How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

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bosaapje
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How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

Postby bosaapje » Mon Sep 30, 2019 9:14 am

Hi everyone,

I'm planning to drive on my motorbike to Mongolia from the Netherlands starting next July 2020. I'm planning my route now and I've basically got two options:

A: Directly to Mongolia through Russia and on the way back visiting the Stans and Iran;
B: Through Iran to the Stans and then to Mongolia. Back directly through Russia.

The problem is that I can't leave earlier than July, which is (maybe) worrisome because the winter starts early in the Stans/Siberia. Taking route A leaves my in the Stans around half October and I expect to enter Turkmenistan at the end of November which would be okay, considering Uzbekistan is a warmer place than Tajikistan/Kyrgyzstan. If I can't enter Turkmenistan I should be able to drive around the Caspian Sea (it's gonna be cold but not too cold, right?).

Taking route B makes it so that I can drive during the summer through the Stans but I'll enter Siberia in November. Are the roads still good enough to drive back to Europe? I don't expect it but asking can't hurt right. Maybe someone has some experience with that.

Option 3 is to do this trip in 2021 but I rather do it next year if that's possible and not a waste of money.

Thanks for reading!

Cheers
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Lovetheworld
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Re: How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

Postby Lovetheworld » Mon Sep 30, 2019 1:14 pm

Hi, we also drove from Netherlands to Mongolia via stans but we left in beginning of June. As we visited Iran before, we went through Russia, above the Caspian Sea. So some parts of Kazakhstan and of course Uzbekistan were very hot. Up to 42 degrees. Iran will be similar or worse. And with Iran you will want to visit Esfehan and even Yazd, so really desert area.
However, for the mountains of Kyrgystan and Tajikstan, it was perfect to be there in summer, no closed roads etc.

We arrived in Mongolia end of August, and left Mongolia end of September for Vladivostok via Lake Baikal.
Mongolia has the adventage that there are not so much high mountain passes. That means you will always be able to drive through, even though it is a little colder. This is a big difference with Tajikistan and Kyrgystan.
However, you could notice winter was already coming. Very cold nights in the end of September and sometimes a bit of wet snow.
We still had nice weather during daytime. We drove through Siberia with beautiful autumn colors for 3000 kilometers... I will never see that again.
However, another Dutch couple was two weeks later (so more towards end of October) and most leafs were gone, and they already had first snow in a few places. Nothing too bad. So October you could still do, but November is probably to much risk in Siberia as a biker.
And if you always sleep in a tent, you will need a good sleeping bag for the cold.

How much time do you want to spend in Kyrgystan and Tajikistan? Especially Tajikistan has high mountain passes if you want to do the Pamir highway.
However, if you can still manage that in lets say end of september, it may still be okay. After that, once you have reached Dushanbe, you are not going to see much elevation for a while and be in desert area in the nice time.
But you can always get snow on the mountain passes of Tajikistan, any time of the year.

And driving back from Iran via Turkey in November will be very very cold too, in Eastern Turkey. But you could perhaps use a few hotels and just go quickly through that area.


To conclude: I would go quickly to Mongolia. In Russia the main roads are pretty good so you can cover a lot of mileage. You could even think about putting the bike on a plane to Ulaanbataar, to make the whole trip a lot nicer. Then just go from Mongolia via the stans to Iran, with the only risk being that you may not be able to do all of the Pamir highway if weather is a bit worse. That is the only risk, other than that you will be fine.
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bosaapje
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Re: How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

Postby bosaapje » Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:05 pm

Thank you so much for your response!

How much time do you want to spend in Kyrgystan and Tajikistan? Especially Tajikistan has high mountain passes if you want to do the Pamir highway.


I would like to spend in total 4-6 weeks in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. If I look at other people their itineraries then they spend between 2 and 3 weeks in either country. This looks to me like a good couple of weeks to see either country. I would like to drive the whole Pamir Highway, so it might not be doable with the timetable I've got planned now. I planned a month to go get to Mongolia (I kind of want to see Belarus and Russia if I'm there anyway), 3 weeks there, then another 6 weeks in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan makes it around October when I ride into Uzbekistan and halfway into November when I ride into Iran (if I'm allowed into Turkmenistan that is, otherwise it all changes).

While you say that it's perfectly doable, I'm a bit worried about Turkmenistan. If I don't get in, I have a problem since going around the Caspian Sea is a lot farther than going through Turkmenistan and I'm afraid the winter might catch up to me. I always have option D though: Stay the winter in one of the Stans/Mongolia with a job as a nurse, because I want to work abroad after this trip anyway. I need to look into how to do that but it's probably possible.
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mazeno
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Re: How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

Postby mazeno » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:50 am

on september the 10th and 11th (2 days) i was crossing kaldama pass (about 3000m) on the way from jalalabad to kazarman (by car)
there was half meter of fresh snow
near the pass snowdrifts got up to 2 meters of height
we spend the night in a tent some 500m near the pass
two bulldozers got stuck in the snow and they had to go down for wheel chains
on the next day we drove down to kazarman

so don't be afraid of winter :)

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photo: mazeno

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photo: jurek kedra
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Lovetheworld
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Re: How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

Postby Lovetheworld » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:16 am

bosaapje wrote:Thank you so much for your response!

