Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wakhan Valley - Kargush Pass

khorog rest day
mi 26 aug
today rest day. meaning, cleaning the bike, do some internet, some shopping and be happy that your butt has a breka from the bike. We went to the museeum, which was not so interesting because it is only in russian/tajik language. Since ytereday I started to have some itchiness on the eyes and today one was already covererd... and puss everywhere
At least we could have a look at the marco polo sheeps which are really huge sheeps.
For the evening we found the most amazing indian restaurant I have ever seen... most amazingh not because of the dishes , which were great but because of the menu. I have necver seen so much information on a few pages - reminds me of my teaching time when 1 of my students showed me his presentation in powerpoint, where he was able to put the information for 25 slides and only 1. We could n t really read the menu and so we asked what food they had. write about the house

Khorog - Ishkashim (Wakhan Valley)
do 27 aug
The indian spices kept our stomachs busy the whole night. We woke up in the morning ready for another cycling day. The next days would bring us along the Afgan border threough the Wakhan Valley. We started at 7 and cyled to the market. We could buy what we wanted but we didn´t find a coffee so we decided to start cycle out of Khorog. 2h later we had our breakfast on a nice side stop. Continuing cycling we made another breaqk at 3 pm, after 70km. We were slowly looking for a place to stay but 1st had a nother teabreak. After that break we suddenly had tail wind and we continued and continued cycling. Once we had 85 km we decided to go all the way to Ishkashim (who knows if there is such a wind tomorrow - in the Bartang valley we would find out there is still more than enough)
The last km we were almost flying with all those tail winds and the views to the Hindukush was just incredible. This day we really realized there are even less cars then the days before .... we found a nice guest house and after our well deserved cold beer we fell a sleep

Ishkashim - Btup (Homestay)

fr 28 august
Very amazing ride. The 40km after Ishakashim were paved and the valley opened up ... we had nice views of snowpeaked mountains in afghanistan and ahead of us (Lenin and Marx Peak). Suddenly Jeff a french guy was catching up with us. Martin met him already a few days agon in Khorog and we decided to cycle a bit together. Martin and me had a tea break in a small place were we got invited for the 1st timne in a real Pamir House. The freindliness is really amazing. We continued cycling and the road got seriously rough ... so rough that suddenly my rack fell of. We fixed the problem and continued cycling. Jeff decided to put his hammock inbetween trees while Martin aqnd me decided to experience a night in a real Pamir House. Luckily we found a homestay - young boy taking care of everything ....

Btup - Camp 5 (3400m) Kargush Pass

sa 29 aug
Today the road continued beeing rough. The valley opened more and more upand we enjoyed the incredible views. Langar is the last town, before the long way contiues over the Kargush Pass. We stopped in Langar (46km) had some of our food and tried to find juice water and chocoloate in one of the "magazines". After around 2 hours of lunch, siesta and we started with the Kargush Pass. Immediatly after Langar a serious climb started. Very steep rough road and loose stones combined with deep sands gave us a hard time. We managed to bike it all up (with some breaks inbetween to get back the breath again once in a while) ... and were hoping it will not continue all the way up to the pass like that. Luckily after that steep beginning the road calmed down a bit and we could again enjoy the countryside. At around 6 we decided to pitch our tent at the side of the road. We camped at 3400m to aclimatize for the next days. The next week we will spend around 4000m and its good to have aclimatized by then. We were amazed coz in the middle of the night we still heard a shepperd passing by and where wondering coz for sure he had to go all the way to Langar, which was already 10km away.

Camp 5 - Camp 6
So 30 Aug
It is quite a long ride before reaching the Kargush Pass and be back on the Pamir Highway. The views were amazing and the cycling was just amazing (in the beginning). After around 20km and a break on a stream we had to go down. Which is on one hand nice, but if you know that at the end of the day we have to go over a pass which is 4300m ... we knew we have to cycle all up again. The area is really remote and nothing to expect in terms of food or restocking ... we had a brak and made some noodles and a coffee before we continued. There is a police checkpoint at the "foot" of the pass and once we saw it we started smiling , knowing that will be the next rest. The 3-4 km there was a torture ...on rough road, washboard with bolder stones seemed the police check point never comes closer. Finally we made it, passed the checkpoint and looked for a nice spot to pitch our tent at an elevation of 4000m.

Camp6 - Camp7 (Yashil Kul)
Mo 31 Aug
We packed our bikes and started the climb up to the pass. 11km of smooth climbing ... Martin saw Marco Polo Sheeps everywhere ... at the end they turned out being donkeys (sorry Martin).
The views during the downhill where very amazing and incredible. 11 km after the pass we reached a small Lake. The problem is the lakes in that area are all salt water lakes. Anyway we were hungry and I decided cooking a soup with this salty water. It was the saltiest soup I ever had ... and after that I was craving for weater wich we didn´t had. 11km after the Lake we reach back to the Pamir Highway ... but this stretch was also serious suffering on washboard road. I thought I had enough washboard road in Mongolia last year ...but this was definitly worse.
From the highway it was another 22km to Yashil Kul(=Lake) were we wanted to camp for the night. This 22km again was serious riding on washboard and we were really happy once we saw a small settlement close to the lake. Once we reached the settlement we looked for a shop, went inside and got disapionted when we found out that the only stocks they had was cooking oil and 3 bars of soap. Finally we found a "homestay" place and they cooked us nice potatoes and we were able to get water from their well.
Totally recharged we cycled the last 4 km to the Lake where we found a very nice campsite, pitched our tent , had some food and called it a day.
In the settlement we got a bit confused coz our time was 4pm and they had it already 5pm. Later we found out that that region has a different time zone to Dushanbe ... we never realized that ... anyway on a trip like that time is the last thing that matters.

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