Our 2019 Route
Our route from the Russian Far East to England will be broadly as depicted above.
A tiny selection of the many highlights along our route include:
Venturing deep into Mongolia's Gobi Desert
Following an ancient silk route through Tajikistan's Pamir mountains. We'll drive as high as as 4,655 metres, surrounded by peaks around 7,500 metres. (For comparison NZ's Mount Cook is 3,724 metres)
Detouring through the Wakhan Valley bordering Afghanistan and Tajikistan
Exploring silk road cities along our route and learning their rich histories
Locating 2,000 years old fortresses still standing in Uzbekistan's deserts
Venturing into the ship graveyard that is what remains of the mostly vanished Aral Sea
Spending a night camped beside the Darvaza Gas Crater (aka the 'door to hell'), which has been burning in the middle of Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert since 1971
Pausing to experience vibrant, emerging Central Asian cities
..... and so many more fascinating places and experiences that will await us in countries beyond the Caspian Sea.
Some sections of our route cannot be known with certainty this far in advance. The main unknown is whether Turkmenistan permits us entry (a 50/50 probability), which has a follow on impact as to whether we can drive south around the Caspian Sea headed for Iran.
If not, we will have to make a choice between heading north into Kazakhstan/Russia, or else find a rusty old freighter willing to give us passage over the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan. From there we would have to head for Armenia via Georgia in order to avoid ongoing military conflict along the Azerbaijan/Armenia border.
But before we even get as far as having to contend with the Turkmenistan issue, we will need to overcome a known fuel supply issue in Uzbekistan. In Uzbekistan cars typically run on neither petrol nor diesel - they run on gas. I anticipate needing to be resourceful in finding diesel there - most likely from big trucks or a cotton farm.
It's not a 'road trip'...
Nowadays a good modern road stretches all the way from the Russian Far East to Moscow, which means we could depart Vladivostok with a Toyota Corolla on a 'road trip' right across the entire continent... but as for the selection of fascinating trip highlights given above, we would miss them all!
Ultimately, our objective is to experience different cultures and see inspiring places, not only those conveniently at the end of a paved access road, with car park and public viewing deck etc. Consequently, the 4wd element is integral to our adventures. We aren't off-road or remote all the time; pausing to explore ancient and/or vibrant emerging cities along our route is equally of interest.
Our past 4wd overland adventures have proven powerful experiences. Whether it was exploring remote mountain villages in Albania, or unexpectedly coming across an inhabited village in the Moroccan desert that wasn't even on our map... experiences like these have shaped us. You can't visit these sorts of places on a 'road trip'. We don't hold ourselves out to be experts in any of this and are well aware we still have so much to learn.