Tajikistan/ driving the Pamir Highway

Having managed to cross the border successfully I started my way through Tajikistan a few weeks ago. In many aspects the expercience in this country could be described similar to Kyrgyzstan…some of the most hospitable people I have ever met anywhere on this planet…and again the tea of course. For the majority of my time in Tajikistan I stuck to the notorious M41, the Pamir Highway. This being the second highest highway in the world I soon found myself up as high as 4655m with a lot of dizziness and a bike with not much power left due to the high altitude.

For this trip I wasn’t planing on camping much in order to engage with the local people more and meet other travellers and hear their amazing stories, however, just before leaving Bishkek I managed to find a cheap chinese tent for around $15 just in case. After crossing the bumpy and muddy no-mansland I was instantly struck by the unbelievable scenery around lake Karakol and decided to go a bit off road and pitch my tent right by it with literally no one around. I suppose I have been feeling freedom a lot during the past year, yet sitting by the tent making myself a cup of tea on a homemade camping stove(made out of a beer can and spirits) and skinny dipping in the cold lake surrounded by mountains was very likely one of the peaks. 

After somehow surviving a freezing night in my $6 sleepingbag I continued back on the road for several hours. With my body feeling the altitude a lot more than expected I did not manage to make it to my planned desitination and had to stay the night in a village on the way called Alichur in a yurt. From this place you have two options: stay on the M41 or go down to the Wakhan valley, where Tajikistan borders with Afghanistan with only a river inbetween. I chose the latter option and that was when the “roads” started to get very…interesting. On an average day in this country I usually planned to drive around 200-250 km, however, I soon realized that this can either mean 4 hours or a whole day. Riding paths with big rocks, sand, landslides, streams etc. requires a lot of attention and can sometimes make you feel like you haven’t slept for days when you finally arrive at your destination. Besides looking down, checking the road and your tires after every rock you hit you are still constatly surrounded by the picturesque landscapes and have to find time to take it all in which all together has nothing to do with going on a roadtrip, cruising down an ordinary highway and listening to Bruce Springsteen.

Driving in the Wakhan valley, not only the landcapes,with views of the hindu kush, change but also people all of a sudden look completely different with their facial features and traditional colourful clothing which made this country even more interestig for me.

I stayed in Langar for one night, which is more or less the first bigger village in the Wakhan valley coming from the east. As there are not too many tourists in this country you hardly find hostels or guesthouses but rather homestays where you can stay at a local family’s house which makes the experience very authentic. 

After another couple of stops I went up to almost 4000m again for the last time in order to reach my last destination in this country, Dushanbe. During my time in Tajikistan I drove rugged mountain passes, through green valleys, saw all different sorts of mountains, met very generous and helpful people, threw stones acorss a river to Afghanistan and met incredible fellow travellers with incredible stories(a lot of people you meet in this country are on bicycles or motorbikes)

After two flat tires in Kyrgyzstan I was ready (though not necessarily keen) to deal with punctures and other problems on a regular basis.
However, to my own surprise the bike took all this upon itself like a champion (considering it is a cheap chinese/russian bike). As it would be too easy without any troubles though suppose, I had to find out that both my rims were slightly bent but luckily got the problem sorted out in Dushanbe.

With all my problems sorted out I continued my journey to Uzbekistan. The weather there was hot and roads neverending. I’ll elaborate on this in my next post.

cheeeers for reading!

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