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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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Old 28 Oct 2009
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off the beaten track in KZ

Just been playing with google maps satelite view and managed to pick out the route and villages I visited crossing from Beineu to Chulkar down near the Aral sea near to the Uzbek border, earlier this summer.

Obviously the road goes up north near to Aktobe and I wanted to take the direct route to get onto the main road near Aralsk to head towards Almata, rather than going north then south again. I did this with basically no proper information, only an old road atlas which marked a few tracks in the area which didn't actually exist, no GPS, and no knowledge of Russian or Kazakh languages. On my own. It was a real advenutre, and a test of mental toughness as much as sand riding technique.

I never actually got to sea the Aral sea, and seeing how close I ended up to it I'm now hitting myself in frustration!

Here's the map showing my route if anyone's interested. Now I can see there's a fairly sizeable looking track which goes most of the way from Beineu to Bozoi, running north of Turush, which was described to me but that I never managed to find my way on to. Had to go via Matai because it was the only place name isolated farmers seem to recognise.
3Untitled - Google Maps

Oh yeah, I met Lyosha in Beineu, and when told of what I wanted to do it was translated to me that he said without a GPS or a guide I was guaranteed to get myself killed.
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Old 29 Oct 2009
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i will tell him you survived and made it across!

Nice trek !!

So from Shalqar it was an OK graded road?

How long did it take?
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Old 29 Oct 2009
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There's a an old asphalt road going NE from Chelkar on to the main highway, in broken up condition of course but pretty good by standards of old Kazakh roads. M32 around there is totally undriveable, didn't see a single vehicle trying to drive on it, but the sand tracks running by the side that everyone uses are pretty good. They got roadworks starting so maybe in a year or two Almata-Aktobe will be good tarmac all the way.

My road atlas showed a track running direct from Chelkar to Aralsk; later on I was having a conversation with someone who wanted to go that way and they'd been told there deffinately wasn't a usable route that way. However the railway goes that way so I reckon it'd be an easy ride as long as you don't mind the sand.

With a GPS I don't see why it wouldn't have been possible to drive direct from Bozoi to Aralsk hugging the coast of the aral sea. It's not step in that area, it's really sandy desert with hollows and dunes, and lots of dry bushes and tumbleweed etc. But I managed to drive on it a couple of times when sand tracks finished at farms and I carried on off-piste.

Just over two days. Lyosha would probably just about remember me as I was there with Eva and the french guys in citreons.
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