Desert, day 1 : Cyclone, scorpions and flat tire.

29 Jul

First camels at the door of the desert

We stayed in the cheapest hotel in Aqtau -Keremet hotel, which was a mistake : no AC nor fan in the room, and holes in the mosquito net. Therefore impossible to sleep, as we fought the mosquitos and heat until 5 AM, then decided to leave straight towards the desert, before the heat would be too much for us to cycle. Even if the road was good, a truck driver told us to go back to Aqtau and take another (longer) road to Shetpe, as our road would quickly deteriorate, and that the asphalted section would just last for 20 kilometers. We were about to u-turn when another guy told us it would be ok to get through with our bikes. We proceeded with our initial plan, thinking it would be more fun to get that way. We stopped for some rest when we saw our first muslim cemetery, as it was most likely the only place with shade we’d see before good few hours.

We were welcomed to rest in the common room, and even got offered tea and biscuits. We quickly fell asleep, and when we woke up, at about 3PM, the area was being hit by a cyclone ; very strong winds, and even rain. The wind took our bikes down –and slightly damaged Nico’s-, but we felt pretty lucky not to be inside of this mess, which lasted for the whole afternoon. We got back on our bikes when the weather was more clement, in the evening. We left the asphalted road at sunset, and saw what we’d have to deal with for the next 350 kilometers : a dusty/rocky/sandy track on which it is an achievement to cycle at more than 10 kilometers per hour.

This the end of the road and just the beginning of a long ride into the desert

We cycled as long as we could, as we didn’t cover enough distance during the day. It is so flat that there is light for long after sunset, and we stopped when Nico flattened his tire (again!). There was an empty house nearby, in the middle of nowhere, and stayed next to it for the night. Good call, as there was a reserve of water and a basin we could use to find the puncture, cook, wash our clothes and refresh ourselves. We fixed the tire, ate lots of noodles, played with a little scorpion, then take some rest. Sleeping outside is a real delight over here, as the temperature is perfect at night, and the sky truly magnificent.

scorpion colored same as the ground 

sunset cycling

At least a good spot to spend the night

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