The route to India – probably one of the most complicated in the world

Well going to India by car. This idea sounds crazy but its not impossible. But when you look for it more in detail, you figure out that there is probably no more complicated route in the world to travel with your own car. That are the facts and problems:

  • Direct way through Iran – Pakistan – India: The shortest way to India. But big problem: Baluchistan. The area in the south of Pakistan is very dangerous. The risk of  kidnapping is very high. The border crossing Iran to Pakistan is crazy. There are some travelers who are took this part. But they got most of the time an escort from the local police. In different travel forums you find discussions about this part. For me its a bit to crazy. I am not going to take this route.
  • Kyrgyzstan – China – Pakistan – India: That’s an alternative route. Well for sure, I am not going to cross Afghanistan. Three problems are placed on this route:
    • China: If you want to drive your own car in China, you need a Chinese drivers license, a Chinese license plate and a guide who is the whole time on your side. Its expensive and you need a while to organize everything. It’s obligatory to use a Chinese tour operator.
    • Pakistan: The north of Pakistan and the Karakorum Highway are generally save, but still not the safest part of the world. The route is a possible alternative.
    • Attabad Lake in Pakistan: In 2010 there happened a massive landslide in the north of Pakistan which formed a natural dam blocking the river Hunza. The Attabad Lake was created where once was the road form the north of Pakistan to Islamabad. If you want to cross this lake with your car you need to take a “ferry”. Check out this video. It’s thrilling.
  • Kyrgyzstan – China – Tibet – Nepal: Probably one of the most mind blowing roads in the world. Following the Himalaya you’re more than 80% of this 3500 KM long route above an altitude of 4000m. It’s nothing for people with high altitude sickness. So I really want to take this road. But there are some problems too:
    • Self driving in China: Like I explained above. It’s a super complicated process to organize everything. It isn’t impossible but it isn’t cheap neither! Tour operators are asking for more than 6.000€ organizing the three-weeks tour. It is getting cheaper once you find someone who takes the same road, because prices are increasing about 2.000€ for an extra car. So you can split the costs. But it’s still super expensive.
    • Border China – Nepal: There is only one boarder which tourist can cross with their own car: Zamdu – Kodari on the highway of friendship. Big problem here: Since the earthquake in Nepal this border is closed! Officials will announce in March if there will be an alternative. But until now the signs aren’t good.
  • Kyrgyzstan – China – Tibet – Laos: Hahaha Laos? Pretty far away from India right? Yes I know, but that’s the next open boarder. And its a loooong way too. Almost 6.000 KM through China. Imagine the prices tour operators are asking for the way through Tibet! That’s gonna be insane! Next problem: If I want to go to India from there, I have to cross Myanmar. And this is gonna be expensive (Same problem like in China) and concerning my investigations until now, there is no open boarder for tourist towards India. Only possible way: Going by car to Singapore and shaping the car to Mumbai.

As you can see: It’s not easy at all! And that’s only one part of the tour. In Iran it’s difficult to buy Diesel, in Uzbekistan they don’t sell Diesel at all! I need to have the Carnet de Passages kind of a passport for the car. For that I have to place a deposit of about 5.000 € which I only get back if I return the car to the European Union. Then organizing all the visa for Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, Nepal, India. It’s not gonna be easy. But still not impossible 😉

The route in stages

Well, I am not going to travel all the way alone. But I don’t have a travel buddy for the whole way to India neither. So I divided the route into stages where friends and family are going to join me (there are still some seats free 😉 ). The route is more or less fixed. From now on I am planning with Nepal boarder crossing. If they say in March that the boarder will still be closed, I have to change my plans… So that is the route with its stages.

Stage 1: Berlin – Istanbul 03.07 – 17.07.2016 (2.200 KM)

Source: Google Maps -
Source: Google Maps –

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