We cross the Kazakh border by Russia in Ilek, in only one hour with our passports and vehicle document. An easy crossing before to drive on a tough road during 150 kms to reach Uralsk, the first big city after the border. The road is sometimes unpaved, sometimes with asphalt but mainly with many holes.
Once arrived in Uralsk, we start by collecting our engine oil ordered for us by the Motokrug56 shop of Orenburg in Russia. The engine oil shop kindly requests to the moto club of the city, “Chingizkhan”, to come over for meeting us and helping us with any enquiries we may have. They are actually very helpful plus it’s also the opportunity to share a few evenings with them with local specialities such as the “beshbarmak”, a pasta and horse meat speciality cooked only for the big celebrations.
After changing the oil and some maintenance on our sidecars, the orphanage of the city invited the moto club to come along for their last day of school before the holidays. We are lucky enough to join them. An afternoon with big smiles and laughs from the children during motorbike and sidecar tours we did with them.
We go back on the road and head to Atyrau before to reach Aktau at the South of the country.
No troubles on the road. Some wild horses and camels are part of the deserted scenery. Very monotonous, the road is mainly straight and flat. The asphalt is in very good conditions as long as we follow the official main roads. We tried some off-roads but the tracks were in very bad conditions and the rain made them very slippery.
No issue to find unleaded in this country. There are many petrol stations but sometimes, we can ride during 100 kms without seeing one. The price is similar to the Russian one (around 0,60€). It’s possible to find cheap motels so we mainly preferred this easy option rather than camping in the hot desert with no shadow.
On the way, we pass by Beyneu, where we meet Leha. He is a hostel’s owner who likes welcoming and helping bikers. We take the opportunity to use his workshop to change a worn tire. After Beyneu, the relief is changing. There are more mountains and valleys.
We arrive in Aktau. A very touristic city but offering a nice promenade along the Caspian Sea. As we want to cross by ferry and reach Azerbaijan, we try to get information. Crossing the Caspian Sea by ferry is actually like a mini adventure on its own! Indeed, the main problem is to have information about the next ferry as nobody knows when the next one will arrive. The port will know when a ferry is coming only when it will leave the Azerbaijan port. This means we will need to be ready at anytime.
Instead of waiting in Aktau, we decide to go visiting the valley of Boszhira which is 200 kms further. The tracks being in bad conditions and the weather being very hot (38 degrees), we are aware our Ural engines will not appreciate this. To avoid a breakdown in the middle of the desert with no shades, we opt to go with a guide, and his 4×4 car, who knows perfectly the area. The valley is absolutely breathtaking with abrupt cliffs, unusual rock shapes and beautiful colourful mounts. We camp in the valley to enjoy beautiful sunset and sunrise.
Once backed in Aktau, we learn there is a ferry on the next Wednesday. We are able to buy the tickets at the end of the afternoon on the Tuesday ($80 per person for a cabin). However, we learn at this moment that we need to go straight to the port to register our vehicles. Located 100 kms further towards South, we arrive at the port of Kuryk at dusk. We start the paperwork to register our vehicles. We need to pay a few fees (20€ per sidecar) plus showing our passports, vehicle document and the temporary import document when we entered Russia. After a short night, we go through some other paperwork and board on the ferry in the middle of the afternoon. On board, we got a stamp on our passport for going out of Kazakhstan by a custom officer. The crossing by ferry lasts about 20 hours and is the perfect opportunity to meet many other travellers.