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Re: Kegen - KarKara border crossing

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:48 am
by broncoinberlin
We crossed the border yesterday from Karakol to Almaty. I'll share my experiences, as some of the info on Caravanistan didn't quite match our experience.
From Karakol, there are no marshrutkas to Karakara that we could find. You have to hire a driver. A marshrutka dropped us by a "market" where apparently long distance taxis hang out. We hired someone to take us to the border for 1200 Soms. If we spoke Russian or were in better moods to bargain, we might have gotten that price down. Another driver acted like he might take us all the way to Kegen. I have no idea if that is possible, but someone with better language skills than me could probably find out. On the way to the border, we saw absolutely no form of public transport, only one or two other cars. Therefore, if there used to be marshrutka to Karakara, it doesn't seem like that is the case anymore.
The border was one of the easiest I've crossed overland. Border guards were incredibly helpful and friendly. We were quickly stamped out of Krygyzstan and stamped into Kazakhstan (the guards did search our bags on both sides, apparently looking for drugs, but they were nice about it and they weren't taking it that seriously). Unlike what is written on Caravanistan (I know things can change quickly), there was no one on the Kazakh side willing to drive us to Kegen. In fact, there is NOTHING at this border so come prepared with cash, water, food, whatever you need (a woman who lives in the only house within sight of the border sold us some sort of dry cheese concoction, which alleviated our hunger but didn't taste good at all). Because there was absolutely no driver in sight, the border guards called a "friend" from the nearest village to drive us. The one guard with some English explained that the price is $15 for the whole car. We waited for around 40 mins and three Finnish backpackers showed up, so all five us took the car to Kegen. (BTW, we are two Americans). There was some confusion when we reached Kegen about the price, we wanted to pay him in Tenge because we didn't have any small US bills, and he was upset we didn't pay him in dollars. He dropped us in front of a gas station where a bunch of drivers offering rides to Almaty were hanging out. This part of Caravanistan's report was completely accurate: they wanted $45 for the whole car, we bargained them down to 10,000 Tenge (about $30).
This taxi dropped us someone on the outskirts of Almaty, where there was no obvious buses or taxis into the city center, so we approached someone who took us to the city center for 2000 Tenge. We were fairly certain this was a giant ripoff, but we were tired of negotiating. We have been told by our AirBnb host that most taxi rides in Almaty shouldn't cost more than $1.
All in all, I think it cost a total of around $50 for the two of us to get from Karakol to Almaty, and around 10 hours. I think it is actually much cheaper to go through Bishkek, but would probably take much longer.
Hope this helps for any future travelers on this route...

Re: Karkara valley (Kegen – Tup/Kensu) border

Posted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:56 am
by Humandavid
anyone know border Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan "Karakara" is open?

Re: Karkara valley (Kegen – Tup/Kensu) border

Posted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:32 am
by Uazdan
It was open when we crossed on the 15th of september.

Re: Karkara valley (Kegen – Tup/Kensu) border

Posted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:14 am
by aleckii
We crossed the border on the 29th September. Online sources were saying it closes on 1st October. But when I asked the guards they confirm that this year they are closing on the 30th October. Working hours are from 9am to 6pm. We took a taxi driver for 3000som from Chopon Ata right to the border, which we thought were a good deal. From online blogs and trip report some reported paying more than twice that price. For the kazakh side the border guards called their friend to pick us up for a drop off at Kegen for 20usd.

If anybody needs a contact for drivers from Cholpon Ata to the border do send me a PM, I saved the guy's phone number.

Almaty Kegen Karakol border crossing

Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:51 pm
by Jasmin
Hello together,

I am going to visit Kyrgyzstan this summer and am flying to Almaty. From there I can get a share taxi to Kegen and from there another taxi to the border. But how do I get from the border to Karakol? Are there shared taxis? Also, with shared taxis, is the "matrushka" meant by this?

From Almaty, where to those shared taxis usually hang around? Are there driving off usually in the morning?

Thanks for the help!

Re: Almaty Kegen Karakol border crossing

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:18 am
by steven
Hi Jasmin,

you will have to hitchhike to Karakol, or book a taxi in advance with a tour operator in Karakol.

Shared taxis in Almaty to Kegen hang out around Sayakhat ... 76.9515225

see for more

Re: Almaty Kegen Karakol border crossing

Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:16 pm
by Solsticio
Since almost no one uses this border, finding transportation might be hard. I guess you will be able to find a taxi in Kegen, but don't expect to be able to share it with anyone else. I came from Karakol in September and had to negotiate quite a lot. If you speak neither Russian nor local languages, expect only quite high offers, I think. I waited about 1,5 hours for another car to pass that could take me. The border guard offered to call a taxi to Kegen, but this wasn't necessary in the end. I don't know if they would do the same on the other side, as Karakol is quite far away.

Re: Karkara valley (Kegen – Tup/Kensu) border

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:23 pm
by zuzuli
Hi, we plan to cross this border late August this early by a self-drive. I heard from a local that it is a problem to have a self srive car from Kyrgyzstan driving in Kazahstan and such cars can only cross the borders near Bishkek, is it true? Does somebody know please? We would like to do a round trip bishek - almaty - karakol and back. Thanks a lot!

Re: Karkara valley (Kegen – Tup/Kensu) border

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:32 am
by steven
zuzuli wrote:I heard from a local that it is a problem to have a self srive car from Kyrgyzstan driving in Kazahstan and such cars can only cross the borders near Bishkek, is it true?

Not true.

Don't trust locals, unless you can get other (non-local) sources confirming the rumour. Post-Soviet people are some of the most gullible people on earth. They have no critical thinking skills and will believe anything you tell them.

Re: Karkara valley (Kegen – Tup/Kensu) border

Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:44 am
by Dorothea
Do you have any updates when the Kegen border will open this year? We'll have to leave Kazakhstan on May 18 and would like to cross the border via the Karkara valley. Thanks for info!