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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 6 May 2011
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Stans border crossings - advice needed

Hi all

I'm planning a trip from the Uk, through the Stans next year and wondered if anyone could give me some advice on where to cross.

the plan is to get a ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenbashi then head up through Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan and onwards through Russia to Mongolia. However, I really want to take in the Aral Sea, before it's all gone, ans as such would like to cross from Turkmenistan into Uzbekistan as close as possible to this (we'll be on C90s so you can see why).

Any help, advice or suggestions will be gratefully received.

John Badger
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  #2  
Old 6 May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnBadger View Post
Hi all

I'm planning a trip from the Uk, through the Stans next year and wondered if anyone could give me some advice on where to cross.

the plan is to get a ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenbashi then head up through Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan and onwards through Russia to Mongolia. However, I really want to take in the Aral Sea, before it's all gone, ans as such would like to cross from Turkmenistan into Uzbekistan as close as possible to this (we'll be on C90s so you can see why).

Any help, advice or suggestions will be gratefully received.

John Badger
I would suggest a Turkmen visa isnt the easiest thing in the world to get.

You may want to consider getting the boat from Baku to Aktau (Shevchenko) instead and then riding through Beyneu, Akjigit and across into Uzbekistan there ... then see the ex Aral sea at Muynaq ... and the fishing boats sitting in the desert. But to the best of my knowledge there is no border crossing between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the vicinity of the Aral Sea ... apart from the one near Beyneu.

For your guide, I have been several times to the former shores of the Aral Sea, but have never seen the sea. The current water body is a long way away now from any official roads.

I would suggest the easiest way to see it would be to see the deeper part of the lake where the shoreline is almost unchanged due to the steepness of the edge of the Ustyurt Plateau in Uzbekistan. Turn off the Beyneu - Kungrad road at Jasliq (Zhaslyk), head 50 km east for Komsomolsk na Ustyurte, then north to the edge of the Ustyurt Plateau and the sea. Once you turn off the main road at Jasliq, you will be completely on rarely travelled sandy tracks ... to say that bit would be a interesting challenge on C90s might be an understatement.

Also note, there is no fuel on the Beyneu - Kungrad road after the border, until you get to Kungrad - and even there you may have to hunt around for it. You *should* be able to find some in Muynaq by asking locals to sell you some. Depending on the range you guys have, you may want to go to Muynaq, max out on fuel and then head north east to the edge of the Ustyurt plateau and the sea. Openstreetmap.org (OSM) has a track marked on it (GPS trace) to the edge of the Aral Sea from Muynaq (spelt Moynoq on OSM) - but note that track looks well over 100 km long
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Last edited by colebatch; 8 May 2011 at 13:41.
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  #3  
Old 6 May 2011
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Turkmenistan visa

Can you not still get a five day transit visa for Turkmenistan?

What I would like to do is to cross into Uzbekistan from Turkmenistan as close to the ex-Aral sea as possible, spend a few days getting as close as possible, seeing the grounded boats would be a good aim I guess, then off back towards Tashkent.

Are the borders crossings near Tashkent open now as I heard they had closed?

John Badger
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  #4  
Old 6 May 2011
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One thing you should try and see in TM is the 'door to hell' burning gas crater at Dervaza. This involves a bit of sand bashing but that should be fine on a C90, and is accessed from the main road (main, not good or big!) from Ashgabat to the UZ border crossing near Nukus.
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  #5  
Old 6 May 2011
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Turkmenistsan Visa

Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
I would suggest a Turkmen visa isnt the easiest thing in the world to get.

You may want to consider getting the boat from Baku to Aktau (Shevchenko) instead and then riding through Beyneu, Akjigit and across into Uzbekistan there ... then see the ex Aral sea at Muynaq ... and the fishing boats sitting in the desert. But to the best of my knowledge there is no border crossing between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the vicinity of the Aral Sea ... apart from the one near Beyneu.

For your guide, I have been several times to the former shores of the Aral Sea, but have never seen the sea. The current water body is a long way away now from any official roads.

I would suggest the easiest way to see it would be to see the deeper part of the lake where the shoreline is almost unchanged due to the steepness of the edge of the Ustyurt Plateau in Uzbekistan. Turn off the Beyneu - Kungrad road at Jasliq (Zhaslyk), head 50 km east for Komsomolsk na Ustyurte, then north to the edge of the Ustyurt Plateau and the sea. Once you turn off the main road at Jasliq, you will be completely on rarely travelled sandy tracks ... to say that bit would be a interesting challenge on C90s might be an understatement.

