Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Is the road, border or area open and accessible to foreigners? Is there danger?
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bolsenior
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Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Postby bolsenior » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:56 pm

I'm planning a trip from Italy to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan with a small 4x2 motorhome (5.5 meters long on a 2004 Fiat Ducato chassis) for spring 2020 (including April to June).
My wife and I, both 72 years old (73 next year), alone.
I would like an opinion from the community on some topics.
Access to Russia could be through Ukraine (at Kursk / Voronezh) or through Georgia (Kazbegi). I could enter Kazakhstan after Astrakhan but I am a little worried about the A33 road from Atyrau to Nukus, of which I have always read about disastrous situations.
I was wondering if I find a better road surface by entering Kazakhstan between Samara / Oral / Aqtobe or Orenburg / Aqtobe and continuing to Aralsk (instead of Moynaq on the Uzbek side), Turkestan, Shymkent and then to Tashkent. This route forces me to go back and forth to Kiva / Xiva but it gives me the opportunity to see more of Kazakhstan, since after Kyrgyzstan I would pass through Almaty and then Astana to continue to Chelyabinsk. By the way, have you noticed that from March 23, 2019 Astana has changed its name and is now called Nur-sultan?
Another piece of information concerns the caravanserai of Tash Rabat: is it possible to reach it with a vehicle like mine or is it advisable to take a taxi or a mashrukta (if it exists for this route)?
Also: I would like to enter Kazakhstan from Kyrgyzstan via the Karkara valley (probably in late May, when the road should already be open).
I know that motorhomes have already been used in the past and have been described with a horrible road surface.
Furthermore, I have not yet figured out if doing this route it is then possible for a 4x2 vehicle like my access to the Sharyn Canyon, even just in the initial part (I did not understand how inaccessible the Valley of the Castles / Dolina Zamkov is).
Alternatively, does anyone know if you can take a taxi from Kegen or Shilik or if the only alternative is a tour from Almaty?
Thanks for the attention.
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mazeno
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Re: Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Postby mazeno » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:42 am

> little worried about the A33 road from Atyrau to Nukus
more precisely from astrakhan to jashlik.
long sections approx. 20km/h, some sections tarmac, but heavy potholed, some sections good.

> Samara / Oral [...] Shymkent and then to Tashkent
mostly very good and fast. don't make speeding, possible mobile police patrols with cameras (checking speed even while moving). 90km/h is ok.

> have you noticed that from March 23
yes, but for now it is only proposal of the act (still not implemented in constitution).

> the caravanserai of Tash Rabat: is it possible to reach it with a vehicle like mine
yes. it is only about 15km of gravel road from the very good tarmac (the main road a365).

> Karkara valley [...] described with a horrible road surface
yes, indeed. both on the kazakh and the kyrgyz side. on the kazakh side the road is still under construction from kegen to the border. on the kyrgyz side more that 40km is poor gravel. but all the section is still passable (slowly).

> possible for a 4x2 vehicle like my access to the Sharyn Canyon
possible from the main road a351 to the check point and cach desk (about 10km, last year they were putting the tarmac on) and next 1-2km to the edge of the valley (not paved but ok, a few tracks, ask the rangers which one, generally keep left), not possible to enter down to the valley without 4x4 and high clearance (steep descent). just live the car on the edge and walk down (many locals do this way). it is 5 minutes walk down. all the valley is about 4km long to the river, an hour nice walking. there is a restaurant and a yurt camp near the river. but this times the canyon is crowded in season (and weekends), i met big buses full of school youth making boombox-noise along the valley.

> if you can take a taxi from Kegen
kegen is a small remote city (i could say: a settlement rather that city), even sometimes local petrol stations has no soliarka (diesel fuel). but i don't care about taxis as i drive myself, so i don't know - but i suppose it depends on the price. if you want to take a taxi to sharyn take plenty of water. a lot of, there is really hot.
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bolsenior
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Re: Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Postby bolsenior » Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:53 pm

Dear mazeno,
thank you for the comprehensive and comforting response.
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Lovetheworld
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Re: Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Postby Lovetheworld » Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:39 pm

From Beyneu to Nukus, the first part to the border of Uzbekistan is really bad. But they are making a new road next to it. You will still see bad roads, but also new tarmac.

Like with the other bad roadsections, just take it easy, lower the air pressure on your tyres to 2 bar or something, to make it more comfortable and better for your car. (bring a small compressor to get them back up)
And take it slow.

As said by mazeno, you can reach Charyn Canyon with normal car, perhaps they finish a new road there as well. Don't drive into the canyon with your car, pure 4x4 to get down into it. (I did it)
And it is not really necessary.

If you find the walk to far, because of the temperature or you are not feeling fit enough, there is a small transporter bringing groups back and forth. I'm sure you could wait for that one and ask to join. You could have a nice break in the restaurant before going back, or get a room there.
Or camp out next to entrance. The canyon is more quite in the late afternoon or early morning.
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mazeno
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Re: Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Postby mazeno » Mon May 06, 2019 11:47 am

>> little worried about the A33 road from Atyrau to Nukus
> more precisely from astrakhan to jashlik.
> long sections approx. 20km/h, some sections tarmac, but heavy potholed, some sections good.


latest update:
many construction machines/trucks standing on/by the road preparing to build new road surface.
not possible to drive the dirty tracks by the road as they are wet for now.
driving speed appox. 10km/h, trucks 5km/h.
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mazeno

bolsenior
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Re: Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Postby bolsenior » Mon May 06, 2019 3:18 pm

The best thanks to mazeno and Lovetheworld for your useful infos. I'm still planning to do the road between Atyrau and Nukus hoping to find some more new tarmac in spring 2020. I do not see alternatives at the moment.
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AreWeThereYet?
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Re: Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Postby AreWeThereYet? » Tue May 07, 2019 5:23 am

Karkara valley, as Mazeno pointed out, is a building site on the Kazakh side from the border to, basically, Kegen, with a very rough surface. From the Kyrgyz side the road is worn out but in a decent state until the last 15/30kms (effectively the last valley that then leads into the plateau) where it's gravel, bumpy and very dusty if it's dry. If it's rained I suppose it'll be a quagmire. We drove on it with a Ford Galaxy, so hardly a 4WD, but a Ducato camper van? perhaps it's better to use one of the other, main border points.
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bolsenior
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Re: Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Postby bolsenior » Thu May 09, 2019 7:10 pm

I know that the Karkara road is very bad, but I am moderately optimistic after reading a travel diary of 2008 in which 5 Italian campers (4x2) traveled this road (at the end of July).
The same route was made by a group of 11 Italian campers (4x2) on 11 May 2015.
Other overlanders have made encouraging comments, so at the moment I think I am pursuing this path.
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bolsenior
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Re: Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Postby bolsenior » Thu May 09, 2019 7:28 pm

A further issue.
For entry into Kazakhstan it is not clear to me whether it is sufficient to have an international driving license (Vienna 1968) or if the Italian driving license must be accompanied by a Russian translation (as indicated by the Italian Foreign Ministry).
I am a bit puzzled because this translation is not required in Russia, Uzbekistan and even in Kyrgyzstan and so I am wondering if it is really still required in Kazakhstan.
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mazeno
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Re: Traveling between Russia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and Gyrgyzistan

Postby mazeno » Fri May 10, 2019 7:01 am

international driving licences have their russian version included in the documents - both vienna (1968) and geneva (1949).
anyway, i was asked for idl only once (long time ago) - i was stopped by the police more than 50 times - and never asked at the border.
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