While chatting with Saule the other day, I conveyed her a few thoughts about how Caravanistan.com helped us during our trip across Central Asia in 2019. In retrospective, Caravanistan and iOverlander were the two resources we found most useful to plan our trip, respectively find sites and places - these are the 'must have' resources if you envisage a similar journey.
We started our planning perhaps one year before departing, and while looking for information on what documents were required to enter a country, visa required or not, which border crossing to choose, how to cross it, where to change money, what challenges to expect etc., somehow we always found ourselves returning to the Caravanistan.com site, and finding the expected advice and information. Certainly, one can go to the various .gov sites and collate the necessary information, but that's at hindsight a fragmented and pretty laborious task. There're also online travel agencies that can help, but there you end up finding more information on the specific tours that they offer, rather than what you're truly looking for.
What more? Caravanistan has coupled the 'static' information (general description pages) with 'dynamic' content contributed by travellers (topic related forums), making it a very up-to-date source of information. For example when preparing to enter a new country, you first go through the description provided for this country, learn about the generic rules and assimilate the instructions you need to know, then you move on to the forums and check whether there were recently any problems or issues - perhaps you need to choose an alternate border crossing than the one you intended to.
Which route to take? The most renown places to visit are well described on Caravanistan.com, and that's good enough to pin-point the must-see places and get a rough idea on how get through a given region. For example the Pamir Highway, we were confronted with the choice of the north, middle or south route - which one to take? We've searched all over the internet looking for travel reports, but the most concise description was eventually found on Caravanistan, and thanks to that we made up our mind... for the marvellous south route along the Afghan border.
While on route, that's where iOverlander.com comes very handy! It's late afternoon and you start to wonder where to stop for the night... yes, you're on the right track, but there aren't any suitable places to camp, what to do? Well, open the iOverlander map and scan for any places in the next say 100 km, quickly read what other kind souls have reported, and head towards that place you thinks suits you best. It's kind of reassuring to know that someone else before you has found a place to stay - while in many regions this isn't a concern (like Mongolia), there're indeed other areas where you will struggle.
In summary, to us Caravanistan.com has been the 'one stop, find all' site! Complemented with iOverlander.com, you have all you need for your unforgettable adventure.
Enhancements, changes? Frankly, keeping Caravanistan up-to-date is already an arduous task, and there is little to nothing we missed. The only problem: Once our journey continued through North- and Southeast-Asia, at times we found ourselves checking Caravanistan for some advice, only to realise that we were 'out of reach' - we wish this valuable resource was available past Central Asia...
Marcel from Overland Vagabond
Talk about the forum & website, off-topic chatter, etc.
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