Kazakhstan

Khiva & crossing the Caspian Sea

We stayed in the inner city within the 17th century walls (Itchan Kala)

We stayed in the inner city within the 17th century walls (Itchan Kala)

We rocked up to Khiva in the early evening – Tim and Nic had booked us a downstairs room at the hotel they had been staying at in the old town.
We all went out for some local Uzbek food which turned out to be similar to the rest of Central Asia but better. Instead of old fatty mutton they had beef, and there was a great dish involving stuffed peppers and roasted veg. We took a few quick pics of the Old Town by night en route home.
The next day we tagged along on a pre-booked tour with Tim, Nic and two Israeli dudes. The Israeli’s seem to love touring the Central Asia area – we have seen quite a few of them. Continue reading

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Kazakhstan – the last chapter

Altyn-Emel National Park, the white mountains.

Altyn-Emel National Park, the white mountains.

We finished up at Altyn-Emel National Park and said our goodbyes to the Czech guys who we had been trailing for a few days.We made our way back to Almaty via Lake Balkhash, Kazakhstan’s biggest lake and stopped to camp for the night.

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Kazakhstan – Almaty and touring

Before hitting Almaty we drove via Turkestan to see the famous Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi

Before hitting Almaty we drove via Turkestan to see the famous Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi

A huge place, covered in mosaic tiles. This is the unfinished back

A huge place, covered in mosaic tiles. This is the unfinished back

So on to Almaty.

Almaty is a very interesting city: Tidy, leafy and super relaxed. Not to mention it is full of friendly people.
The poor Russian roads and some of the long stretches of roadworks had taken their toll on our cheap Chinese alloy roof cage. Probably the biggest mistake that we made building up the troopy was buying that. Looking back we don’t know what we were thinking, maybe it was the AUD $2000 price tag of an ARB one. Or the fact the steel Chinese one I had on my patrol was still going strong after 25,000km of punishing km on Aussie roads.

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Kazakhstan – entering the Steppe

A change to the flat scenery of the steppe - beautiful

A change to the flat scenery of the steppe – beautiful

So the day had come for leaving Russia and entering Kazakhstan. It was a Sunday, and our Russian Visa also ended that day – so no room for errors!
We arrived at an empty looking border and for a second thought that it was closed – dammit! But a few more cars pulled up and a person emerged from the first checkpoint asking for our passports and immigration slips. Once checked we got waived on, and to our surprise the next checkpoint said ‘Welcome to Kazakhstan’! So no exit search or list of questions – a complete contrast to what we had been told to expect. Continue reading

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