Iran - Turkmenistan - kazakhstan report

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jordi_casas
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Iran - Turkmenistan - kazakhstan report

Postby jordi_casas » Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:04 am

This is a report for the 5800km from Tehran to Almaty in 13 days from the 11th to the 23th of August 2016. Hichhiking almost all the way (one train and 2 'taxis'.

I decided to cross Iran to Turkmenistan from Bagjiran but the border pass was closed. At least in my direction. They said for one week but it was a lie, people before me was told the same (australians on the mongo rally).

I had to hichhicke back to Dargaz and Lotfabad border crossing, 130km far from there. Bagjiran it's in the middle of nowhere, take this in account.

The border was a mess because of the it system fallen down. Lots of people in the little office with little window to put your passport and wait. Openimg at random intervals to issue the stamped passaports either to enter or to exit Iran. How much waiting? Me three hours. I took the bus forced (5 manats) to Turkmenistan side. New building under construction next to the little temporary offices.

In Turkmenistan side was all smooth and easy. Lots of passports checks. I read some posts saying that declaring 400$ was not enough... Worked for me. Is all I had and I didn't expect to spend 10% of it and I didn't.

I was lucky to meet the australian rallyers whom I drove to Ashgabat first and the Doors fo hell in Darwaza later. We arrived in the amazing fas crater at 1 am.

As Darwaza wasn't on my route I had to hichhicke back to Ashgabat. With a truck directly, no money involved, just make it clear before entering the vehicle and if they insist wait for another one.

In Ashgabat I went to the big building on the right of the road to buy train ticket to Turkmenbashi as I was afraid hichhiking I wouldn't have time to do this 580km on my transit visa. 15 manats. I guess I was conservative but the train was worth it. It's a little bit difficult to get the ticket if nobody helps you but somebody helped me. They told me that it was harder in the train station itself.

There are three trains, 17.30, 19.00 and 21.00. I took the last one and I had time to visit Ashgabat before that with two young turkmens I meet. Very strange city...

Finally I left Ashgabat. I arrived in Turkmenbashi at 11.30 next day, 14h, very good sleep though (my third visa day). Clean sheets for 2 manats. From the train station there is a bus, the number 6 that goes directly to a resort in the west of the city, maybe at 20km far from it. I told the bus driver to drop me inthe round about before the resort, I can't find the name of the resort sorry, but number 6 is your bus if you hichhike.

The road is good until you reach the police checkpoint. Be aware of having everything ok in your passport or police will ask for a bribe. They are extremely corrupt although they don't mind if you hichhicke. They made me stay next to the checkpoint to stop vehicles as they didn't allow me to walk further.

Then a truck did my day to Garabogaz directly. There is nothing more than desert in between. And the road is extremely bad. It took as 3.5 hours to do this 180km.

In Garabogaz the truck driver had to bribe tje police in the checkpoint. This is situated in the cross where the tracks to the border start.

He told to leave the truck and he retained me for 15 minutes while we were waiting for the immigration 'police' officer. They came with car and went with them, forced. They droped me in a cheap hotel (13$ but refused to pay that for the shity room. I payed 10$). The hotel is in the main square next to the beach and the taxis place but it was already 5pm. Beach and beer did the rest.

At 21pm police officer knocked my hotel room door. He was drunk and asked me, joking, if I was a spy. They are so bored in this town...

Next morning I took a shared taxi to the border before 8am. 10$. Crazy ride with lots of paths woth a pickup, very fast. 50km and one hour or less. I was car sick a little. It was my 4th visa day.

Easy customs declaring in Turkmenistan side, friendly soldiers. Easy immigration procedure also. Total no more than 1h with all the queues. The border it's full of people that cross to kazakhstan and pick up something or some money from some business and they come back to turkmenistan immediately after it. As a curiosity, Turkmens have 2 passports, international one and turkmen one.

You can walk to kazakhstan side of the border, some 3km. Very hot in august.

Just one passport control in kazakhstan. Don't forget to look at the camera, they take pictures of you. X rays through the bagpack and then... BOOM, you are in the middle of the kazakhstan desert and no car or truck stopped for me. You can buy water and some shity food in the border.

Finally a family stopped but asked me 30$ to the cross to Atirau before Aktau, more than 200km. I agreed 20€. The first 50km are the same than the 50km in the turkmen side. Then bad paved road but better. If you are more patient and you stand the heat better than I do you will find a free ride with a nice truck driver. They exist but you must be lucky.

From there I had to go to Oral, Aktobe, visited Aral dying sea, Turkestan and sauran ruins, enjoyed dozens of different rides with all kinds of vehicles, including limousine!!! Then Shimkent, Taraz and finally Almaty. It's very easy to sleep everywhere as it's almost all uninhabited. You just walk 1 or 2 km perpendicular to the road and nobody bothers you. Almost no hills to hide behind.

Kazakh people doesn't smile too much but they want to help you generally. Be aware that every car can be a taxi so ask always before geting in a car if they agree with you not paying the ride.

I missed lots of details but I hope it can be helpful for somebody,

Salut!
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gaz457
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Re: Iran - Turkmenistan - kazakhstan report

Postby gaz457 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 7:46 am

Do you think the border was closed just for transit visas or even locals couldn't cross? We have a tour package starting from there with a reputable company in a few weeks and they haven't mentioned anything about this border...

Thanks!
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steven
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Re: Iran - Turkmenistan - kazakhstan report

Postby steven » Thu Aug 25, 2016 1:23 am

No, this border is indeed closed for a longer time, but you can detour easily to Lotfabad - Artyk, that is what everybody else is doing.
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yun
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Re: Iran - Turkmenistan - kazakhstan report

Postby yun » Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:59 pm

Thanks, I enjoyed your trip report as this is the route I am planning to take, from Iran (and applying for my transit visa in Turkmenistan).

However my citizenship allows me 15 days of Visa-free travel in Kazakhstan. I understand that for a transit Visa to work I will need to get a Kazakhstan Visa ready. So does anyone have any idea how I should go about doing it? Can I actually just explain to the embassy, stating the borders and date I will cross over, or should I just apply for a Kazakhstan Visa directly before hand?
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Re: Iran - Turkmenistan - kazakhstan report

Postby steven » Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:14 am

Just explain you do not need a visa for Kazakhstan.
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jordi_casas
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Re: Iran - Turkmenistan - kazakhstan report

Postby jordi_casas » Sun Oct 23, 2016 3:31 am

Hi Yun,

I had the same concerns as you regarding the Turkmenistan transit visa but as Steven says and already said to me in some other post, they understand you don't need visa to Kazakhstan.

The guy in the Turkmenistan embassy in Tehran asked me to write on my handwriten letter a ps stating that spanish citizens don't need visa for 15 days in Kazakhstan. I recommend you to do the same.

Good luck!
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