Disclaimer: Due to the number of comments that have been received it has been felt necessary to clarify that this trip is in no way based on "The Long Way Round" which the authors of the trip were not aware and nor was it first broadcast of at the time at which this trip was drunkenly conceived. The authors of this trip would like to distinguish their intended trip from the journey undertaken in "The Long Way Round" in that unlike Charlie Borman and Ewan McGregor they are not experienced riders (they have both only been riding motorbikes for just over one year), they are not receiving sponsorship and they will not have a support crew with them at any point on the journey. Just to avoid any further confusion it has been thought that it would be helpful to point out that Tom Horovitch and Peter Caley are both fictional characters and are not famous film stars.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Potential problems with passage through central Asia


One of the most crucial parts of the whole trip is the planning our route through from Russia to India. At present we would ideally be wanting to cross from Russia to Kazakhstan at Semey (the far Eastern corner of Kazakhstan). We are hoping to obtain our visas for Russia and Kazakstan before we leave London. After that we are intending to head down through the Eastern part of Kazakhstan to Almaty (the main financial city). When we are in Almaty we hope to sort out all our visas for Krgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan through a tour agent / fixer we have found there. When we leave Kazakhstan we are intending to head through Krgyzstan and then enter Tajikistan. Once in Tajikistan we will travel the Pamir Highway and thence travel through Uzbekistan into Turkmenistan. We then will travel down the Eastern part of Iran into Pakistan and then India.

Watching the news we are increasingly worried about the situation in Iran. With all the talk of imposing sanctions against Iran if they continue developing their nuclear capability (for nuclear weapons as the US seems to think) there is the chance that the situation in Iran could get so bad that either we can’t get visas when we are in the CIS states, or we don’t feel too comfortable in travelling through the country.

If we can’t get into Iran then we run the risk of being stuck in the CIS region. If this does happen then we would have only a few options open to us to get to India. We could try to head through Afghanistan to Kabul and from Kabul go across the Khyber Pass to Pakistan. This would obviously mean us travelling through the Northern part of Afghanistan which is not advisable. We had thought that another option was to go through the Wakhran corridor which borders Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We did consider taking this route at one time, but have dismissed after seeing pictures of the 7000 foot high mountains (almost certainly with no roads) and after hearing that the area is used as drug running route from Pakistan into Afghanistan. This leaves our only other alternative land route which is to travel through China. We haven’t really looked into this too much, but from the research we’ve done on this we think that we need to do a multitude of things. These things include taking a Chinese motorcycle test, registering the bike in China, putting Chinese number plates on the bikes and the hiring a guide who would be with us at all time. Not only is this going to be a nightmare to organise, but we think that is going to cost us an arm and a leg. At this stage we’re not sure that we can really afford this or even organise it; certainly this is not something we have even started to look at in any sort of detail.

The upshot of all of this is that if we cannot get into Iran (or don’t feel comfortable in travelling through Iran) we may run the risk of getting stranded in the CIS area. If this does happen then we may have to consider flying to India or cutting the trip short in Central Asia. Neither of us are to enamoured at the thought of flying our bikes to India. It would really defeat the whole point of doing a motorbike trip to Australia, even more so as we are already going to have to either fly or ship our bikes from India, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh and then from Singapore to Australia. At the moment we don’t know what will happen, but we hope that things don’t get stirred up so much in Iran that we can’t get in.


This entry written by Peter.
Picture (top left): Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at a conference in Tehran, 'The World without Zionism.'
Picture (middle right): the mountainous Wakhran Coridoor

Recent threads (with some good news) from Horizons Unlimited about Iranian visas and travel through Afghanistan and Pakistan:

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/Forum33/HTML/000374.html http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/000744.html


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