Crossing the Caspian Sea was one of the most unpredictable parts of our journey. The cargo ships that cross between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are notoriously unreliable and don’t run to any formal schedule. Arrival and departure times are completely random so planning this section of our journey was very difficult and caused a fair bit of stress!
This coupled with the difficulty in getting visas for Turkmenistan (often compared with North Korea politically!) meant that we opted to hire a local fixer; Ishmail, to help us with the process.
After a few days of hanging around Baku Ishmail worked his magic and got us a place on a new Turken vessell - the Berkarar. The voyage was only supposed to take 10 hours but due to “bad weather” (it was pretty calm) we sat just off Baku for 4 days before setting sail towards Turkmenbashi!
The whole process caused us a fair bit of angst as our upcoming date specific visas were slowly ticking away!
Finally we arrived into the port town of Turkmenbashi where several hours of bureaucracy passed before we were allowed to enter the country - this process for two of us and a car involved over 15 separate pieces of official paper with 37 individual stamps!
Photographs in order: Waiting at the Baku docks, ready to board our ship - 'Berkerar'; Finally leaving Baku after hours of waiting at the docks; We had heard horror stories of cock-roach infested cabins, so were pleased to get a place on a brand new Turkmen boat with a very clean cabin, including en-suite!; The 10 hour voyage took 5 days…lots of card games played and lots of chai consumed!; Finally arrived in Turkmenbashi, several more hours of waiting around to get the car off the ship and pass through customs. Made friends with some Turkish truck drivers in the process!