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-   -   How many times to cross kazakhstan ? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/northern-asia/how-many-times-cross-kazakhstan-58239)

lemar 16 Jul 2011 15:30

How many times to cross kazakhstan ?
Hello everyone, we are travelling from Belgium to Mongolia, but we made a mistake with the visa, it begin the 20 instead of the 15 so we are blocked in Ukraine for 5 days, and we have to be in Oulan bator the 11 august.
First we were thinking about to visit almaty region, the south of kazakhstan and maybe kirghizistan, but now we think about to go directly to mongolie and want to know how many time it take to cross kazakhstan normaly but driving every day on a 990 adventure from West to East ?
Because we prefer to spend some time in Mongolia.
And also, we would like to know how many time it will take to reach Oulan Bator from the kazakh border, visiting a little bit and driving to the gobi making a "U" from the border to Oulan Bator ?

Thank you.

colebatch 16 Jul 2011 16:40

depends on your route, how many hours you like to ride and how fast you like to ride.

You can ride from Astrakhan to the Russian Altai border across northern Kazakhstan in a week if you need to. But it might take you 2-3 weeks.

You can get from the Russia / Kaz border to the Russia Mongolia border in 1.5 days (expecially if you dont go thru Barnaul), and you can get from the Mongolian border to UB in 2.5 days if you are a fast rider, though I have heard of people taking two weeks.

So to be honest, when it comes to off road riding, who knows how long you will take. Without knowing how you like to ride, its impossible to say. But since you are in a rush, I have given you how fast I know its possible do it.

lemar 16 Jul 2011 21:26

We are two on the bike so I think it will be difficult to drive really fast on dirt road if it's not flat.
But If I reach mongolia in 1 week it will be ok.
So what's the best and faster road to cross kazakhstan from West to East ?
I think in good asphalted road we can ride 110, in asphalted roads with bumps 90, on flat dirt roads 80, on bad dirt road maybe 50 km/h.
And normaly we can drive 6h per day.
Thanks for your answer.

estebangc 16 Jul 2011 23:11

Altai Map
In case it helps you to plan/cross Altai more quickly (if you do not have a more detailed one yet). (I wonder now: is it allowed to show maps???)


The black nail is from the owner, a German menonite we met in a gas station (there's an important community in Altai).

Full size, here.

colebatch 17 Jul 2011 12:06

OK judging from what you are saying I think it will take you 10 days to cross Kazakhstan ... and about a week to get from the Mongolian border to UB ... maybe 10 days if you want to go and have fun in the Gobi for 2-3 days.

To save time crossing the Altai region, this is the route I recommend as being the quickest (using the photo map above):


If you want to see that in high resolution, click here:

If you want to see a more detailed map in much higher resolution, this is the short cut overlaid on my own maps:

estebangc 17 Jul 2011 13:27

Wow, Colebatch, that was a great job drawing the route... and no more black nail!:D

Lemar, I expect Reise Know-How map to be much better, with more indications (I love RKH). But in the meantime, if it helps you to plan the trip, here you are a map I got from Mongolia indicating gas stations (although may not be working!), which is reasonably ok, at least it was good for us following the route you plan (I scanned it and a friend pasted the pieces).

Et bon voyage!

PS: I just noticed that the central part of the map is in low res... sorry, hope the rest helps anyway.

Beemer76 18 Jul 2011 03:30

Hi Colebatch,

Did you go the drawn way on the Map?

How are the road conditions?
Paved, gravel, mud?

Want to go that way in a month or so...

Thanks for help.

Greetings form Dushanbe Tadjikistan


colebatch 18 Jul 2011 09:23


Originally Posted by Beemer76 (Post 342863)
Hi Colebatch,

Did you go the drawn way on the Map?

How are the road conditions?
Paved, gravel, mud?

Want to go that way in a month or so...

Thanks for help.

Greetings form Dushanbe Tadjikistan


Yes Heiko, I have gone a couple of different ways near there. Both as shown on the maps above, and a variation, which was from PetroPavlovskoye (the most northerly point of the shortcut) directly east to Gorno Altaisk. (see red line on this map below)


From the KZ-RU border between Shemonaikha and Zmeinogorsk (which is quicker and more peaceful than the main highway crossing) to PetroPavlovskoye is pretty much all asphalt, reasonable condition.

