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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 18 Jun 2007
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Advice on driving through Russia and Kazakhstan


I was wondering if anyone can help us, a friend of mine and I are doing our first major overland adventure.We are driving a minibus out to an orphange in Astana (Kazakhstan)filled with sports, arts and school stuff.

Our route is to head out to eastern europe, across the border in to russia from estonia then St petersburg, Moscow then south to Volgograd and then across most of Kazakhstan to Astana.

I was wondering if anybody can give us any advice on route/issues. The areas i have found it hard to find out about are southern russia and Kazakhstan. Does anyone know anything about the state of roads etc in these areas or any issues or we are open to suggestions of route changes if it is going to make things easier more interesting.

Any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

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Old 19 Jun 2007
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I came across Kazakstan in late November 2004. I took the southern route from Almaty to Turkistan, Kizylorda, then north to Aktubinsk and across to Uralsk, crossing into Russia to Saratov, then south to Volgograd and Sochi. The roads in Russia were fine, but the road from Aktubinsk across the north of Kazakstan was the most difficult road i've ridden. A new road was under construction, but the detours to either side of the road were a quagmire of sticky, slippery clay with metre deep ruts made by trucks. The soil there is a fine clay, which is good in dry weather, but deteriorates rapidly when it's wet. Perhaps they've finished the road by now, there were no bridges when i was there, but if not, it really depends on the weather and the time of year you travel.
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Old 25 Jun 2007
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Thanks for your help, i think we may change our route and head a bit further through russia, i am going to try and find out if they ever finished that road!
Thanks again for your help

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Old 2 Jul 2007
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Go east

Just 9 months ago I traveled a similar route like as seanh except that I skept Aktubinsk-Uralsk section and left Kazakhstan between Aktubinsk and Orenburg in Russia. There is a section of 200-250km between Aralsk (not Uralsk!) and Aktubinsk where I saw no SINGLE car traveling on remains of tarmac. Everybody preferred to take full off-road in steppe. Unless you have a sturdy car and a very good reason, you don't want to do it. I was told that the section Aktubinsk-Uralsk is as bad as the above. The road is even worse than the pictures below.
Destroyed section of the road between Aral and Aqtobe, Kazakhstan
Muddy section, I was very lucky it was dry
There are plenty of predatory birds in all 'Stans
No 4 wheel traffic on this road. Cars and trucks use steppe tracks instead to save suspension
Just a month earlier I had traveled another road: Czelabinsk (Russia) - Kustanay - Astana - Balkhash. This road is very good except for about 100km between Kustanay and Kokshetau (AFAIR) which is definitely driveable but tiring.
See this: A bad section
and this:
My friends traveled in Ford Transit with a big trailer and really disliked my advise to take this road. They preferred to enter Kazakhstan as far east as around Petropawlowsk.

Good luck!
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Old 25 Jul 2007
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We have now bought ourselves, a mitsubushi delica 4x4 slightly more suitable for a journey like this than the originally planned ford transit minibus!

As for route we are still undecided although now we have a 4x4 we are tempted to try the southern through the whole of KZ route. Although we are still in the process of researching this. If those pictures are anything to go by i can see why it was exhausting on a bike!

Thank you both for your help.

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Old 25 Oct 2007
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Have you left yet Guy?

Hi Guy - what route have you/did you decide upon. Just starting to do our research to go across all 'Stans from Russia. any information you have would be great. We'll be in a Landy ............



Land's End to Sydney 2009
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