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  #1  
Old 3 Jul 2009
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Ustyurt Plateu

Does anyone have information or experience about crossing the Ustyurt Plateu?

Wiki Says:
"The Ustyurt Plateau, Ustyurt also spelled Ust-Urt and Usturt (Kazakh: Üstirt, Turkmen: Üstyurt), is a central Asian plateau in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, between the Aral Sea and the Caspian Sea. It extends roughly 200,000 km², with an average elevation of 150 meters, and consists primarily of stony desert. The plateau’s semi-nomadic population raises sheep, goats, and camels."

It seems like my Turkmen visa can be a problem to obtain in Baku. So I may have to cross into Kazakhstan and cross this weird piece of landscape into Uzbekistan.

I'm curious about the "road" conditions, border crossing points and any known threats.
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Old 4 Jul 2009
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I think plenty of overlanders take the route into Uzbekistan from Aktau.

I got the ferry from Baku to Aktau recently. It cost $220 for me and the bike. Getting on the ferry was quite a bit of hassle and stress for me. On the same ferry were a couple of Brits in a Landrover and a couple of French 1950s Citroens, who took the route into Uzbekistan. The previous week a British biker on a bmw gs took the same route. I think at least 50% of the route untill you hit the first big Uzbek town is going to be a poor broken up/hardpac/gravel surface.

I didn't have an Uzbek visa so I rode on the Kazakh side of the border towards Aralsk - This route was very remote with no track marked on the maps, and through areas of very deep and soft sand with the steppe taking on some of the features of a desert with sand dunes etc.

The last town/village before the Uzbek border is Benou, which is a pretty big place with a supermarket, plus a Bazar where you'd be able to buy 18" inner tubes and maybe a few other bike parts such as would be used by locals on their small two-strokes and sidevalve boxers.
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Old 4 Jul 2009
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Thanks Nath!

I kept looking for roads and border posts on the southern areas. Bejneu seems to be the right place to do the crossing. And it looks like the road surfaces are somewhat treated. It's not just tire marks on the sand. I think I can do it.

I expect the ferry would move whenever it's full so I may have to wait for a few days. What was your experience? Do you have a recommendation on where to stay or what to do for the crossing? Any contacts?
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Old 4 Jul 2009
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The only cheap place in town seems to be the 1000camels hostel. There is another hostel slightly more expensive in the same building. You can find it in lonely planet and on hostelworld.com It's like $20 a night though which ain't my idea of cheap! Baku isn't a cheap place in general.

I arrived in town the same day a ferry to Aktau left but couldn't get on it because I had to first get a Kazakh visa ($20 next day). The next ferry was 6days later. You simply ring or visit the ticketoffice/port every morning to find out if the boat will sail that day. Some guys who got the same ferry had the people at the ticket office ring them that morning to tell them the boat would be leaving, though I think you'd need to speak reasonable Russian to achieve that yourself as the staff were pretty unhelpful.

Beware, our ferry took 3 or 4 days - If there's a storm over the Caspian it wont sail, and storms are common, but because there's only one space in the dock the boat will load then sail out of the port and anchor up in the harbour. So if you don't want to live from the onboard restaurant (not cheap, no english spoken), assuming the boat has one that is because not all of them do, then you might want to take a fair amount of supplies with you.


Hope that's enough info for you. The port is marked in lonely planet and there are one or two copies knocking around at the 1000 camels hostel if you don't have your own. But it's easy to find, just along the coast/main road then first turn towards the sea (very unlikely looking) after the railtracks.
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Old 7 Jul 2009
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its a common route for russian and kazakh adventure bikers, via Beyneu KZ to Kungrad in UZ. I went that way 2 months ago and its all fine.

You need to cross the railway track at the roundabout on the north side of Beyneu, then take the dirt road to Akjigit, fill up again there, and continue to border. First fuel on uzbek side is at Kungrad.

can recommend a chaikhana run by a korean woman on the uzbek side of the border. She serves a good meal and will change money at a better rate than the touts. Its on the rhs, about 3 doors down and looks a bit like this.


More detail on the beyneu ustyurt crossing on my blog. From memory the post is titled 'The Karakalpaks'

Recommend a good place to stay in beyneu too if interested. A former soviet enduro champion lives there and is a regular stop off point for the russian and kazakh bikers
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Old 7 Jul 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
'

Recommend a good place to stay in beyneu too if interested. A former soviet enduro champion lives there and is a regular stop off point for the russian and kazakh bikers
314559 - apologies for hi-jacking your thread!

