here is our route – or at least the route we are planning to take:
We launch at the Czechout Party in Prague on 18 July 2017. It’s one of the official Mongol Rally launch events. We only know where this party is going to take place – here – and that there is a limited amount of camping available. Otherwise we don’t really know what to expect there. Let’s see what happens…
On 19 July we head east, perhaps stopping in Kraków (or somewhere else in Poland), and arriving in Kiev on 20 July. For the 21 July we have something very special planned – a trip to Chernobyl and the decaying ghost town of Pripyat. Stay tuned for a dedicated blog post and some hopefully awesome pictures of post-Soviet nuclear wasteland!
After Chernobyl, we will continue heading east, avoiding the current war zone in eastern Ukraine by taking a more northern border crossing into Russia (and hoping they let us in, as we have a weird Russian visa situation – more on that in the next post). In Russia, we’d like to check out Volgograd, the famous city of the Battle of Stalingrad that also hosts the biggest stone statue in the world. Then we head to Astrakhan, the city where the Volga flows into the Caspian Sea, and where the really good black caviar comes from.
Then we will cross into Kazakhstan and drive through the desert to arrive in Turkmenistan. Highlights there will be the Door to Hell (a giant burning crater with a ridiculous story) and the capital city of Ashgabat (described to us as an extremely weird mix between Las Vegas and Pyongyang). Crossing into Uzbekistan, we’d like to check out the ancient silk road cities of Samarkand and Bukhara.
After this comes the meaty part. We want to cross the Pamir mountains, using the Pamir Highway (also called the M41). This is described as one of the most beautiful (and dangerous) roads in the world. It is also the world’s second-highest. The highest point of this road is somewhere around 4700 m altitude, and this is what I am a bit worried about. We heard crazy stories about acute altitude sickness and engines dying because there is not enough oxygen left to sustain the fuel combustion process (Eslie claims he knows what screw to turn to adjust the fuel/oxygen mix… let’s see). We also heard another even more crazy story about a guy who made this journey through the Pamirs on a bicycle. This makes us a bit more optimistic. This stretch of the journey will involve barren mountain ranges, stunning views, and driving through all of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan before crossing back into Kazakhstan.
From here on, the plan gets a bit more vague. If we (and our car!) survive the Pamirs, the plan is to continue east by crossing Mongolia and arriving at the finish line in Ulan-Ude some time end of August. We might run into trouble with our visas at this point (more about this soon). We really hope we will get that far, but it’s too early to tell!
So, that’s the plan. In the next post, I’ll tell you some stuff about the nightmares you need to go through if you want to get visas for all these countries – including the visa problems we still haven’t figured out yet…
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