Landcruising Adventure Newsletter
Hello friends,

Hello from Aktau, the far southwestern end of Kazakhstan, on the Caspian Sea. With some two months left before we are to park the Land Cruiser for winter and fly to a new long-distance hike destination (hello 1000-km National Trail in Israel!), we felt it was very doable to a big loop to the far end of this enormous country (which is larger than Europe).

Wrong choice. We’re in a bit of a rut. Well, the Land Cruiser is. Maybe we’ve been driving in too many ruts, literally (and potholes, and on washboard). The Land Cruiser isn’t taken it kindly.

Land Cruiser Troubles

We abandoned our off-road trip through the magnificent Mangestau Region full of incredible rock formations to drive to Aktau over asphalt to get a broken rear leaf spring fixed, a big one. It has been solved, but not as it should be (for lack of proper workshops to do so).
Screen Shot 2019-12-15 at 12.04.10
Alas, nothing comes by itself. The steering has issues that may or may not be the result of a broken cross member at the chassis – another big job to get fixed. Meanwhile, when changing the leaf-spring, Coen and the mechanics discovered that:
  • A front leaf-spring was broken too. It's one of the main leafs with attachment points to the spring hangers. Impossible to replace here and so another improvised fix was the only option.
  • The front wheels had too much play because all wheel bearings were gone. At least that was an easy fix as bearings are easily available almost everywhere.
  • Both engine mounts gone. Impossible to find here. We had one spare and so replaced only one side.
  • Then Coen discovered the whole left fender was loose. The bracket holding it in place has broken at the frame while the support for the grill had sheared off on three points. (See video above)
That’s it in a nutshell. Enough to write a book about, frankly. This, combined with some other issues make that we’re running short of time and are unable to do what we want to do. We will have to return one day to do the region justice.

Such is life.

How Did we Get Here

The journey here, on the other hand, has been interesting and challenging. We drove over a perfect asphalt road through southern Kazakhstan (from Shymkent to the Aral Lake). Next we learned there was no road at all going straight south to this Mangystau Region, which was a surprise.

The options:
  • 2000-kilometer detour on asphalt.
  • Some 650 kilometers straight across the steppe.
We opted for the latter, following the eastern side of the dry Aral Lake, and into the heart of what is becoming a land of gas pipes. Constantly switching trails that varied from being dry as concrete, filled with mud, or heavy with snow, it was quite a journey.

At least the winter isn’t harsh here at all, with temperatures hovering around freezing. In Aralsk we even got stuck for a day due to rain.

Thank you, Thank you

Thank you South Korea (©Coen Wubbels)
This being December, it’s a good time to say THANK YOU.

First of all we like to thank Sergey, the president of the Aktau Off Road Club for his help, contacts, and generosity in the above-mentioned situation. He was on top of everything and drove Coen around to get parts and invited him into his house for lunch. Thank you Sergey.

But this is also about you, saying thank you to:

You, our Newsletter Reader

For following our journey. It's great to have you on board. Do feel free to reach out if you have questions or just want to say hi. We love hearing from you – just hit the reply button.
Ernesto Hug's Car Workshop in La Paz, Bolivia (©Coen Wubbels)

Our Corporate Contributors

We feel privileged to be supported by a number of wonderful companies who either support use through gear & equipment, or financial means. A big thank you to those who kept us on the road in 2019:

Ambassadors season 17👇
@warnindustries @kermitchair @maxtraxhq @helmwatches @euro4x4parts @pinewood_benelux @darntough_benelux @armadillomerino @reiseknowhowverlag @bradtguides @bigagnes_ @cruiseroutfitters @tigerexped @montanebenelux @insightguides

Do you want to be part of our corporate contributors? Hit the reply button and let’s talk about the possibilities.

For the full list of contributors who have helped us over the years:

Read those magazines

We feel proud to be supported by some of the best magazines out there. It's great to see our stories in print as well as online. A big thank you to those who kept publishing our stories in 2019:

@4wd_magazine @expeditionportal @toyotatrails @overlandjournal @explorermagazin @overlanderbrasil @outdoorx4 @tctmagazine @autobildde, @livingoverland @adventure.travel_ @fodorstravel

If you’ve enjoyed our blogs, you have our patrons to thank – at least in part. Patreon helps us to stay freelancing and create more website stories for everyone to enjoy!

