30-Sep-2007 – I tried unsuccessfully to find a bus going to this area from Shymkent for two days before I gave up and hired a taxi to bring me to Eski
Shanaq, the small village nearest to the confluence. The first leg of the journey on the M39 leading from Shymkent to Tashkent was very comfortable. The road was in excellent condition. The next part was a little
more tiresome but bearable, the small local road was winding in its way to Montaytas via Shanaq. If one watches out for those huge potholes scattered on the road and avoids running over the sheep, dogs, goats and camels that cross the road frequently then travelling this part of rural Kazakhstan should also be no problem. We even had to carefully drive around asses who were patiently digesting their lunch in the middle of the road on two occasions. I had not expected that the road degenerates into a unpaved gravel road after passing the railroad tracks at Montaytas. Our speed dropped to around 10 km/h. Going any faster would have very likely ruined the cars suspension, or resulted in a flat tyre.
I came as close as 4 kilometers to the confluence before turning around. At this point it became clear that the road would not lead closer to the confluence. It would have been no problem to get out of the car and hike across the soft hills covered with burned yellow grass that dominated the area for the last few kilometers, but I simply ran out of time. If you make an attempt at this confluence, you should either use a 4WD vehicle or be prepared for a 8 km round trip through the grassland.
Although it was ultimately unsuccessful I did not regret to have the trip there. It is a weird and piece full landscape. It has the atmosphere of being remote and godforsaken in spite its proximity to Shymkent, one of the biggest city in southern Kazakhstan. You get a good glimpse at Kazakh country life and a beautiful but slightly eerie landscape.