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Kazahkstan

Outside Almaty

Affen a few days and a lovely night out with Joseph and Yeldos in Almaty I went to the close-by mountains. First, the Medeo Ice Skating arena and then the ILE Nationalpark at about 3200m.

The Ice Skating arena is actually a very old one - 1951 - from the Soviet Area and about 1700m above sea level. Many Ice Speed Skating records were established here. However, the glory times are over since the late eighties and now its is only used as a Bandy Game arena.

Next, I went cup the cableway at roughly 3200m and had a few hours to stroll around. The glaciers around are shrinking as well and now a long way from the last station, but you still can see a glimpse of them .


And finally i set up a nice camp site.
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Almaty

Just had a stroll around Almaty today. While I was here already 3-4 years ago I wasn't really aware how green the city is. Trees are lining the streets all the time and parks from small to large are everywhere. And also it's actually a very quiet city, really relaxed and laid back, i.e. compared to Astana. Streets feel empty....

Wenn to the green bazar - finally a lively place as you would imagine alongside the silk road. Spices, meats, fish, herbes, dried fruits, nuts, and fresh fresh fruits and vegetables.

Went also to the Ascension Cathedral. It’s a really lovely one, probable the most beautiful off the whole journey.

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Arrived in Almaty

First stop was as recommended by Amy Cannon the Landy Shop. Lovely little place. They have done useful parts at stock - but not what I needed. Highly recommended, very friendly staff.

Next stop was at the official Land Rover Service. A quick inspection before I had one. Everything looked very good not a single item to point at. They were really sukriced with the conditions as they have seen others. The looked at the under body, the lies, the bearings, the brakes... That's a good sign as from now on until India there isn't really a Landy Service Station. And its was also for free

Went to ARB and bought two shackles and a recovery strap which were nicked from our accident recovery. Very good place. A must stop for parts.

Now, a nice hotel. Tomorrow is a touristy sightseeing day

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Fake Silk Road Movie Set

This Fake Movie Set is located north west of Kapchagay just beside the River Ili. This set was used for the film Nomad, but since has been also used for other films. It is not in the best shape and restorations are still ongoing but it's still a cool place to visit.



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Charyn Canyon Nationalpark

This is breathtakingly beautiful. The canyon has many walkways, a track alongside on the top and a track straight through for 4x4s. At the end nod there is beautiful campsite. It's just a problem that in order to get there, there is a height limit of about 2.2m - so not for our beloved 4x4 with a roof tent on top. But it's still worth it to drive the track (or walk it).

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Charyn River

Toady I took a small road alongside the Charyn river and the canyon it's forming before the river is heading to the main attraction, the Charyn Canyon National Park. Already stunningly beautiful. It's worth the visit as it’s a detour from the main road to Almaty.

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Back in Kazakhstan

First stop was Semey. Stayed in Hotel Nomad for two nights - its real the only good one around. Next, tried to get my iPhone repaired but they fucked it up completely. They said they could repair the screen, removed the screen but actually didn't had the spare part - went from working to dead.

Stayed the second night with two overlander couples from Germany (both had an iveco daily 4x4). Had a lovely night out.

Below are some of the crossing down to Kapchagay... It's about 1000km of boredom......

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Bajanaul National Park

This is the third Nationalpark we camped on for two nights and it was also the best one in Kazakhstan so far. And as it was pre-season we were again the only ones around. Not even the close by hotel / restore was open for a beer or so. But in exchange the landscape was stunning!!IMG_1599IMG_1609IMG_1619L8718592L8718615L8718610

David Marcus

We were heading down to the Balqash Lake and before we sorted our overnight camp we bumped into David Marcus - A South African Overlander, Land Rover Enthusiast & also known from Land Rover Magazines. Anyway. We had a nice first chat while he showed us his Land Rover 300 TDI SW and the Discovery 2. The Discovery 2 was pulling the Landy as his engine was basically gone. Originally he wanted to drive own as far as possible before the night but then he stayed with us at the lake.

And of course we had a long chat about Landys, his Journeys and Missions. Superb bloke! Unfortunately he had a bad crash the next day at around lunchtime. Both Land Rover were heavily damaged but he was not hurt. With help from his Kazakhstan Land Rover Friends he managed to get a transport ....


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Astana

So, after our first BNational Park we went to Astana. First night run a Hotel and next two ones couch surfing.

