It has been exactly one year since we left on our long-term travel journey. In this period, we already had the time of our lives and we had several crazy experiences along the way. From sleeping on a military base to looking inside an active volcano, find out our best travel experiences of the last year!
Exactly seven months ago, we finished the Mongol Rally. Our small and old Lada survived the knee-deep potholes of Turkmenistan, the ultimate test of the Pamir and the river crossings of Mongolia. It was our biggest and best adventure yet, and in just two months of spending time in that little red car, we’ve learned a lot!
Central Asia is often a destination that many people skip when traveling. We think that’s a big shame. We traveled through whole Central Asia by doing The Mongol Rally, and we fell completely in love with it. This part of the world has so much to offer, from the hospitality of the people to the vibrant markets and its beautiful nature. When you like to travel off the beaten path, Central Asia should be on the top of your list! There is still so much to discover. Maybe we can convince you with these awesome things in Central Asia that need to be on everyone’s bucket list.
A few weeks ago, there were some problems at the Mongolian border. Because a lot of teams from the previous years have left their broken cars somewhere in Mongolia, all the Mongol Rally teams now had to pay a $6000 deposit upon entering Mongolia. This deposit was for the Mongol Rally teams only. The authorities managed to suspend this rule just a week before we entered, but the organization warned us that we needed to be very friendly and patient because they would otherwise reintroduce the rule.
Entering Kyrgyzstan went pretty easy. Most European nationalities don’t need a visa if they intend to stay less than two months. The border guards of Kyrgyzstan were super friendly. They stamped our passport, we paid for the car insurance and gave them a sticker to put on their locker. They checked the car very briefly and wished us good luck for the rest of the Mongol Rally.
It’s freezing outside and it’s already after dark. There is nothing to see in the far distance. We are literally in the middle of nowhere. If there’s one place where we never wanted to get stuck, then it would be this place. The car just died on a small road, away from the main road, at the height of 4000m. Now we’re facing a really cold night in the car. Luckily, we can laugh about our own stupidities. The Pamir Highway is really testing our car to the max.
It is not so easy to visit a country like Turkmenistan. You better not apply for a tourist visa unless you want to book an expensive guide for your whole visit. It’s much better (and easier) to get a transit visa. However, the problem is that this visa is issued for only 5 days. So you don’t have much time to explore the country, especially when you’re backpacking or cycling across Turkmenistan. The country is very different from anything else. The government is in control of everything and they make sure that you don’t do things they don’t want you to do. Random police checks can happen everywhere, and in Ashgabat, the military is on every street corner to watch every step you take. That’s why Turkmenistan is the seventh least visited country in the world, receiving only 7,000 visitors per year. And we were one of them!