A detailed pre-trip information pack will be sent out to you when you book onto the trip, but here are the main things that you need to know.
This trip goes above 2,800m / 9,200ft where it is possible for travellers to experience some adverse effects on their health due to the altitude. Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. As your trip travels to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self-assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.
Please note that as of 2014 all medications containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine, opiates or any containing similar constituent components have been made illegal in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This includes many over-the-counter medicines that are commonly available elsewhere, such as Nurofen! Please see here for more information – http://sambuh.com/procedure-psychotropic-substances.html
It is very important that you do not bring any medications such as this – they will treat this as though you were bringing illegal narcotics into the country. They are very strict about this, and it does not matter if you are only transiting through, and it makes no difference if you have a prescription or a doctor’s note – please do not bring these medications to Central Asia under any circumstance, as the customs agents know exactly what they are looking for and the consequences could be huge, not only for yourself but for the tour leaders, for the operator’s future operation in the region and especially for the local agents and guides.
Please note that you will not be allowed to travel on this trip if you refuse to dispose of such medicines or refuse to cooperate with the tour leaders if they need to inspect any personal medicines – thank you for your understanding in this matter. If you have any prescription medications that do not come under the above list, please bring the prescription along and declare the medicines on any customs declaration forms throughout your trip.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It’s also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home. It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you’ll be visiting.
It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.
The Operator recommends that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £5,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000. Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, iPads, phones etc. Please note that the operator is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss.
Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity you intend to undertake. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as Kyrgyzstan. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by the operator please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.
Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas.
Visas & Passport
Your passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months after the conclusion of the expedition. You will need at least 10 pages free to complete the trip.
Many countries that you will visit on this overland tour will require visas to enter. Some are best obtained before you leave home, and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, the operator will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.
For visas that are needed in advance you can either make the applications yourself directly to the relevant embassy or consulate, or for trips that require multiple visas, you may prefer to use the services of a visa agency to assist with your applications. While this does increase the cost, it will make the process much easier for you. Note for visa applications made before the trip you will often need to submit your passport together with your applications so we recommend you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure.
Turkey – citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, NZ, USA, Canada and several other countries will require an e-visa to enter Turkey as a tourist, this must be applied for online and in advance, it usually takes around 1-2 days to be approved.
Georgia – citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, NZ, USA, Canada and all EU countries do not require a visa to enter Georgia as a tourist. Citizens of other countries should check the current requirements with their relevant consulate.
Azerbaijan – citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, NZ, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter Azerbaijan as a tourist. The easiest way to obtain this visa is to apply for an e-visa as part of your online visa support documents application with The Visa Machine, in which case there is no cost for this e-visa application through The Visa Machine.
Turkmenistan – citizens of all countries require a visa to enter Turkmenistan as a tourist. You will need a Letter of Invitation from a Turkmen agent in order to make the visa application, you can apply for this Letter of Invitation through the online visa support documents application form at The Visa Machine.
Uzbekistan – citizens of all countries (except CIS countries) will require a visa to enter Uzbekistan as a tourist. For eastbound trips (from Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar) you will need to apply for your Uzbekistan visa in advance of travel. For westbound trips (Ulaanbaatar to Istanbul) many travellers choose to obtain their visa in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Please note the visa is only valid for 3 months from date of issue. A Letter of Invitation may be required in order for your to submit your application depending on where you are applying.
Kyrgyzstan – citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, NZ, USA, Canada and most EU countries will not need a visa to enter Kyrgyzstan as a tourist. Citizens of other countries should check the current requirements with their relevant consulate.
China – citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, NZ, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter China as a tourist. You will need a Letter of Invitation from a Chinese agent in order to make the visa application and you must obtain the visa in advance. It is best applied for in your home country as your application is far more likely to be approved. You cannot obtain the visa at the border in any circumstance.
Mongolia – citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, NZ, South Africa and most EU countries will need a visa to enter Mongolia as a tourist. Citizens of Canada and the USA do not require a visa for visits up to 30 days and 90 days respectively. If you are on the eastbound trip (Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar) you are advised to obtain your Mongolian visa in Beijing with the help of your crew. If you are on the westbound trip (Ulaanbaatar to Istanbul), under some circumstances you may be able to obtain your visa on arrival at Ulaanbaatar Airport (usually if there is no Mongolian Embassy in your home country), otherwise you will need to obtain it in advance.
What to pack?
You can bring with you:
- 1 backpack or soft luggage (max 20kg and dimensions 66cm deep x 30cm wide x 30cm high)
- Sleeping bag (suggest an all-season bag as this trip can encounter some cold conditions particularly in Kyrgyzstan & Mongolia even during the summer months)
- Ground mat or compressed foam
- 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best)
- 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship
- 2 pairs of shorts
- Sun hat or warm hat if trekking
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- Warm sweater/fleeces
- 1 waterproof jacket with hood
- 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots)
- 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops
- Underwear and socks (thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude or to the desert as it can get very cold at night)
- 2 small towels
Note throughout the overland tour there are plenty of opportunities to do laundry. It is worth bringing with you detergent, small scrubbing brush and a washing line (just a length of cord).
Other things to pack
- Washing kit, including a small mirror
- Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries & bulbs (only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5v batteries are widely available en route)
- Passport photos (average of 2 per country for which visas will be applied for en route)
- Good water bottle at least 1 litre
- A pouch or money belt worn inside your clothing, or unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers, is a must.
- Alarm clock
- Pocket calculator (useful when exchanging money)
- Writing materials & notebook/diary
- Multi purpose knife.
- Mosquito net – The tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.
- “Wet Ones” (moistened tissues) and hand gel
- Toilet paper – this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route but one roll is worth packing
- Assorted sized plastic bags – protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp
- Extra batteries for your camera / phone etc as there are only limited opportunities to recharge
- Personal medical / first aid kit