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Shortest Russian route from Kazakhstan to Mongolia
I'm at the early stages of route planning for a RTW trip. I want to ride the Stans, southeast Kazakhstan and continue to Mongolia without a big detour in Russia. But it all depends on the border stations...
I learned here that the Tsagaannuur gate between Russia and Mongolia is open. But I can't seem to find an official looking border crossing from Kazakhstan to Russia. At least not one close to the area. (China is out of question as usual).
Stolbourkha(KZ) seems to have a road connected to Kurdyum(RU) but does that mean it's an official crossing where I can make my first entry to Russia with the bike? It seems really desolate on the satellite image. Only tire tracks scattered here and there...
Does anyone have any information or experience around the area? Or can you point me to another resource?
And, yes I have searched the list on the site and the HUBB.
The main border crossing people use when going KZ to Russia en route to Mongolia is on the road between Semipalatinsk (Semey) in KZ and Rubtsovsk in Russia. The bulk of travellers go up the main road to Barnaul and turn right there and take the main road back down to the Mongol border. Its highways all the way, and to be honest the road to Barnaul is a bit mind numbing so alternatives and lesser roads are definately worth considering.
There are two more official border crossings to the east of that one.
(1) 22 km north of Shemonaikha (KZ) on the road to Zmeinogorsk in Russia
but the shortest border crossing if you wanted to get to Tashanta ASAP is ...
(2) go through Ust Kamenogorsk and Leninogorsk in KZ. 60km (by dirt road) due east of Leninogorsk is the most easterly border crossing. That sounds like the one you want. First village on the Russian side of the border is Karagai. I believe its a sealed road after Karagai. First fuel on the Russian side should be at Ust Koksa, 100km from the border.
The track you mentioned above from Stolboukha across the border is not an official border crossing. There are no immigration or customs facilities there, so you would be illegal in Russia assuming you made it across there.
That region of Russia is incredibly beautiful. Bear in mind you might be missing some real highlights if you try and cut too much out of it.
Also note, Russia has several types of border crossings ... some are fully international, some are open only to citizens of the CIS and some are open only to locals (citizens of the two countries specifically served by the border crossing). Lesser border crossings can prove troublesome (and sometimes impassable) unless you are holding a local passport.
Thank you very much for your answer. I updated the map I'm preparing with your information.
I'll try to find out if the border is a fully international one. But at least it's good to know where it is...
BTW, I find working on Google Maps very convenient. Drawing a line, area or pinpointing a location is very easy and I think I'll keep on building this map until the day of my departure. Maybe I can even load this in my GPS as a route and some POI's...
I'm in Barnaul right now, just having tried the route mentioned on #2 above in the other direction. It may be that the border crossing will be open when you reach this area, but two days ago it was closed on the Russian side. I drove west from the Mongolian border through Ust-Kan and continued as far west as possible, attempting to bypass the Barnaul route and reach a road that would lead to the crossing mentioned in #1 above, and the road ended at a very small village. Locals directed me to the crossing towards Ust-Koksa, so I drove from Ust Kamenogorsk (I think) towards Ust-Koksa. After 70 KM, there is a military checkpoint where I was assured I could not cross into Kazakhstan and was not allowed to pass. Also, this crossing is not marked as an official crossing in my guidebook (LP).
I just tried it from the Kazakh side and its still a closed area. I got 40km east of Ridder <leninogorsk> and hit a barrier across the road. You need a permit to go the last 20km, and the border authorities in Ridder wouldnt give me one, saying it was closed on the russian side too.
Apparent the border is for local 'return' traffic onky. Locals can cross there but have to return within 3 days. At least that was my understanding.
I was directed to cross at Shemonaikha, the most easterly crossing, and proceded tgru Zmeinogorsk, Kurya, Krasnoshchekovo, Olgi, Petropavlovskoe, Soloneshnoe, Ust Kan and joined the Chuisky Trakt at Tuekta ... as far as I can work out, thats the shortest route from KZ to Mongolia.
Awesomely scenic route I might add. Recommended. About half or just under is dirt road. Probably shaves 200+ miles off the Semey - Barnaul route, and is more scenic.
Can you tell me about the border crossing you describe in the last post?
Was it able to purchase vehicle insurance at the border? Were customs officials okay?
Sounds like a nice route - Though I'm not heading to Mongolia so will head north to join the main road to Barnhaul and head onto the main road going east to Irkustk. I am though going to head east tiwards Novokuznek (sp?) then head north, rather than go via Novosibirsk. Any advice on good scenic routes you could advise heading east would be apreciated. I am pretty confident in the dirt and riding a lightweight 350 so off-tarmac is not a worry.
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