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Published: April 26th 2018
Yesterday we travelled 160km from Murghab to Karakul Lake, driving time without stops was probably around 2.5hrs.
As we left Murghab we picked up 4 Russian hitchhikers. We thought we could only pick up 2 so they did rock, paper, scissors to determine which of them would take the ride, but then Abdesh said that someone could go in the boot, so we made a human sized space amongst all the rucksacks, squeezed 4 bums onto the back seat and we were off.
Now no matter how mad you think you are, or others might think you are, there is always someone out there that is madder, and these Russian were bonkers. They were a lot of fun.
The scenery was amazing, in part this was possibly because the mountains were closer, whereas the day before we were in wide valleys so the mountains were more distant, but the red hues in the mountains were just amazing. We stopped at the top of Ak-Baital Pass, which at 4655m is the highest point of the Pamir Highway. As it drops down to Karakul a fence appeared on the right which marks a 'neutral zone' between Tajikistan and China, as
at this point we're close to the Chinese border.
Karakul Lake sits at 3,914m making it the highest lake in Central Asia, in fact it's one of the highest lakes in the world - it's higher than Lake Titicaca, and there are only some lakes in Tibet that are higher. It's a very salty lake, meaning it's water is unusable. It is also one of the driest places in Central Asia and only gets around 3cm of year a year.
The Russian hitchhikers had set themselves up at the far side of the village. Given the lack of traffic they said finding a ride can take them up to 4 hours, so we parted with some of the cans of coke we've nurtured since Dushanbe (a precious commodity on the Highway as local variations are pretty horrible) and our other bag of biscuits.
After settling into our homestay we spent the afternoon exploring the village, and had a long walk along part of the lake edge before walking back along the highway. It was quite enjoyable to be walking a stretch of it instead of driving. We only saw half a dozen vehicles on the highway the
whole time we were out, but the Russians had gone by the time we got back so one of them must have stopped and given them a ride.
But the highlight for us of our time at Karakul Lake was meeting at our homestay some fellow TravelBlog.org bloggers. Dave and Denise
met MJ and Dave
through this site and they were on a small group tour being led by Shane Dallas
. They are really lovely people and we had a fabulous evening hanging out at our homestay and swapping experiences with them, it was pretty sad the next morning that we were all heading off further up the highway in Kyrgyzstan but we were hopeful that we might run into them again later that evening in Sary Mogol (we didn't). We've met a lot of amazing people on this trip and the homestays tend to be pretty social but this was a definite highlight for us.
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