Updated: Apr 30
From the beginning we had the plan to drive from the Netherlands to China. That was the logical end point for us, from where we could put the bikes on the boat and fly back ourselves.
Upon enquiry, it turns out that driving yourself in China is not that easy and very expensive. First of all, you have to temporarily import your bike (deposit about € 3,000 in addition to handling costs). In addition, you are obliged to rent a guide (with car!) and you have to drive behind the guide. Highways are forbidden and secundairy roads take a very long time. Another thing that makes it more difficult is that the prices for a shipping container to transport the bikes have risen enormously. You have to think of a tenfold increase with prices above € 10,000. An additional disadvantage is that the motorcycles may only be in a container with other goods that have been temporarily imported. So the thought of adding the bikes to other items from a well-known company did not work.
Another option as a final destination is Vladivostok. However, the last part of the journey will then be 4,000 km of highway through Russia without challenging views or roads. That attracts us less, especially after reading the book "From here to Tokyo" by Paul van Hooff, where there is little to tell about this part of the route.
On the other hand, there is a lot to tell about the route to Magadan. The road is very bad and is called "The Road of Bones" because during the construction of the road the workers who did not survive were buried in the road. Sometimes the bones still come up to the surface. This seems like a real challenge, but a long way over a bad road. That will cost us too much time and to ship the motorcycles back from Magadan is also difficult.
Finally we decided to go for Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia as the end point of our journey. We think we can sell the motorbikes in Ulaanbaatar for a good price and then take the airplane back home.
For the route itself you can choose the simple way via Russia, but for us the adventure of getting to know multiple cultures is really an added value. That combined with the beautiful nature in the "stan" countries, made us decide to relive the old Silk Road with our motorbikes. We increase the length of the rides through Europe, because we already know those countries and beautiful roads for the most part. We drive from Horst to Ancona and take the ferry to Igoumenitsa in Greece. From Greece we go to Turkey, followed by Georgia and Armenia. Ideally, we would also like to include Azerbaijan, but due to the disagreement over Nagorno Karabakh, border crossings are impossible between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
One of the countries that we absolutely do not want to miss is Iran. We have read so many beautiful things about this country, that it makes us excited to see Iran and get to know the people better. Hopefully by that time Turkmenistan will also open the borders again to be able to drive through Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan. If the Turkmenistan borders are still closed, we will take the ferry from Iran to Kazakhstan and then head to Uzbekistan. After Uzbekistan we will experience the higher mountains in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. We are already looking forward to the mountains in those countries. Then we drive partly through Kazakhstan and Russia to arrive in Mongolia to our final destination Ulaanbaatar. See below the entire route of more than 18,000 km, which we will be riding within 3 months.