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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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  #1  
Old 23 Jan 2011
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Roadtrip through Russia

We are planning to drive from Ukraine to Vladivostok in our troopy camper this year or the next. We are an elderly couple but capable of looking after ourselves. We need advise on Russian visa's and general on the planned trip. Email vrolijkispieter@gmail.com.
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  #2  
Old 23 Jan 2011
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Virtual repeat of my response to your original query on Sahara Forum thread - now disappeared:-

Russia Visas can only be applied for in your 'home' country or in another country if you can show Residency Rights in that country - i.e. not just visiting/touring.

Visa requirements and cost varies depending on your passport country. For specific info look at the website of the Russian Embassy in the country where you would be applying. There are commercial agencies who can deal with everything including obtaining Letters of Invitation.

ADVICE: Make sure your Russia visa is for sufficient time - inluding a margin for delay.
Russia is Russia - delays are a natural way of life!
Visas cannot be extended or renewed and if you are not out of Russia by the expiry date you will get serious problems including further delays, fines and possible refusal of future visas.
Whatever the reason for your delay, you (but not necessarily your vehicle) must still leave within time and to apply for another visa you must go back to your home country!
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  #3  
Old 24 Jan 2011
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Almost true. Russia is Russia so there are exceptions. We have got transit visa in Almaty...
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  #4  
Old 25 Jan 2011
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Russian trip

Both Tony an Sambor,
Thanks very much for your advise, I'm delving into you links right now.
My best wishes,
Pieter
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  #5  
Old 25 Jan 2011
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TRussia - Transit Visas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sambor View Post
Almost true. Russia is Russia so there are exceptions. We have got transit visa in Almaty...
Transit Visas are usually for 3 days only.
They are primarily intended for people leaving the 'air-side' areas of an airport while changing international flights or rail journeys originating and ending outside Russia, but crossing some Russian territory with or without stopping.

They are possible for Road travellers.

If travelling by road or rail a Transit Visa can be obtained for a MAXIMUM possible period of up to 10 days.

The period of any Transit Visa over 3 days is calculated on the direct distance of your route on the basis of 500km per day.

Again - not much scope for delay!
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  #6  
Old 25 Jan 2011
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Russian trip

Tony,

We are not particularly frightened off the BAM road as per your description. We have been on the road for 6 years and have seen some. This road looks more attractive than 10.000 km concrete highway. What interests us, would this road cause major problems for our troopy, especially the river crossings with or without bridges?
Your opinion is highly valued!
Pieter
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  #7  
Old 25 Jan 2011
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Jesus - you'll have some fun doing the BAM road in a Landrover! I have met Tony P a couple of times, and had a very interesting photo session the second one - he showed me a video of some Polish guys doing the BAM (or at least part of it) in a Discovery.

Re Russian visas - my suggestion would be to shop around a few embassies/consulates and see if you can get a visa from outside SA if this is a issue. Am willing to be corrected as it was 2008, but certainly at that time I had the following experience:-

Russia visa - getting in Bangkok - Lonely Planet travel forum
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  #8  
Old 25 Jan 2011
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Excuse me!!
A troopie is a Toyota troop carrier. I have my belly full of Land Rover!
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  #9  
Old 25 Jan 2011
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Serious Road

I don't know anything about 4x4s, nor what a Toyota troop carrier is in that context.

Any 4+ wheeled vehicle attempting even part of the BAM would have to be VERY VERY well prepared, equipped and crewed for some very serious stuff.

The western end of the BAM (to Tynda) is generally the easier half although much depends on the weather.
East of Sevrobaikalsk it involves some deep river crossings which even 6WD trucks cannot manage at times. We managed to get permission to ride some of the railway bridges. No way was this possible on the many bridges protected by armed military.
There is also the Vitim Bridge
YouTube - World's most dangerous bridge. EXTREME
Check out SyberiaMongolia2009's other clips on YouTube for other rivers, and some 'better' (I mean it!) bridges etc. They did the western half as far as Tynda before turning south for Mongolia.

Tynda to Fevralsk is an unknown. Even hard local guys with 6WD trucks said impossible in summer.

At times we rode on railway embankments and ON the railway track itself, live with trains - not possible on 4 wheels.

The eastern half from Fevralsk would be tougher in my view. Tracks, where they existed, were marginally less rough but we had pure bog for days on end - once managing less than 5 miles in a day, 20 in 3. Rivers were not so much of a problem, although we were ferried across 3 in trucks and another by a bridge construction camp's road grader with trailer.

Water levels were higher for us than the two Roberts the previous year who did the eastern half on bikes.

