The Best of Europe
Russia, C.Asia, Mongolia
An epic ride through the Old World, the cradle of civilization till most adventurous places of the world that will challenge yourself and fullfill everyone tests. A real “all-round” travel through 21 countries to experience the best of what Europe, Russia,Central Asia can offer to motorcyclist. Starting from Lisbon following the Mediterranean coasts till the best rides up to the Pyrenees. Testing the French cuisine and than entering in Italy to see Valentino Rossi and all the pilots of the Motogp, in action at Mugello for the Italian MotoGp Race! Pumped up from the pro racers we will be ready to hit the Alps, the dreamland of every single biker. After 12 days of countless curves and stunning views we will ride out in direction of Budapest. After a relaxing thermal bath in the capital of Hungary we we will continue the journey to northern Europe discovering its beauties to finally enter in Russia where we will hit the Trans-Siberian Highway, the longest in the world.
From Central Asia steppe, deserts, camels and some of the most beautiful cities you will ever see in your life, are waiting for us on the Silk Road . Entering in Tajikistan will be time for the Pamir Highway, the second highest international road in the world. It boasts colossal mountains, astonishing views, and the some of the kindest people you will ever meet. Leaving the Central Asia we will ride east to the Baikal Lake and finally arrive in Mongolia, the huge playground for adventure motorcyclist. Russian Far East will be our last leg of our expedition, to end the trip in Vladivostok.
Please note that this is an indicative route. It is not 100% accurate. The route we offer is way more twisty and fun!
Dates & Prices
41 Historical cities, 32 Unesco World Heritage sites, 29 Historical Cities, 10 times zones,
21 countries, 11 capitals
- Sea coast of Portugal, Spain, France and Italy
- Pyrenees, Apennines and the all of Alps mountains
- 27 of the best Alps mountain passes
- the best cuisines in the world
- Italian Motogp race
- Capo de Roca the most west point of Europe Mainland on Atlantic Ocean
- Pont du Gard
- Principality of Monaco
- Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont
- Cinque Terre
- Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp
- Trans Siberian highway the longest national highway in the world
- Saint Petersburg
- Velikij Novgorod
- Nizhny Novgorod
- The Volga River
- Saraj Batu
- Kazakhstan steppe and desert
- The Silk Road
- The Pamir Highway the second highest international road in the worldTajik
- National Park
- Ak-Baital Pass with its own 4655 meters (15272 ft)
- The lake Kara-Kul
- peak Lenin views with its own 7,134 m
- Western Tien-Shan mountain ranges
- The Lake Baikal
- Erdene Zuu Monastery
- Gengis Khan Statue
- Khangai Nuruu National Park
- Ulan Ude
Lisbona, Capo de Roca the most west point of Europe Mainland on Atlantic Ocean, Seville, Cordoba, Belmonte, Cuenca, Teruel, Barcelona, Andorra, Carcassonne, Nimes, Pont du gard, Avignon, lavender fields and the french “grand Canyon “ .
Principality of Monaco, first section of Alps, Barolo the city of the famous wine, rides on the Apennines, Mugello the Italian MotoGp Race, back on the French-Italian parts of Alps, col du sommelier the higher road on the alps 2993 m (9819 ft). Week number 4 will be all on the the Alps, first Swiss part of the Alps, than Italian-Austrian part
Dolomites, Slovenia, Budapest, Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp, Krakow, Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga, entering in Russia, Saint Petersburg.
Velikij Novgorod, Moscow, Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Saratov, Volgograd, Astrakhan, entering in Kazakhstan, Atyrau, Beyneu.
Entering in Uzbekistan, Khiva , Bukhara ,Samarkand , Shakhrisabz, entering in Tajikistan, Dushanbe.
Start to ride up on the Pamir Highway, Ak-Baital Pass with its own 4655 meters (15272 ft), lake Kara-Kul, crossing into Kyrgyzstan, peak Lenin views with its 7,134 m (23405 ft) , Osh,
Issyk kul Lake, Bishkek, entering in Kazakhstan, Almaty.
Almaty, Qalbatau, entering in Russia, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk,
Baikal Lake, Ulan Ude, entering in Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Genghis Khan Statue, Erdene Zuu Monastery,Khangai Nuruu National Park, After another 3 days of other off-road back to Ulaanbaatar, entering in Russia, Ulan Ude.
Chita, Skovorodino, Birobidžan, Khabarovsk , Vladivostok.
Accommodations in Europe will vary from 3-4 star hotels in larger cities to bed-and-breakfasts and farm stays in the villages of the Alps. A farm stay is a working farm that has been adapted to welcome guests as a hotel. The food served in farm stays is homegrown, home-cooked and delicious. Farm stays are often located in rural and beautiful areas. Staying with locals is often the best way immerse yourself into a different culture.
We will mostly stay in 4 star hotels in the larger Russian cities. In the smaller towns along the Trans-Siberian highway, the accommodations are more rustic. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are typically fine, but the lodging in between the borders is more austere. Along the Pamir Highway, we will stay in local home stays and Yurtas and a few hotels for a week until we arrive Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
In Mongolia, we will spend our nights in tents and in local ger (Mongolian version of yurta) and experience life as a true nomad.
An open mind to explore these remote areas is required to join this tour. This is the most adventurous leg of the trip.
- Assistance acquiring necessary documentation and logistics
- Motorcycle purchase support
- Work out program
- Pick up and drop off at the airport
- All nights accommodation (comfortable middle-class hotels and homestays)
- 1 Welcome dinner and 1 Goodbye dinner
- 1 other dinner
- Motorcycle tour guide
- Driver and support vehicle 4×4 that can accommodate up to 2 motorcycles and luggage transportation (1 baggage piece of 10kg per person) and space for passengers (limited) on entire tour.
