Sunday 5 August 2012

The road to Shetpe: We did it so you don’t have to…


I wrote the last post in the car very shortly before the tarmac ran out. Between Belaya and Shetpe the road is recommended as 4-wheel drive only by the lonley planet guide, all 3 teams knew this, what we weren’t expecting was just how awful the road actually was. Not only was there no tarmac but there were pot holes the size of cars. Progress slowed to a crawl, we averaged somewhere between 10 and 15 mph, even this was too fast in some parts. The road stretches on for some 200miles, it took us two full days to cover this section.

Halfway through the first day on this forsaken piece of ‘road’ we discovered that you could cover more ground by driving on the dust tracks forged by the lorries by the side of the road. Most of the other vehicles we saw were driving on these. The main problem with this method is the volume of dust kicked up by the cars as we went along. Everything in the car is covered in dust, since we had the windows open to keep cool. During this period we also discovered the joys of riding on the roof rack!

On the second day, we approached a sign saying ‘the dangerous section’ we continued with trepidation. As it turned out this was the easiest part as the road surface was almost levelled and we headed down a 10% slope.

After finally reaching Shetpe we the road surface improved marginally and we carried on to the Turkmenistan border. All three cars in our convoy had taken a battering, we’re all very grateful to Matt from team red dog racing for helping us check out the dings we’d put under the car. We spent another night by Caspian, to wash off and watch a spectacular sunset.

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