If you're considering travelling through Central Asia, this advice from overlanding guru Mark Middleton may save your life
Considering an overland trip through Central Asia, maybe even using your own vehicle? Mark Middleton from Oasis Overland has travelled extensively through the region and offers these important – and possibly life-saving – tips.
At the Iranian border follow this dress code: Men – long trousers, covered shoes (not sandals!), long-sleeved top. Women – knee-length coat (brown is very cool!), headscarf (covering all your hair), covered shoes. Once inside the country, men can wear sandals and short-sleeved shirts, but women must still stick to the dress code. We saw two guys at the border in shorts and sandals – it obviously offended the locals and I later found out it took them three days to enter the country!
Don’t underestimate the amount of water you need to carry on your vehicle (minimum 20 litres). Imagine the simple task of changing a wheel, but in the desert in 40+ degrees, and suddenly 20 litres doesn’t go very far! As our vehicle was tiny, we distributed the weight of water around the vehicle in 2 litre plastic bottles.
Get up early and visit the animal market in Karakol on the Eastern side of Lake Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan. At 6am the light is amazing for photos and you are guaranteed to be the star attraction and the only travellers there. Watch price haggling and the sale of everything from pigs to donkeys, but keep an eye out for fast-moving nomads test driving their new steeds! It’s all over by 8am.
When bush camping, keep an eye on what the truckers are doing – if they aren’t parking on the roadside in the wilds or in lay-bys overnight, it will be for good reason! If they are using truck parks, you will be able to camp there and get a meal too. Always camp well off the road and out of sight, so you don’t get unwelcome company during the night.
In Uzbekistan try the local dish plov – a cheap, hearty one pot rice dish cooked in lamb fat with onions and carrots (it honestly tastes better than it sounds).
Mark Middleton works for Oasis Overland and has been in the overland business for 11 years and has visited 90 countries. He will be speaking at The Adventure Travel Show, appearing in The Incredible Journeys Theatre on Saturday the 25 January 2014 at 11:45 till 12:15.
Advance tickets to the show are now on sale. Get your tickets for only £5 (that’s saving £5 off the door price!) by quoting ‘WANDERLUST’ when booking tickets online at www.adventureshow.com.