Atyrau to Qandyagash, Kazakhstan Week 122 July 27th - 31st 2013
Atyrau on Saturday morning.
Not your average onion dome!

We were surprised at the flowers.


Makhambet Otemisuli (1804-46) (furthest away) was a poet and rebel. Against Russian colonialism.

With Isatay Taymanuly


Parked beside the flowers.

Onion domes.


After our Saturday morning exertions we backtracked to our previous nights camp.

Well almost.

The other side of the road this time.

Same river, different sheep.

And a goat that didn't know the difference between goats and sheep.
We were visited by Salenob Karsibai Makhambet.

Makhambet is also the district, and a village north of us.

He keeps horses, cattle, sheep and goats.

And he draws.

Sultan Beibars was born in this area and became a Turkic Mamluk Sultan of Egypt in the 13th century.

We conversed in a combination of English, Kazakh and Russian, with the help of Russian-English computer translator.

A bit of a struggle as we couldn't spell or type in cyrillic characters.

Sunday morning I tackled a small water leak.

A hose from engine to cab heater had worn on the chassis. Result, a pinhole leak that would only get worse.

A result of tee-ing into the hose to install the Webasto heater about 80,000 km ago. 

I was able to shorten the hose and rotate the tee connection. 

We think Karsibai's horses are Budyonny Horses.


Developed after the Russian revolution as a military horse. Also used in competition.
Monday morning we found the Immigration office. At one end of the police station.

Couldn't have been easier. The answer to "address" was "driving". Lovely lady copied what she needed, filled in the forms which we signed, and stamped our immigration entry forms and passports. Our visas are now registered.

We then tried the slightly less ornate supermarket.

With 4 and 6wd Russian Kamaz buses.

Leaving Atyrau was a bit messy as a road under a rail line was closed.

A big, several km, detour..

Just a few oil tankers in the rail yard.

We haven't seen combined heat and power for a long time.
We stopped for the night about 40 km NE of Atyrau.

We caught a bit of rain in the bucket.

There's nothing special about our camp sites beside the road. Just far enough away to not be too accessible.

An early start.

And some road furniture.

Plus some more to keep us entertained.

The land is relatively flat.

Where's the other hump?
Makat pops up in blogs as a typical oil town. Not a tourist destination.

The A27 bypasses it but its not obvious so many people meet the end of the road in the town.

Our gps map is terrible and our digital map not detailed enough.

In the last couple of days I'd thought to write an addition to one of my web pages that reads a gps usb dongle and places a marker on a googlemap. Kazakhstan has sufficient mobile internet to let it all work. Wouldn't have worked in Mongolia due to limited internet. Morocco it would have been useful.

A smart phone or tablet with built in gps would simply have needed an "app"

As the crow flies its about 800 km from Atyrau to Qandyagash on the A27.

The 200 km at either end is not too bad.

The middle bit from Makat is terrible.

Sealed road that is horribly broken.

We were mystified by this industrial site, with lots of lightning conductors.

Edit:- in 2024 I thought to investigate. Its the terminus for the Makat - North Caucasus (Georgia) looping gas pipeline. Looping just means two pipes in parallel, providing more storage and buffering against demand. A vast hub of pipelines leading to it, and a big one leading away, parallel to our road. A video made by a Croatian company helped, the cyrillic script over a control panel translated as "compressor station". I guess surprised at the scale of the site, 6 very big compressors.

We were reduced to an average speed around 20 km/h.
With a bit of pothole dodging.

But no way of dodging the bumps.

But then we used the side of the road.
Past villages.

All ready for winter.

And past oil fields.
The vegetation is sparse.

Not grass.

We've noticed many "tombyards" in Kazakhstan so far.

Every village has one.

And there are some that don't have a village.

But more important to us is perhaps the weather.
Will it rain or won't it.
It will.
We stopped for the night a bit off the road (next to a scrape - old gravel pit).

Collected some water from rain.

And photographed whatever was near.

Plus watched the trains in the distance.
Next morning the road was such heavy going we tried the track to one side.

It could have been a bad move.


Every 100 km or so the road crosses the rail line.

Bridges are the highest point for miles (or is that kms).

Becoming cautious we sometimes left the track and headed cross country.
And stopped for the occasional eagle.
This was an easy bit!

I lost concentration and we went for a bit of a slide - 25m sideways. Not a nice feeling.

Occasionally the road was good enough to reach the heady speed of 30 km/hr.

Stopped here to release the front hubs. We aren't traveling fast enough to feel any vibration from the front drive shaft but its an indication that something is not quite right so better to careful.

This stretch was "interesting".

The craters are up to a metre deep.

Like some slow motion roller coaster.

We read somewhere that Kazakhstan's roads were the best in Asia.

That may well be so, but this one has missed out on some maintenance.

And then, magically, things began to improve.
Still interested in the railway.

I haven't seen a maintenance crane like this since the 1960's.

I've become used to the yellow specialised vehicles

We stopped for the night about 40 km SW of Qandyagash.

We'll decide when we reach the road junction which way to Aral will be easier.

While its nice to be past our bureaucratic hassles that started with the China Visa application and become more stable, and to have about the right momentum, we are a bit tired from rough roads.

Where is Goldilocks when we need her!

Not sure if we'll regret it.

We are camped about 300m from the rail line.

Nice to watch, but could be noisy.

Not just the clickety-click, but the whirring of metal on metal, the squeal of wheels on corners, the rumble of the diesels, and not to forget the clunk-clunk of  flats on wheels. From locked  wheels while breaking.

Passenger trains have so far had 15, 17, 18 or 19 carriages. Nothing predictable like 4 or 8.

It must make booking seats interesting!

Embi and Aralsk, Kazakhstan Week 122 August 1st - 5th 2013

Ian & Jan Thu, 01 Aug 13 06:40:23 +1000
Hi Folks! More good pictures and very interesting travel, as you are making our 5 week trip using youth hostels in Yorkshire & Scotland seem like a walk in the park, while some of the 'facilities' seem to have come out of third world countries!!
Can't wait to get back to the 'Tin Tent' and a week on a small Campsite to get my sanity back!
I did wonder if the factory with all the lightening conductors was a computer chip plant or a secret listening station, so I had better shut up and get off line quick!!
(Hope the new Shock Absorbers are holding up after those potholes?)
Best wishes
Ian & Jan

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