04-Jun-2006 -- Having already made it to 47N 47E earlier the same day, we decided to find a ferry across the Volga and try the next point directly to the east. We backtracked the highway back towards Astrakhan a little bit, and found a point where a barge ferry is servicing the local communities. After an hour's wait the barge was full enough to where the skipper decided to make the trip. Apparently the minimum total fare was RUR 500, or about USD 18 equivalent. Our share was all of RUR 100, or merely 4 bucks.
Well on the other side we drove north along the Volga through lush forests and fields, parts of which were flooded as part of the usual spring flood in the Volga delta. The flood is crucial for the reproduction of the majority of the fish species in the Volga, but was late this year because the authorities decided to first fill up the dams for the power plants higher upstream after a very cold winter 2005-2006.
Well over on the highway that runs from Astrakhan to Volgograd on the eastern side we headed south again and found an underpass under the railroad line that runs parallell to the road. The GPS pointed out the confluence further southeast, whereas the main offroad trails in the area mainly run east-west. The landscape on the eastern side of the Volga is somewhat more undulated than on the west side, and going straight for the point diagonally across the direction of the paths available would have been very challenging with only one car and no bridging ladders or sand mats. We decided to follow a trail due south, and after a while we hit a crossing trail east-west that appeared to be laid out to service some oilwells that were visible in the far distance. This trail allowed us to continue due east, passing the point after about 10 kms, just 30-40 meters to the side of the trail. The only driving challenge was a sand dune that had cut off the road, but we were able to plough through without difficulty.
There was something eerie about the area, and sure enough, on our way back we noticed a sign with "Restricted Area - Keep Out"...
We have later been advised that the area is guarded by the FSB [Federal Security Service] and the Russian Border troops as "strategically sensitive", but because of a major gas pipeline from Kazakhstan that runs through the area, as well as due to smuggler routes from Kazakhstan.