The Road of Bones: London to Magadan (101 Days)

Trans Siberia, Russia, Asia

This evocative journey covers a quarter of the earth's surface as we ride from the bustling, vibrant city of London to one of the most remote towns on earth, Magadan, Siberia.

Organised by Compass Expeditions

The Road of Bones: London to Magadan (101 Days)


Departing London we cross the English Channel and spend a night in Normandy before reaching the
absolutely beautiful Lauterbrunnen, nestled in a post card perfect Swiss valley. Two nights are spent in
the magnificent Tyrol region at Hotel Enzian enabling us the ride the legendary Stelvio Pass amongst
others. We cross Hungary overnighting at Budapest before visiting Dracula's castle and the wonderful
medieval town of Sighisaora in Romania, were we see the first week out.

A brief visit to Bulgaria will see us reach the crossroads of Asia at Istanbul were we spend two nights
visiting the remarkable Topkapi Mosque, Bazaars and other sights. We will ride the Black Sea Coast
visiting the wonderful Ottoman towns of Safranbolu and Amasya before visiting the fantastic Troglodye
dwellings at Goreme in Central Turkey. A hot air balloon flight is included to really get a great view of
this amazing landscape.

Riding north across the Turkish plateau we once again reach the Black Sea coast at Trabzon where we catch a ferry to Sochi, Russia. We are in the heart of the 1100 km/ 690 mile Caucasus's now and the ride into Dombay will take your breath away. Riding the narrow twisting road along this forested valley we are suddenly confronted by a sheer wall of mountains, it is spectacular. We continue north onto Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, this city was the sight of the bloodiest battle during WW11 and a visit to the moving memorial is a must.

Further north we eventually reach Moscow. Three nights are spent in Moscow visiting one of the world's most recognisable sights of St Basils located in the wonderful Red Square. Also on the agenda are the Kremlin, Lenin's Tomb and Gorky Park. An amazing city. Riding out of Moscow we enjoy a short ride to Suzdal a small Russian village seemingly caught in a time warp, things haven't changed a lot since the rule of the Tsars. The skyline of this small village is dotted with golden cupolas that glint in the afternoon sun, it's a wonderful place. We ride south for Kazan with its amazing Kremlin and then through rarely travelled country as we head for Samara set on the banks of the Volga, a once closed Russian city and home to the MIG jet fighters.

We leave Russia and enter Kazakhstan and the mighty Kazakh steppe. We ride the "road of death" across the silent Kazakh steppe so vast that you can see the curvature of the earth, it really is a remote, lonely place, and we spend a number of nights camping in the wild surrounded by silence, sunset out here is extraordinary. Next stop is the Aral Sea, where we see fishing boats left high and dry on the sand dunes when only a few decades earlier they were floating in the same spot. The Aral Sea disaster, as it is known, is a testament to man's capacity to completely stuff up his environment.

We ride through the Kyzyl-Kum Desert to our next port of call, Turkistan, where we visit Kazakhstan's greatest building the Kozha Akhmed Yasaui mausoleum built by Tamerlane in the 14th century. Finally leaving the desert we cross into Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is home to some of the greatest Silk Road treasures and is as about as far away as you could get from the usual tourist trail, yet it holds some of the most fantastic architecture on earth. We spend two nights in Tashkent living it up in our 4 star hotel before riding out for Samarkand. No name is so evocative of the Silk Road than Samarkand. Two nights are spent in this magical city wandering the ancient alleyways and markets and watching as the sun
sets over the mighty Registan. Another two nights are spent at Uzbeks holiest city Bukhara. Sipping tea
and eating Shashlyks around the ancient Labi Hauz is stepping back in time. Bukhara too is synonymous with the Silk Road and also has a strong history relating to the "great game" played out in the 19th century.

We ride onto Tamerlane's birth place of Shakhrisabz and view the mighty Ak-Saray palace once so big it even dwarfed the Registan, all that is left now is its 40m/ 131ft high entrance, still an amazing sight. We cross the 1788m/ 5866ft pass of Takhtakaracha before riding back to Tashkent and down into the Ferghana Valley before spending a night in Andijan. We cross now into Kyrgyzstan home to some of Central Asia's grandest mountains. We are now in the cool of the mountains for the first time as we ride through stunning canyon lands dissected in two by a turquoise river running far below, the ride is simply
stunning. We ride for Song-Kol, an idyllic lake inhabited by a handful of very friendly Ger dwelling families. We can horse ride, fish or soak up the stunning wilderness of this tranquil spot.

