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Seeking feedback: UPDATED Summer 2019 Stans' itinerary

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 6:14 pm
by jonny_yuma
Hi there,

I'm planning a self-guided 4x4 trip through parts of Central Asia with a friend from August 18 - September 8, 2019, and further to extensive research into itineraries, maps, time frames, and sights/activities, I want to share my updated and hopefully final itinerary with the community in case anyone has any additional/final feedback. I've also attached a screen shot of our google map in case that's a helpful reference.

I'm aware that we are not spending enough time in Kazakh and Uzbek, but alas they are not the primary focus of this trip, and therefore will have to be explored when we return to the region! I've also tried to be mindful to ensure there is adequate 'buffer time' along the way in the event things take longer than anticipated.

So I'm cautiously optimistic this itinerary is sound, but the one leg of the trip I don't want to be naive about is from Bulunkul, TAJ through to Song-Kul, KYRG. We are prepared for long, full days of driving during this stretch, and are aware of the challenging altitude profiles along the way, but can't tell if we're still underestimating it a bit. Last thing we want is to find ourselves so rushed to get back to Bishkek that we have to drive through the night.

DAY 1: Bishkek, KYRG
DAY 2: Bishkek, KYRG → Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve, KAZ
DAY 3: Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve, KAZ → Tashkent, UZB
DAY 4: Tashkent, UZB → Samarkand, UZB
DAY 5: Samarkand, UZB → Haft-Kul / Seven Lakes, TAJ (Fann Mountains)
DAY 6: Haft-Kul / Seven Lakes, TAJ (Fann Mountains) → Margib (Yagnob Valley)
DAY 7: Margib (Yagnob Valley) → Bidev (Yagnob Valley)
DAY 8: Bidev (Yagnob Valley) → Dushanbe, TAJ
DAY 9: Dushanbe, TAJ → Khali Khum, TAJ
DAY 10: Khali Khum, TAJ → Rushan → Jizeu, TAJ (Bartang Valley)
DAY 11: Hiking around Jizeu, TAJ
DAY 12: Jizeu (Bartang Valley), TAJ → Khorog, TAJ → Eshkashem, TAJ (Wakhan Valley)
DAY 13: Eshkashem, TAJ → Langar, TAJ (Wakhan Valley)
DAY 14: Langar → Pik Engles meadow (mini-trek) (Wakhan Valley)
DAY 15: Pik Engles meadow (Wakhan Valley), TAJ → Bulunkul, TAJ
DAY 16: Bulunkul, TAJ → Murghab, TAJ → Karakul, TAJ
DAY 17: Karakul, TAJ → Osh, KYRG
DAY 18: Osh, KYRG → Song Kul, KYRG
DAY 19: Song Kul, KYRG → Issykul, KYRG → Konorchek Canyon
DAY 20: Konorchek Canyon → Bishkek
DAY 21: Bishkek
DAY 22: Departure from Bishkek

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated; and if anyone is in similar areas during this timeframe and wants to connect/ride share with two 34M Canadians - don't hesitate to be in touch!

Thanks,
Jon
IG:@jonny__yuma

Re: Seeking feedback: UPDATED Summer 2019 Stans' itinerary

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 9:44 pm
by bwv812
In my opinion this doesn't sound very fun at all. It's good that you broke it down day-by-day, since that usually helps show problems... and to my mind it does show problems with how fast you're moving. Since it doesn't seem problematic to you, I'd suggest breaking down things hour-by-hour, as I suspect it will reveal where you're being optimistic and just how little time you'll have. I mean, how many hours do you think you're going to have in Tashkent or Samarkand? How many hours in haft-kul and song kul? How much time are you giving yourself to drive, find your way around, and cross borders?

Re: Seeking feedback: UPDATED Summer 2019 Stans' itinerary

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 10:24 pm
by jonny_yuma
Hey bwv812, thanks for the response and based on what you see in the itinerary outline above, I can appreciate your comments.

I failed to mention that the itinerary above is just a skeleton, and that I have a separate, meticulously detailed itinerary which considers all the elements you've suggested. I thought it would be a bit much to post here but could if helpful. Hence my cautious optimism with our plan - but I recognize it's ambitious, doesn't leave much time in certain places, and may not be everyone's kind of trip.

Given our time constraints and objectives, we've had to make tough decisions around where and how we're going to spend our time; and as a result are limiting time in urban areas to focus on over-landing, hiking, and exploring more rural parts of the region.

Re: Seeking feedback: UPDATED Summer 2019 Stans' itinerary

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:47 am
by steven
I agree with bwv. If you leave out Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan you will have a far better time imo. You cannot do those places justice with that limited time, and you will cut out 1500 km and 3 border crossings out of your itinerary.

Especially if you say you prefer nature. Do Osh-Bishkek on the way to Tajikistan and Osh - Naryn - Bishkek on the way back is my advice.

Re: Seeking feedback: UPDATED Summer 2019 Stans' itinerary

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 4:20 pm
by jonny_yuma
Thanks a lot Steven, that's really helpful and we're seriously considering re-routing as per your + bwv's input.

Ideally we would still like to visit the the Yagnob Valley, so wonder if you think it would be practical/manageable to fit in, if we were to revise our itinerary as per your recommendation. From Osh it seems like the best way there would be via Uzbekistan (A373 > A376 > M34), after which we could continue with our proposed itinerary, and then head back to Bishkek via Osh > Naryn.

