Plan Return to Australia        April 2013 - March 2014
Planning is what you do before you do it so that when you do it you don't get all mixed up
with apologies to Winnie the Pooh
This page will grow as the plans are made. Its really two bouts of planning. The first while in England, the second while in Nepal when we realised it was possible to visit Myanmar.
Initial Planning to reach India and Ship to Australia

Our aim is Greece, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tibet, Nepal, India, Australia.

Yes, I know, Tibet is part of China. Just that it has different approvals and permissions.

An early part of the planning is Visas.

A very simple "risk assessment" suggests there are three "critical issues" to be resolved with appropriate strategies:-

   Possible Problem   Strategy
Iran Visa refusal Apply while still in UK through for issue in Paris. Outcome known while still in UK to, if necessary, allow Russia and Kazakhstan visa applications in UK, before confirming China route with Navo Tours and application for China visa. 
Iranian visa refused. Plan B activated.
Turkmenistan closed Unlikely! (Famous last words ... it was closed for a short period last year during elections). Remain informed. If necessary return to Turkey. Backtrack as far as necessary to obtain Russia and Kazakhstan visas. Or simply wait until its open.
Tibet closed Karakoram Highway is a nice alternative. Apply for Pakistan visa while in UK. Attempt to apply in Australia for issue in UK. Otherwise courier passports and application to Australia.
Remain informed. Frequent communication with Navo Tours.
Application for China Visa in Ankara will rely on the best information available at the time. 

Alternate routes are:-  Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and/or China, Pakistan, India, Nepal, India and/or China, Laos, SE Asia.

To make life difficult the sequence of aquiring visas is different to the driving sequence. There's also validity from issue date to entry date (usually 90 days but it varies).

Planning is made more difficult by the use of our own vehicle. Simply, it isn't as easy as hopping on a plane when things go a little wrong "Beam me up Scotty" isn't a viable risk mitigation strategy!!!! Even swimming is difficult for the truck in land locked countries...

After many, many, iterations (and crankiness at complexity) over several days the below plan was devised. Surprisingly, it turns out the first visa to be applied for is Pakistan which we hope to not need.

While this level of planning may seem like a bit of overkill it allows us to more easily discuss and decide. There's even a remote chance that it will save us some pain along the way by providing a bit of flexibility. And of course it all seems glaringly obvious now the thinking has been done!

Driving Flow Chart Visa Application Flow Chart
Below is a rough timetable. The critical dates are the issue of Pakistan and Iran visas, and entry into Iran and China (to have enough time to enter Pakistan if necessary). There is flexibility in staying shorter times in some countries if necessary, and in how long we take to get from UK to Greece. All very provisional at this stage. Of course we are also trying to avoid the hot time in central Asia, and the cold time in Tibet (if only because passes are closed).
Following Iranian visa refusal the Gantt chart has been reworked. Kyrgistan and China arrival dates hav been preserved.

Late departure from UK is compensated for by not having to pick up Iran visa in Paris (1 week).

Visa Application Details
The bureaucratic imagination knows no bounds. Some countries have outsourced part of the process. Some countries have centralised it. And some have done both. A plus is that some countries have separated applying from issuing which means that more than one application can be in process at the same time. Some countries have tightened their requirements. Some countries, notably Kyrgyzstan have relaxed. Some countries need letters of introduction (like Uzbekistan). Some (like Kazakhstan) need confirmed hotel bookings. Then there are countries like Turkmenistan that need to see a visa for next country, there are dependencies. It all constantly changes and there is frequent conflicting information available, as well as lots of opinion. Its not helped by the growth of visa agents who may have an interest in making it seem difficult. Most difficult to find are the people who have successfully applied in recent times. Bah humbug! And most times I can't even spell the country names. But it all seems to work.
One monumental plus in all this is Vali. A very enthusiastic Iranian in Mashad. Not only does Vali assist with Turkmenistan Transit Visas (he will apply 10-14 days in advance for us so that it only takes a couple of hours for us when we arrive, and provided the forms) but we also know our truck fits outside his house. The alternative would probably have been a lot of messing about in Ankara
Also critical has been the assistance of David at Stantours who must have the patience of Jove in answering all our silly questions. Authoritative, credible information is hard to come by. A voice of sanity in a sea of uncertainty.
This table will change as we learn about the process for each country.
     Application Sequence Status Application Time    Cost    Detail
Iran   applied 13/2/13

first refusal 19/3/13

refusal took a long time slowing other plans. Re-applied at no cost but little hope!

