We met Cat and Brian already back in Kyrgyzstan. Together we rode to the border, where we got our passports stamped quickly and easily passed through the gate. On the Kazakh side, we had to wait a bit, because the border officials were on lunch break. Afterwards the customs officer even apologized for that. Everything was quickly stamped and after a very shallow luggage check we were already officially in Kazakhstan. That was the easiest and fastest border crossing in a long time. Here we would return later. We rode on, alternately on gravel roads and tarred roads.
“White Man Fire” at Clay Canyon
On this day we met Heidi and Norbert ( www.stahlroth.com ) twice. We decided to drive all together to the Clay Canyon and spend the night there. It was a short way to go and soon we were looking for a suitable place to camp. As there was also a farmhouse nearby, Martin passed by and asked if it was okay to pitch the tents here. The farmer nodded smiling and so we pitched the tents, and parked the Unimog of Stahlroth. Norbert was gathering firewood and made a big “white-man-fire” after dinner. The Africans call a big fire without any real use, such as cooking on it, a “white-man-fire”. Because only white men have the idea to burn wood just for fun. We enjoyed the heat of the otherwise useless fire without remorse and drank a beer. It was great!
The day before we drove through the dry riverbed into the Clay Canyon. We had set up our camp on the parched clay soil and so we were very relieved that it had not rained during the night. Without any problems we made the same way back as we had come. Today’s day’s stage to the Sharin Canyon was just 35 km. Once there, we met the family Färber with their big MAN truck camper. Despite strong winds, we set up our tents on the hill where the trucks were. The canyon was really beautiful, with imposing, wind and water-cut and sculpted stone towers lined in beige and red on either side of the ground. We walked all the way into the gorge until we reached the river. When we got back up to our camp, we were invited for dinner at the MAN. So we could enjoy it all together while the wind stormed outside.
We found a translator
We said goodbye to family Färber and with Cat and Brian we made our way to the “singing sand dunes”. Around noon, the rain clouds caught up with us, which is why we decided to spent some time in a restaurant. Inside, we found 4 Kazakhs busy drinking vodka. Strengthened, after the warm meal, we rode on. The direct way over the pass would actually have been a lot shorter, but because of the still existing snow, the rode wwas closed. So we had to ride around the mountain and that was at least 100 km more.
At the entrance to the national park we should present our entrance tickets. We would have had to buy them at the last village entrance. The ladies were waiting in the shade and Brian and Martin rode back. On the way to the office they met Andres, a young stately Russian who traveles with his 1600 Honda. He too had already gone too far and joined Brian and Martin. In the office Andres translated English – Russian – English so we got the right tickets. Together we rode back to the entrance of the park and this time we were allowed to enter. “God saved it”! Andres struggled on the gravel road and was slower than the four of us on our enduro bikes. But we had our troubles with the deep gravel as well. The road split several times and we didn’t know what path to take. At the end we had done everything right and actually arrived at the campsite of the park. There we set up our tents. Andres evidently had neither water nor food and only traveled with us because we had promised to feed him. So in return he took care of the campfire. Very comfortable we sat after dinner around the fire and drank our lukewarm beer. Andres found the ID of a Jehovah’s Witness. It was buried right in front of his feet in soft sand. He wanted to throw it into the fire. He threw, and the ID sailed over the fire. Andres looked after it, took another sip of his beer and calmly said: “God saved it!” We all had to laugh.
Burnt feet and singing dunes
The next day we rode on, on gravel roads. Arrived at the Singing dunes we changed our clothes. We started walking and soon realized that flip flops were not the first choice in these temperatures. In the deep sand, the flipflop sank in and the feet were buried by the hot sand and got burnt. Andres was the only one who still had his boots on and made relatively good progress. The women were smart enough and gave up at the bottom of the dunes when they noticed the mistake. The three men struggled farther up, trying not to sink too low into the sand dune. Martin stood with his bare feet in his flip-flop halfway to the top of the dune, all around glowing hot sand. The pain on his feet was just hellish. So he had to give up. To make matters worse on the way down, the strap of the right flip flop ripped and Martin had to walk through the hot sand with one bare foot. He managed to do 4-5 steps – then he had to have a break on one leg and occasionally a little water over the feet to cool off. It was very painful and stupid to walk up so far with the wrong footwear. At least Martin managed to make the dune sing a bit on the descent. Andres was more successful. He made it to the top and from there he stomped down through the sand and a deep rumble and vibration went through the whole sand dune – very impressive. On the last leg, Andres carried Martin back to the parking lot. Here we said goodbye to the Russian.
