Posted by: TomA | 26 May 2008

Crossing The Caspian

Our route plans have evolved quite substantially over the past 2 or 3 months. Originally, we’d planned on driving through Iran, Turkmen;stan and Uzbekistan before heading onto Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. However, the Turkmen;stan visa situation proved to be more difficult that thought. The route that evolved from avoiding it meant heading to Georgia and Azerbaijan after Turkey, instead of heading through Iran. From here, the plan was to get the ferry to Aqtau in Kazakhstan (the red line below). We were aware it was irregular, with the information available at the time suggesting there were 2 ferries a week; a wait of 3 days or so in Azerbaijan wouldn’t be too bad.

Our other alternative was to drive north from Azerbaijan to Russia and onto Kazakhstan, circumnavigating the Caspian Sea altogether. The element we overlooked there involved driving through Chechnya (once we’d made it across the border, something I’m not sure we’d be allowed to do).

Caspian ferry

So the ferry it was. Until I realised this weekend that it is even more irregular than previously thought, every 7-10 days. I think I could just about cope with sitting at the ferry terminal for 3 days in the car, but over a week might be pushing it a touch.

Which leaves us with the alternative of the ferry to Turkmenistan, believed to be daily. Less time on the ferry is a good thing (less time befriending the cockroaches and less time for the ferry to sink on the way, something a couple have done in recent years), but brings us back to square one with the visa situation.

The map appears to offer a little hope, in a short route through the country north straight to Kazakhstan (the blue line on the map), though from what I’ve read, their authorities prefer to tell you which way to drive through the country, so this might not be an option at all. If it is, it would suit us – avoiding the need to go through (and apply for visas for) Uzbekistan, and reducing our risk of bad things happening in the big T’stan.

Fun and games hey?

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