We had read the worst things on internet about this crossing… Lack of information, long time expecting a ship (from 2 to 15 days), unfindable tickets, irritable staff…
Fortunately, our kazakh host named Aigerim will be by our sides to help us through the tough procedures. English is not commonly spoken in these ex-URSS countries. It’s therefore with him by our sides that we make our way to the centre of Aktaou.
The first step was to make our way to the center of town so we could buy tickets that would open for us the passage way into Azerbaïdjan. In the space of 15min, we had the tickets in our pockets but without any mention of the day or time of departure.
The next step was to get to the Aktaou harbor to begin the procedures of getting through customs with our bikes. Hundreds of cars trucks lined up in the car park.
We strolled along from office to office and it eventually took 4 hours to get our boarding passes.
When will be able to leave this country ?
Tomorrow, the day after, in 3 days or next week? No way to be sure and no one to help us out !
On the advice of staff members, Aigerim will have to keep his phone close by in case of a sudden departure…Only 2 hours after the signal has been given.
DRIIIIING DRIIIIIING. 5am.
We have to make our way to the harbor as fast as possible, the boat will be leaving at 8:30am
Bags tied up, we mount our bikes and steered our way towards the port. When we arrive, the ferry is nowhere to be seen and no information is being given to us. We guess communication isn’t the strong point in the post-soviet community !
We finally board around 6pm in a ramschackle boat and set up camp in a tiny foul smelling cabin with a small porthole. We will not go into the details of the sanitary equipment. We know we will have to live with these conditions for a good 36 hours.
The azeris boat crew were all for explaining to us the different navigation skills and tell us we will arrive in Bakou the next day around 11pm.
We finally end up being told our boat will acost 80km away from Bakou, the capital… Nice !
We leave the boat only after having gotten our passports back. 36 hours of navigation, it’s 1am. We set foot on the ground once more.
Welcome to Azerbaïdjan.
There is still waiting to do. Customs to go through yet again. They only allow us 2 days on azerbaïdjan soil even though our transit visas are valid for 5 days. It’s 3 am, we try to get extra information but the official wants to hear nothing.
We give up fast, at this time in the early morning we think it best to avoid confrontation.
We leave the harbor and head for the first petrol station to fill up. We end up remaining the night before setting off for Georgia.