After our first night of camping outside the town of Makat in Kazakhstan it was tough driving for 2 days.
We didn’t make it very far and lost a lot of time. We had only been in Kazakhstan for 4 days and already fell behind 2 days. By the time we reached Aktabe, we were another two days behind schedule and had to make a decision on which route we were going to take for the duration of the Mongol Rally.
We found a Lonely Planet recommended café to have lunch and check wifi to decide on a plan.
After much discussion, we decided that we just didn’t have enough time to go south.
Let me explain the situation.
We have a Russian double entry Visa that allows us in the country for 30 days. We are allowed to leave once and enter again, but we still only have 30 days in Russia.
We have a double entry Visa in Russia for Russia and our first entry was on the 4th of August. We have only 30 days to be in the country regardless of if we leave it or not. So even though we are in Kazakhstan, our clock is ticking still in Russia. We have to go back to Russia because it is the only way to enter Mongolia so we have no choice but to push through as fast as we can before we have to enter Mongolia no later than Sept 2nd.
We did some poor planning of the route. It was difficult for Sherry, Dave and I to plan a lot when it came to the routes because we couldn’t look at hard maps since we were constantly traveling. All we had was Google maps to work with so we couldn’t tell which roads were secondary roads vs highways. Rick had the maps at home, but it is difficult to figure out whether secondary roads are driveable or not and these roads that we were on could never have been predicted as being so bad.
The secondary roads in Kazakhstan are more like dirt tracks with giant potholes in them. We aren’t making fast time at all. As a matter a fact, it took us 10 hours to travel 200 km one day.
We kept falling behind another day in our schedule and had to make a decision once we reached the crossroads town of Aktobe in Kazakhstan.
We could either turn south and stick to our original plan of entering Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan or go north and stay in Kazakhstan until our entry to Russia.
With time running out and still many km to go, we couldn’t chance taking the time at border crossings and adding the extra mileage to cross into the other two countries.
It was with a very sad and heavy heart that we stroked these other nations of our travel itinerary.
We are now heading north and will be in Kazakhstan for another 10 days before we re-enter Russia in the land known as Siberia. That should give us enough of a cushion for delays at borders, painfully slow roads and to get across the rest of Russia before we have to enter Mongolia.
We realized that we have to start factoring in problems that may occur. Many cars have had their engines rebuilt already, and have faced many mechanical problems.
While we have been lucky so far, the road conditions deteriorate quickly in this part of the world and anything can happen. We may make it through with ease, or we may have serious delays.