20/06/14 – 30/06/14: Aktau, Kazakhstan to Nukus, Uzbekistan
We have officially arrived in the land of Oil and Camels. Western Kazakhstan near Aktau.
With temperatures up to 40C in the middle of the day it’s impossible to stay out in the heat. These culverts under the main road are the only place to find shade.
Trying to read before the heat catches up and it inevitably turns into zzzzzz…
The sand just gets everywhere!
We met another bike tourer from Derby named Kim. Together we were making our way across the desert. We found a tiny hotel in Shepte, only noticing the next morning that it had no roof. We must have been exhausted…
It’s pretty daunting looking out over the empty desert expanse we have to cross.
Flat, dry, dusty, windy, hot and seemingly endless.
We caught up to this convoy of pressure vessels from Korea on their way to a new chemical plant in Uzbekistan. Over 3 days they made the same distance we did!
…and it got hotter
…and then the road got worse
This climb was definitely more suited to mountain bikes. Our bikes struggled with traction in the gravelly sand.
Borscht. What we’ve been living off from the few teahouses scattered along the road.
The map. Believe it or not, this is our only hard copy map made from previous cycle blogs with rough distances between water sources. Just hope the GPS doesn’t fail.
Seeing road building equipment is like seeing an oasis. It suggests tarmac is on it’s way! This time these guys also gave us a shower from their water truck.
We found an abandoned building which became our home for the night.
Awesome to be riding along with the herds of wild horses galloping alongside.
The journey through the desert involves hopping between the few tea houses there are. This one came quite late in the day so we were already pretty drained. They’re typically every 30-70km.
Sunset. Don’t know what the pose is.
Camping in the middle of nowhere. Little did we know these seemingly pleasant morning clouds had a nasty surprise for us.
The rain suddenly came crashing down. We tried to cycle but got completely clogged up. Then we tried to walk but the wheels completely seized. So we stood in the rain…
We managed to hitch a ride with this group of guys in their van on their way to work on the roads. Scary stuff.
After a while the van got stuck and we had to get towed out by this big Cat. It happened a couple more times and we had to abandon the van.
Not long after, our pressure vessel friends caught up with us! They strapped our bikes on one of the lorries and we were off again… until they also couldn’t continue.
3rd time lucky. The mud wasn’t stopping these 2 Russian lorry drivers. They gave us a lift out of the quagmire and back onto tarmac at Beyneu.
Into Uzbekistan and the desert continues. The wind suddenly died and we were able to just sleep on the ground under the stars.
Sunrise with the camels
Escaping the midday sun behind a security guard’s hut. Who knew sleeping on a door could be so comfortable. Near Jasliq, Uzbekistan
Our water and food supplier.
End of another sweaty day.
Reading under the desert stars. End of a big 225km day.
We couldn’t quite make it to Nukus so we spoke to one of the locals who ended up sending us to this family to stay with them. We woke up outside sleeping alongside the family in their mosquito net.