Yesterday’s brief excitement about tarmac was shortlived, “road with coating” as our map calls it, turns out to have quite a liberal interpretation of “coating”. Coating includes dirt, sand, gravel, mud, craters, rubble and most other things that aren’t tarmac. Indeed at one point the road we were following stopped rather abruptly as the bridge over a river appeared to be missing entirely.
We spent a lot of time on the dirt and sand roads today, which made for much faster progress (and a lot more fun), up until the point Bertie decided he’d had enough and beached himself on a large rut. It turns out he’s not actually a Land Rover, as much as he might want to be. Fortunately an enormous Russian truck passed by and dragged Bertie out. No damage appears to have been done, its all soft sand.
We camped up on a hillside, stopping fairly late. On a nearby hilltop we can see other campers, potentially other ralliers, but we can’t see how to get to them. It’s the rocket launch tonight so we’ll keep an eye out and see if we can see anything here.
Finally finally finally we have found proper roads. With tarmac and everything. It is beautiful. Progress starting to be made now, the map we purchased which shows the quality of roads (rather than just their route number/official status) is proving invaluable, and we’re avoiding anything but the highest grade of road quality now. It makes for a more convoluted route, but travelling at 80-90kmph twice the distance is better than 20kmph over dirt, sand and worse.
After a few rough days we were all in need of a decent wash and a few comforts, so we stopped fairly early near a large lake, just south of Aralask. It seemed to be the cloesest thing to a pleasure beach we’re likely to see in Kazakhstan, the water was warm and perfect for a refreshing swim
Days 22 & 23: How bloody big IS Kazakhstan?