What to do? Well, we went after arrival straight to the main city park and first hat an interesting encounter: The BMW Club Astana. Very friendly bunch of People. Apart from food we were meandering through the park. Next Day we meet up with our couch surfer and in the afternoon we meet his friends from choir (also mainly expats), before however we went sign seeing, very touristy.

Aston is capital in the middle of nowhere and they are ramping ups a new tow center with all those fancy modern Buildings Park and Shopping malls.



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Burabay National Park

After, a few long days of driving, plain emptiness and not so nice weather we reached the Burabay National Park. We tried to find beforehand a camp site but no real results by google. So, we tried our luck locally. With a few translation and hand signs we found support by the lady „assel“. She helped us evotedly to get a permit for the park - actually for three nights and we were the first campers of the season!!


So we stayed a lovely location for three nights at a small pensiular. Apart form a small walk half around the main Burabay lake we’ve done nothing but relaxing

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The North of Kasakhstan

In the meantime a few Impressions of North Kazakhstan

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Qostanai

After a few days and driving very long distances due to rain, strom, and plainly an empty nothing we reached Qostanai. This is the biggest city in the North of Kazakhstan and known for it's mining industry.

However, its also a very lively city with an actually pleased City Centre and once Spring and Summer are at full prime its should be also a very green city. Surprisingly this is so far the most lively place. Quite e few young people around and right beside the main square the is also a small nice restaurant called „Dolce Vita“ - highly recommended.


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Aqtöbe

After the road from hell we arrived in Aqtöbe. The first hotel we had in mind was not really convincing. So we went for a more modern one - the Dastan. a bit on the expensive side but ok and for two nights. One of the first things we figured out was that there is a Wunderbar in Aqtöbe.

One of the main tasks to give the Land Rover a well deserved wash and to fill up the groceries.

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Kazakhstan - the first days

Now we were in Kazakhstan. First stay was in Uralsk, some shopping and to set out our first destination: Inderbor and Lake Inder. Lovely scenery and our first camp site. Greated by Livestock - Cows and cheeps - and the shepherd in the afternoon and the morning.

From there we went to our next destination - the white chalk mountain Aktolagaj. First we tried to follow the rout form our campsite eastwards - but this was ver slow going. So we changed strategy and went for the long but probably fast way over Atyrau and the A27. Well, this was okish and as the night was closing in we stayed in Maket. The Hotel had seen its best days long ago and we were the only guests but we didn’t care. However, some food was still on the agenda and the we opted for a place which looked like restaurant down the road. At first glance it was a strange place - more like a night club - but then we were persuaded to stay. And boy this was luck. It was private retirement party. And as friendly as they are we were they offered us food and drinks - mainly Vodka. And being alians photos were a main attraction. But we have to say - very friendly and lovely people. All the Best to all of them!

Next day we were on the road again to get to the mountain. But the roads was a mess straight from hell. Not really existent, and potholes like sinkholes. And Muddy. On average its was 20km/h. I didn’t took any photos as this would ashame the camera. The best thing on top was that there was no sign were the mounting was and the description of the travel guide didn’t match the surroundings at all. Epic fail. At least we could see something white on the southern horizon.

So the only option was to head on for Aqtöbe. But as night was closing in we stayed in Shubarkuduk. Aral, a very friendly local and his young soon Ali, guided us to a motel and order some food as well. During dinner we exchanged some words as far as our language got us. He explained especially how many km are left to get to Aqtöbe and the we already paid for the food accommodation - he even called a friend to explain. IMG_1014IMG_1012L8717829L8717831IMG_1058IMG_1071_1000235_1000242_1000247

Enter Kazakhstan

Now, our main journey starts for real - Enter Kazakhstan. This should be an was boarder crossing as the visa requirements for Germans are relative easy (15 Days Visa free....)

First the Russian Checkpoint. This was no comparison. Friendly, Helpful, smiling, asking question, not much paper work. This was a breeze and only 15min. But the get off was a mess. A single road for Cars and Trucks and both ways. and the Road was not made of Tarmac. to get to the Kazakhstan Boarder we moved very very slowly for about 70min. This was so farther last place were we saw German number plates.

The Kazakhstan Checkpoint was easy going. First we had to get the immigration forms (not much to fill in) and a small paper stating that two want to enter. Next was the passport control. About 5 Minutes and 3 stamps. Done. Car inspection - hmm maybe 5 minutes and off we go.


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