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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 16 Nov 2011
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How hard is the line on Azerbaijan

Hello,

I know about the 72 hours with a bike in Azerbaijan and I am wondering if there are any ways around this issue. I want to go from Azerbaijan to Iran (Turkmenistan requires a guide outside the capital city(!?) and also you need a special visa to leave from Turkmenistan to Iran right?).

How much is the deposit for the bike to circumvent just having 72 hours? Can you leave your bike at the customs office and then stall/pause the 72 hours then leave via Iran? Is there a ferry from Baku to Iran?

Any help would be really rad!

Thanks,
Kurt
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  #2  
Old 17 Nov 2011
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What is your route, ie where are you coming from?
You should consider going through Armenia. Easy visa, no hassle, nice mountains (could be cold this time of the year, though). Exit into Iran is no problem (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...nia-iran-60102).
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Old 17 Nov 2011
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As mentioned above - consider Armenia ... ironically Christian Armenia has good relations with Iran but Islamic Azerbaijan does not.

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  #4  
Old 17 Nov 2011
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Thanks guys.

I had no idea that Azerbaijan had bad relations with Iran. Whole place is a tinderbox huh?

I would really like to see Azerbaijan even not on a motorbike but there just doesn't seem to be any way - unless you can leave your bike somewhere in Georgia.

Just to reiterate the customs office in Baku is only relevant if you're heading to Turkmenistan?
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  #5  
Old 17 Nov 2011
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Hi guys
What's this 72hr thing and letter of invitation being talked about ?
I ask because I know nothing about Azerbaijan but a good friend (who is English like me) of mine recently got a job there and he said why don't you come over kinda thing.
I had a quick look on Wiki and it looks a cool place, I thought maybe I'll ride over sometime but I never looked into it more than that. Is it a real ball ache to go there with a bike ?
What would I have to do if I decided to go ?
Cheers.
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  #6  
Old 17 Nov 2011
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Hey Mumbo68

The letter of invitation is no problem - you can get these from a travel agent - these guys are supposed to be good: STANTOURS - Central Asia Travel Resources - after that you get a letter of invitation and you can get a 30 day tourist visa.

Yeah from what I can gather it is a bit of a massive ball ache to take a bike in to Azerbaijan. You get 72 hours to the minute - then you have to pay some exorbitant fine/day. It's a customs duty thing. THe only option is to take a bike to Turkemenistan (visa in advance) from a ferry across the caspian. You can leave your bike at the customs office in Baku. Only thing is Turkmenistan is another headache cos outside the capital you need to pay a guide to be with you per day.

Hope that helps
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Old 19 Nov 2011
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I'm not sure if you can leave your bike at any land border of Azerbaijan safely, but I've never asked. No idea how much the customs duty is, but you would theoretically get it back when leaving.

There is no need to have a guide in Turkmenistan unless you have a tourist visa. Just get a transit visa and you're free to go where you want, as long as your visa hasn't expired. A separate permit for exiting TM to Iran is complete nonsense.

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  #8  
Old 22 Nov 2011
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Originally Posted by danielsprague View Post
I'm not sure if you can leave your bike at any land border of Azerbaijan safely, but I've never asked. No idea how much the customs duty is, but you would theoretically get it back when leaving.

This option was what Azeri customs officers proposed to me and my girl last year when we tried to enter the Country from Georgia.

We had a 30 days tourist VISA obtained at Azeri embassy in Rome, after a Tourist Office in Baku made us sure that we could ride Georgia-Baku-Georgia on our motorcycle if remaining within the 72-hour limit (time frame that was enough for us to go to Baku, visit it in one day and go back to Georgia).
We trusted their word and we applied for those expensive Visas here in Italy, only to find out at the border station that, on the contrary, this was NOT possible ("welcome" to the bureaucracy of Azerbaijan...).

According to the Azeri border officers, we could enter Azerbaijan in three ways:

- Astride our bike riding as we planned to do (I mean Georgia-Baku-Georgia) and exiting after 72 hours BUT leaving a deposit of USD 1520.00 (!!!) refundable at exit.
They made us sure our money would have been refunded, but we were not disposed to risk only to visit Baku.