- Emergency first aid kit and fire extinguisher equipped
- Our staff is motorcycle mechanical experienced and first aid qualified
- Morning briefings
- City walking tours in the resting days
- Italian Motogp race entrance
- All national parks entrance
- Timmelsjoch pass (passo Rombo) fee
- Budapest Szechenyi thermal baths and pool entrance
- Thermal bath on the Pamir highway
- Thai Massage session
- Although we do not offer breakfasts, they are included in some hotel bookings
- All services not mentioned and all personal items
How many “no riding days” are in the tour?
There will be 37 no riding days during this tour including arrival and departure days.
How many km do we ride daily?
The total trip average is 139 miles/day (231 km/day). Obviously some days we will ride more than that and some day we will ride less.
Can I join the tour later or leave earlier?
Sure you can, write us about your needs.
How much motorcycle experience do I need?
You don’t need to be pro rider to travel with us. You should, however, be comfortable riding a motorcycle during a city’s rush hours as well as mountains and dirt roads. This will be a challenging, yet rewarding and enjoyable experience for riders of all levels.
What kind of motorcycle do I need?
Dual sport models might be your best choice, but depending on your skill level, almost any bike will meet our standards. These are our only recommendations:
The bike should be fully serviced before the start of the trip
To maintain your speed, a 500cc engine will ensure you keep up with the group.
Is possible ride 2 up?
Yes! You are welcome to travel with a companion.
The passenger must be at least 12 years old.
He/she should be able to place place both feet flat on the passenger foot pegs of the motorcycle.
Riding 2 up requires more skill. The passenger should have experience traveling on the back of a motorcycle. You can also book a seat in the support vehicle for the passenger if they do not want to ride with you the entire time.
What about visas?
The ex-Soviet countries are open to tourism. Americans, Australians and Europeans citizens don’t need a visa for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Tajikistan is easily done online and Mongolia (not needed for USA and German citizens) can be taken care of upon arrival.
You will need two visas: Russian and Uzbekistan which are easily done through travel agencies.
What about vehicle service and tire changes?
At the start of the tour, your motorcycle must arrive fully serviced and with new tires.
Service in Russia are sparse, so we must be fully prepared and carry all necessary parts and tires.
Tire changes can be done almost anywhere. The life of your tires depends on your motorcycle, style of riding and weight. In Mongolia, all riders will have to change into off-road tires.
1st service: Warsaw
2nd service: Almaty
3rd service: Ulan Ude
For spare parts list click here
We will start in the lovely city of Lisbon, start off with a briefing and explanation of the tour, followed by a welcome dinner.
If history did not interest you during your schooling, this week may change your impression of history lessons forever! Our first 7 days in Europe will be a full immersion into historical cities and landmarks dating over thousands of years old. Ironically, riding the countryside will allow us a glimpse into the lives of villagers who inhabit these places in the here and now, a site not commonly seen by tourists.
Before beginning our journey west, we will visit Capo Roca, which forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal and continental Europe.
We will be driving through Andalusia and stopping in Sevilla and Cordoba. Both of these places are Unesco World Heritage cities. Sevilla is a city founded by Romans while Cordoba was founded long before. They were both conquered by invading Muslim armies which created a mix of cultures, all of which are still well preserved today. A day off is a must to stroll the city center and visit the most interesting historical sites.
Beautiful countryside rides will reward us on the way to Belmonte, with its amazing castle, as well as Cuenca and Teruel, also historical gems (both on the World Heritage list).
If you have never ridden in Europe before, there are a few differences. Each country has its own driving rules. Europe can be divided into two parts: “freestyle Europe”, or the “Latin Europe”, which includes eastern Europe, and the “no freestyle Europe”, which includes Germany, Austria and Switzerland along with northern Europe.
In freestyle Europe, the motorcycle is used as a vehicle to escape traffic jams. This means lane splitting, overtaking upcoming traffic and parking on the sidewalks (with common sense). Normally in rush hour, the way to work and the way home are transformed into small motogp races. In “no freestyle Europe”, such practices are uncommon and generally unacceptable. Please be respectful of each region’s rules.
The roads are narrower than, for example, the roads in the US. Roundabouts are very common and gas stations are at a maximum distance of 20 km away. There are motorcycle shops in most cities and towns, as well as in some villages. It is safe to say that “freestyle Europe” is a rider’s personal paradise.
Food of week
Starting from Portuguese cuisine:
Portugal is a seafaring nation with a well-developed fishing industry and this is reflected in the amount of fish and seafood eaten. The country has Europe’s highest fish consumption per capita and is among the top four in the world for this indicator (58,5 Kg per inhabitant)
If you are a fish lover this your dream land.
Bacalhau (cod), which is the type of fish most consumed in Portugal. It is said that there are more than 365 ways to cook cod, one for every day of the year.
Caldeirada is a stew consisting of a variety of fish and shellfish with potatoes, tomatoes and onions. For meat lover Cozido is a traditional stew of different meats and vegetables,
Wines: There are several red, white and rose but the more famous around the world is the fortified wine Porto.
Spanish cuisine has been influenced by many cultures. From the Romans, Arabs and later on from the “New World” the discover of Americas.
The breakfast in Spain is a coffee with churros(fried-dough pastry) magdalenas (sponge cakes with a distinctive shell-like shape) and tostadas (like an italian bruschetta).
Main course are many and vary also from place to place but we can’t miss to test
Paella, classy Jamon (ham) which are few of the Spanish cuisine delights.
Wines and liquors Sangria and Sherry are worldwide famous ones
On the 8th day, we will arrive in Catalonia and enjoy a full day of rest exploring this famous and energetic city of Barcelona. Founded as a Roman city and besieged several times during its history, Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage, and today is an important international center and a major tourist destination. Gaudi park and the Barri Gòtic (Catalan for “Gothic Quarter”) are a must for every tourist visiting this beautiful city. Barcelona is not just great mix of art and history, it’s fun!
If you are a football fan the FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe, with a capacity of 100,000 will be your Mecca.
