04-13-2010, 12:38 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
All 3 of us applied on US passports, so with other passports YMMV. It took a lot of research, reading a lot of RR's and the help from many others. Horizons Unlimited is an incredible resource. Requirements change frequently so be wary of posting that are more than a year or two old, things have probably changed since then. We needed visas for the following countries: Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. Turkey will give you a visa at the border and Mongolia / Georgia do not require a visa for US citizens.
There is lots of information available on the internet from the various embassies and the state department. Keep in mind that the posted information even on the embassy sites can be outdated. Start as early as possible with a good schedule of when you expect to be where and pay real attention to all the detailed requirements. For standard processing start at elast 4 months early, but keep in mind that for instance Russia has limitations on how early you can apply. Research - plan - research - plan!! For some countries you can also get visa’s as you go along if you are willing to put up with the uncertainty. You can also do it a lot quicker if you are willing to throw a lot of money towards expediting fees.
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are pretty routine to obtain and did not require a LOI (letter of introduction). You can go standard application time or expedited, so count on 1 – 4 weeks for a turn around each.
For Azerbaijan we got a reservation for a hotel and added it to our visa application. Not sure if it was really required, but cheap insurance.
Due to our itinerary we could not get by with a 30 day, single entry visa for Russia, so instead we paid an outfit in Virginia (PVS International) to get us a 6 month business, multiple entry visa. There is a LOI to deal with and other rules and regulations. It was by far the most expensive visa to get at $450, the other ones were anywhere between $60 and $150 for standard application time.
Turkmenistan is the hardest to deal with. You have two options, a transit visa with fixed entry and exit dates, limited to something like 7 days. The other option is a regular visa, but you are required to be accompanied by a guide. That of course crimps your style touring on a motorcycle. It is complicated to come up with what is your best solution. I will not get in all the gory details here. In the end we contracted with Stantours to get us a regular visa with the LOI involved. His guide will meet us is Turkmenbasi when we get of the boat from Azerbaijan and handle all the paperwork for us. Our “tour” will be for 5 days thru Turkmenistan and cost us a fair amount of money. Although far from optimal we decided to go this route because we are already short in time and did not want to risk getting stuck in Baku waiting for a transit visa for who knows how long. You can also travel north of the Caspian Sea and go around Turkmenistan. That is time and money consuming. You may make a different decision based on your itinerary, schedule and preferences.
Anyway, this is the VERY abbreviated version. It seemed daunting at times, but persistence paid off. We are all set with our visa’s.
While I am it, this may be also the place to mention some of those who have helped us in getting this trip figured out. In no particular order:
· Horizons Unlimited website and all of its contributors, an enormous resource
· ADVRider and all of its contributors, the many RR are very helpful and keep you inspired. The guys in Greece and Turkey really helped us out with local information.
· The Chaingang. With two Dakar’s on this trip, thanks guys in helping us preparing our bikes, tools and spare parts.
· Alexander at Rally Adventure Shop in Holland (rallyadventureshop.nl). A true advrider himself. He has shipped tires for us to Turkey.
· Sambor and Walter (Colebatch); Getting us all kinds of information. Even more so with their RR providing us with the inspiration. We can’t touch what you guys have done, but you have shown us what is possible and that next to nothing is impossible.
· David at Stantours, tirelessly answering all of our unending questions and for organizing our Turkmenistan visa’s
· Denis at http://www.motorezina.ru: he will ship us 3 sets of tires in Novosibirsk
· Jean at PVS International for getting us our Russian visa’s.
· BMW of Denver (Jessie, Chris and Tim), ordering all of our Dakar spare parts and promising to save us if our bikes need help.
· And most all: our wives Mary, Susan and Shawna who have been so supportive of our determination to do this thing. Thanks!!
We will add a few more of these generic writups on the preparations as we go along.
khpossum screwed with this post 04-18-2010 at 08:19 AM