Re: Seeking feedback: UPDATED Summer 2019 Stans' itinerary

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 5:45 pm
by bwv812
You can go from Osh to Tajikistan directly, via Batken. This will save you a border crossing, and I don't believe the roads through the enclaved area are problematic any more.

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=382&p=27240#p27240

That should allow you to do Yagnob, but it might be more convenient to then go to Iskenderkul instead of haft-kul.

Re: Seeking feedback: UPDATED Summer 2019 Stans' itinerary

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:20 am
by steven
bwv812 wrote:You can go from Osh to Tajikistan directly, via Batken. This will save you a border crossing, and I don't believe the roads through the enclaved area are problematic any more.

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=382&p=27240#p27240

That should allow you to do Yagnob, but it might be more convenient to then go to Iskenderkul instead of haft-kul.


I agree wholeheartedly.

Re: Seeking feedback: UPDATED Summer 2019 Stans' itinerary

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:50 am
by neversaynevertravel
Sounds like a killer trip!

Some questions from a newbie:
Did you just use Google maps, or did you find another source of maps? Anything that might have more extensive 4x4 roads?
Also I'm super interested in what kind of vehicle you're using. Is it a hire 4x4, or are you purchasing something when you get there? Is it a campervan, or are you planning on camping or staying in hostels?

Thanks!

Re: Seeking feedback: UPDATED Summer 2019 Stans' itinerary

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:44 pm
by jonny_yuma
neversaynevertravel wrote:Sounds like a killer trip!

Some questions from a newbie:
Did you just use Google maps, or did you find another source of maps? Anything that might have more extensive 4x4 roads?
Also I'm super interested in what kind of vehicle you're using. Is it a hire 4x4, or are you purchasing something when you get there? Is it a campervan, or are you planning on camping or staying in hostels?

Thanks!


Hey neversaynevertravel, ya we're really looking forward to our trip, and once we finalize our revised itinerary we'll be pretty well set to go!

I made the map I posted using google maps, and based it off a wide variety of sources online (Carivanistan being the bible) to help plan our route, estimate driving times, road conditions, border crossings, etc.

Markus Hauser's (physical) maps of Tajikistan are amazingly detailed and have a lot of practical + tourist information, so I highly recommend those if they cover your trip. The digital apps 'iOverlander' and 'maps.me' are great resources as well. There is a lot of reference online to people using the 1980s soviet maps of the region (that are in Cyrillic) which you can look into as well, but I haven't been using them much thus far. See this site for details: http://www.compasscaddy.com/soviet-mili ... ckpackers/

We've rented a Toyota 4Runner via a provider on indy-guide.com, and will be bringing the majority of our own camping gear, with the intention of camping half the time, and staying at home/yurt-stays or guesthouses/hostels the other half.

Given this thread is specific to my itinerary, I'm happy to continue this conversation via private message if you any other 'general' questions for me!

Jon

Re: Seeking feedback: UPDATED Summer 2019 Stans' itinerary

Posted: Sun Aug 04, 2019 12:49 am
by jonny_yuma
Hi folks,

As we depart Canada for the region in two weeks, I want to share an update on our itinerary which we've updated quite a bit thanks to all the feedback.

This represents just a skeleton of our plan, and we have prepared a much more comprehensive itinerary as well. It is also not set in stone, and we'll naturally adjust accordingly if/when need be. For example, while we're keen to dip into the Bartang Valley, and drive to Murghab via the Zorukul Reserve, if we don't have time or the conditions aren't right we'll bypass them. We also recognize this is still a lot of driving, but we are prepared to embrace it.

DAY 1: Arrive in Bishkek → Fly to Osh (pick up 4Runner)
DAY 2: Osh, KYRG → Khujund, TAJ
DAY 3: Khujund, TAJ → Margib (Yagnob Valley)
DAY 4: Margib (Yagnob Valley) → Bidev (Yagnob Valley)
DAY 5: Bidev (Yagnob Valley) → Dushanbe, TAJ
DAY 6: Dushanbe, TAJ → Khali Khum, TAJ
DAY 7: Khali Khum, TAJ → Rushan → Khijez, TAJ (Bartang Valley)
DAY 8: Khijz (Bartang Valley), TAJ → Khorog, TAJ → Eshkashem, TAJ (Wakhan Valley)
DAY 9: Eshkashem, TAJ → Langar, TAJ (Wakhan Valley)
DAY 10: Langar → Pik Engles meadow (mini-trek) (Wakhan Valley)
DAY 11: Pik Engles meadow (Wakhan Valley), TAJ → Zong, TAJ
DAY 12: Zong, TAJ → Khargush, TAJ
DAY 13: Khargush → Zorukul (Jarti Gumbez), TAJ
DAY 14: Jarti Gumbez, TAJ → Shaymaq, TAJ → Murghab, TAJ
DAY 15: Murghab, TAJ → Osh, KYRG
Day 16: Osh, KYRG → Kazarman, KYRG
DAY 17: Kazarman, KYRG → Song Kul, KYRG
DAY 18: Song Kul, KYRG
DAY 19: Song Kul, KYRG → Konorchek Canyon, KYRG
DAY 20: Konorchek Canyon → Bishkek, KYRG
DAY 21: Bishkek, KYRG
DAY 22: Depart from Bishkek

We welcome any additional comments/feedback, but either way thank you Steven and bvw812 so much for your valuable insight!

Jon
IG: @jonny__yuma