After saying goodbye to the capital of Catalonia, we will climb up to our first motorcycle heaven, the Pyrenees. Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain. It separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe, and extends for about 491 km (305 mi) from the Bay of Biscay (Cap Higuer) to the Mediterranean Sea.
Traffic is very limited and good road conditions make the Pyrenees a top destination for motorcyclists. On our way we will spend a night in Andorra.
Officially, the Principality of Andorra is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres (3,356 ft) above sea level.
An estimated 10.2 million visitors annually makes tourism 80% of its economy. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the official currency.
Because of it’s fresh mountain air and organic products, the people of Andorra have the highest life expectancy in the world at 81 years.
Descending the Pyrenees, we will enter France and explore it’s gem cities of Carcassonne, Nimes (named also the French Rome), and Avignon which are all still perfectly preserved. Another postcard picture can be taken at Pont du Gard.
As we approach the Alps, we will enjoy a beautiful ride on the lavender lands and take in amazing views of the French version of “Grand Canyon”.
The last day of the second week, we’ll get some peace and quiet while staying in a biological reserve.
Beautiful, hilly secondary roads in the countryside of Spain and France will accompany us all the way.
Perfect weather and temperatures at this time of the year will make our rides even better.
Tarmac conditions are generally very good everywhere, with the exception of few kilometers in Spain.
Drivers in Spain and France are used to riding with motorcyclists.
Food of the week:
French cuisine and wines are famous all over the world.
French cuisine was heavily influenced by Italian cuisine, but since the 17th century shifted to its own style. Since November 2010, French gastronomy was added by the UNESCO to its lists of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage”.
A typical french day starts with a fresh baguette accompanied by jams , coffee, and a croissant.
Lunch can vary a lot but typically you can have an omelet or sandwich (jambon beurre: the classic “Parisien” sandwich is just baguette, ham, and butter). The baguette must always be fresh, which make it so good! Quiche, which is like a salty cake, salads and soups are also common lunch fare.
Dinner has such a variety of dishes which can be hard to choose from.
If you are a lover of seafood, you are in the best place for it. Meat lovers also will be not disappointed.
Here a few of the many dishes:
Soupe gratinée à l’oignon (is a type of soup usually based on meat stock and onions, and often served gratinéed with croutons and cheese on top or a large piece of bread)
Coq au vin (chicken, mushrooms, and cured pork braised in red wine broth)
Moules mariníères (Mussels cooked in a herb-flavored white wine broth)
Bouillabaisse (soup of Mediterranean fish and shellfish)
Foie gras (French for “fat liver”) is a decadent food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened.
Salade niçoise ( salad of tomatoes, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, and anchovies, dressed with a vinaigrette)
Dessert: Saint-Honorè cake , Tarte tatin (upside down apple cake), chocolate mousse, Crème brûlée
Cheese and wine fans in France will be in heaven.
Camembert, Brie, Fromages de Chèvres and Roquefort few of the more famous.
Wines: Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Cabernet, Coteaux and Champagne
Liquor: Cognac, Cointreau
week 3 and 4
Week number three will start with a ride to one of the smallest and the most densely populated sovereign nations in the world, which is Monaco, the grand Prix city.
After having few laps in the “circuit city” we will point you to another one to see the real pro-riders in action.
The entrance to Italy could not be celebrated better than starting with a race.
Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to Mugello, where Motorcycle World Tours will offer the tickets to the major italian motorcyclists appointment, the Motogp race.
If you never had a chance to see in real life a motogp race well you will never forget this experience, let the show begin , may the best rider win.
Pumped up from the pro racers, we’ll be ready to hit the dreamland of every single biker, the Alps. To warm the tyres up we will ride on the beautiful mountain rage of the Appennini.
On the way we will ride through the Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont, also recognized as a World Heritage site. We will visit Barolo where the famous wine is produced.
At this moment of the year all the higher pass are open, we will start to climb up and stay for 12 days of pure fun in the Alps mountains.
We will criss-cross between Italian, French, Swiss and Austrian mountains doing a clockwise semicircle around the Alps.
27 of the most amazing Alps passes are going to wait for us, included the highest road of the Alps Colle del Sommeiller (elevation 3003 meters)
Traffic will be very limited as the vacation summer season will be just starting and daily traffic is not going through the high mountain passes.
Countless curves, stunning views and the slow rhythm of the mountains will
overwhelm us. Sitting and admiring those giants will bring peace inside our souls.
Roads are generally very good with some only reasonably good and there will also be few sections of gravel (easy) for about 200 km (which can be avoided).
Free grazing animals, lakes, eagles, alpine flowers and some snow-capped peaks will make every picture unforgettable.
Dolomites will be our second World Heritage site in the Alps
Be ready for some of the best experience of your life. Those 3D wonders will stay forever in your memories.
During last 2 days of week 4, we will leave the Alps riding through Slovenia stopping for the night in one of the more beautiful towns of Slovenia, Radovljica.
Before arriving in the town we will have a wonderful photo spot on the lake Bled.
The following day we will arrive in Budapest, one of the most beautiful east European cities and capital of Hungary.
Riding in the Alps is a dream of every single motorcyclist and we will enjoy it day after day, corner after corner. We still cannot forget about safety as loosing the control of the motorcycle on a mountain road can cause serious injury or worse. Speed limits are there for a reason and sometimes even 50km/h is above our capability. The biggest dangers are represented by many blind corners and the possibility of presence of big stones. Generally the tarmac is in good shape as many of those wonderful mountain passes are used during the “Le tour de France” and the “Giro d’Italia”, both international bicycle competitions. We are not going to look for the best tarmac but we are going to look for best scenic and adventures roads, so get ready also for some of it.
If you were thinking to be on a diet during the two weeks you choose the wrong time.
Italian cousin is well known to be the best in the world.
Genuine, fresh and biological products are typically from the mountains.
