Atacama Desert

It’s Bank Holiday Monday here in the UK. Had Bridget and I left as planned in June we would have been arriving in Vladavostok, Eastern Russia, this weekend and preparing for the ferry crossing to Japan in a weeks time. Instead I am working five days a week as the Club Manager for the MG Car Club in Abingdon and have only myself and the Covid pandemic to blame.

I apologise therefore, for the lack of genuine travel reports and can only tell you of what had been planned on this first leg of this journey. As with most of my adventure runs it would have started routinely with a run across Europe to Turkey. I had planned to take in a few countries that I hadn’t included on previous runs such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia. Then through Bulgaria and across the Turkish Border. From Istanbul I was going to follow the same route as I followed on my World Tour over to Dogubayazit and into Iran.

The intension was to cross Iran and then head north crossing into Azerbaijan and up to the capital, Baku. This would be totally new territory for me having only seen Baku when the Formula 1 racing was there. It looks a fascinating city, a mixture of old and new, an oil rich city in a country formerley under the governorship of Russia.

From here I planned a circuitous route through Chechnya into Russia and then onto the Crimea Penninsula. This part of my journey I didn’t advertise because of current sanctions in place against all tourist travel in the area because of Russia’s annexation of the penninsula. I did not intend my visit to support the Russian action, as I refuse to get involved in political disagreements anywhere, rather I intended to visit Sevastopol and The Valley of the Shadow of Death to honour the men of 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, the 17th Lancers, and the 8th and 11th Hussars. These were the regiments of The Light Brigade during the Crimea War.

It would by now be the last week of June/first week of July and Bridget and I were on route to cross Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, in South West Russia then south-east into Kazakhstan. We would follow the main Spice Route across Kazakhstan to Semey, straight on to Barnaul, back in Russia again and turning right to drop down to the bordertown of Ulaanbaishint in Mongolia. It would now have been the last week of July.

From the border I would have headed to my first destination in Mongolia, the Gobi Desert. I would have driven south to Altai. This is a town on the northern edge of the desert between the Great Gobi A and Great Gobi B. Not particularly original in their naming in these parts! From her I planned to follow the road to Bayanbulag, north of Gobi Gurvan before starting back north again to locate Delun-Boldog, my second objective in Mongolia.

Delun-Boldog, near Ulaanbaatar, was the birthplace of Ghengis Khan, rumoured to be the father of some rediculaous percentage of all earthlings! Founder of the largest contiguous empire known to man, but probably a bit of a pussy cat if the truth were known. After visiting his memorial Bridget and I would have turned north and back into Russia. This time we were Vladavostok bound, due to arrive, as previously stated, just about now.

Well, that’s the dreaming over for now. I still intend to be back on the road next June when I hope to complete the dream journey, or perhaps having done this today I might just choose a different route!

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