Walter - would be very interested in location / name of stop off place in Beyneu you stayed at. May well be going that way fairly soon.

BTW - really enjoying the blog - safe riding.
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Old 8 Jul 2009
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The guy's name is Lyosha (or something very similar). Has a workshop on the edge of town, and meeting overlanders and motorcycle tourists is his hobby. He can tell you about places you might want to go and show you photos, and give tips on the route. I stopped there with some french guys travelling in 1950s citroens. He gave us a meal and we took a snooze to wait out the intense daytime heat. He don't really speak any english though, but he's a friendly guy who'll try his best to communicate anyway.

I have his email address somewhere but I'm sure plenty of others may do as well.
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Old 8 Jul 2009
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Beyneu.... the guys name is Lyokha .... Alexei or Alyosha in full, but russians shorten it to Lyokha.
His mobile is +77012724037, but he speaks very very little english.

His place is an 'CTO' (repair station)and 'stoyanka' (parking lot) about 100 yards north of the roundabout on the northen edge of town. The dry dusty parking lot there is full of old buses and GAZelles - russian ford transit van type things. The roundabout has an unused police post there, and is the roundabout from which you you cross the railway line and take the road to Akjigit and the Uzbek border. His girlfriend, Shura, runs a cafe kind of place there, so food and lodging are catered for. He loves having motorcycling visitors.

Make sure you see his old fotos of him racing around the soviet union on off road JAWA and IZH motorcycles in his red army motorcycle instructor days:
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Last edited by colebatch; 26 Jul 2009 at 10:01.
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Old 8 Jul 2009
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Great information. Thank you. I'm currently waiting for the ferry in the customs post. I'm camping at the customs area next tio the bike. It's the cheapest and safest place to stay in Baku... I'll make sure to see this motorcycle legend called Lyokha before I leave Beynau.
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Old 8 Jul 2009
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yeah Lyokha is cool, and a bit of a legend in Russian and Kazakh circles.

He is the guy in the middle here:


Shura cooks the best plov I have ever had
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Last edited by colebatch; 26 Jul 2009 at 10:02.
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Old 27 Jul 2009
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I ended up staying in his place for 1 week because my suspension failed on the road to Beyneu from Aktau. He kept my bike in the garage as I took a 10 hour train ride to and back from Atrau to pick up the spare one from customs. He's a really cool guy. We couldn't talk much but he was happy to see me around. I think we have an unclassified HU community member in Beyneu. Full details of my stay posted here...
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Old 22 Aug 2009
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Very interesting this!

I am planning a trip to the stans with my XT600 and want to pass the Ustyurt, first to Bejneu an than to Ajakkum. After Ajakkum I want to go to Aralsk round te Aralsea.
On googlemaps I found some tracks on the sattelite foto's, I noted the GPS info of crossings or other POI (like the saltlakes). With these GPS info I can navigate with the Zumo, i think it is hard to find the way without GPS or other navigation instrument.
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Old 24 Aug 2009
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Beware, the sand in this area can be very soft and deep. With brand new knobblies I still was running 5psi on the rear and struggling to get traction at slow speed climbing out of dunes on the open steppe/desert. The tracks that cross this area are pretty random and lead to small farms.
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Old 24 Aug 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nath View Post
Beware, the sand in this area can be very soft and deep. With brand new knobblies I still was running 5psi on the rear and struggling to get traction at slow speed climbing out of dunes on the open steppe/desert. The tracks that cross this area are pretty random and lead to small farms.
Hello, Nath! I wonder which are the areas where you found the soft and deep sand.
Can you please indicate which is the road stretch where you found this?

Thanks, I'm planning this trip for summer 2010 along with my girlfriend.
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Old 24 Aug 2009
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I think I have to practice riding in soft and deep sand here in the Netherlands, when you cross the Ustyurt you find it evreywere.
You can see the tracks on google maps (use satellite mode), here you see the maintracks. I have list of waypoints where are crossings so you can use the navigation.
Alternate route is via Aktobe but then you have also 1000Km of very bad roads, I do'nt know what is the best best option but I like to see the westcoast of the Aralsea that must be very interesting.
I planned 5 or 6 days to go from Bejeneu to Aralsk

I start my trip at beginning of May when it is not so hot, maybe I found some snow on the Pamir highway when I am there in the beginning of June
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