After the fall of the Roman Empire different cities began to separate and form their own traditions and cuisine. Many different types of bread and pasta were invented, and there was a variation in cooking techniques and preparation. Italian cuisine since then emphasize the regionalism and tradition.
Antipasti: bresaola, many delicious pork, donkeys, wild boars and other wild animals sausage
First course: pizzoccheri, Polenta in many different ways, several baked kind of pasta, soups.
Second course: game animals like deer, chamois, hare dishes are very popular.
Wines: Barolo, Barbera , Merlot, Pinot , Cabernet, Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Traminer, Amarone di Valpolicella and many more
Desserts: Strudel di mele, Panforte, Baci di Dama, Tiramisu and many different tarts
Liquor: Grappa and Caffè alla Valdostana (a mix liquors and coffee set on fire)
Don’t forget that If you are lover of truffle you are in the best place for it.
After leaving Budapest we will visit the sad yet historical World War II site, which is also a World Heritage city. Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp represents one of the darkest stories in the history of humanity. The surreal atmosphere and silence will help you realize and deeply understand that those things really happened. We will spend that night in Krakow, the gem city of Poland and also on the World Heritage list. You cannot leave Krakow without a stroll in Old Town with plenty of good pubs and restaurants and international crowds.
Our next leg will lead us to the capital of Poland, Warsaw. Warsaw gained the title of the “Phoenix City” because it has survived many wars, conflicts and invasions throughout its long history. Most notably, the city required painstaking rebuilding after the extensive damage it suffered in World War II, which destroyed 85% of its buildings. The city center has been perfectly rebuilt, and you will never notice any difference from the original one. Sightseeing along the old market place and city center are a must in this Capital.
From Warsaw we’ll ride to Vilnius, another World Heritage city and capital of Lithuania. On the way from Warsaw to Vilnius the landscape and villages will slowly start to look like the ones we’ll encounter in Russia. We’ll ride from one World Heritage city to the next, Riga, capital of Latvia and our last stop in Europe. On the way to Riga we will visit the Hill of Crosses. Whether you are a believer or not, it is still very interesting area to visit. We’ll say farewell to Europe with a celebration dinner in the Latvian capital.
Getting in and out of capitals of east Europe will be relatively easy. There are not many motorcyclists, but drivers are getting more used to their presence as time goes on. As we start riding North, we will enjoy more daylight hours and amazing sunsets. Starting from Poland, roads will be wider and boast extensive agriculture fields. In Lithuania and Latvia we can expect more forests, lakes and very small villages with some wonderful wooden houses.
Food of the week:
Some famous Hungarian dishes:
Goulash is a stew with gravy or a soup using meat with bones, paprika, caraway, vegetables, and potatoes or various tiny dumplings or pasta simmered with the meat.
Various kinds of noodles and dumplings, potatoes, and rice are commonly served as a side dish. Hungarian sausages and winter salami are a major part of Hungarian cuisine.
There are few notable Hungarian wines.
Polish cuisine shares many similarities with other Slavic countries so we will have similar cuisine but with local differences.
Starting from soups Pomidorowa (tomato soup) , Rosol (chicken soup),
Zurek ( soured rye flour and meat, sometimes served in a cup made of bread),
Kapusniak ( cabbage, bacon and sausage)
Barszcz (meat or bone stock with beetroots,cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes).
Bigos (chopped meat of various kinds stewed with sauerkraut and shredded fresh cabbage) Schabowy (cutlet like Viennese or Milanese but of pork) ,
Golonka ( pork knuckle) , Pierogi ( filled dumplings ) ,
Golabki ( cabbage roll common in made from slightly soft-boiled cabbage leaves wrapped around minced pork or beef, chopped onions, and rice)
Desserts: Sernik (cheesecake) , Racuchy (pancakes) ,
Paczki ( similar to doughnuts), Makowiec ( poppy seed pastry)
Beer is definitely the most common drink and Vodka is the most popular liquor.
Lithuanian cuisine features products suited to the cool and moist northern climate. Lithuanian cuisine has much in common with its Baltic neighbors and other northern countries. Traditionally, the centerpiece of Lithuanian cuisine is dark rye bread (ruginė duona) which is used substantially more often than light wheat breads.
Didžkukuliai (more commonly known as cepelinai) is often called the national dish of Lithuania.
Soups are extremely popular, and are widely regarded as the key to good health.
Šaltibarščiai (Cold borscht) is a soup that you will not forget easily as is it really pink,
A very Lithuanian sweet is a poppy seed cake, Šimtalapis.
Alus beer is the most popular.
Meatball Soup (Frikadeļu zupa) and Aukstā zupa is very similar to the Lithuanian Šaltibarščiai are few of the many soups.
Breaded Pork Chops (Karbonāde): One of the most common dishes on the Latvian table.
Kartupeļi ar siļķi un biezpienu is herring with cottage cheese and potatoes. Three most typical Latvian foods combined in one.
One of the best desserts is Rupjmaizes Kārtojums, a truly delicacy
From Riga we start off with entering from the biggest country in Europe, the Russian
Federation. Russia, is neither Europe nor Asia, it’s its own continent with its unique traditions and cultures. Main roads are good, but some parts will be good practice for what we will experience in the weeks to follow. Our first resting day will be St. Petersburg. Peter the Great founded the city. A patron of seafarers and merchants, he built St. Petersburg as a seaport town so that Russia would be on par with other maritime nations. Peter achieved this goal and built his city with such splendor that today it is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is also home to the Hermitage, one of the largest museums in the world.
St. Petersburg is also called Venice of the north due to its numerous canals. Other highlights are Church of the Savior , the Peterhof palace- referred to as the Russian Versailles, the Peter and Paul fortress, Catherine Palace and many more.
After leaving St. Petersburg we will hit the road towards Moscow, the capital of Russia. This will be our first section of the Trans-Siberian Highway, the longest in the world, encompassing seven time zones.
