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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 7 Nov 2011
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UK to Kalmykia - routes / safety 2012

Hi Folks

Considering taking Babushka ( Ural Cross combo ) back to her homeland in 2012 and drawn to Elista / Black Sea coast in Kalmykia - any route suggestions ? Is this 'safe' as long as I don't stray into the North Caucasuan war zone ?

Any advice gratefully received :-)

Cheers

Uri ( not really Russian..)

Last edited by urigeller; 8 Nov 2011 at 18:47.
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Old 8 Nov 2011
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Originally Posted by urigeller View Post
Hi Folks

Considering taking Babuschka ( Ural Cross combo ) back to her homeland in 2012 and drawn to Elista / Black Sea coast in Kalmykia - any route suggestions ? Is this 'safe' as long as I don't stray into the North Caucasuan war zone ?

Any advice gratefully received :-)

Cheers

Uri ( not really Russian..)
If you fancy the black sea coast then do the black sea coast. You have two options ... North and South

South: Turkey to Trabzon along the black sea coast, then the ferry to Sochi ... then along the Russian black sea coast to Tuapse ... then inland to Kalmykia. There are a few reports of people getting through without the ferry .... going Turkey, Georgia, Abkhazia, Russia. But make sure you do your research on Abkhazia first if looking at that possibility.

North: The other option is to ride to Ukraine ... Odessa in particular, then Crimea (Sevastopol, Balaclava, Yalta, Feodosia, Kerch all along the black sea coast) and take the ferry from Kerch across the 5 mile straits to Russia, and continue following the Black Sea Coast to Tuapse before heading inland to Kalmykia
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Old 8 Nov 2011
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Thanks for the useful info Colebatch, Georgia is probably a no-go for a slow escape velocity combo, so Ukraine it is .. I know the bike can cope with practically anything ( Andy Landers got her all the way across Mongolia & back last spring ) but it's been a while since I've done serious miles..

Uri
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Old 8 Nov 2011
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Originally Posted by urigeller View Post
Is this 'safe' as long as I don't stray into the North Caucasuan war zone ?
The 'war' zone you refer to is probably Osetia a couple of years back. That finished and is peaceful again although there can be Georgia border difficulties for non-CIS passports (I am not up to date on the current status).

It is the general advice to avoid Chechnia and Dagestan where there has been much separatist terrorist activity over the last few years, including numerous kidnaps and murders of non locals for publicity purposes. Although people do pass through without problem.
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Old 8 Nov 2011
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The Russia-Georgia border at Verkhniy Lars is definitely open, although this could of course change.

I crossed from Russia to Georgia two weeks ago with an American passport and had absolutely no problem. I don't see why you would want to miss out on Georgia, it is a very beautiful country with some great riding and quite possibly the most hospitable people I met in my trip through Europe and Central Asia.

I was coming from Kazakhstan and passed Astrakhan, Elista, Stavropol, Vladikavkaz, Georgia. Like Tony said I would definitely avoid Dagestan and Chechnya, not just because of militant activity. If you're caught without the proper permits off the main roads (M29) you can be arrested and deported.

Beware the police - I've never seen so many police speed traps and checkpoints anywhere. To put it in perspective from Estonia to Baikal and then to the Altai I was stopped a grand total of two times, in the Caucasus I was stopped four times in one day! And twice they tried to extract money from me (they didn't get any), the only negative experiences with Russian police in over 10,000 miles of riding in the country.
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Old 8 Nov 2011
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Originally Posted by MCole View Post
I don't see why you would want to miss out on Georgia, it is a very beautiful country with some great riding and quite possibly the most hospitable people I met in my trip through Europe and Central Asia.
To say nothing of the wines and food!

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Originally Posted by MCole View Post
To put it in perspective from Estonia to Baikal and then to the Altai I was stopped a grand total of two times, in the Caucasus I was stopped four times in one day!
Without trying to top you, earlier this year I got stoped 4 times on a short shopping trip to our local hypermarket, an urban round trip journey of about 6 miles (10km)!
But I was in my car with an unusual short 4 digit 'private' UK number plate plus an elk/moose badly damaged front end!!!

In the Caucusus region anything unusual is checked time and time again, be it number plates from even another region (let alone country) or a motor bike.
I have been regularly stopped there in a car with Moscow plates as well as on a moto, where they knew nothing of where I was from before stopping me.
I was once stopped riding a bike (actually UK reg, but he was not to know when he waved me down) high on a narrow high-mountain dirt trail, 50km from the nearest town and tarmac. I don't know who was more surprised at seeing each other!

It is a sensitive region for activist and terrorist reasons and close to unpatrolled wild mountain borders. Each stop makes me feel slightly more secure!
But never have I felt it was to contribute to their legendary Police Balls!
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Old 19 Nov 2011
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Just to correct what is above, it is only in North Ossetia, not Dagestan or Chechnya that foreigners require a permit to leave federal (i.e. main) roads.

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