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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 19 Jul 2006
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Border crossing Aqtobe-Orenburg

In early October I'll be coming back from my trip to Pamir. I'm going to take road Chimkent - Kyzyl Orda - Aralsk - Aqtobe (Aktiubinsk) - Saratov. I heard that section Aqtobe - Oral (Uralsk) is of very poor quality and wanted to bypass it via Aktiubinsk - Orenburg - Samara - Saratov. However, I get mixed information if there is an international border crossing between Aqtobe and Orenburg. For example, I have a map of Kazakhstan (2004) published by Reise-Know-How and it doesn't show even a small road across the border! So I'd like to ask the following:
* is it true that the Aqtobe - Oral section is very bad and it's worth taking some detour?
* is there an international border crossing between Aqtobe and Orenburg?

Thanks,
Kris

Last edited by mdmystko; 19 Jul 2006 at 20:26.
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  #2  
Old 19 Jul 2006
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Hi Kris, replied to you a minute ago but the post seems to have got lost.

I've just got back from riding the Pamir Highway (which is unbelievable by the way). I got there via Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan etc. I can confirm that the Aktobe road is very poor, much worse if it had have been wet. Although by the time you get there my guess is you'll be used to bad roads! I don't think that the other road you mentioned exists - certainly we weren't aware of it - but I could be wrong.

Good luck!

Neil
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  #3  
Old 19 Jul 2006
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Neil -

Take a look at this http://70.86.115.162/~motodrea/05jgnsib/25kirov.jpg image taken from http://www.motodreamers.com/ It looks like those guys crossed Kaz-Rus border exactly between Aqtobe and Orenburg. I emailed them but none replied until now.

I made a mistake in my original post (already fixed) so let me ask more precisely now: I know there is a long stretch of bad road between Aralsk and Aqtobe (Aktiubinsk). My question was about following section, the one between Aqtobe and Oral (Uralsk). Did you drive this section? Was it very poor?

Can I ask you some questions about Pamir Highway? There will be quite a few of them...
* did you suffer altitude sickness? was it serious? did you take any drugs?
* did you rejet carbs of your motorcycle?
* did you camp along Pamir Highway or looked for accomodation in towns?
* did you have stomach problems in 'Stans? Was it serious?

I'll be greatful if you find some time to answer it.

Thanks,
Kris
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  #4  
Old 20 Jul 2006
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Hi Kris,

Sorry I can't really help you with the missing road, we came in from Astrakhan - but it certainly looks from that jpg that a road does exist there.

I can tell you that there is indeed a very rough section of road between Aktobe and Aralsk. We rode it, it was tough, but dry so passable. The road itself is pretty bad but lorries and trucks have created tracks along either side of the 'road' so you can usually find a way to ride through.

To answer your Pamir Highway Q's:

My riding buddy didn't suffer from altittude sickness at all but I did. Not much, just shortness of breath and a mild headache. We looked into drugs beforehand but it was pretty low down on our list of priorities and we never got round to buying any. I suppose that if you are riding alone it is much more of an issue so I'd research AS on the web and follow the good advice available.

No rejetting was done. My BM has fuel injection and the other bike is an Africa Twin with carbs. By the time we got to the Pamir Highway we were both running on 80RON fuel anyway and neither bike suffered much from the altittude. Power was affected a little but we rode slow and steady over this section anyway and didn't find it a problem.

We camped along the highway for a few nights - mostly because it's a wonderful place to camp but also because finding accomodation en-route is difficult. There are homestays available - an organisation called MSDP runs a grass-roots network of places - we used one in Kala i Hussein which was a special experience for us, and there are others in Murghab, Khorog etc. Another night we pulled up in a tiny village and asked in a Kafe about sleeping, the owner put us up in a back room with food for very little money. When wild-camping the usual rules apply, get your bike off the road, but don't go wandering too far and beware of landmines particularly near the Afghan border and remember that it can get very cold at night - but basically we had no problems and loved it!

