Posted by: TomA | 19 July 2008

An extended holiday in Baku, Azerbaijan

We had fears about getting into Azerbaijan having heard from two other teams with right hand drive vehicles being turned away from the Azeri border. We took the northern border, expecting it be quieter than the main border crossing the others had been turned away from. Rolling up to the border, we were faced by a young lad with a very large rifle, who stood and stared at us for about 15 minutes sat on the bridge in no mans land before opening the gate and letting us in. And from there, it was all rather smooth. Took less than an hour, with no stress or problems at all. The border staff even brought us hazelnuts from the tree to eat while we waited, had a nice chat, they recommended some places to stop on the way and tried to set Ollie up with some Azeri women. Team F7F7 followed closely behind (we’d bumped into them earlier, pulling out of a Carrefour in Turkey and convoyed with them ever since) and we were in.

Today, we’re sat stranded in Baku. Last night we drove through the night to try and catch today’s ferry,  but there’s no chance of that now – we’re here until Monday or Tuesday at least. They won’t let us on to the ferry as we can’t produce a Turkmen visa, even though it is waiting for us in Turkmenbashi. The customs and police at the port are fine to let us though, but the guy who sells the ticket won’t budge.

Having spoken to the Turkmen Embassy in Baku, we have to wait to Monday to get in touch with the Turkmen Immigration authorities, who then have to get in touch with the embassy, who can then write us a letter, which we can then show the guy at the port, and fingers crossed bargain a decent price for the ferry. So we should be on our way by Tuesday.

We’ve met 2 other teams at the port – 2 guys in a Discovery who are also going to Turkmenbashi and 2 lads in a Corsa van – who have had their vehicle impounded at the port as their 3 day vehicle transit visa has expired.

Still, all looks promising… and we get to see Baku, which looks interesting at least. Lots of lovely posters/signs of their president dotted through the countryside and the biggest roundabouts ever. Andy (We Show Up On Radar) had warned be he and Pete couldn’t wait to get out of the place, but we’ve enjoyed it so far – a nice change from Georgia.

Previously – a brief update since Istanbul:

– Spent our day off in Istanbul trying to ensure we could get into Azerbaijan. We went to the British Embassy, who weren’t that helpful, tried to find the Vienna Convention in cyrillic/Azeri and the rest of the day trying to get US dollars out.

– Following day we drove through most of Turkey, attemping to find a campsite to the west of Samsun. We rolled past somewhere, that looked a bit like a refugee camp, thought the 5 dollars they asked to camp was a bargain, so started to unload the car… One guy came over, who had clear mental issues/learning difficulties, and a few more came over. Security then moved them away and another guy who spoke some English and worked there said “People here aren’t really like normal people…. they’re…. how do you say…. horny?”. Needless to say, we packed up fairly quickly and left, finding a campsite further along the road not full of sex offenders.

– Crossing the Turkey Georgia border was utter chaos – the line of lorries stretched back at least 2 miles. We overtook them all, but it still took 2 or 3 hours to get through. That evening we stumbled upon a homestay north of Batumi after Ollie befriended 2 lads on the beach. Ended up having a great evening with them and Team F7 F7, lots of beer and plenty of kebabs on the beach, and then back to the apartment for more food and home made wine (which was seemingly endless in supply!).

– A day driving fairly non stop across Georgia, and another day yesterday driving fairly non stop across Azerbaijan once we’d crossed the border in order to get to Baku. So we’ll wait here for a few days, hope the Turkmen situation sorts itself out, and hopefully be in Ashgabat by Wednesday or Thursday. From there we’re planning on convoying with the Disco and the F7 guys, who might be heading off into Kyrgystan after Uzbekistan. Visas are easy to get in Toshkent it appears, so we may join them for the mountains and the Pamir highway. Else, it’ll be straight to Kazakhstan…



  1. […] – bookmarked by 3 members originally found by MizumiAngel13 on 2008-12-07 An extended holiday in Baku, Azerbaijan – bookmarked by 4 […]

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