Also note, there is no fuel on the Beyneu - Kungrad road, before Kungrad. You *should* be able to find some in Muynaq. Depending on the range you guys have, you may want to go to Muynaq, max out on fuel and then head north east to the edge of the Ustyurt plateau and the sea. Openstreetmap.org (OSM) has a track marked on it (GPS trace) to the edge of the Aral Sea from Muynaq (spelt Moynoq on OSM).

Hope you don't mind me jumping in on this thread, I too was hoping to cross from Baku to Turkmenbasy next year and then continuing on through the 'stans. I gather from what you say it in difficult or impossible to get a Turkmenistan Visa?
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Old 6 May 2011
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Some people seem to have had trouble, mine was fine. I got a LOI from David at Stantours then went to the TM embassy in Ankara, got it the same day (after a few days of going to an empty embassy admittedly!)
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Old 6 May 2011
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Originally Posted by henryuk View Post
Some people seem to have had trouble, mine was fine. I got a LOI from David at Stantours then went to the TM embassy in Ankara, got it the same day (after a few days of going to an empty embassy admittedly!)
Just had a look at their website. Seems the way to go.

Ta
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Old 6 May 2011
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You might have to have a guide with you for a tourist visa - if you do go down this route try to get Sasha (Alexander Alexandrovic), David knows him, he's a legend!
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  #9  
Old 6 May 2011
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Turkmenistan visa

Is it not possible to get one in the UK prior to leaving?
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  #10  
Old 6 May 2011
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I got my other stans visas in the UK but I don't think TM have an embassy here?? It was a while ago but I must have had a reason to get mine in Turkey......
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  #11  
Old 7 May 2011
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You can get the Turkmen transit visa at home before leaving, if you have visa for the countries before and after in your passport already. The transit visa however does have fixed days and while the legal max is 5 days, they may only give you 3 or 4 depending on their mood. If your planning is not spot on, you'll need to get a new one anyways if you miss that small time window. Also I heard they don't like giving transit visas for the ferry route, as the ferry timing is usually unreliable, but that may have changed (I had come from Iran when I crossed TM).

As to the tourist visa, that does require a guide (who may ride pillion to save costs if you have space on the bike). It also requires pre-arranged accomodation and the like, making this a nearly as costly endeavor as crossing China, as you don't only pay for the guide (and possibly his vehicle), but also for the most expensive hotels they can come up with.

As to the closest crossing TM - UZ near the Aral Sea, that would be Kenurgench I believe. Walter is right though, there isn't really any Aral water (let alone sea), at least not in Uzbekistan. It looks different on most maps (including Google maps), and there is a long way to go (on sand) before you reach any water to speak off. The beached ships still make for impresse (if depressing) pictures. Have a look on my blog for a taster ;-)

May I also suggest spending a bit more time in UZ than to hop straight into the Kazakh desert, at least plan stops in Chiva and one of Samarkand or Bukhara.
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Old 8 May 2011
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+1 on Samarkand and Bukhara, great places to see
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  #13  
Old 8 May 2011
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Uzbekistan and beyond

Had our first planning day yesterday, it's my 17 year old son who will be accompanying me on this trip. The route beyond Turkmenistan will allow us to slow down and take more in, thanks for the pointers.

We've set aside 7 - 8 weeks to get to Ulaan-Bataar so hopefully there will be some time for us to take in the local interests.

Still looking for another C90 enthusiast maybe.

J Badger
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  #14  
Old 26 May 2011
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These days' you have a choice... if you want to see beached boats and endless km's of former sea-bed, then Moynaq in UZ is the place. If you actually want to see the sea, the area NW of Aral (Aralsk) or around Kokaral (SW of Aral) is the place. It's a 100km diversion from the M32 to get to the Kokaral Dam (interesting spot) or 40 odd km's from Aral on sandy tracks.

Assuming you get a Turkmen transit visa, you can actually enter Kazakhstan close to the shore of the Caspian, south of the town of Zhanaozen. I don't know the road conditions however.

The border north of Tashkent (Zhibek Zholy (KZ) / Gosht Koprik (UZ)) Is reportedly open once again to foreigners, though I have not crossed it since 2007.

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