How much time do you want to spend in Kyrgystan and Tajikistan? Especially Tajikistan has high mountain passes if you want to do the Pamir highway.


I would like to spend in total 4-6 weeks in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. If I look at other people their itineraries then they spend between 2 and 3 weeks in either country. This looks to me like a good couple of weeks to see either country. I would like to drive the whole Pamir Highway, so it might not be doable with the timetable I've got planned now. I planned a month to go get to Mongolia (I kind of want to see Belarus and Russia if I'm there anyway), 3 weeks there, then another 6 weeks in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan makes it around October when I ride into Uzbekistan and halfway into November when I ride into Iran (if I'm allowed into Turkmenistan that is, otherwise it all changes).


Please check the Russia visa situation because of double entry. As a Dutch person you can also get another Russian visa in Ulaanbataar but better if you don't need it.
If you are late into Tajikistan, my assumption is that you will just stick to the main Pamir highway and not one of the side tracks (because of snow or lots of rain). That is actually possible in 10 days or so.
I think you will always get through Kyrgystan in September, and most passes are not that high. But you might not be able to do everything you want perhaps.
However, the road from Osh to Murghab and down will be most critical because it is the highest one on the trip.

bosaapje wrote:While you say that it's perfectly doable, I'm a bit worried about Turkmenistan. If I don't get in, I have a problem since going around the Caspian Sea is a lot farther than going through Turkmenistan and I'm afraid the winter might catch up to me. I always have option D though: Stay the winter in one of the Stans/Mongolia with a job as a nurse, because I want to work abroad after this trip anyway. I need to look into how to do that but it's probably possible.


But regardless of the chosen route you are going to have an issue if you cannot get through Turkmenistan. I guess if you go around or over Caspian sea, and don't go into the mountains of Georgia or whatever, it might still be okay in terms of temperature.
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mazeno
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Re: How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

Postby mazeno » Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:55 pm

> the road from Osh to Murghab and down will be most critical
much more critical is the western part of pamir (m41: alichur - khorog - kala i-khumb - tavildara or kulab) as it is more wet/snowy. eastern (m41: kyzyl art - karakul - murgab - alichur) is much more dry and windy - so there is not such many snow as to the west of alichur. and the is no real danger of "sil" (muddy river flows/landslides, usually from late winter to early summer).
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bosaapje
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Re: How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

Postby bosaapje » Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:07 pm

Please check the Russia visa situation because of double entry. As a Dutch person you can also get another Russian visa in Ulaanbataar but better if you don't need it.


My understanding is that it could be possible to get a business visa to have double entry (that's what another Dutch person told me, didn't check it yet) or I just could get another Russian visa. Is there a problem with getting another Russian visa? Or do you mean that there's always a risk of not getting a visa and being stuck in Mongolia?

But regardless of the chosen route you are going to have an issue if you cannot get through Turkmenistan. I guess if you go around or over Caspian sea, and don't go into the mountains of Georgia or whatever, it might still be okay in terms of temperature


That's true, you're right. The possibility of not getting into Turkmenistan is an issue which has to be considered and thought of during the planning of trip.

> the road from Osh to Murghab and down will be most critical
much more critical is the western part of pamir (m41: alichur - khorog - kala i-khumb - tavildara or kulab) as it is more wet/snowy. eastern (m41: kyzyl art - karakul - murgab - alichur) is much more dry and windy - so there is not such many snow as to the west of alichur. and the is no real danger of "sil" (muddy river flows/landslides, usually from late winter to early summer).


Thanks for the insight, while I don't mind driving off-road I rather not get caught up in a so-called sil.
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murg
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Re: How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

Postby murg » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:19 pm

As EU citizen you can easily get a double entry russian business visa. Much more convenient compared to getting to tourist visa.

A bit more paperwork, that's all

Did it twice, no issue at all

Have a great trip!
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bosaapje
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Re: How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

Postby bosaapje » Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:54 pm

As EU citizen you can easily get a double entry russian business visa. Much more convenient compared to getting to tourist visa.

A bit more paperwork, that's all

Did it twice, no issue at all

Have a great trip!


Good to know, thanks!
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Lovetheworld
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Re: How viable/worth it is it to drive in the Stans in late autumn/early winter?

Postby Lovetheworld » Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:04 pm

While most people do that, we got some funny questions on why we had a business visa when leaving Russia to Mongolia (in Altai region).

So yes, it is possible, but make up a story when you get asked about the business reason.

Getting another Russian visa in Ulaanbataar is easy for Dutch and French and others, but not for many other nationalities like German.
We used the time to make a loop in the Gobi and picked up the visa when we got back.
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