Embark on an Epic Journey: Discover Kazakhstan's M32, the Modern Silk Road

M32 is one of the main highways of Kazakhstan. It crosses the country, running from the Russian border towards the border with Kyrgyzstan. It’s a good road for those who wish to undertake such a journey to the heart of the country.

M32 (Aral-Highway)

How long is M32 road in Kazakhstan?

The road, known as Aral Highway, is 2.046km (1271 miles) long and runs north-south from from Oral (or Uralsk, a city in northwestern Kazakhstan at the confluence of the Ural and Chogan Rivers, close to the Russian border) to Shymkent (the capital city of South Kazakhstan Province, the most populated region in the country).

Is M32 road in Kazakhstan paved?

Part of the European Route 38, the road has been partly improved the last years. Now it’s almost totally paved (just some unpaved parts with potholes). It is broken or washed away in large sections. The drive will take more than 40 hours due the traffic and the road conditions.

Is M32 road in Kazakhstan busy?

This route plays a crucial role in facilitating long-haul traffic between Russia and Kazakhstan. As the modern incarnation of the historic Silk Road, this bustling highway teems with trucks transporting goods between Asia and Europe, mirroring the age-old caravan trails. The expanses covered by this road are vast, exemplified by the over 600 km stretch between Qarabutaq and Baikonur. However, facilities such as rest stops are few and far between on this desolate desert route.

When was the M32 road in Kazakhstan built?

The M32 was originally part of the Soviet M32 that ran from Samara to Shymkent. While the road was of strategic importance to the Soviet Union, it was never modernized. It consists mainly of slabs of poor quality asphalt but lacks lane markings, delineators and lighting; this makes it dangerous for night driving. It’s a very scenic drive but remote in parts.
Pic: Kovács Tibor