We did have stomach issues - ranging from the usual diorhea (SP?) often brought on by Russian ! to one episode each of proper food poisoning. The normal travellers' belly we just delt with and ignored but the food poisoning wasn't much fun. My colleague was laid up for 2 days with it in a horrible soviet hotel in Dushanbe - it was a shame that it was the same 2 days when a water pipe had burst and there was no running water in Dushanbe! We got a selection of anti-biotics from our doctors before we left and these really helped.

The actual Pamir Highway itself is in pretty good condition and is a wonderful ride - scenically spectacular, remote; everything you've read about basically. There are rough sections from about Sary Tash in Kyrgyz to Murghab and again from Khorog to Dushanbe (which offically isn't part of the PH) where some mountain sections were literally sliding down the mountain as we rode over them! But all in all it's a wonderful place to travel.

I'm happy to answer any other questions if you have them and if I can.

Good luck!

Neil
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  #5  
Old 20 Jul 2006
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Aqtobe and Orenburg

Yes there is a border crossing there.
I used it in 2003.
Unfortunately, they didn't follow the practice at many borders and let motorcycles go first. That and visa problems made it an all-day border crossing. My trip ended the next day when I was hit by a car in Orenburg...

The road from Aqtobe to Aralsk was in pretty bad shape in '03, but they were working on improving it. I think the road crew that I stayed a night with said they would finish by 2007-08. But who knows. If they only fill in the meter-deep holes in the road it would be a lot easier to drive.
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  #6  
Old 20 Jul 2006
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Road from Astrakhan

Chris -

Thanks, so now it's sure I have a (probably slow) option.

Neil -

I thought I asked everything but you inspired me to ask two more questions:
* how was the road from Astrakhan? I heard it's as bad as Aqtobe-Aralsk, is that true?
* did you drive Astrakhan - Atyrau - Maqat - Quandyaghash - Aqtobe?

I'll be traveling in Kirghistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with 9 other people on 6 motorcycles. I just have to get there and back on my own.

Thanks a lot for your extensive answers!
Kris
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  #7  
Old 21 Jul 2006
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Kris,

Yup, thats the route we took from Astrakhan. If I remember correctly the road is OK from Astrakhan to Atryrau and then deteriorates some point after there. It's about as bad as the other section.

Sounds like you're going to have a blast! Enjoy...

Neil
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  #8  
Old 26 Oct 2006
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Hi Kris

Just confirming that we crossed the border at the point you want to cross. Took maybe 2 hours. We were pulled over and they checked our luggage for drugs, since we said we were in Kyrgistan.
If it goes to the road to Oral ( Uralsk), We asked some locals about it and they said it was in a very poor condition.
Sorry I did not respond to your email, I guess it must have ended up in a spam folder and I didn't notice it.
Have fun riding the Stans.
Greg


Take a look at this http://70.86.115.162/~motodrea/05jgnsib/25kirov.jpg image taken from http://www.motodreamers.com/ It looks like those guys crossed Kaz-Rus border exactly between Aqtobe and Orenburg. I emailed them but none replied until now.

I made a mistake in my original post (already fixed) so let me ask more precisely now: I know there is a long stretch of bad road between Aralsk and Aqtobe (Aktiubinsk). My question was about following section, the one between Aqtobe and Oral (Uralsk). Did you drive this section? Was it very poor?

Can I ask you some questions about Pamir Highway? There will be quite a few of them...
* did you suffer altitude sickness? was it serious? did you take any drugs?
* did you rejet carbs of your motorcycle?
* did you camp along Pamir Highway or looked for accomodation in towns?
* did you have stomach problems in 'Stans? Was it serious?

I'll be greatful if you find some time to answer it.

Thanks,
Kris[/quote]
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  #9  
Old 27 Oct 2006
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Thanks guys, I've already been there :-). Had a great trip.

Kris
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