On the way we’ll stop in Velikiy Novgorod, our second World Heritage site in Russia. This is a small and beautiful city which in the 14th century was the capital of the Novgorod republic.
Next stop, Moscow. A city of 16.8 million residents and also the coldest megacity on Earth. It is also a World Heritage site and home to the Kremlin, the Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Lenin Mausoleum. The fabulously decorated metro stations are also one of the many highlights. After leaving the capital we are going to stroll around in Vladimir, our fourth World Heritage site.
Next day we will arrive in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan.Kazan has been named the sports capital of Russia as it hosts many international sporting events. It is truly one of the most beautiful cities in Russia and its Kremlin has been added to the World Heritage list.
Tatars are an Asian people and are Muslims, their culture is completely separate from that of European Russia.Interestingly enough Tartars are only one of the 159 ethnic groups living in Russia. After leaving Kazan, we will ride along the Volga river, the longest river in Europe, 1500 km to Astrakhan.
driving in Russia is very different than in the Western World. Everything will be explained in Riga and St. Petersburg. Russian drivers are getting better thanks to traffic cameras and a heavy police presence, however they are still a far cry from the “Western Standard”. Road signs are sparse and road markings do not exist. Road conditions are good outside of the cities but within city limits there can be a lot of potholes. “Expect the unexpected” will be the adage of the trip. However this time of the year day light stretches out to 11 pm, but drivers are not used to motorcycles at all, so a defensive riding style should be adopted.
Food of the week:
first course Borsch- we will have had already tasted different versions of this beetroot based soup in Poland and Lithuania.
Rossolnik- a soup made from pickles, pearl barley and pork of beef kidneys (Wyzygam sie) the key ingredient is pickle juice. The soup is a favorite hangover cure.
Solyanka- is a thick, spicy and sour soup. Main ingredients are meat, fish, mushrooms and pickles.
Shashlik- beef roasted on a spit.
Pirog- dough stuffed with a savory filling.
Pelmeni- dumplings made with thin, unleavened dough, stuffed with meat.
Kasha- buckwheat groats boiled in water or milk. Often served as breakfast or a side dish.
Olivier- a salad dish, made with boiled potatoes, carrots, peas, celery, onions and mayonnaise.
Bliny- are pancakes traditionally made with buckwheat flour and served with sour cream.
Pirozhki- baked or fried buns with a variety of fillings.
Chai- basically strong tea served at the end of meals with dessert. An important aspect of Russian tea culture is the ubiquitous samovar, a tea brewing apparatus- which has become a symbol of Russian hospitality and comfort.
On the way to Astrachan, we’ll stop for a day in Volgograd. Volgograd became famous for its resistance during the Battle of Stalingrad (the previous name of the city) against the German Army in World War II. It is often regarded as the largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare (between 1,250,000 and 1,798,619 people have died) and one of the key factors for the defeat of the Nazis. Some of the highlights of the city that are related to the WWII battle and are the Motherland Statue and the WWII museum.
After leaving Volgograd our last stop before entering Kazakhstan will be Astrakhan. On the way we will visit Saraj Batu, a Mongol city which, during the medieval times, was one of the largest city in the world. Sarai is Persian for “palace” and Russian for “shed”. Astrakhan has a strategical location on the Caspian sea and, in fact, has suffered several wars and changes of power. This week we’ll say goodbye to Russia and get on the renowned “Silk Road”, and our first Stan countries Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Stan in Persian means “the place of”, so for example Kazakhstan means the place of the Kazak. From there we will start to experience exotic adventures. We will have the first contact with steppe, deserts, and get to see our first camels. Suddenly, the conditions of the roads will become dreadful, and time will look like it stopped many years ago. Clothes, food, people and everything around us will be unique and interesting. Not many people have the opportunity to visit here and you may start to feel a bit like Marco Polo….Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country, and the ninth largest in the world. Its population density, however, is among the lowest, at less than 6 people per square kilometer. This helps us understand its poor road conditions a little bit more.
Next, we’ll move on to Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is truly one the highlights of the entire expedition. Nukus is a city-oasis, located among the four deserts: the Karakum (Black Sands), Kyzyl Kum (Red Sands), rocky desert Ustyurt plateau and “Aralkum” (White Sands). We will stop here to visit a very interesting art Museum, The State Art Museum of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. It is named after I.V. Savitsky and is also known as “Nukus Art Museum” one of the finest in Uzbekistan and in all of Central Asia.
Kazakhstan roads are either OK or a disastrous. Road police will most likely stop us several times, but just to question where we are from and where we are going. “Strange” foreigners who travel by motorcycle seem to pique their curiosity. On the border with Uzbekistan, we will have our first off road session. Uzbekistan is a challenging country to ride in, mostly due to drivers and roads conditions. Roads are improving year by year, but many parts are still in poor condition. On a more positive note, both countries have very little traffic. Drivers are not used to motorcycles at all here. You may encounter situations where it is best to drive defensively, but safely.
Food of the week
Kazakh cuisine is the traditionally focused on mutton and horse meat, as well as various milk products. For hundreds of years, Kazakhs were herders who raised fat-tailed sheep, Bactrian camels, and horses, relying on these animals for transportation, clothing, and food. The cooking techniques and major ingredients have been strongly influenced by the nation’s nomadic way of life. For example, most cooking techniques are aimed at long-term preservation of food. There is a large practice of salting and drying meat so that it will last, and there is a preference for sour milk, as it is easier to save in a nomadic lifestyle.
Besbarmak, a dish consisting of boiled horse or mutton meat, is the most popular Kazakh dish. It is also called “five fingers” because of the way it is eaten. Besbarmak is usually eaten with a boiled pasta sheet, and a meat broth called sorpa, and is traditionally served in Kazakh bowls called kese. Other traditional foods are Baursak and Manti. Baursak is made by frying dough balls. Manti, a very popular Kazakh dish, is a spiced mixture of ground lamb(or beef) spiced with black pepper, enclosed in a dough wrapper. Manti are cooked in a multi-level steamer and served topped with butter, sour cream, or onion sauce.
