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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 15 Jul 2008
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Beauly,Scotland
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Pamir Highway and Turkmenistan

Hi there

Following on from a 6 month trip of Eastern Europe last year I have been struck down with the wanderlust bug. Unable to settle I am know planning a RTW trip starting next year with the first part being to get out from the UK to Japan by early sept.

I plan to go down to Iran then up through the Stans to Mongolia, visas and border crossings permitted.

At the moment I am roughing out approx timescales for various countries.

There is not too much written about Turmenistan and what there is does focus on the negatives especially the Police etc. Providing I can get a visa and the border with Iran is open can those who have travelled there add any hints and tips on what to see in Turkmenistan and if the bad press it gets is justified.

I was thinking of about 1 week there before moving onto Tajiksatn which brings me on to the Pamir Highway.

Has anybody out there ridden it over the past few years in particular since the troubles in Afghanistan. Looking at the road it does get quite close to the Afghan border especially around Rushan and Khorog and I wondered if anybody had encountered any problems. Adventure travel is one thing but I dont fancy lunch with BL, probably watching to much TV news!!

I aim to hit Tajikstan late May or Early/mid June. Is the road passable at that time of the year or are rivers too high to cross . The other point is can anyone recommend the Pamir Highway or would it be better to head staright for the Fan Mountains .

Many thanks
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Old 15 Jul 2008
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Beauly,Scotland
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Regarding my previous post I have managed to find what I was looking for on the Pamir highway on previous Threads. Not sure how I missed them in the first place.

I would still appreciate info on the good points of Turkmenistan though.

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Old 16 Jul 2008
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Gent/Antwerpen
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turkmenistan: no troubles, just rules

hi kev,

first of all: the pamir highway: no prob whatsoever, even the afghan border loop. there's actually 3 roads: murghab-khorog (all tarmac, really easy, 1 day), murghab via ishkashim to khorog (mostly gravel and some sand, but not all that hard, 2/3 days) and a loop murghab-roshkala-khorog (much more difficult, rocky and rivercrossings which might be high-3 days + check if roshkala is on your GBAo stamp explicitly). the 'worst' part of the pamir so-called highway is dushanbe-khorog: not difficult but all washboard, potholes and rubble. give or take 2/3 days. checkpoints are no hassle. if you have other questions, just ask.

turkmenistan depends on your budget. very easy country and no trouble, just procedure. the visa:
transit: you get 5/7 days but pass through in 3 or you'll have trouble on the outgoing border if you don't have hotel registrations. don't miss darvaza and keep in mind you'll have to ride the shortest route between your entry and exit point - they note it on your insurance and check at every checkpoint
if you can afford it, a tourist visa plus guide and driver (via stantours or other) will give you unlimited time & travel opportunities. the country is genuinly beautiful. don't miss darvaza. and if you get the change, check out the south-west (only hearsay/pictures but it looks great). the merv-turkmenabat passage is ugly desert. ashgabat-konya-urgench is much nicer.
borders are ok, just spent 4 hours there. and smile. but it is really really hot in summer.

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Old 31 Jul 2008
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Just came out of Turkmenistan, so here's some info:

Bordercrossing at Baigiran: no problem; 3 hours, 12 offices & 2 banks; with the right frame of mind, it's actually quite fun (you just HAVE to have a lough, it really is ridiculous)

Ride from Baigiran to Ashgabt: Great, one of the best landscapes so far. Good tarmac, but stinking hot!

Ashgabat: What a WEIRD place! Very strange blend of Dubai, The Truman Show and Las Vegas... The Tolkuchka Bazaar outside town is worth seeing.

Darvaza: hard to get to on a fully laden bike I think, but you can always leave the luggage in that one yurt next to the road.

Police: No problem. We had 5 police checks in 4 days, 5 minutes each. All friendly and never asked for bakshish.

On a transit visa you don't need to register with the authorities, so no problem if you stay off the radar/ in homestays.
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