Winter makes terrain earier to cover, but with temperatures constantly below -40C and 2 or 3 hours of daylight a day?

But I know nothing of 4x4s.

The SyberiaMongolia guys we met clearly had well equipped vehicles. To be honest, they vastly exceeded my expectation of them, until I afterwards learned of Michael's pedigree!
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  #10  
Old 26 Jan 2011
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BAM road by 4WD.

Just some background on the Polish 2009 drive on the western (easy) half of the BAM road.

The guy who led them, Michal Rej, is a very well seasoned expeditioner. He leads a lot of hardcore 4WD expeditions all over the place, from Africa to Australia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan ... and places like the road of bones in northern Siberia a number of times. He makes documentaries for Polish TV and has a lot of commercial sponsorship - accordingly his vehicles are extremely well prepped.

His plan for 2009 was to do that western half of the BAM as far as Tynda and then drop down to Mongolia for the trip back .... but the 4WDs (a Disco and a LandCruiser) were so beat up by the first part of the BAM that they pretty much canned the Mongolian part of the trip and spent that time repairing the vehicles and just making sure the 4WDs were capable of making it back to Poland in one piece.

The guy is a 4WD expeditioning pro with pretty much unlimited access to whatever prep material he wants ... and his 4WDs were pretty beat up just doing the first half, the easy half - 2200km to Tynda.

I am just saying, its a damn tough route for bikes. For 4WDs its going to be even tougher on the vehicles. Rej's expedition is proof of that. Once you get past Taksimo the population is very spartan. If you go past Tynda, you are talking very very remote regions with almost no traffic. A breakdown out there will really challenge you. There are many sections where you will need to drive on the tracks, over railway bridges. You will have to drive up steep embankments to get to the track, then mount the single track, with the risk of freight trains coming from either direction, cross the bridge and get off the track without rolling down the embankment ... this will happen many times day once you pass Taksimo.

Whatever you do as part of your planning, do not underestimate that road. To take it lightly would definitely be disrespectful to your own health and well being.
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  #11  
Old 27 Jan 2011
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re Russian visas, be very aware of what has been said in previous posts, no extensions with maximum 90 days now
any queries and for some leads on getting a invitation from a visa company etc
you could look at these two Expat sites in Moscow and pose any questions
Someone should help you.
TRAVEL, VISAS, REGISTRATION, RESIDENCY-STATUS & MORE - The Moscow Expat Forums
Passport Control - Red Tape Forums

Good Luck
There are some people in Landrovers coming from NZ one day to to the Magadan to Moscow leg one day, maybe I will join them and drive to my wifes family in Western Russia. I would love a Kamaz truck to do the trip in.
I wish you well.
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  #12  
Old 28 Jan 2011
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Never too old to learn

Tony,


I’ve been reading a lot of information given by you and others on Northern Siberia and come to the conclusion that for us, my wife and I, “the bridge may be too far”. It’s not just the equipment and experience we miss, it’s definitely also the skills and physical strength that may be lacking.
That said, we will have a look at that part of the world next year, and almost certainly try to get a better idea at first hand by visiting the ‘Stans.
As said before, we are driving a Toyota troop carrier, a car that’s generally well capable of doing what a Land Rover defender can do (I had one) but is less prone to brake down under taxing conditions. Especially the Td5.
I read part of the blog by the Polish guys who traversed the Vitim bridge and saw they had Land Rovers, but I’ve seen a picture of a Toyota troop carrier on that bridge as well. It doesn’t mean I can do it too, mind you!
There is still a lot of time to cover, much of which will be spent on research and preparations. During the coming winter season in Europe we will be in Northern Africa.

I follow your comments with pleasure and hope to learn a lot more from your experience.
Cheers,
Pieter
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  #13  
Old 29 Jan 2011
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Pieter, Hi.
The Vitim Bridge is not the difficult bit. Just the scary one!
For me particularly, having been caught on it in a thunder, lightning and hail storm with swirling winds up to (possibly) 70mph, gusting from all directions!

It is the terrain that makes the BAM so tough - and the relentless pressure for week after week after week, without respite.

If you look at the photos through our own threads/blogs and Website you will see some of the easier bits. But these were the gentler bits where we could relax and think enough to get a camera out.
When it got tough all thoughts, time and energy were to getting through - not the nicieties of taking "tourist snapshots" for the folks back home!

I am not trying to deter people and keep the BAM 'club' small and exclusive.
Nothing would give us greater pleasure than meeting and talking with other survivors, comparing experiences, photos and memories.

There are other less demanding routes in Eastern Russia that are still challenging and real adventures.

Colebatch, Terry and I will happily help with whatever we have learned.
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