оҳиста суст, жай жай...Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan- Kulikalon Lake to Alovaddin Lake, then some...

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August 27th 2018
Published: November 23rd 2021
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Day 7

27 August

Kulikalon Lake (2980m) to Alovaddin Lake (2180m). High point for day 3780 m- elevation gain 800m, loss 1240m as we drive back down to Iskanderkul (famous) and ultimately Kahramon (not even slightly famous, I can't find it on google maps or any search function).

Got to start early in order to meet our pickup at 1200. I'm awake at 5 anyway. Lie in my trusty S2S Trek 3 bag and soak in the whole surreal experience. I start packing up as the sun hits the glacier. Again a "helper" arrives at 0630 to "help" me with my tent- too late I'm all over it. My turn to cook breakfast this morning- porridge with pears- very delicious actually. We squash into the big tent for this- my position is in the back right corner next to the veges- they say it's because I'm the shortest, but I think they want to trap me in the tent so that I can't get out and do any more work. We are totally packed up by 0715 and heading up the hill out of the basin. Hard slog but easier than yesterday, I think my rhythm has kicked in. The lake recedes quickly. Considerably cooler this morning, glad for an extra layer. By 0830 we're back at 3400m, take a break at 3440m under an intensely blue sky with eagles calling as background music. At 0938 finally reach to top of the Alovaddin Pass- a super windy and cold 3780m. Only 10 minutes to take it all in before the next descent. Off in the far off distance are 2 clear deep blue lakes. So the descent.... down, down, down, dusty, down. Dusty, windy, sunny, dusty, wind burny down. The all purpose sarong takes on face mask duty.

It takes just over an hour to reach the Alovaddin Lake area- it's set up as a holiday camp with camp sites and cold drink stalls. Somehow I end up there first and am offered a chai by an elderly Tajik- cold tea has never been so refreshing. We leave and cut back into meet the lakes, they are intensely blue and fed by waterfall.Noticeably warmer by now. Lots more photos are taken as we head down stream. Casually cross a couple of rivers (streams really if I'm honest). There is grassy pasture and the re-emergence of cows, camps
and people.It is very, very scenic.

Bang on 1215 our driver appears, I am sure he is surprised to see me looking like an energiser bunny- last he saw me I was pale, sweaty and vomiting discretely in random places. Picnic is promptly set up- Shafar has boiled up some eggs, we also have bread, cheese, coffee and melon, all on top of my sarong tablecloth (with traces of sweat and dirt). Post picnic payment and tipping is done. We also load him up with food for his return journey. I wonder if he will ride one of the donkeys- it's a huge dusty, scree climb back up that hill. He says he's aiming to sleep at the vicious dog/sheep pasture tonight and be home tomorrow. Lovely man, very generous. A great experience.

And... then we're back off on a super bumpy drive through towering rocky landscapes. Cows, donkeys, house, farms- the full green and brown package. The dirt hills turn red, villages appear, villagers wave. We reach Iskanderkul at 4pm. Iskanderkul is named after Alexander the Great, it is a glacial lake and forms part of a nature reserve of significance for its bird like. It is also a popular tourist destination, not today though- there's no food venues open and only 1 place with accommodation available because of a big local wedding. I'm happy just to drive around as much of the lake as we can (about 1/3) and move on. TBH after the last few days of sheer magnificence and solitude Iskanderkul is a bit underwhelming. We drive to the main road, Mohammed can't get anyone on the phone in his search for a guesthouse. We end up at a place opposite the public toilets and market/depot. It's called Kahramon Chaikhana and Guesthouse, it looks fine from the street (the guesthouse, not the loos). But first- dinner at a roadside diner. We drive there.

Jumaboy is the owner of Kabob House of Jumaboy. He's a very friendly fellow who quickly arrives with the first meat of my trip- it's either lamb or goat, I'm not sure, but it's spicy and tastes pretty good. Joomart (the driver) has liver. Soup also arrives- it's very good and has a big lump of lamb (I think) at the bottom. Delicious. The ubiquitous bread and tea come out too, as does a salad. It's all very good. I
suddenly have my appetite back for meat (I'm hoping my stomach will be accepting of this... after 3 days of lake water I'm pretty sure it'll all be fine). We share our platform with a melon seller, I know this as his little car is packed to the gills with melons (and he has had a long conversation with J and M about it). We leave for the guesthouse but not before J finishes of our teapot- drinking straight from the spout...

The guesthouse room is good- hot but has a window. The communal bathroom has a shower - I find a tiny scraping of communal soap (I guess it's kind of like drinking out of the spout of a communal teapot?!?). The hot water is bliss, so great to be clean and I'm grateful for the tiny supplied towel (luckily not communal). Late night- 10pm. Feeling good and tired.

Additional photos below
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26th November 2021

Yep...luxury. You're not getting soft are you Gill???
26th November 2021

Fan Mountains
Gorgeous but this pic does not convey the hard slog to get there. Refreshing spot to rest no doubt. I have posted some of your pics in TB's "Doors, doors & more doors" thread in the Photography Forum. Check 'em out.
26th November 2021
Driving Out

Driving Out
What a great pic. Gotta say Tajikistan has some of my favourite roads. I have posted this in "Follow that Road" thread in the Photography Forum. Check it out.

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