Initial plans for the 2014 overland adventure included 33 countries and over 20,000 miles. Following the 2013 Alps trip, I decided to amend the route in an attempt to reduce the overall and daily mileage. I also realised that my paid pre-retirement leave would be closer to five months, rather than six, so this also contributed to the need to shorten the trip.
I decided to cut out Tajikistan, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Turkey as the primary means of shortening the journey, but some other countries have also been omitted. I also decided to focus primarily on the main segment of the trip – that being Ukraine, Russia, Mongolia and the Stans. It is expected that the main segment could take up to four months. Once we complete that segment, we will decide how much of the remaining segment we can realistically complete within our available time.
I’ve also added some additional points of interest to the route. The more that I study the countries that we will visit, the more places I want to add. This is playing havoc with my intention to shorten the trip!
I’ve divided the new route into two segments – the primary segment that is the main focus, and that could take four months to complete and the secondary segment that will be subject to cuts should we find ourselves with insufficient time.
England: Depart from Bridgwater and head to Dover to catch a ferry to Dunkirk.
France: Disembark ferry in Dunkirk and drive to border with Belgium
Belgium: Transit country to Germany
Germany: Drive to Berlin to pick up Klaus – then towards Poland
Poland: Visit Krakow before heading to Slovakia
Slovakia: Trencin – Prievidza (Bojnice Castle) – Cicmany – Vlkolinec – High Tatras mountain range – Poprad – Spis Castle – Presov – enter Ukraine
Ukraine: Lviv – Kiev – Chernobyl – Khar’kov – Lugansk (2,180 miles total) – enter Russia
Russia: Saratov – Samara – Kazan – Perm – Ekaterinburg – Tobolsk – Omsk – Novosibirsk – Tomsk – Krasnoyarsk – drive the BAM Road through Kransk, Bratsk, Ust’ Kut and Severobaikalsk – down shore of Lake Baikal to Irkutsk – Ulan-Ude (6,050 miles total) and then into Mongolia.
Mongolia: Enter south of Kyatka to Amarbayasgalant Khiid – Ulan Baatar – Erdene Zuu Khiid and Tovkhon Khiid monasteries – Bulgan – Moron – Khovsgol Nuur National Park – Darkhad Depression – Moron – Zagastain Davaa mountain pass – Altai – Khovd – Ulaangom – Uureg Nuur (freshwater lake) – Tsagaannuur border (7,984 miles total) and into Russia.
Russia (second entry): Enter via Tsagaannuur border crossing into the Altai Region – Biysk – Rubtsovsk and into Eastern Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan (first entry): South-bound from border crossing to Ayagoz – Taldy Kurgan – Almaty (9,281 miles) – Charyn Canyon and Valley of Castles – Kegen – and south to border crossing into Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan: From border crossing – Karakol – along southern side of Lake Issyk-Kul – Balykchy – Bishkek – Toktogul – and cross border into Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan: Cross border from Kyrgyzstan – Namangan – Almalyk – Dzhizak – Samarkand (10,236 miles) – Bukhara – Samarkand – Tashkent (10,731 miles)- cross border into Kazakhstan towards Shymkent.
Kazakhstan (second entry): From Uzbekistan border to Shymkent – Kyzlorda – Baykonor (past the Baykonor Cosmodrome) – Aral (and the receding Aral Sea) – Aktyubinsk (11,697 miles) – then over the border into Russia.
Russia (third entry): From Kazakhstan border to Saratov – Volgograd – Gukovo border crossing (12,639 miles).
Ukraine (second entry)
From Gukovo crossing – Donestsk – Kirvograd – Uman – Kamanets-Podolsky (13,284 miles) – cross border to Romania
Romania: Kolomyya – Biai Mare – to Transylvania including Sibiu, Sighisoara, Brasov, Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle) and Sinaia – Bucharest (13,770 miles) – Giurgiu and into Bulgaria
Bulgaria: Ruse – Rusenki Lom Nature Park – Velinko Tarnovo – Koprivshtitsa – Hisar – Plovdiv – Kardzhali – Peperikon (Valley of the Thracian Kings) – Haskovo and into Greece.
Greece: Megas Alexandris – Thessaloniki and into Macedonia
Macedonia: Gevgelija – Kavadarci – Tikves Region – Bitola (14,290 miles) – Dihovo – Ohrid – Struga – Radozda and into Albania
Albania: Berat – Tirana (14,422 miles) – Shkodra and into Montenegro.
Montenegro: Ulcinj – Petrovac – Sveti Stefan – Budva – Kotor – Tivat – Bay of Kotor – Herceg Novi and into the tip of Croatia.
Croatia: Dubrovnik (14,571 miles) and into Bosnia & Hercegovina.
Bosnia & Hercegovina: Trebinje – Stolac – Pocitelj – Mostar – Jablanica – Bjelasnica – Sarajevo (14,686 miles) – Travnik – Jajce – Basanko Petrovac – Bihac and into Croatia.
Croatia (second entry): Grabovac – Plitvice Lakes national Park – Otocac – Zuta Lovka – Senj – Rijeka – Opatija – Pula – Rovinj – Buje (15,035 miles) and into Slovenia.
Slovenia: Piran – Postojna – Ljubljana – Kranj – Bled (15,132 miles) – Bovec and into Italy.
Austria: Transit en-route to Berlin
Czech Republic: Transit en-route to Berlin
Germany (second entry): Arrive Berlin (15,556 miles) – drop off Klaus and pick up Bev – transit via Munich towards Italy
Austria (second entry): transit to Italy
Italy: Milan – Genova
France (second entry): Eze – Nice – Lyon – Orleans – Versaille – Dunkirk
England: Dover – Bridgwater (17,179 miles)
The primary segment of the trip includes 12 countries and covers 13,284 miles. That segment is projected to take 104 days (average daily mileage of 127 miles). However, we have the leeway to take longer on the primary segment (depending on circumstances at the time of the trip) and eliminate part of the secondary segment.
The secondary segment (if we complete it) would add another 12 countries and would cover at least another 3,895 miles. That would bring the total count for the entire trip to 24 countries and 17,179 miles.
An interactive online map for this amended version of the route can be viewed if you CLICK HERE
I expect that we will be tweaking the route prior to the April 2014 departure, but this is how it looks at the moment.