In the morning we met a couple of. Polish GS riders who had arrived late the previous evening. They were planning on going to the ship cemetary, as we were.....but we missed the turn. Its not obvious and actually (I think) has a no entry sign posted on it, at least, thats the only ┤road┤I saw.
So, we contunued up the main road, and again, I use the term loosly.
The first 120kms were OK, with a few off-road sections. We bumped into out German/Yamaha friend again at a rest point.
We got to a junction where the GPS┤s wanted us to follow the A26 off to the left. They showed the road ahead as ˇffroad┤but the map shows it as the M32. We had been told by the polish riders, and local truckers confirmed it, that the M32 was the best route now as it had been laid to good tarmac.....all the way to Aktobe.
The junction I refer to is just to the west of Yrghyz. There is an air-conditioned transport stop there (no fuel though) and the staff and truckers were very friendly. Cold coke was very welcome and the noodle soup was great.
btw, one IMPORTANT point I forgot. The last fuel available on this road is about 3lms out of Aral with the next fuel just west of Qarabutaq.....about 370-400kms. There are signs for fuel BUT, there isn't any, yet anyway.
Staff and truckers
We pushed on and we had been informed correctly, the tarmac was there and mostly good. We made the fuel stop OK and then did as fast as possible run into Aktobe, arriving around 9pm. We bumped into a guy in a 4x4 who led us to the Aktobe hotel. It looked expensive but we found it was actually quite reasonable at 5900 tenge for a single room. There was also shashlik and Ice cold beer to be had right outside with secure parking at the back. Just what a tired traveler needs!
Next to the hotel...photo from the following morning.
Preparing to leave for Atyrau and, unknown to us at the time, the hardest ┤road┤day we were to have.
As a side note, we met up with some young English guys doing the Mongolian rally. They had 2 cars and were heading, unsurprisingly for Mongolia. We told them about the roads and the major towns (Almaty vs Astana) so they decided to go to Astana over Almaty. For some reason, they had no idea about registration with the immigration police (5 day limit) and being Friday, and having been in Kazakhstan for 3 days already, they were going to get fined. They decided to do it in Astana and would just have to accept the fine.
As another side note, in this cafe out front of the hotel, even the beer glasses were iced so the beer was super cold. I had to have a few more than usual and eventually got to bed around 01:30. The shashlik was excellent too.
Tomorrow, we move onto Atyrau, our last stop in Kazakhstan.