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Wow getting info into this area is tricky as I am having trouble finding up to date road maps for the area from Vladivostok to Chita. Net resorces are not helping me much I have mostly gathered my info from google earth (roughly 3 or 4 years old) and from travel stories from people on this site who have done the trip. One thing I notice is every story skips the nightmare navigation of this huge area, the things i read about talk about a new road from Kharborovsk to Chita supposedly finished by 2008. Apon another Google Earth scan i found a direct huge dirt road running close to the Trans-Siberian railline and photos all showing brand new bitumen and bridges.
My Question is can anyone who has run this new road confirm how much of it is complete and the basic route it takes. From what i make out is a Highway starting from near Obluchye to about 200km northwest of Svobodnyy, and a fairly clear marked route I could follow to Chita. Plan to get a map from vladivostok when I get there, as I am having trouble finding a good map resorce in Australia. Planning to be up that way late May 2008 see how we go
Any info on this road would be much appreciated! Cheers
Actually the road is very well marked. Also, there aren't many other roads that you could accidentally take. Of course you will want a map, but it is hardly neccesary. I rarely if ever even looked at mine. I went in 2004
I rode this route in the late summer of 2005, and at that time about 1000 miles was unpaved, but definitely rideable although a few short stretches were difficult. A great deal of the unpaved road was hard pack with a thin overlay of gravel, wide, well maintained and apparently finished and awaiting pavement. There were no water crossings whatsoever. I was fortunate in having very dry weather - there are parts of the route that could be muddy and difficult after a heavy rain. There are numerous photos and a day by day travelog on my website. As you said, it has been the goal of the Russian government to have the entire route paved by 2008, so by the time you go it may be entirely paved. The locals seem to think this schedule is optimistic, however.
Regarding maps, there are atlases that are fairly up to date. I bought one from Stanfords in London ( Stanfords' Books and Maps Online ) that served me well in 2005. In English it's name is "Atlantic to Pacific Atlas." It's a large bound volume and thus pricey. To save space I tore out the pages for the route I took. As stated above, there aren't many branch roads in this area so the risk of getting seriously lost isn't high - it's much more likely further west in Russia.
I very much enjoyed riding this section and consider it the highpoint of my entire rtw ride.
You will pick up maps or a road atlas in Vladivostok, try the car Parts and accessory shops. They will most likely be in Cyrillic but so will the road signs. I have a nice 270 page road atlas souvenir from my trip in 2004.
Navigation will not be a problem and the locals are very friendly if you need to check. The road quality isn’t going to be any worse than out back Australia. The towns are probably the hardest areas to navigate as the road signs can be scarce. A GPS will help but it is not a necessity.
We just traveled this section last week. The road you are concerned about is from Khabarovsk to Chita. As stated, this represents about 1,700 kms of unpaved road. The surface covers the spectrum of conditions.....we traveled the entire 2,200 kms in 37 hours.
It is basically a 1,700 km construction zone. The worst parts are the detours, which veer into small villages with terrible potholes. Many local drivers attempt to negotiate active construction areas rather than travel off on these ridiculous tangents.
On the positive side, at least 200 Japanese cars travel this road every day. They are imported to Vladivostok and then driven to Yakutsk, Chita and Ulan-Ude. They are driven at insane speeds and break down often. We passed at least 40 break downs, mostly from blown tires. However, they provide the biggest hazard as they are always passing on either side of the road. Always check your mirrors as you negotiate the rough sections. Also note that the smoothest surface is typically all the way to the left. This is usually fine but also provides an occasional oncoming surprise.
The biggest concern is staying patient and not pushing yourself or your machinery. Vibration and impact damage is almost certain to some degree. However, there are plenty of fuel stops and tire repair stops which can assist.
Finally, remember that the last 150 kms before Chita are nicely paved. This will be important as the road actually deteriorates as you get closer to civilization and you are pushed to your wits end!
This message I posted on the HUBB on the 24 september 2004:
From Chyta to Khabarovsk is 2165 km.
My motorbike is BMW F650, model 1999, with carburators. Tires: Continental TKC-80's. For the front wheel is no appropriate 80's tire, so I took a somewhat wider one.
I passed the Gap in september 2004 and it took me a week. When I started from Chyta weather conditions were good (dry weather) and were so a week before. I had one day of rain. I used the Atlas Automobilenje 2004 which is available in bookshops in Russia.
Don't worry for the first 250 kilometers: good asfalted road from khabarovsk up to 70 kilometers north of Birobidzjan.
From 70 km north of Birobidzjan to Zawitinsk the Atlas promises paved road. However when I passed the road was under renovation, largely unpaved but with a hard surface with few grit on it. Good to drive but the trafic caused large and dense clouds of dust. So dense that it was not possible to see the boudary of the road. Because of the dust driving over 50 km/h was not possible to me.
From Zawitinsk to Sjimanovsk you will find a good local road, covered with asfalt. Easy to drive, like a holiday.