The most famous drink is Kumus, which is fermented mare milk which contains between 0.7 and 2.5% alcohol.
Kazakh cuisine has many similarity to all central Asian countries included Mongolia. So we will find similar dishes along our way to the east.
Week nine will be a relaxing one with a lot of sightseeing. We’ll be able to recharge our batteries and enjoy our visits to the pearls of Uzbekistan: the cities of Khiva (Itchan Kala), Bukhara and Samarkand. This will remind you of the tale, One Thousand and One Nights. All three are World heritage Cities and were part of the Silk Road. These cities were important centers of trade for thousand years and for this reason have seen different wars and changes of power. Strolling in those cities is like being in open sky museum. You don’t really need to be a professional photographer to take great shots as everything is just so picturesque. You will leave those cities with great memories and with the wish to come back soon. If you have never experienced + 40 celsius (104 F°) in your life you’ll get your chance there!
Riding conditions: Same as prior week.
Food of the week:
The Uzbekistan’s signature dish is palov (plov or osh or “pilaf”), a main course typically made with rice, pieces of meat, grated carrots and onions. It is usually
cooked in a kazan (or deghi) over an open fire; chickpeas, raisins, barberries, or fruit may be added for variation.
Uzbekistan is one of the main exporters of agricultural products to Russia. We will be able to taste the country’s own delicious watermelon, melons. grapes, apricots, and so on. Bread is also very tasty and is baked on dome shaped wood fire oven. This bread is generically called non or paty. It is formed into circular flat loaves (lepyoshka in Russian) with a thin decorated depression at the center and a thicker rim all around. Green tea is the national hot beverage taken throughout the day, typically made without milk or sugar. Tea always accompanies a meal, but it is also a drink of hospitality, traditionally offered (green or black) to every guest. Teahouses (chaikhanas) are of cultural importance in this region.
We will leave Uzbekistan and enter Tajikistan, a mountainous paradise. On the way to the border we will visit a city founded 2700 years ago, Shakhrisyabz, our 4th Uzbek World Heritage site. Tajikistan is landlocked, and is the smallest nation in Central Asia. It is covered by mountains of the Pamir range, and more than fifty percent of the country is over 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) above sea level. If the beauty of Uzbekistan lies in its ancient cities then the beauty of Tajikistan is in its mountains.
Pamirs is a mountain range in Central Asia at the junction of the Himalayas with the Tian Shan,Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains. We will ride entire length of the Pamir highway “M41” which is the second highest international road in the world. This road leads through the Tajik National Park which is another World Heritage city. Our trip in Tajikistan will start from its capital Dushanbe. In Dushanbe we will have a day of rest getting ready for our first off road excursion, as the next 1500 km we have to cover will be on dirt roads. We will also fill up our support vehicle with food, toys, and school supplies to gift to local families.This will be Motorcycle World Tours initiative. If you wish to contribute, you are free to buy or gift whatever you want .We’ll ride along the Afghanistan border for about 240 km. We will see Afghan villages just across the Panj river; this river runs in between the two countries. We will enjoy stunning views as we slowly ride up. On the way, we will cross a few rivers, but it will not be much of a challenge as the water level will be very low. On the Pamir highway we’ll get to experience local hospitality as we stop to rest and eat in people’s homes which have been converted into “bed and breakfast” establishments. This will be also our contribution to the local economy; this area is one of the poorest of the Tajikistan. We will stop in Khorog for a day and you will be able to just ride to thermal bath, or visit Afghanistan, which is just next to the bridge (no visa required on market day).
The biggest danger of Tajikistan are its free-grazing animals. Drivers and enthusiastic children, who hear the hum of an approaching motorcycle, can be a little too “welcoming and/or enthusiastic” at times. The locals are not used to motorcycles or speedy drivers. Our first full week off-road does not require professional skills because the road is mostly hard gravel, but will require concentration as we ride next to a river for many km.
Food of the week:
Tajik is the traditional cuisine of Tajikistan, and has much in common with Russian, Afghan, and Uzbek cuisines. Plov also called osh (Tajik: ош), is the national dish in Tajikistan, as in other countries in the region. Green tea is the national drink. Traditional Tajik meals start with a spread of dried fruit, nuts, halva, and other sweets arrayed on the table in small dishes, and then progress to soup and meat, before finishing with plov.
Along the Pamir, food will be mostly based on yak products like cheese and meat. Along the roads, we will be able to purchase fresh fruits from local kids who literally run and block the road trying to sell them
After Khorugh (or Korog) we’ll ride in towards Murghab. On the way, we will climb up to Pereval Tagarkaty Pass, at a height of 4.160m (13648 ft), which actually looks like a lunar plateau. After Murghab, we will go North towards the Kyrgyzstan border. On the way, we will ride up to Ak-Baital Pass with its own 4655 meters (15272 ft) is the highest point of the Pamir Highway and the second highest international pass in the world. We will spend the night at Kara-Kul lake, both beautifully scenic areas. This will be our last night in Tajikistan and the day after we will cross the border to Kyrgyzstan.
The first day in Kyrgyzstan we will ride towards the base camp of Peak Lenin, the ex-USSR’s highest mountain with a height 7,134 metres (23,406 ft). The base camp offers great views of those giants mountains. The views during sunrise and sunset are ones that will be imprinted in your mind forever. Kyrgyzstan is part of the Western Tien-Shan (meaning the Mountain of Heaven), which is a large system of mountain ranges with beautiful landscape and many wild horses that you will see galloping across the land. The Western Tien-Shan mountain ranges are World Heritage listed. After those giants, we will ride north towards Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. We’ll travel through secondary roads and pass by the largest and most famous lake of Kyrgyzstan, Issyk Kul. Roads will be mostly a compact gravel. Every year they add more tarmac to them. Stunnings views, mountains roads, a few historical sites, and few nights of camping will make a memorable journey to the Capitol.