- On transit to Turkmenistan or Iran, so our bike would have been allowed to enter with us for a limit of 72 hours but, I repeat, only on condition to be on transit (but this was not the case: our Visa was not a Transit one, but a Tourist one);

- Leaving our Harley at the custom border guarded warehouse and be free to visit Azerbaijan for the entire period of 30 days allowed by our Visa.
Of course, it was mandatory to use public means of transportations.


To cut it short, at last we said "thanks anyway", and we turned again to the more hospitable Georgia.
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  #9  
Old 11 Jan 2012
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Thanks for that info - that's great. Has anyone paid the deposit?
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Old 11 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by kujo4pm View Post
Thanks for that info - that's great. Has anyone paid the deposit?

I don't know.
As for my experience, all of my friends that rode Azerbaijan were on transit to Turkmenistan, so, no deposit was mandatory.
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  #11  
Old 11 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by kujo4pm View Post
Thanks guys.

I had no idea that Azerbaijan had bad relations with Iran. Whole place is a tinderbox huh?
well dunno it its a tinderbox ... but it is a knot of complicated political relations.


The Azerbaijanis and the Armenians are openly antagonistic. Lots of history there ... Azerbaijanis are Turkic and under some degree of Turkish influence. Turkey of course, shredded the Armenians in 1916 is what is widely considered a genocide. More recently, the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis have been fighting a war over a small bit of land no-one cares about ... but its all about principle for the both of them. Protecting ones people vs historical ownership of the land. Its a common theme ...

The Azerbaijanis and the Iranians do not get along. Which then leads to the Iranians and the Armenians becoming quite good friends.

Because the Azerbaijanis are not friendly with the Iranians, and because the Azerbaijanis have oil, they have been courted heavily by the Americans. Lets call them loose American friends.

Because they have been flirting heavily with the Americans, Azerbaijan has fallen out with Russia.

Which suits Armenia ... since Armenia and Russia are very good mates.

In recent times, Georgia, who has fallen out with Russia, has been increasing its ties with Azerbaijan - which suits the Americans.

Its a fun part of the world ... and slowly the opposing teams are lining up ...

Azerbaijan, Georgia backed by Turkey and the US on one side
Armenia, backed by Russia and Iran on the other. (Tho Armenia and Georgia still have very good relations)

Europe usually avoids the Caucasus. It started to have an interest and be pro Georgian for a while, but Georgias 2008 misadventures cooled any broad European interest there PDQ. France however has always been very pro Armenian. They are the only Western European voice with any real conviction in the region.

So where will the Chinese sit?
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  #12  
Old 11 Jan 2012
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The slaughter of Azeris living in a town annexed by Armenia was the main talking point when I was in AZ. Whenever I met Armenians they wanted to talk about the slaughter of the Armenian population in Baku. Needless to say both peoples were pretty upset by the whole affair. Now that the actual ground fighting has died down the Nagorno-Karabakh trail is looking appealing - don't know if you could ride a bike along it though??

I had no problems getting a visa for AZ, I got the LOI from David at Stantours and went to the embassy in London - no queue and they made me a cuppa!
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  #13  
Old 11 Jan 2012
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Can argue with that - did you bring a bike in?

I wrote a blog entry outlining everything I learnt about navigating borders through the Caucasus in case anyone is interested.
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  #14  
Old 14 Jan 2012
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Last summer I got visa by using LOI from a hotel I booked through booking.com and later just cancelled that.

No issues getting through from Georgia-Azerbaijan-Georgia with my motorcycle. More on my blog.
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  #15  
Old 15 Jan 2012
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While driving to mongolia through the stans i found the Azeri border was the most corupt and trouble some,as for the azeris and turks liking each other,not acording to the turkish lorry driver we met on the ferry at baku, they hate each other

Didn't really think much of the country either,the funniest sight was coming across lots and lots of road side stalls selling bikinis and swimsuits just outside baku.
Georgia was nice though.
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