2 months trip through Central Asia September-November?

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KrisKelvin
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2 months trip through Central Asia September-November?

Postby KrisKelvin » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:38 am

Hello,

I'm planning to spend 2 months in Central Asia, starting my journey the 15th of September with Nursultan in Kazakhstan. I've got the feeling this forum will be my best friend for the next two couples of months. Since I've been working hard for the last months, I haven't got much time to prepare my stay in good conditions.

-Here are the things I'm sure about.
-I will probably spend two days in Kazakhstan's capital city, before heading to the Almaty and the Altai. What's the best way to travel to Almaty ? Are they night trains? (I previously travelled to former Soviet nations like Russia, Ukraine and the three Transcaucasian nations, and I know that night trains are options there to save time when traveling). Once again I will indulge myself two days in Kazakhstan's busiest city. I hope the second half of September is not too late for a hike in the mountains.
-From Almaty, I'd like to travel by night train to Bishkek. And from there, I will try to take as soon as possible a marshrutka to Lake Son Köl, Karakum or Osh. I got in touch with a local hostel that still can arrange yurt stays in late September and winter activities in early October.
-Around the 10th of October I'm planning to visit Tajikistan. I hope mid-October is not too late for the Pamir Highway. I'm also considering going to the Afghan side of the border. What about the e-visa for Tajikistan? How long does it take to get it? Do I need to mention the exact date of entry?
-I would like to finish my journey with the lowlands, since November is still very cold for the mountain areas. Uzbekistan would be perfect. I think I will skip Turkmenistan. Leaving it for a next time (from Uzbekistan to Iran for example)

-Now the things that still need to be cleared.

-I still have to book my return ticket. Is there a cheap airline flying from Uzbekistan to Turkey and then to Europe? I'm flying with Wizzair to Nursultan. I could also fly from there back to Europe. But this would mean going back to Nursultan all the way from Uzbekistan, which is a very long.
-Besides, do the Kazakhstan's immigration and customs ask to see a return flight upon arrival?
-Are Kirghizstan and Tajikistan worth a visit in early autumn? The problem is that I'm usually busy in summer since I work in tourism. And I'm not even sure when (and even if) I will get an opportunity to travel back to these countries. Still, is it a waste of time at this time of year? If I skip these two countries a 2-month stay would then be very long. Do you still recommend me to go there ? (At least I will skip the herds of tourists) or do you suggest me to go to Iran or Mongolia instead?

Here are my planned itinerary, projects and concerns. I'm waiting for your advices and recommendations. Until then take care.
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Julia
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Re: 2 months trip through Central Asia September-November?

Postby Julia » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:31 pm

Hi.

I saw so called night trains from Astana to Almaty on Kazakh railway website. They take longer than a night. About 13 - 18 hours depending on a train. Some trains make less stops and faster. So they leave from Astana early evening or later evening and arrive to Almaty the next morning or around the day. Go every day.
So not a problem to choose for your day and time.

For going from Almaty to Bishkek you can also consider a minibus. There are buses every day and I believe it's much faster than a night train.

For showing your return ticket at the border control in Kazakhstan. If you're one of those who get 30 days visa free than I haven't heard about Kazakh side asking for a return ticket.
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Julia
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Re: 2 months trip through Central Asia September-November?

Postby Julia » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:37 pm

And I don't think Mongolia is warmer than Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan. Should be the same if not colder.
If you want something warmer better to travel to the South, maybe Iran (you mentioned) or something.

Kyrgyzstan looks ok at the beginning of autumn. But as you're going to Tajikistan afterwards, not sure about the weather conditions and roads there at the end of October.
The weather can change quickly in the mountains.
For instance, it is already snow around famous Big Almaty lake in Kazakhstan. And it's only 2500 m high in the mountains.
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KrisKelvin
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Re: 2 months trip through Central Asia September-November?

Postby KrisKelvin » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:44 pm

Julia wrote:And I don't think Mongolia is warmer than Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan. Should be the same if not colder.
If you want something warmer better to travel to the South, maybe Iran (you mentioned) or something.

Kyrgyzstan looks ok at the beginning of autumn. But as you're going to Tajikistan afterwards, not sure about the weather conditions and roads there at the end of October.
The weather can change quickly in the mountains.
For instance, it is already snow around famous Big Almaty lake in Kazakhstan. And it's only 2500 m high in the mountains.


Thanks for your comments. But I'm afraid you missed my point. I don't mind the cold and the snow. For instance, I still have wonderful memories of a winter trip in South Korea, with a temple stay in the snow, it was magical.
The problem with Central Asia, as you perfectly know, is that the nomads leave their pasture lands when autumn comes, there are no more cultural festivals. Most people go back to town for winter. And towns in Kirghizstan and Tajikistan are nothing special, unlike the ones in Uzbekistan. And many roads are closed.
My question is: are these countries in early autumn still worth a visit, or is it recommendable to postpone my trip to another time.
Has anybody here visited these countries in autumn and what were his/her impressions?
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Julia
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Re: 2 months trip through Central Asia September-November?

Postby Julia » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:17 pm

I see your point now.
Sorry, it wasn't clear for me from the initial post.
I didn't go to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in late autumn because of the reasons you mentioned. Only travel there during summer.
Hopefully somebody will share their experiences about travelling there in autumn.
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KrisKelvin
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Re: 2 months trip through Central Asia September-November?

Postby KrisKelvin » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:34 pm

Ok, so it's not recommended getting there in autumn. It means I wasted my money when I decided to book this flight.
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bwv812
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Re: 2 months trip through Central Asia September-November?

Postby bwv812 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:48 pm

I went from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan via Tajikistan in the September-November time frame, and the weather wasn't a big problem for me. Sure, it would have been nicer to be there in the summer, and maybe I got really lucky, but the days were fine. You won't see herds of animals in jailoos, but you know that. The short days were a bigger problem for me, especially in the mountains where the sun can dip below the peaks quite early.
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KrisKelvin
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Re: 2 months trip through Central Asia September-November?

Postby KrisKelvin » Thu Sep 12, 2019 8:42 am

bwv812 wrote:I went from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan via Tajikistan in the September-November time frame, and the weather wasn't a big problem for me. Sure, it would have been nicer to be there in the summer, and maybe I got really lucky, but the days were fine. You won't see herds of animals in jailoos, but you know that. The short days were a bigger problem for me, especially in the mountains where the sun can dip below the peaks quite early.


I had the same problem in South Korea. I had to make sure I woke up early to get the best of the day.
I still hope the Pamir Highway and the Wakhan Corridor will be open through October. I'm planning to visit the Uzbek lowlands around the end of October.

Another question, of immediate concern. Do the immigration officers ask for a valid return ticket upon arrival at the airport? I remember this was often the case in the various independent Caribbean islands I visited, meaning I had to book my flight tickets before entering the territory of the countries.
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bwv812
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Re: 2 months trip through Central Asia September-November?

Postby bwv812 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:11 pm

The highway and corridor are open year-round. I have posts on my blog showing what it was like when I was there in late October.
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My 2012 overland trip from Tokyo to Istanbul: https://silkroadwanderings.blogspot.com


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