This image is a good start to this post taken outside the visa place that takes care of Pakistan in London. Getting Visas for the big trip across Asia has been a massive logistical pain in the ass, no two ways about it. This is a whole new world compared to traveling in Europe or the USA. Many of the countries require you to get a visa at home before you leave (Russia, Pakistan, and sometimes China), some require you to have the visa of the country you are entering or exiting before they will give you a transit visa (Turkmenistan) and some require you to be on a tour with a guide if you are from the UK (Iran and China). Often the visas are issued for entry and exit specific days rather than a period of time (Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and finally a good number will not process your visa until three months before you plan to enter the country or worse three months before you leave the country (China, Russia, Mongolia) – a bit of a problem if you are away for six months, and finally a number are only valid for three months from getting them…..
So I had to work out a careful plan to get all my visas in time, as I write this two months since starting the process, the following are in the passport already: India, China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Iran, Mongolia, Turkey (evisa). In process for three weeks already is the Turkmenistan transit visa (but they let me keep the passport). To be submitted in London this week is Pakistan dual entry visa and we have three weeks or so to go….all a bit tight and very expensive – with the cost of China crossing and letters of introduction for many of the countries the costs so far are over 2k GBP so not for the faint hearted.
The tips and tricks to get the visas are best found on the excellent caravanistan website or our facebook page for Asia run by Overland Sphere where I am now elevated to the lofty status of moderator thanks to Neil Bird for that honour (I think)
Counting down to the big trip so you should see a lot more posts as we start to ramp up
Update on the visa situation – I have the precious double entry Pakistan visa now and finally the Uzbek visa has been approved after much delay (5 weeks) as the London embassy required an invite from their ministry (despite the formal documentation saying that was not necessary) and this took four weeks to come along. So I now have a full set three months and £2500 later !