;

FIRST : 'official tour' which requires 'loi' and requires participation of the tour. This is the option we chose, tour & loi came via David at StanTours (who is excellent). Using this option meant we had an emailed copy of our loi and then when we arrived at Turkmenistan port of entry we were there issued with our standard tourist visa (the visa matched in length the number of days the tour lasts, which in our case was 5 days).

SECOND OPTION : 'Transit Visa' Using this option avoids the 'loi' and the 'official tour' thus saving some money. But you have to specify date of entry and date of departure. I would guess you could get away with requesting 7 days for transit (doubt you'd get longer). Transit visa can be obtained in Istanbul or Ankarra (Turkey). Istanbul consulate location details and map are here :

www,travel.uklinux.net/mp3/piccies/Consulate-Location-Maps-Info/Consulate_-_Turkmenistan_in_Istanbul_TURKEY.pdf

Even though you have a specified date of entry, IF you have a problem with the Caspian ferry and consequently arrive in Turkmen late (or early) it is possible to amend your transit visa at point of entry to match the dates you've actually entered. Though I did not have this issue, MOTOEDDE did and he got his visa amended to suit.

Turkmenistan have a few strict rules to follow (and lots of paperwork) but it's great country, people are fabulous and the officials are more than happy to help you and assist if they can to solve any issues.

Phil.
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  #7  
Old 10 Apr 2008
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thanks phil

many thanks phil,
it seems to me i will have to choose between waiting for visas in ankara or in tehran, but i have another option, do you know if i can cross to herat in afghanistan and from there to uzbequistan,
so i would avoid turkmenistan and the waiting time
cheers
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  #8  
Old 11 Apr 2008
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not sure but . .

Hi Salva,

I cannot say definately yes, but a fella we met in Uzbekistan had come up from India; through Pakistan and Afghanistan, he had no problems and yes this did avoid Turkmenistan.
I assume you were coming from Turkey? If so then you would have to go via Iran which certainly for British or US citizens can be a little problematic from the point of view of obtaining the visa.

P.
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  #9  
Old 11 Apr 2008
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good news

hi phil,
thanks,
i am spanish and been before in iran, so it should not be a problem to get an iranian visa, probably in erzurum,
and i am in cairo now, so i will reach turkey, inch allah,
it is a relief to hear about somebody crossing to uzbequistan from afghanistan, becouse i am searching with no success for that,
here in cairo, both countries have got embassy but unfortunately it is very soon for me,
in this case i will apply for afghanis visa in damascus and the uzbequis in ankara,
if you know something about this route, please, let me know,
thanks a lot
salva
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  #10  
Old 11 Apr 2008
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i'll ask

hello Salva

Spanish ! ahhh yes that is good place to hold a passport from !

Then by choice I think via Iran is good idea.

I will email the french guy i met who came through Pakistan and I will try to find some route information / details.

Phil.
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  #11  
Old 10 Feb 2009
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Is this info still up-to-date?

I'm keen to get the ferry from Azerbaijan - Baku to Turkmenbashi.

I would likeavoid the tour guide thing in Turkmenistan. Is this option of a transit visa still available?

Advisable to get it from Istanbul still?

Many thanks
Gabe
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  #12  
Old 10 Feb 2009
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If you check online...you might be able to get someone from the Turkish HU community to phone the consulate on your behalf and relay the question...another reason to love the HUBB!!!
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  #13  
Old 3 Mar 2009
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What's the going rate for the ferry? Anyone know?
Ta,
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