A full day of rest and and change of tires (back to the dual sport type) awaits us in Bishkek. Back in Kazakhstan, we’ll have proper rest for two days in a four star hotel in Almaty, (the old capital of Kazakhstan).
Riding conditions for the week n 11 and 12 are mostly the same as the prior week. We will ride for several days over 3600 meters (11.800 ft) . Entering in Kyrgyzstan, we will have tarmac for a few days and then again go off road. The views will change as Kyrgyzstan is less “lunar landscape” and more “lush and green”. Its mountains are covered in pine. Kyrgyzstan is a bit more developed than Tajikistan in all aspects so road conditions are better.
Food of the week
Kyrgyz cuisine refers to the cuisine of the Kyrgyz, who comprise the majority of the population of Kyrgyzstan. The cuisine is similar in many aspects to that of their neighbors, particularly Kazakh cuisine. Traditional Kyrgyz food revolves around mutton, beef and horse meat, as well as various dairy products. Meat in various forms has always been an essential part of Kyrgyz cuisine. Among the most popular meat dishes are horse meat sausages (kazy or chuchuk), roasted sheep’s liver, beshbarmak (a dish containing boiled and shredded meat with thin noodles exactly the same as in Kazakhstan), and various other delicacies made from horse meat.
Paloo is the Kyrgyz version of plov. A popular drink in summer is maksym, which is similar to the Russian kvas.
From Almaty, we will arrive at Baikal Lake via another section of the Trans-Siberian Highway. We’ll cover 3700 km of steppes, deserts, pine forests and wide-open spaces. Russia is vast, and this leg of the ride will allow you to witness its expanse. The route to Kazakhstan will be manageable; the roads are not great, but the tarmac makes the journey quick. We will arrive at the border on the 4th day. After Kazakhstan, we will enter Siberia, the land of forests, bears, wolfs and tigers . We will most likely not see those animals along the way, as they avoid civilization. In Novosibirsk, we will have a full day of rest. Take advantage of the Thai massages offered while we are here! This treatment will stretch, relax, and balance your body after countless days of riding.
Hitting the road again, we will arrive in Irkutsk, which is also the route to Baikal Lake. Baikal lake was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. Baikal is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of which exist nowhere else in the world. Lake Baikal is also the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing roughly 20% of the world’s unfrozen, fresh water. It contains more water than all of the North American Great Lakes combined. After a day of rest, we will roll onto Olkhon island on the Baikal, to discover with a closer eye, the magnificence of this body of water. A free day will give you chance to relax, take a boat ride or simply cruise around the island.
Riding conditions: On the Kazakhstan side, as the prior week, roads are either decent or disastrous. Expect more friendly road police stops, too. On the Russian side, the road conditions are much better. The conditions around the city limits are not good. On a more positive note, traffic in Siberia is sparse. The traffic mainly consists of old Kamaz (Russian trucks). These trucks are very slow and release a lot of black smoke. However, passing them will not be difficult. Native drivers are not used to motorcycles. Please use your best judgement, caution and respect during these sections.
Food of the Week
Okroshka is a traditional Russian soup. The name most likely originates from kroshit´ (крошить), which means “to crumble into small pieces”. This classic soup is a mix of raw vegetables (like cucumbers, radishes and spring onions), boiled potatoes, eggs and cooked meat such as beef, veal, sausages, or ham. Kvass, also served with it, is a non-alcoholic (1.5% or less) beverage, made from fermented black or rye bread. Okroshka is usually garnished with sour cream (smetana).
Ukha is a clear Russian soup, made from various types of fish such as bream, wels catfish, or even ruffe. It usually contains root vegetables, parsley root, leek, potato, bay leaf, dill, tarragon, and green parsley, and is spiced with black pepper,saffron, nutmeg, and fennel seed. Fish such as perch, tench, sheatfish, and burbot are often used to add flavor to the soup.
Bliny (salty version) , Pirozhki (salty version), and Kholodets are jellied meat dishes. It gets its name from kholod, and is an essential part of winter holiday festive meals.
Salads: Dressed herring is a layered salad composed of diced pickled herring covered with layers of grated boiled vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beet roots), chopped onions and mayonnaise. Some variations of this dish include a layer of fresh grated apple, while some do not. Grated boiled beetroot, covered with mayonnaise, gives the salad a rich purple color. Dressed herring salad is often decorated with grated boiled eggs (whites, yolks, or both).
Mimosa salad’s main ingredients are cheese, eggs, canned fish, onion, butter and mayonnaise. This dish got its name because its reminds of us of “Mimosa” flowers scattered on the snow.
Desserts: Oladyi and Syrniki are fried quark pancakes, garnished with sour cream, jam, honey or apple sauce.
Drinks: Kvass is a traditional fermented beverage commonly made from black or regular rye bread. It is classified as a non-alcoholic drink. Kissel is a fruit dish, popular as a dessert and as a drink. It is made from the juice of berries.
Heading back to the mainland, we will ride south of the Baikal and arrive in Ulan Ude, the city of Buryats. The Buryats, who have a population of approximately 500,000, are the largest indigenous group in Siberia. They have a distinct look that you will notice and their language is similar to Mongolian. Eat at the local restaurants in Yurtas to enjoy authentic Buryat cuisine. The next day we will enter in Mongolia. This exotic spot has horizons that stretch as far as the eye can see; it is a vast land of nature and silence. It is the land of nomads. Genghis Khan, one of the greatest conquerors of all times, inhabited this land.