  7-10 days   EUR35   Get authorisation code from
              Authorisation code valid for 3 months.
              Entry within 90 days of stamp in passport
              Visa for 30 days.
      7 days   EUR70   Visa issue in Paris. Iranian New Year Holidays March 20-24 and April 1-2. Consulate open mornings..
Turkey               Visa on Arrival
China   Application in Ankara refused as we are not Turkish residents.   email       Navo Tours
    Application in Istanbul accepted through agent. 8 days. Only 30 days, valid for 3 months from date of issue.   2-3 days       Apply in Ankara or Istanbul
                Probably needed as support for Uzbekistan Visa
Kyrgyzstan               No visa required. 30/60/90 day stay (on arrival).
Uzbekistan   Not required following Iran Visa refusal   10-14 days email   US$55   Letter of Intro from Stan Tours.
        Up to 10 days   US$60 + USD20   Apply in Ankara.Pay cash at HSBC bank in nearby row of shops into nominated bank account. Hopefully Ankara and explore Cappadocia while application processed. 
                Online form at requires printer
        Registration   US$20   Required with OVIR (Office of Visas and Registration). Hopefully through hotels, if not police stations. Can take a couple of days with passport surrendered. Registration for "every day accounted for" checked on exit. Difficult to get a sense of how rigourous the exit check is.
Turkmenistan   Not required following Iran Visa refusal   1 day   US$55   3-5 day Transit Visa. No LOI. Needs Uzbekistan Visa
                Pick up in Mashad
                Do Shahid St. off Dah-e-Dey Sq (next to Afghan Embassy) - Pay in $
                8:30 12:00. Closed Friday. Tourists can only apply Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
            US$20   Help from Vali (homestay) US$20 Provide details 14 days ahead email vali32 at
                Malakoshoaraye Bahar 38, No. 277, Mashad
Nepal   30 days on arrival. Extended in Pokhara (1 hour at immigration).           Visa on Arrival
India   Warning - we messed up. Unlike all other countries Indian visas are valid for (3 month) period of stay from date of issue not date of entry.

Used agent in Pokhara. Estimate 10 days. 8,000Nrps each. No covering letter.


  1 day       Kathmandhu.
    First time took 16 days as the copies of second passports (Ali Aus/NZ, me Aus/UK) were mislaid.           Complete online form at
                Address is one in Nepal
                Print it out and sign. May need covering letter?
    Single entry only available. Applied second time (to get to Myanmar) within 5 days of leaving India. Took 10 days.   7 days   4150Rps   Indian Visa Service Centre (IVSC) (outsourced to Nepal SBI Bank)
                House No.296, Kapurdhara Marg, Kathmandu
                Pay 4150 rps, return in 5 working days
                Photocopies of your passport ID page and Nepal visa
                from travel agency next door.
Contingency for Tibet Closure Required
Pakistan   Applied in Australia 18/3/2013

Received at Australia address 25/3/2013 

  7 days + Courier   A$70   Requires application in home country. May be possible to apply in Australia issue in UK.
              Valid for 6 months from date of issue.
              We'll apply before returning to UK and hopefully have it issued as we pass by London
        Single entry visa A$70, payable by postal order, certified bank cheque, or bank draft to High Commission for Pakistan Canberra 
Fallback, only required for no Iran Visa
Georgia               No visa required. Long stays available.
Russia   Invite requested from ISC Travel (same as journery out of Aus). No response. 7 days wasted.

Invitation from issued instantly.

Application posted in Australia 9/4/2013

Received at Australia address 19/4/2013

Passports consolidated with Carnet and other documents posted to UK 19/4/2013

  7 days   $220 plus postage $50 + $30   May be possible in UK. Through

Russia Visa Application Centre in London: 15-27 Gee Street, London EC1V 3RD

Since Aus passports already in Aus after Pakistan application then apply for Russia Visas in Australia.