Thank you for supporting us on Patreon:

Aeron, Augustus, Barbara, Bernard, Bordan, Calin, Chris, Craig, Eric, Henk en Marianne, Jack, Jan, Joost, Judith, Justin, Katja, Lena, Marieke, Matt, Mike, Monique, Mélanie, Pauline en Wim, Peter en Michelle, Rob, Robert, Travis, Ylona, and Yolanda.

We now have a tier system that includes unique benefits – Go check it out.

Overlanding Books

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The Bell Family, Graeme and Luisa with their kids Keelan and Jessica, have been on the road since 2012. We had the pleasure of meeting them at a campsite in Peru, years ago. They are a true inspiration for any overlander but arguably even more so for those who are considering a long-term journey with their kids.

Graeme just published his fourth book: Europe Overland; Seeking the Unique

As Graeme puts it, “Would our Land Rover Defender with her large mud-terrain tyres, skull adorned bullbar and self-built habitat be as out of place and inappropriate on the streets of Europe, as a rooftop tent is bolted onto the feminine slope of a Porshe 911? And would Europe be so expensive that we would have to flee for Africa and Asia, desperately? Would we find adventure and un-spoilt nature, would we be able to travel freely and live our outdoor lifestyle?
This book is written to answer those questions, and the best way to do so is to continue the narrative of our continuous intercontinental overland journey as written in our previous books - We Will Be Free and Overlanding the Americas “La Lucha”, the story of our family of four giving everything we have to give to achieve our goal of living the explorers lifestyle.
We seek nature, beauty, tranquillity and adventure. Many Europeans who read this book may ask themselves whether us outsiders might have found what they may have not, in their own backyard. I believe that we have".

Europe Overland is for sale in Paperback (US $25) and as an e-book (Pay what it’s worth).
I apologize, this is a Dutch book but it is one I really want to share with our Dutch Newsletter Subscribers. Hopefully it will be translated into English soon and I will let you know when that happens.

Het meisje en de tractor; een waargebeurd verhaal dat wereldnieuws werd is about our friend’s journey on a tractor from the Netherlands to the South Pole, which took her some 10 years, rather than the anticipated 2 years or so. Manon's story includes a traumatic experience when she was a student, which partly was the foundation of her dream to drive to the other side of the world and back home.

During her journey she gave theater performances and collected peoples' dreams, drawn or written, and put them in the belly of a huge snowman that she built on the South Pole.
Travel Memoirs
For other Adventure Books, check out our Book Shop

Adventure Inspiration

In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, last summer, Coen met a remarkable guy, Ed. His adventure? Cycling around the world on a unicycle! How is that for a challenge?!

We have been following him ever since, and you can do so too. His dispatches on YouTube are fun to watch, which are currently about him crossing the United States from the West to East Coast.

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And then there is Rob, who Escaped from the Race on a wee little Honda SuperCub 90 and has gotten into all sorts of adventures.

We received an Instagram message from him when we were in Tajikistan, with an invitation to meet down the road somewhere as he was in Uzbekistan. Alas we somehow missed each other and now only have Instagram with his great, witty images to follow his adventure. He arrived on the northernmost point of Australia recently ago, ending his trip, but his stories and images are there for all to see.

New on You Tube

Here's a video clip about our road trip through the mind-blowing landscapes of the Pamir Region in Tajikistan. Hit the button below to check it out. By the way, did you know that all our patrons get to see the videos two weeks before everyone else? Consider becoming our patron and enjoy additional benefits as well.

What's Next?

When the Land Cruiser is back on its wheels we will make the best of our time here in southwestern Kazakhstan and head back to Almaty via Uzbekistan.

If you are celebrating any of the December holidays, have fun! If you’re not, have fun too! :-)

Keep in Touch

What question would you love to see answered in our next blog post?

If you enjoy this newsletter, will you forward it friends and family? Thanks.
Karin-Marijke & Coen
Landcruising the world

Every Mile
Tells a Story

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