When I passed the border, it was two hours before sunset and I had already cycled 160km. Because of the electricity outage, I lost 2 hours. And I was on the dustiest road in Asia. When the sunset came and my odometer showed 215km, I decided to take a hike. The only time on this trip 😉
After maybe 1 minute, a father with a son stopped their Dacia and put my bike on the roof. They gave me a lift for 35km to Beyneu. In the end, I received a big hug from the father. He was very happy that he could help me.
I stayed in the hostel and went for dinner. Next, I stocked up for the next day. The crazy idea of cycling from Beyneu to Aktau in one day came to my mind in Dushanbe, almost two weeks earlier. Cyclists were complaining about this stretch so I decided to do it as fast as possible. What’s more, I changed the direction – from North-western to Southwestern. It meant the change of wind direction. Perfect time to cover 472km in one go 😉
The next day, I woke up at 12. I did not rush as I knew I would anyway cycle more than 24h including the whole night. After leaving Beyneu, I immediately felt the strong back wind. I could easily cycle 28-30km/h. The landscape got a bit more green and a bit wavier compared to Uzbekistan. Up, down, up, down. To the rhythm. And the asphalt was really good. The best road after China.
I stopped every 80kms. The second stop was at the restaurant. It was weird to cycle in the complete emptiness and suddenly spot a restaurant 😉 As in Uzbekistan, there are towns there, but few kilometres from the road, behind the horizon.
After 230km, I passed through small mountains in a sunset. It became dark very quickly, and the road changed direction. Now, I had wind from the slight front and side. The speed dropped to 16-18kmh, morale dropped even more. Fortunately, it was bright as the sky was full of stars and I had a beautiful, croissant-shaped moon exactly ahead of me. A nice sign while leaving Muslim countries 😉
Unfortunately, after 2h the moon fell behind the horizon and the wind blew clouds so it became very dark. I could only see my front light. When a saw another light, I could not tell if it is 2m or 2km ahead of me. Crazy.
When I stopped at another restaurant, I witnessed a gathering of teens driving their cars from neighbouring villages to meet there and smoke/drink. I thought that the steppe was empty. But people live there and also want to enjoy life.
After passing a few small mountains and cycling in total 300km, I got to Shetpe. It was 1 a.m. but I managed to find an open restaurant. After 30minutes and super tasty fast food, I felt sleepy. It was time to get back on the bike. While getting out of the village, a man drove to me and gave me Coca-Cola through a window and showed thumbs-up. It was so nice!
I cycled up the hill, and I had ahead 80kms of slightly descending road and a strong back wind (again). So awesome. Somewhere at 350km. a huge scorpion run across the road just ahead of me. When I passed it, it turned and started running to me. In the beginning, I thought that was a turtle. It was so big. After I realized it was a scorpion, I got a bit frightened. No way I would slow down before sunset 😀
It was easy to keep 33-35kmh. Around 5 a.m. after in total 380km, the sun rose. It was a great relief. But not a long one. The wind changed. And I was soon taking a sharp turn.
After 400km, I turned north and stopped at the petrol station for a rest. Ahead, I had the biggest challenge. After 21h of cycling, I had to cycle the last >70kms with the front wind. What’s more, somewhere in the middle, I cycled down to Karagiye Depression. While cycling back up, I met camels who were so afraid of me that they started running ahead. They were running in front of me for over 10kms. Finally, at the top, they escaped to the right.
After 24 hours and 52 minutes, including 3 hours of breaks, I arrived at Aktau. I went straight to the ferry ticket office. The ferry is a tricky part. It arrives and departs without a schedule. It can wait in a port 1 week for cargo. It’s a cargo ferry but always takes a few tourists. You have to call every day and ask if the ferry would depart that day.
There was no ferry on the arrival day. So good! I could finally go to my hotel and sleep for 17 hours 😉
Ferry Aktau, Kazakhstan – Alat, Azerbaijan
After two days, the ferry arrived. Perfect timing. One day earlier, I met Slovak motorcyclists who were waiting for 10 days! At the port, I met a group of cyclists and backpackers. It was cool to talk again with Europeans.
The group was very diverse: French, Dutch, Uzbek, Polish and Uzbek. I was happy that not only Europeans cycle around the world.
The loading took the whole day and half night. Finally, we departed after midnight. It took almost 30 hours to get on the other side of the Caspian Sea.
Our ferry “ Bastakar Qarayev” was designed as a river ferry – it is long and narrow. It is already 60 years old. A similar boat sank a few years ago in a storm and almost all passengers died. After that, the boat always sails in front of the wind to prevent collapse. As a result, it can take even 4 days to pass the Caspian Sea.
While sailing, we could see the garbage left in the Sea by oil companies. Plenty of oil rigs, used or not-used, standing in the water.