              No apparent limit between issue and entry?
Kazakhstan   Applied in Ankara with UK/NZ passports before learning China consulate in Ankara wouldn't talk to us.   7 days       Valid 3 months from date of issue (?).
    Simple process. Fill in the form, make deposit at bank at bottom of hill, return with deposit slip, return 2 days later for passport return.           No letter of intro needed for Aus, UK, or NZ (and lots of other countries)
                Hotel booking confirmation required (fax not email?) Advice is use
                Registration within 5 days of entry (local office of Ministry of Internal Affairs).
                Conflicting advice from visa agencies in UK (one says only invitation required but apply in country of residence, another says hotel booking required but apply in UK). Best advice seems apply in Ankara. Can be concurrent with China Visa.
Mongolia   Not required.   5 days       St. Lapina-11, Irkutsk, Phone +7-3952-342145
Fallback, only required if enter Pakistan
India (in Pakistan)   Not required.   10 days       Gerrys (again) Mon-Fri Application 9am-1pm, Collection 10am-4pm PKRupees
                LG - 411, Deen\'s Trade Center, Islamia Road, Sadar Cantt., Peshawar.
                or 14-B Sadiq Plaza, Opposite Meraj Hotel, G-9 Markaz, Karachi Company, Islamabad,
                or 20, Ex American Centre Building, Opp Ganga Ram Hospital, Queens Road, Lahore.
                Call Center # 0900 31111  For mobile callers: 8111
                May need covering letter explaining plans and why applying outside own country.
Secondary Planning for Myanmar.
While planning to leave Australia we had looked longingly at Myanmar. At the time it seemed impossible to travel there with our own vehicle.

While in Nepal in October 2013 we met people who knew of organised "convoys" of overlanders across Myanmar. This would conveniently allow us to ship to Australia from Kuala Lumpur (instead of Chennai in India).

The Myanmar requirements are for tourist guide plus "man from ministry" plus itineraries, etc.

There seem to be "express trips" of about 7 days aimed at getting from India to Thailand (or the other way) at minimal cost. We opted for the 14 day version with Joern Schlage. This would be his second year of escorting one group one way, then another group the other way.

Contact is joern.schlag at  Cost was around a couple of thousand Euros per vehicle plus about $30 per person extras plus food and excursion expenses. 

Meeting point was Moreh in Manapur, India in February 2014. The date was delayed a bit as it got nearer. Too late for our first India visa. We opted to tour north west India, return to Pokhara to apply for a second India visa then travel to Moreh through Assam, Nagaland and Manapur.

A recent change meant no permits were required for those parts of north east India.

When we entered Thailand by road in 2011 we discovered that visa on arrival was 15 days only (30 days by air). We decided to apply for Thai visas before arrival. We also heard that the rules had changed in November 2013 and 30 days was available on arrival but couldn't confirm.


Application Sequence   Status   Application Time   Cost   Detail
Myanmar   Simple process of complete form and return in 2 days. No special requirements.   2 days   US$20   Myanmar Consulate Kathmandu.
Thailand   Three copies of form, copy of bank statement. Deposit 3,000Nrps at a branch of Bank of Kathmandu. Visa issued in 2 days. No time period for stay, given 60 days on arrival.   2 days   3,000Nrps + 50Nrps bank fee.   Thai Consulate Kathmandu.

John Head Fri, 01 Feb 13 11:49:42 +1100
And I thought planning a SAP installation was complex!!!

I'm enjoying your Moroccan blog.

Best wishes,


jon Fri, 01 Feb 13 16:51:07 +1100
ahhh, I was projecting, Russia, Alaska, Canada, West side USA, all the way to Chile, perth, nullabor, taggerty, home

Julian Fri, 01 Feb 13 20:37:28 +1100
taggerty sounds good!

And SAP was a breeze - though about the same level of conflicting info!

Colin Fri, 01 Feb 13 21:58:02 +1100
Wow Julian what an amazing experience, hats off to you and Ali.


Mark Lawrence Sun, 10 Feb 13 21:51:44 +1100
Blimey Uncle Julian, some serious planning going on there! So many interesting experiences still to be had.


Tony LEE Fri, 15 Feb 13 02:44:04 +1100
Don't forget to allow a couple of weeks for thorough cleaning inside and outside to satisfy AQIS

Barry Smith Fri, 15 Feb 13 05:33:59 +1100
Julian - you always said that 1/3 of the time is spent in planning, 1/3 in sourcing and 1/3 in doing. Although you may still be in Africa it is clear that you are 1/3 of the way home...

diana/bbb Sun, 07 Jul 13 12:17:44 +1000
I really admire you both still enjoying your travel blog, enjoy and may be I will be a fly on the wall again. xxx diana

MiKe and Joan Tue, 30 Jul 13 16:53:00 +1000
Fantastic effort Julian and Ali. On the map it looks all down hill to get back to Oz. How many hours are there in your days to accomplish all you have? Smooth travels on the "Silk Road"

Erik Pedersen Thu, 26 Dec 13 07:59:43 +1100
My wife and I are travel around the world, we are now in Argentina and plan to send our camper van to Malaysia, and drive up to Russia and back to Denmark where we live.
Our problem is the carnet, our car is registered in Sweden here we had to make a deposit 3 times the cars value.
Can we do this trip without carnet ?
We cant trust the motor organisation in any country.

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