Aktau and the peninsula of Manguistaou – 7 days – 22 metres above sea level

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After a first stormy night on the Manguistaou peninsula, we left Shetpe to go to Aktau. Outside of the city, a bit of stress. The first service stations we saw didn’t have any petrol. Finally, the fourth station had some and we managed to reach the main city of the area.

On the way, we did a stop next to a lagoon where wild horses where drinking. A herd of goats crossed in front of us and was followed by their shepherd driving his car. Ten kilometres further, we did a second stop, in the middle of the desert.…

Uralsk – 7 days – 35 metres above sea level

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We arrived in Kazakstan by the border post of Ilek. The checking was easy. On the Russian side, they were happy to say a couple of French words. The customs officer indicated us to go through without checking our luggages. Even the bag of bulk tea offered by Ivan, looking like illegal herbs, passed the check point.

Once on the other side of the bridge to reach the Kazakh border, same thing. Our unusual vehicles intrigued the custom officers and the control was not stricter. In less than an hour, we did the paperwork and entered in Kazakhstan.…

Russian encounters

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Marina from Yekaterinburg

The first contact with Marina was before our trip. We were looking for a solution to ship our sidecars from South of America to Russia. As she is in charge of the importation of the spare parts for Ural in Irbit, we were expecting she will have a solution for this import. Unfortunately, importing vehicles by sea and then leave the country by land is impossible in Russia. A sad statement but with all the kindness she has, Marina asked us to contact her again when we will be closer to Yekaterinburg.

Therefore, the previous day before our arrival in the city and after 6 months without any news, we sent a message to Marina.…

Russian experiences

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“Irbitski Mototsikletny Zavod”, the den of the Ural sidecars

After riding 2,500 kilometres towards East, we reached Irbit, place where our sidecars were made. The following day of our arrival in this city of 40,000 inhabitants located nearby the plains of Siberia, it was time to discover the den of the Ural sidecars.

We had an appointment at 10am, but without any news since a fefw days from Marina, our contact in the Ural manufacture, we were a bit worried. We crossed the city to reach the Ural manufacture. Just arrived on the parking and turned off our engines, Marina arrived with the Security Manager.…

On the Russian roads

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The Narva river separates Estonia and Russia, in the city of the same name – Narva. Upon our arrival in this city, we checked-in for the flat we rent for the evening. We booked on the website www.goswift.eu a slot time to cross the Russian border on the following day. This administrative process reassured us. Indeed, it looked very organised giving us the hope of a fast border crossing.

At 9am, the time of our appointment, we arrived at the border post located at the bottom of the massive castle of the town-centre of Narva. Finally, it looked more complex than expected.

Yekaterinburg & the Ural mountains – 11 days – 237 metres above sea level

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After 350 kilometres, on the main road between Perm and Yekaterinbourg, we crossed the symbolic line separating Europe and Asia, this separation is also marking the beginning of Siberia.

With surprise, we discovered we were not matching the local time. After verification, we had to add 2 hours. In spit of their proximity, there is a jet lag between the two “oblasts” (equivalent to a county) of Perm and Yekaterinburg. A few kilometres after entering in Asia, we arrived in the capital of the Ural area which is also the 4th city of the country. In spite of its massive size, we had no issue to reach the town-centre.…