Chapter 10: Breathless in the Pamirs (Dushanbe, Tajikistan to Kyzyl-Art Pass, Kyrgyzstan) The old road from Dushanbe to Kalai-kumb, now a forgotten dirt track The river had washed away the road here, meaning I had to push my bicycle across this sketchy bridge One of the shepherds posing for a photo with his massive flock of sheep behind Reaching the back of another flock as I climb into the mountains The smiling shepherd who showed me the best way to ford one of the trickier rivers Some of the many friendly Tajik kids who would ask for high fives as I passed The cliff-side gravel track descending the far side of the Saghirdasht Pass Descending into a more lush landscape on the far side of the Saghirdasht Pass Crossing over a beautiful turquoise river as I close in on Kalai-kumb Following the old Soviet road along the Panj River, with the green mountains of Afghanistan on the far side Some Afghan houses on the far bank, with their carpets drying nearby in the sun The greenness of Afghanistan was striking at times compared to the bare, rocky landscape on the Tajik side of the river The road plunging into shadow during the hottest part of the day such were the height of the cliffs here Mark and Tim cycling along the Panj as five of us set off into the Wakhan Valley Tim pushing across one of the many little rivers which descend out of the mountains of the Wakhan Valley and into the Panj Turning a corner to be welcomed by the mighty sight of the snow-capped Hindu Kush for the first time Reaching the 10,000 kilometre mark (since leaving Limerick) on my second day in the Wakhan Valley Tim loading his bamboo bicycle onto a jeep, just before him and Karina were whisked off back to Khorog Continuing alone into the vastness of the Wakhan Valley Pedalling with a local teenager who was on his way home. He was able to show me the smoothest lines on this rough track. One of Langar’s two shops. This one was closed, but from peeking through the window the shelves were fairly bare anyway. Stopping to filter some stream water above Langar. I would be living off stream water for the next 3.5 days. Pedalling through a patch of yellow flowers as I ascend higher away from Langar The mighty peaks of Afghanistan The landscape becoming more barren and lifeless on my second day out of Langar Two Pamiri gentlemen who I came across in the wilderness waiting hours for a vehicle to pass which could give them a lift My tent sheltered from the wind near the military checkpoint Enjoying the company of Kim and Mark as they cook up dinner on the far side of the Khargush Pass Mark and Kim descending the remaining section of the Khargush Pass Kim and Mark descending the last, rough section of the Khargush Pass before joining the smooth tarmac of the Pamir Highway The village of Alichur, situated just shy of 4,000 metres on the Pamir Plateau The rugged scenery of the Pamir Plateau on the far side of Alichur Viewing the sun set over the Pamirs from the chaihana where we were invited to spend the night Kim photographing a herd of yaks grazing outside the chaihana in the morning Kim and Matthew pedalling out onto the Pamir Plateau My three companions for the Pamir Highway: Kim, Matthew and Mark Kim with the Pamir Highway stretching away into the distance A straight rainbow cutting across the sky, the first time I had witnessed such a phenomenon Mark tackling a brief climb on this mostly flat road through the Pamir Plateau Coming across a yak roadblock My three companions pedalling across the vastness of the Pamir Plateau An ancient, abandoned caravanserei in the wilderness on the far side of Murghab Rushing to pack our gear into our tents as a storm barrels down the valley towards us The barren landscape as we close in on the Ak-Baital Pass Matthew drinking some hot tea in the family home near the summit of the Ak-Baital Pass while we waited for the storm to pass Mark zig-zagging up the steepest section of the climb up the Ak-Baital Pass The view from the 4,655-metre summit of the Ak-Baital Pass Kim battling the rough track down the far side of the pass Battling a strong evening headwind towards Karakul Lake where we knew there was a homestay A heavy rain shower passing over the lake Mark pumping water for Matthew in the small village of Karakul Matthew and Kim leaving Karakul in the direction of our last three Tajik passes The blue waters of Karakul Lake, a jewel in this ashen, barren landscape Mark and Matthew fighting up the first 4,200 metre pass with a dust devil and some ominous clouds in the background The clouds clearing, opening up the view back into the meteorite crater Karakul Lake is situated within Setting up camp in a lunar landscape on our last night in Tajikistan Watching yet another storm roll across the landscape towards us from our sheltered wild camp Tajikistan’s ubiquitous wild, epic, barren landscape which I was going to miss so much Ascending the gravel track up the Kyzyl-Art pass, an appropriate end to our time in this wonderful country Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... 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Extraordinary vistas and demanding conditions for cycling. Amazing !
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