Bishkek to Almaty to try and get my Russian visa again! Then take a train across Kazakhstan to the Caspian Sea hoping to get a ferry across to Azerbaijan. Then from there to Georgia and Turkey.
Transportation Options and Experience
This was quite easy. A minibus from Bishkek to Almaty then a 3 night sleeper train to Aktau. At Almaty station saw quite a few modern trains but they were heading North to Astana. Here took the lazy sleeper train to Aktau
Walk-abouts in traveled through Cities
Almaty and Aktau on the Caspian Sea
Almaty and Aktau
Main stop was Almaty to get my Russian Visa. Then the big trip to Aktau to try and cross the Caspian Sea and head towards Turkey for the Southern route entrance into Europe.
VIRTUAL TOUR - Almaty
Almaty is a large modern city. Larger than the capital Astana. 1st time for a long time saw all the top chain American fast food places. Money coming from energy the town is growing and a good mix of old and new. But clearly much richer than Kyrgyzstan. Also a large Turkish community lives there and had a very good meal at a restaurant near Mega Park Mall where I bought my winter jacket. As clearly I was not prepared for the winter weather .. it was freezing! (Right click for full-screen. Click photo and drag mouse to navigate the 360)
VIRTUAL TOUR - Aktau
I will not repeat what can be read on wikipedia on Aktau. But I think I was lucky with the crossing as I read that the new port at Aktau was only completed in 2015. It is 6-8km away from the city center and no buses to it. So it made it interesting for me as I do not take taxis. I walked to to the Port and then had to go back to the city center ticket office to buy a ticket. Then with bad weather I the ferry could not dock. So not wanting to walk to the city center again with a heavy back-pack I stayed the night in the port customs office. Fortunately the weather cleared up the following day and made a calm, safe and friendly crossing across the Caspian Sea. (Right click for full-screen. Click photo and drag mouse to navigate the 360)
VIRTUAL TOUR - Ferry to Baku
Another highlight of the trip. Heard many stories of how dangerous and unsafe the crossing was. That was why I made sure I had a back-up plan with my Russian Visa. A very good experience from an adventure getting the tickets to the sailing itself. Also met some good people on the ferry. (Right click for full-screen. Click photo and drag mouse to navigate the 360)
Less than $50USD/day
I stayed at a very good hostel in Almaty and then a 3 night train ride for $33USD (not counting the 60% refund of the 1st ticket for missing the train) and a 1 night stay in Aktau in a Hotel and one night on a bench at the port. The ferry was $80usd and included 1 bunk bed, breakfast, dinner and lunch in the canteen. Serving about 20 passengers (mostly truck drivers going to Turkey) it was surprisingly good. Overall I averaged about $15USD a day on accommodation and travel in Kazakhstan so I was well under budget. All reviews of my accommodation on Google Maps and relevant booking site engines.
My favourite memory song for Kazakhstan ...