From Song-Kol we ride over a 3500m/ 11482ft pass and down to the capital, Bishkek. Only 35ks/ 22 miles from Bishkek lays the magnificent Ala-Archa canyon where we spend a night camping in amongst the towering granite peaks and pine forests, with a milky glacial river roaring past ensuring our beers are kept cold. We skirt the northern shores of the world's second largest alpine Lake of Issyk-Kol before arriving in the old Russian town of Karakol where we spend the next four nights. Karakol is the base we use for exploring the postcard picture perfect alpine valleys that tumble out of the Central Tien Shan Mountains that border China. We visit Jeti-oghuz, the stunning Altyn Arashan valley and ride the
3820m/ 12532ft pass of Chong Asskan where we can see China.

Leaving Kyrgyzstan we once again enter Kazakhstan and camp a night in the wild before entering Almaty. Two nights are spent in Almaty as we explore the city or maybe take a ride up the nearby Zailiysky Alatau range that looms just beyond the city limits. We once again ride across the vast empty and silent Kazakh Steppe eventually reaching the Russian border after nearly three days of riding. Crossing into Russia we rejoin the Trans Siberian highway as we head further eastward towards

More free camping is spent in amongst the endless Taiga before arriving at Irkutsk, seven days after leaving Almaty. Irkutsk is the stepping off point for the wondrous Lake Baikal the deepest freshwater lake in the world. We ride up the western side of the lake reaching Olkhon Island mid afternoon. Olkhon Island offers some of the finest views of the towering cliffs that rise lakeside. Maybe enjoy a Banya (sauna) here or go dog sledding, we spend two nights relaxing and enjoying the surrounding scenery. On return to Irkutsk we are guests of the bikers from the Irkutsk bike club and spend a great night in their company.

Crossing into Mongolia is like crossing into another world, it is a country without fences and mostly
without roads, we simply ride across the landscape uninhibited, it truly is the last great act of freedom
left in biking. First stop will be the Amarbayasgalant Monestary scenically located at the junction of three
valleys, we camp a night nearby. The riding becomes more difficult now as we ride across the open landscape on rough dirt tracks, you will barely notice though as we are overawed by the immensity of the countryside where we free camp for a number of nights before eventually reaching Moron, yes Moron, and onto the spectacular Khovsgul Nuur.

Khovsgul Nuur is a stunning lake surrounded by snow capped peaks and alpine forests where we spend three nights in a traditional Ger. We can ride along the western side of the lake for unbelievable views of the lake with brilliant white Gers reflecting in its calm waters or enjoy a fish lunch in a wonderful log cabin restaurant, lakeside. Dragging ourselves away from Khovsgul Nuur we take the back tracks to White Lake and this is where the riding becomes challenging as does the navigation, we follow a single grass track across the valley floors and begin to cross numerous creeks and high passes. We spend two nights at a Ger camp on the edge of the beautiful White lake, no T.V, no mobile phones, its
magnificent isolation. The pace is picked up a little as we ride for Tseterleg and enjoy what is possibly the finest meal in Central Asia at the Fairview hotel and restaurant. We visit the magnificent Erdene Zuu Khiid Monastery on our way to Ulaan Baatar.

We spend three nights here re-charging our batteries and visiting the sights. It comes as a surprise to be talking with fellow travellers again as we have been in some very remote, rarely traversed regions for some time. We then ride north toward the Russian border and soon rejoin the Trans Siberian. This is a week long ride through the vast and remote Taiga that seemingly stretches on forever. It is a beautiful time of year to visit as the immense Taiga is beginning to show its autumn colours. We arrive at Chita for a well earned shower and a cold beer and maybe a sauna to wash off the Trans Siberian dust or mud before once again riding out into the vastness that makes up the Taiga. Turning off the Trans Siberian Highway we ride directly north toward Tynda where we can recharge our batteries again before once again riding out into the endless forests of the remote reaches of Siberia.

The riding becomes challenging here and is a great practice run for the "Road of Bones". We eventually
reach Yakutsk, a surprising city of 240,000 people in the middle of absolutely nowhere. From here we enter the Kolyma Highway better know as the "Road of Bones". This is becoming one of the must do ride for true adventure bikers. The ride across this vast imposing landscape is nothing short of epic, it is a challenge, it is difficult and it is very remote, but as one famous Hollywood actor, cum biker, commented "I have lived more in these last few hours than I have in the last few years" or something
like that ! we ride into Magadan and get our first glimpses of the ocean since Turkey all those months
ago. Join us on this life changing ride, savour that moment when you know you have accomplished an amazing feat and discover some of the world's most remote, historical, yet stunning countries.

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