Our experience getting from Almaty to Karakol, via Karkara

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Our experience getting from Almaty to Karakol, via Karkara

Post by cmaylnd »

As most post seems quite misleading, I figured I'd write down our experience getting from Almaty to Karakol via the Karkara border-crossing in mid Juli 2016.

Almaty: We took a cab down to the Sayakhat Bus Station (around 400 Tenge) - from where it is possible either to take a bus or a shared taxi. It is easy finding a shared taxi as the taxi drivers will approach you at the entrance to the bus station. We came quite early, around 7am and decided to go with a shared taxi. Difference in price is:
Shared taxi 2.000 tenge pr. person
Bus: 1.000 tenge pr. perosn

After a little bit of waiting time in the taxi, the driver took off, only with us in the taxi. As we don't speak Russian and the drivers english was non-existent, he explained by hands, that he had to pick someone up. After a little detour in Almaty, picking up an older man, off we went. When we reach the Almaty ring-road, the driver made a phone call, and a guy standing at the side of the road jumped in with us. I am writing this, so you don't expect that a shared taxi will drive if it isn't full. Eventually it'll get full. We were probably on the road around 9am.

From Almaty, it was a smooth ride east. After a few hours we did a Sashlyk-stop for about 30 minutes, before heading south towards Kegen, which took additionally 2 hours or so. We arrived in Kegen around 1pm. The taxi driver, did a great job asking around for the taxis, that would take us to the border point.

With a little help from the driver we easily found a taxi, willing to take us to Karkara. Price 4.000 tenge. Driving time around 15 minutes on not the best road in the world, but neither the worst - at least a standard car can easily do the trip.

Dropped off at the border, we cleared immigration on the Kazakhstan-side which was really easy. Friendly guys, who took a quick look into our luggage.

Having cleared the Kazak-border point, we walked to the Kirghiz side, which was just as easy. The guy in the booth asked if we had transportation. We said no, and he offered to arrange transportation for 70 usd to Karakol. We declined as it was about 2 pm, so there was plenty of time trying to hitch a ride. The guards on the Kirghiz side of the border seemed really nice - and I am sure if we didn't find a ride, we could have slept at the border-post.

We decided to walk to the nearest village after the borderpoint - while trying to hitch a ride from the traffic passing us. We figured if we didn't find a ride, we could either ask for a taxi at the village or a place to sleep.

We never made it too the village though, as after around 45 minutes a Kirghiz family picked us up. Around 5 cars had passed us up until, all being full - and the drivers making the 'I am sorry' gesture with their hands. Meaning that the first car with space, will most likely pick up any person trying to hitch a ride.

The Kirghiz family was nice and dropped us of at the junction in Tjub (or something like that) as they were going towards lake Issyk Köl and we were heading to Karakol. The first 30 km or so were on good gravel road - and the last 20 km was on fine paved road.

We tipped the family a little.

At the junction, we waited around 5 minutes and a marshrutka came going to Karakol. We arrived in Karakol around 4 pm.

It was a very scenic route - especially the last hour in Kazakhstan before reaching the border and the first hour in Kyrgyzstan. And a very easy route/crossing to take.
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Re: Our experience getting from Almaty to Karakol, via Karkara

Post by steven »

Great write-up, thanks for that! I added your tips to the Karkara border crossing chapter. https://caravanistan.com/border-crossin ... n-tupkensu
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