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I am planning a southern crossing of Asia next year on my bike and I am formulating Plan "B" in case I am refused an Iranian visa. The Iranian visa sounds like its going to be tough to get as an American.
An alternative route appears to be through the Central Asia "Stans" to Kyrgystan and through a few hundred miles of China to the top of the KKH in Pakistan. I have corresponded with David at Stantours and it sounds like Central Asian visas can be obtained sucessfully (with a bit of work).
As indicated in the following thread, a couple of folks make it into China from Kyrgystan sucessfully but there are still issues:
1. Attempt to get myself and the bike into China from Kyrgystan with a Chinese visa, carnet, international driver's license and hope for the best. If its been done before, maybe I have a chance, but how would I know until I try it?
2. Hire a guide to take me and the bike across the short distance of China to Pakistan, I would think this could be done at a reasonable cost, since the amount of time in China would be short. But what about the licensing requirements even with a guide?
3. Hire a truck driver to load the bike onto a truck and drive it through China to the top of the KKH. I would think that plenty of goods are shipped on this route, so maybe this is feasible? If I wasn't "riding" the bike, would the same regulations apply that are typical for bikes in China? How realistic is this option?
4. Ship by air from Kyrgystan to Pakistan. This would be a bad option, I would think.
5. Ride all the way back to Turkey the way I started originally and figure out Plan "C" before the winter sets in. The worst option.
Any comments on which of the above options would be feasible? Options 1, 2 & 3 are really the only ones I would want to consider. Is shipping the bike the short distance through China via truck a realistic back-up plan?
BTW, I would be shooting for crossing into Pakistan in September or October of 2005.
[This message has been edited by davidmc (edited 21 December 2004).]
By all means try first to get an Iranian visa. They just may give you one, if they feel like it.
My plan B would be to drive Europe - Russia (Moscow), Kazakstan (the easiest of the -stans) and enter China at Urumchi, then south to Kashgar and KKH into Pakistan. You should have no problems securing the required escort through China if you spend money (They will take care of Chinese licence for bike, insurance, and your Chinese driver's licence). Carnet is useless in China. Putting motorcycle on truck is impossible. Who will guarantee that you will not unload it at the next corner. Carnet is necessary in Pakistan and Iran, if you get visas.
Plan C could be to make your way from
Europe to the Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai) and pick up a cheap flight to Karachi or Islamabad.
You don't want to be stuck in one of the -stans, e.g. at the Chinese border, and having to turn back or airfreighting out.
Take option 1 or 2.
Option 1 would be a try at Irkeshtam into China. That´s where we got in.
Don´t try it across Torufart without a guide. No way.
If option 1 does not work,
Option 2: contact www.caravancafe.com in Kashgar (greetings to Greg, he will remind Karen and me).
Greg made it possible for us to leave China via Torugart pass. The caravan cafe cooperates with Novy Nomad in Nauryn, Kyrgystan. They should be able to get hold of chinese licence plates etc.
Werner & Goetz, thanks for the replies. Any idea on how much the Chinese guide would be from Kyrgystan to the top of the KKH? I have heard $100-200/day, but I am wondering what other costs may/will be involved. And any estimates on how long the journey would take?
I know that in China much is possible with lots of money, but we are on a pretty tight budget. $100-200/day for the guide is feasible if the trip only takes a day or two.
Thanks for the help.
[This message has been edited by davidmc (edited 22 December 2004).]
I have been corresponding with Steve from the Caravan Cafe and he tells me that to cross China from the Krygyzstan border to the Pakistan border at the top of the KKH via Kashgar will require about $1200USD and 70 days advance notice. This includes the cost of the guide and all the Chinese documents and permissions for the bike only. It doesn't include any daily living expenses like food or lodging.
Not cheap, but sounds like an available option. Has anyone organized anything with the Caravan Cafe...in other words, how is their reputation?
To save money David, you might try and get a few other people to go at the same time. The cost of a guide for a group is going to be much the same as a guide for 1 person. If you split it 3 or 4 ways, its not much.
Yes, I have thought about splitting the cost with another group also. We will try to get an Iranian visa and take the southern route from Turkey to Pakistan, but as Americans, it may be tough. So the China crossing will be part of "Plan B". We want to make it across the KKH in Pakistan well before it gets snowed in, so we will be shooting for an August/September 2005 timeframe.
What a coincidence. I'm thinking of making the same trip as you this summer. I keep my bike (2000 GS) in Rome, and would possibly ship it to Baku, ride the "stans" into Kashgar, and then Pakistan, and leave the bike there, or India, or Nepal, Bhutan, etc., then come back next year, and ride east for another month. I may have another rider ready to do the trip. Do you have some flexibility for dates? Still looking for company for part or all?
[This message has been edited by tonygs2000 (edited 29 March 2005).]
Tony, we haven't yet decided yet if we will go from Turkey to Pakistan via Iran or Central Asia.
If we go through Central Asia, we would expect to be in Baku around the beginning of August and the China/Pakistan border on the KKH in late October.
Should we decide to do the Central Asia route we may end up going through Turkmenistan via David Berghof and Stantours as Turkmenistan is a real hassle to go through. I am not sure you can save much money with the transit visa when you take all the hassles into account. If we get some other folks to join us we could get a decent deal on the price.
Stay in touch, my email address is on my profile or you can contact me via my website.
I sincerely recommend you to drive through Turkmenistan with David. My ten days last year were probably the best on my 17'000km trip altogether. You get to see fantastic canyons not accesible by public transport, i.e not even mentioned in Lonely Planet. But getting visas may take a while so you should probably make up your mind pretty soon.
I am entering Turkmenistan next week. You speak about beautiful canyons: where are they? I would be glad to have some tips about where to go in Turkmenistn.
I plan to enter in the South of the country from Iran, go to Merv and then to Ashkabad, cross the Karaku desert and exit to Uzbekistan. What do u think?
Henri, french traveller, 600xt, paris to PhnomPenh.
I've read of your experiences getting into and out of China from Kyrgyzstan with interest. I'm based in Tashkent and have been thinking of trying to make a bike trip to Kashgar via Fergana Valley, Osh and Sary-tash. As far as I know, the roads are asphalted although not in great shape from Tashkent to Sary-tash. Can you advise on road conditions from Sary-tash through the border and on to Kashgar? Also, is 93 octane or higher fuel available on that route. I'm riding (don't laugh) a BMW R1100S, not the ideal bike for the conditions in Central Asia but then I didn't know I would be transferred to Tashkent when I bought the bike in Vienna.
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