If you want to stay on asphalt, then take the red line on the map above, directly east to the main highway. Its not as scenic as the yellow line south of PetroPavlovskoe. Also the red line goes through Russian areas, with mostly Russian people, while the yellow line south of PetroPavlovskoe travels into real Altai territory ... with the Altai people, and Altai villages.

If you take the road south from PetroPavlovskoe to Ust Kan and then back to the main highway, it is mostly dirt road (gravel) from PetroPavlovskoe to Ust Kan, and then asphalt from Ust Kan back to the highway. There are one or two more clayish sections than can get slippery if it has been raining heaviily, but mostly its good gravel. The dirt section is pretty good, and if the weather is good there is no reason you cant ride it at 100 - 120 km/h. I figure if someone is going to Mongolia, there is no point trying to avoid dirt roads.

Note: If you are coming thru KZ from the south (Almaty) then its best to avoid Semey altogether and go direct to Ust Kamenogorsk (Oskemen) and from there to Shemonaikha and the Russian border. There is some short (20-30km) of wide, fast, gravel road between Ust Kamenogorsk (Oskemen) and Shemonaikha, but the rest is asphalt.

lemar 18 Jul 2011 10:57

Thank you Estebangc and colebatch, your maps are realy helpful because I've only found a map for the south of kazakhstan.
But one question, why crossing the border so far of Mongolia ?
Is it impossible to cross it closer to mongolia ? maybe because the altai mountains...
Maybe you can advice me the faster road crossing kazakhstan too ? ;)

henryuk 18 Jul 2011 11:08

If you take the southern route it may be quicker given the excellent roads down there. I rode from Shymkent to Almaty in a day and then from Almaty to Semipatalinsk in two. The roads were brilliant, which was a bit of a shame at the time. I didn't have a map with me so couldn't tell you what number they were!

estebangc 18 Jul 2011 11:42

Lemar,Have you tried to contact the Kazak Embassy/Consulate to have a sort of waiver to modify your date of entry? If possible, you avoid all the hassle of rushing.Reise Know How has a whole Kazakhstan map which quite ok, at least for East and South East (and rip & waterproof!), for "very aficionado level" (me). Explore back roads, or find the quickest way, that's "expert level"... :-)

lemar 18 Jul 2011 20:46

Estabangc, the problem isn't with kazakhstan's visa but with the russian visa.
And they are not flexible at all :nono:
We were at the border and no way to pass it.
And tomorrow it's the last day of prison ;)
The day after tomorrow we will wake up at 4 am and go to the border !
We hope having no other problems.

colebatch 18 Jul 2011 21:25

There is no place to cross closer to Mongolia. The Shemonaikha crossing is the closest.

I think if you cross the RUS/KZ border between Saratov and Uralsk you can get quickly across KZ...

Oral (Uralsk), => 460km Aktobe (Aktyubinsk), => 224 km Karabulak, => 545km Kostanai, => 675km Astana, => 450km Pavlodar, => 320 km Semey (Semipalatinsk), then 140 km to Shemonaikha and the border. So Uralsk to Shemonaikha is just over 2800 km.

I have ridden all of it except the leg between Karabulak and Kostanai, which is a new road that follows the Russian border. All the other roads are asphalt. The Karabulak - Kostanai had about 200 km of gravel on it 2 years ago when I asked truckers about it when in Kostanai, but it was being paved. The truckers were driving regular trucks, and the dirt sections were said to be good gravel. I suspect it may be all paved now.

estebangc 18 Jul 2011 22:46

I understood you were in Belgium planning the trip! Talked to my friend and he corrected the Mongolian Map, now the central part is also high res (same link).

In addition, he sent me a link with the highest resolution, as I scanned it, that will last only 7 days, so to download quickly.

No chance to help with Kazakhstan map (have it in Spain); but you have the expert advice of Colebatch with the route. Ah, warning: Tashanta/Mongolian border used to be closed on weekends? (I think I remember that).

Good luck and enjoy the ride.


PS: Some people told me there was a detour to the steep Tsaaganur Pass right after entering Mongolia, in case it gets harder two up because of wind/rain... (I had an old car, not a KTM 990, though!)

keremh 19 Jul 2011 09:03

we've been on the road from Uralsk -> Aktobe -> Kostanay -> Astana for the last 4 days. The road on the Russian border (Aktobe-Kostanay) is all paved and in good condition. Sometimes the roads have bad sections; 20-30km long dirt tracks (where there is a new road construction), expect to cross at least 4-5 of them.

We're driving with 2 lada nivas.

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