Swiss dish in Kazakhstan
We rode on to get to the lake at Kapkagay. The track stretched and on arrival we enjoyed the bathing and washing clothes in the lake even more. We were lucky enough to be able to buy all the ingredients it needed so that Xenia could cock Älpler Makkaroni (typical swiss dish) that night. The food was just awesome. Then we soon crawled into the sleeping bags to escape the mosquitoes, who did not want to leave us alone after dark.
Shortly after midnight, three cars parked right next to our tents and about 15 people got out. With lots of flaslights, laughter and noise, they set their tents just three meters away from ours. We all woke up and tried to explain to the young people that they could set up camp a little further down on such a big lake. They didn‘t understand any of what we said. So we got back into our sleeping bags and tryed to ignore the noise.
The next day we were all tired. We had slept badly and also the sun burned early on the tents and heated everything up. After breakfast we decided to spend another day at the same spot, as all evasive maneuvers to other lakes would end up in even greater overpopulation. It was a holiday and as it seems, Kazakhs spend them at the lakes. So we set up Cat’s tent on the other side of our little square and set up our tarp. Martin went shopping and even brought back cold beer. We went swimming a lot and enjoyed the cool lake.
Steak and beer … we follow you!
Today, Brian and Cat wanted to reach Almaty, but we did not really feel like going to a big city. But Brian and Cat talked about steaks and good pubs with beer. So we soon sat on the motorcycles and followed the two in direction Almaty. We rode the most part on a kind of highway and after a short search also found the Interhouse in Almaty. We changed and left immediately and ordered pizza, cesar salad and soda in the restaurant. All things we been dreaming of.
We stayed in the same guesthouse for 5 days and spent our time washing, working, chilling out, being sick and getting well again. Here we met for the first time Kinga, ( www.onherbike.com ).
On the 140th day we fellt already much better, so we could start a new adventure. We left the city early to be outside before the heat. Through the green landscape, on the good roads we were quiet fast. Just before we turned to get to Kaindy Lake, we met the two guys from Africa Twin World Tour ( https://www.facebook.com/africatwinworldtour/ ) from Poland. We talked and exchanged our contacts. We wished each other a good ride and rode of in different directions.
Not much later we arrived at the first lake and were glad to get out of the motorcycle clothes. We went straight to visit the second lake, Kaindy lake. It was created by a rock slide so the are still the dead, sun-bleached trees standing in the turquoise water. On the way back, Xenia did not feel well and had to rest muliple times until we got all the way back to our motorcycles. Kinga arrived in the morning, saw our bikes, and put a note in the map bag of Xenia’s tank bag. “I’m at the top”. So we went up and there she was with the tent and her BMW F800. So we set up our tent there and had a great time. We decided to ride to Kyrgyzstan together.
Kinga and Martin went back to Kaindy Lake early in the morning to get drone footage. For almost an hour, the two captured the panorama with the lens. Afterwards we had coffee and breakfast. Here we also the did the official handover of “Bacon”. The Stuffed Toy Pig has been on the road for 9 years now and it‘s getting passed on from traveler to traveler. Kinga gave us Bacon and so we will take photos with him and share them on the forum. http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/around-the-world-advrider-mascot-relay-bacons-journey.287919/page-116. Together we rode down the steep path and took pictures of the river crossing. From there we rode directly to the border, where we were served super fast.
Short but nice
We spent a short but very nice time in southern Kazakhstan. The canyons and lakes are really beautiful and invite you to camp. Further north, however, Kazakhstan becomes very shallow and barren. We did not travel this part ourselves because we did not go further north. Our way led us back to Kyrgyzstan and then on through a small part of China.