We were already in Dushanbe Tajikistan. Now we had to decide whether we would take the northern or the southern route to Qalai Kumb. We chose the northern route with more offroad sections, less traffic, shorter than the southern route and some other features that we didn’t know off.
After we left Dushanbe we saw Thijs, Nienke, Eva and Mari. They left earlier with their bicycles and were already tired when we met them again, because it was very hot and they had to climb a lot. We rode ahead and looked for a camp spot, but the nearest camp spot wasn’t accessible by motorbike. So we texted Thijs, that we would continue.
That night we camped between the road and the river.
The next day we explored the other features of the northern route. First we encountered a big landslide which we had to cross. We had to unpack the motorbike of Klaas and with one person on each side of the motorbike, we managed to cross the landslide. Then we had to carry all the luggage to the other side of the landslide. Next was the motorbike of Daniëlle. We didn’t unpack her bike, because we had more control over her bike, since her bike is lower than the bike of Klaas. All in all it took us about half an hour to cross a 100m wide landslide. Now we were ready to continue to Qalai Kumb.
But a few minutes later we saw a bridge, only some essential parts were missing. We looked at the river where the road ended and the river looked deep. But a local man, who was fishing nearby, showed us were we had to cross the river. The spot was less deep than the first spot, but not shallow enough for Daniëlle. As she had already eaten sand that day, she didn’t feel like washing her mouth with river water. So Klaas had to cross both motorbikes over the river. Daniëlle walked to the other side. And we estimated right. The river was to deep for Daniëlle, no longer dry feet for Daniëlle.
After the river crossing there were no more obstacles towards Qalai Kumb. Just a beautiful pass (Aghbai Khaburabot) with some landmines on the roadside.
Just half an hour before sunset we arrived in Qalai Kumb.
When you both choose a different road and you want to get back to one road, you can get stuck in between the roads. That’s what happened here. Luckily a truck stopped and two Tadjik men helped us to get the motorbike on the road again.
In the end of the afternoon we met Tom and Sabine, two other Dutch cyclists, and we camped together at a beautiful camp spot near the Afghanistan border from which we could see a small Afghan village and the Afghan mountains. At night we saw a starry sky with clear view of the milky way.
Next stop would be Khorog. We stayed somewhat longer in a lovely homestay (Lalmo), because we needed to test the ceramics over and over again, even at night. That also gave us some time to decide which route we would take after Khorog. Do the Bartang-valley, the main M41-route or the Wakhan-valley. The Wakhan-valley won in the end.
Khorog lays at the border with Afghanistan and every Saturday morning there is an Afghan market on an island on the Tajik side of the border where the Afghan traders can come and the Tajik can buy all kinds of stuff. Just a normal bazaar with traders and buyers in a relaxed atmosphere. Nice to see.
We also saw an open air wrestling contest in the central park of Khorog.
Due to our thorough ceramics-tests, it was likely that our bikes would be longer in the country than (max) 15 days, so we had to extend their road tax in Khorog. So before we left Khorog, we went to the customs office. We knew the extension was for free, but the customs officer tried to make us pay 50 somoni per bike, and he couldn’t explain why. As he already gave the newly stamped forms to Daniëlle, she quickly checked the extended dates, smiled, said thank you and walked away with the forms, but without paying.
The Pamir Highway asked a lot of attention from us. The views were beautiful, so sometimes we just had to stop to fully enjoy it and catch our breaths.
And sometimes you can help a local by pushing his Lada.
And at the end of the Wakhan-valley we camped at a beautiful lake.
Now it was only 10 km to the mainroad M41. Nice to see some tarmac again.
We bought a bag of cookies before the Wakhan-valley. This is what cookies look like after the Wakhan-valley.
In Murghab we had to refuel again. And we had to do it in Pamir-style.
After Murghab, where we initially planned to stay a little longer, we left for Ak-Baital Pass, the highest pass (4655m) of the Pamir Highway. And at the peak of the pass we finally met Bert Boute, a Belgian motorbiker whom we had followed both virtual and physical for several months. Coincidence does not exist, I guess. We lunched together at the peak.
After the pass we also met Roberto from Texas, USA and Friedrich from Germany. The five of us slept at the Karakul lake (3900m)
Friedrich wanted a slower pace, so with 4 motorbikes we left for the Kyrgystan border.
After 30 km there is a notorious river crossing, but when we were at the rivercrossing there was no strong current or high level of water. Maybe 20cm of water and we had to cross half a meter of river, so no big deal for us. We had already met a French motorbiker who almost lost his motorbike, because of the strong current and high level of water. Okay, he tried to cross the river in the end of the afternoon and we were there around 11am. So cross early and it’s more likely that you won’t have any problems.
The border crossing between Tajikistan and Kyrgystan was quick and easy. It’s kind of weird that the customs offices of Tajikistan and Kyrgystan lay 18km apart. But it is a nice ride, so no complaining on our side.
In Kyrgystan we rode a beautiful curvy tarmac road to Osh, pure joy!
Enjoy all pictures of Tajikistan at https://leftandride.nl/pictures/nggallery/central-asia/Tajikistan