There is one word to describe Mongolia: freedom. Mongolia is the 18th largest and most sparsely populated, sovereign country in the world, with a population of around 3 million people. Ulaanbaatar, the capital and largest city, contains almost half of the population. This country contains very little arable land; much of its area is covered by grassy steppe, with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south. Approximately 30% of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic; horse culture is integral to survival. The majority of its population are Buddhists. Almost half of the population is non-religious. The majority of the state’s citizens are of Mongol ethnicity, although Kazakhs, Tuvans, and other minorities also live in the country, primarily in the west. If you are not comfortable with your own bike on challenging roads of Mongolia in the capital Ulanbatoor we will have the opportunity to rent a light dual sport motorcycle. On the first day we will visit the statue of Genghis Khan . We’ll change our tires to prepare for off-road riding and roll out to Ulanbatoor. We will also fill up our support vehicle with food, toys, and school supplies to gift to local families.This will be Motorcycle World Tours initiative. If you wish to contribute, you are free to buy or gift whatever you want. The next week, we will be surrounded by nature and emptiness. Nights will be spent in our tents and in local ger (mongolian version of yurta) to experience nomadic life. You’ll see people appear from nowhere only to disappear, just as one would imagine a nomad would do.
We will cover around 1800 km, riding a loop to the west. The Highlights of the trip will be Hustain Huruu, Khangai Nuruu and Khogno Tarna National Parks, the Orkhon Valley, which is our 14th World Heritage site since Saint Petersburg. We’ll visit Erdene Zuu Monastery, one of the oldest surviving Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia. Feast your eyes on an extinct volcano, wild horses, camels and much more.
We’ll then cruise back to Russia. The roads might not seem so bad after our week of off-roading. We will end the week number 16 in Chita.
Riding conditions: Mongolia continues, over time, to improve its roads and add more tarmac. A famous quote from Genghis Khan is: “If you’re afraid – don’t do it, – if you’re doing it – don’t be afraid!” Mongolia is filled with endless dirt roads, sand roads, mud roads and no roads. Gas stations are usually in every town, if not the opportunity to buy gas in canisters. We will carry a reserve in support vehicle to be safe. Most villages have phone signals and data. so you won’t be completely off the grid. Travelling at a safe speeds, follow the guide and you will be fine.
Food of the week: Mongolian cuisine primarily consists of dairy products, meat, and animal fats. Use of vegetables and spices are limited. Due to geographic proximity and deep historic ties with China and Russia, Mongolian cuisine is also influenced by Chinese and Russian cuisine. The nomads of Mongolia sustain themselves from the products of domesticated animals such as cattle, horses, camels, yaks,sheep, and goat and game. Meat is either cooked, used as an ingredient for soups and dumplings (buuz, khuushuur, bansh,manti), or dried for winter (borts). The Mongolian diet includes a large proportion of animal fat which is necessary for the Mongols to withstand the cold winters and their hard work. Winter temperatures are as low as −40 °C (−40 °F) and outdoor work requires sufficient energy reserves. Milk and cream an cheese are used to make a variety of beverages. The nomads of the countryside are self-supporting on principle. We will find gers marked as guanz in regular intervals near the roadside, which operate as simple restaurants. Mongolians usually cook in a cast-iron or aluminum pot on a small stove, using wood or dry animal dung fuel (argal).
The most common rural dish is cooked mutton, often without any other ingredients. In the city, every other local displays a sign saying “buuz”. Those are steamed dumplings filled with meat. Other types of dumplings are boiled in water (bansh, manti), or deep fried in mutton fat (khuushuur). Other dishes combine the meat with rice or fresh noodles made into various stews(tsuivan, budaatai huurga) or noodle soups (guriltai shol). Mare’s milk is the most drink of Mongolia.
Week 17 till the end
A little less than 3000 km are left before we arrive at our final destination, Vladivostok.
Heading back on the Trans Siberian highway, we will drive east circumnavigating China. This is the wildest part of the Trans Siberian highway. We will visit Mogacha on the way. From 1947 until 1953, Mogocha was where the Klyuchevlag prison labor camp of the gulag system was maintained. The camp held up to 3,000 prisoners at any one time, mainly used as forced labor for molybdenum and gold mining in the villages to the southwest of the town. The remoteness of Mogocha, combined with the harsh climatic conditions, gave rise to the Soviet military slang expression, “God created Sochi, and Satan Mogocha”.
After many more km(s) of forest, we will arrive in Birobidzhan is, a town and the administrative center of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. The JAO is Russia’s only autonomous oblast and, aside from Israel, the world’s only Jewish territory with an official status. After departing Birobidzhan is, we will arrive in Khabarovsk. This is our last day off before arriving at our final destination. Khabarovsk is the administrative center of the Far Eastern Federal District and is just 20 km away from the Chinese border. A good rest , a stroll in city center and a visit to Muravyov Amursky Park is the perfect way to spend our day in the city.
We’ll wave goodbye to Khabarovsk and we continue South instead of East. When finally we will meet the first city sign, we will stop and a take photo of the group. You will feel the glory of victory after completing this journey
17 time zones and 35000 km from Los Angeles, and 9 time zones and over 28000 km from Lisbon and over 2000 km and 7 times zones from Riga we will reach Vladivostok which translates in Russian to “King of East”. We have just completed a motorcyclist’s dream, the hard part of a Motorcycle World Tour. We have just accomplished what for many, will be just a dream. We will treat you to a delicious Celebratory dinner! You’ll see, dreams come true, we have made it happen.
Roads are generally good. We will encounter some road work with detours. Drivers commonly speed; in this part of Russia, distances are huge and road police presence is sporadic. There are quite a few Japanese used cars that will transit in opposite direction in small groups. We will need to be careful ass they tend to drive quite fast. We’ll find gas stations approximately every 300 km and you can use your credit cards almost anywhere.
Food of the week:
This fare is similar to the other cuisines of Russia. Caviar here is so cheap that if you are a fan of it, you can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner with it without spending a fortune.
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