From Sjmimanovsk to the village of Siwani, about 100 km north of Sjimanovsk there is a new tracee. Unpaved but with hard surface, few grit on it. 80 km/h and more is possible.
From the village of Siwani to village of Gonzja (about 150 kilometer east of Skoworodino) the tracee follows a local road (indicated in yellow on the Atlas). The surface is loam, very damaged. When I did this part it rained and the surface was covered with mud. Under dry conditions it will probably be very dusty. 20 - 30 km/h under wet conditions.
From the village of Gonzja to Skorowodino is a unfinished new tracee. Unpaved, hard surface, many potholes, washbord, locally thick layers of coarse grit. 40 - 60 km/h
From Skoworodino to the village of Yryzja (100 km west of Skoworodino) is a new finished tracee, unpaved but with a hard surface, few grit. Excelent to drive but very dusty. 60 km/h.
From Yryzja to the town of Mogotsathe road is under construction as are the bridges. This part is riddled with detours and locally covered with very coarse grit. Difficult to drive. 40 - 60 km/h.
From Mogotsa till the village of Sbegd is a local road, loam surface and absolute riddled with potholes. Very difficult to drive. 20 km/h.
From the village of Sbegd to the town Sjilka is a new finished tracee. Hard flat surface, few grit, excelent to drive. 80 km/h and more is possible.
From Sjilka to Chyta the road is paved, asfalt.
Fuel stations: fuel stations are indicated in the atlas. In practise there are more because the atlas indicates only the AZS-stations. To get fuel is not a problem but stations may be far from each other. 95 is not always available.
Maintance: maintenance stations are also indicated in the Atlas. They are far from each other. Locally you may find "Zjinomontag", changing of tires. There they can repair tires too.
Overnight stay: "gostinitsa's" (hotels) you find in Birobidzjan (a real tourist hotel), in Sjimanovsk (horribly overpriced, to avoid at all costs), Magdagatsj, Skoworodino and Zjireken. In Zjireken the hotel was temporarily closed but the manager arranged overnight stay at local people. Apart from the regular hotels there is overnight accomodation at the regional railway stations. I stayed in the railway hotels of Zawitinsk and Mogotsa. Simple but cheap. Probably it is possible in Sjimanovsk too. Other possibilities are the camps of the road workers or just asking locals for "kwartiri" (B&B).
The road from Chita to Khabarovsk is pretty straightforward and shouldn't pose any issues, assuming you have some dirt experience. THe road from Vlad to Khab is not entirely paved...nor is the road from Ulan Ude to the Mongolian border.
I just completed that route a few weeks back and tossed some pics up on my website...
Be warned that the Mongolia dirt tracks/roads, both the Northern and Southern routes are heavily rutted in many parts at this point...its a much tougher ride through to Tashanta/Western Border than the Chita-Khabarovsk route...
Me and Mrs bartman10 rode the road a few weeks ago. Don't worry. We don't have any dirt experience but didn't have any problems. Didn't really look at map to navigate, only to figure out fuel stops.
Riding standard DR650's with max range 240 km. Never had to go more than 150 km's for gas.
The worst bit of the road is actually at the chita end, with plenty of pot holes.
Used TKC80's at about 20 psi. A less agressive tyre would have been fine though.
About 1000 cars, mostly toyota corrolas and honda civics drive this road everyday. Found the worst road was actually between Irkustsk and Krasnoryarask. It's undergoing some reconstruction but they seem to be doing a particularly bad job of managing the traffic and water drainage. Worst part was a kilometer of axle deep mud.
Don't worry, the road is much easier than I thought it would be. Services are everywhere and the Jap import transit drivers are always willing to help and stop for a chat.
Drivers become much more agressive and less friendly after Irkustsk.
We have been free camping all the way from Vladivostok to Tyumen (which is where I'm writing this from). Security in the country ain't a huge problem if you camp at least 15 - 20 km outside of the villages. There are many drunks in the villages. Do not stay in the villages. Dress down and don't display your wealth too much.
We used about 10,000 rubles for food and gas (2 people) for the Khabarosk - Chita section. Very few if any ATM's for this section. Get the money you think you'll need at Khabrosk.
Diesel in Mongolia is expensive.
Russia works out at about $0.60 per litre.
South Korea price leaps up to $1.40 !
Loads of fuel stations. It is a VERY busy road (and long, and dusty !!!)
BUT diesel may not be available at all ! I recommend carrying enough for say a range of 4 or 500kms and you should have no problems.
here's a possibility for you : there are EMPTY car transporter trucks heading toward VLAD. If you see one parked up, stop off and offer hjim $100 or so and catch a free ride.
Where do you go next ?
We took ferry from Zarubino about a week ago and are now here in South Korea for few weeks then plan to arrange container to LA (cheaper than Mexico) and then drive South to Mexico for the winter.
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