How we got super efficient with our time in Almaty, dined on fresh lamb at Kolsay Lakes and drove for days through storms to reach the Russian Border.
The border couldn’t have been much more farcical. First the Kyrgyz customs wanted their document (which we were never given on entry). I tried explaining we were never given one, told them which border we came in through and told them to call them as it was a ‘Kyrgyzstan problem’ not ours. Eventually after much pacing around they let us through until we tried to exit. One guy wanted everything out. He tried to take the GPS off the dash saying we shouldn’t have it, it’s a security issue blah blah blah. He tried to take the microSD card but I told him he wasn’t having it and put it in the cubby box. Then he wanted everything out of the back of the 90, so I did the usual and offered for him to take it out himself. He demanded we did it so very slowly we pulled things out. Computers first, opened the fridge then our bags. When Lisa started waving her underwear around he soon told us to pack up but we were not done yet. He kept prodding the trailer with his pointy metal stick, everything got poked. Paintwork, boxes, clothes, I was slowly starting to lose my patience with him, his attitude and his nonchalant regard for our worldly belongings.
If you need to register yourself in Almaty, Kazakhstan you can do so here:
Open most of the time but closed for lunch. Its a long lunch so I suggest you arrive early.
Go through the main door and go to window 3. Fill out the blank form (in Cyrillic) with your name, passport details, duration of stay and address. Just put down any address from the Lonely Planet. We used the Almaty Hostel on Khan Tengry which was enough for them! Registration card returned in your passport 1 hour later. Free.
I hope this information is of use.
If you need to Register yourself in Atyrau, Western Kazakhstan you can do so here: N47.09347 E051.92116 (click link for map!).
Its an ominous back door in a wall of the main OVIR office. Let yourself in (or bang on the door) go up the steps into the room and hand them your passport explaining you need to register. They do most of the leg work, you just need to fill in your vehicle details with some of their help if you have no address to register at. We explained we were not staying in hotels or at any address expressing we were camping and they just put down our vehicle registration number.
It took a few hours but we did it and it was free. Others have reported needing to get copies. These can be obtained following the directions below:
‘…Left from the gate, right on the main street and 50 metres on the right (just before the big blue Eurasian bank on the left of the road) is a Police / Army kit shop with “APMEHCKNN” above the door in camo coloured letters. In there is an office on the right was a copy place. Needed 2 x copies of the vehicle ownership docs, 1 x copy of each of the passport ID page, Kazakh visa, and also a copy of the immigration slip we got at the border. Less than a £1 for the copies.’
Hope this information helps.
We had picked up our Tajikistan Visas in Ankara, Turkey back in March but still needed to get the GBAO (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province) permit for the Pamirs. Some consulates will not issue these whilst others and some tour agency’s can charge up to $150 just for the permit!
I got wind that it was possible to obtain this permit, direct, in Dushanbe for next to nothing.