Blogs from Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province, Tajikistan, Asia


If you’re wondering whether the Pamir Mountains, the 3rd highest mountain range in the world, are the right destination for your trip, you should read the following lines. It’s been almost two years since I travelled to the Pamirs in Central Asia. The group was small and consisting of avid travellers. All were happy and kind during the first days of the trip. That was until we reached the High Pamirs. Once we were at altitudes above 3,500 m, the living conditions became rough. Everyone, travelling to this part of the world, should come prepared for both the mental and physical challenges of the journey. To my surprise, a large part of our group came totally unprepared. My travel companions Dave & MJ and url=../../Asia/Tajikistan/Gorn... read more
Bumpy Road At High Altitude In The Pamirs
Children Dancing To Traditional Kyrgyz Music
Chinese Temple On The Silk Road

It's been a crazy 24 hours, after being denied access to the lounge at Dubai T2 I had a dispute with the girl in the cafe who want to charge me 5 bucks more to replace the dairy with almond milk. The short but uncomfortable flight allowed no opportunity to sleep so when I reached immigration first in an empty hall I was feeling positive only to be sent away to fill out an entry card, no pens of course so by the time I managed to borrow one and complete the card there were 3 hundred or so people pushing and shoving in the lines. I finally got out of there and was at my hotel by 4 but couldn't sleep, eventually I must have gone under as my alarm went off at 8am and ... read more
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum

FACES OF TAJIKISTAN...the Cultural Divide. I still shake my head in disbelief this could happen...but it did. Then when it became known...and I made it clear to them that they had disgraced the whole group by doing so...the protagonists tried to change the facts and attempted to justify their appalling behaviour as if it was to help the local people to improve their lot. But pigs fly and wind is wind. And those that know what happened...know it happened...and no conniving or mis-truths changes that. QED. What a delight to travel with the Travel Camel again...our Mischief on the Mekong being entre...main course travelling from Dushanbe to the Afghan border...hugging cliff roads along the Panj River...daring us to dip our toes in so it could attempt to bite them off...then ascending into the High Pamir for ... read more

TAJIKISTAN with the Tajik Outlaws Part 6...War & Peace...the Rise of the Kool Kids. Through the Akbaital Pass at 4,655 metres...the highest point of the trip...long descent to the village of Kara Kul 3,914 metres...spectacular landscapes on our left...the Chinese border with razor wire fencing on our right. A Tajik military post opposite our homestay...cross the road at your peril made clear to us...guards with rifles visible...a tourist ended his trip by doing so...the Germans irritation that there are restrictions on them because of that. Enter the homestay...flat roofed white dwellings with the highest salt lake in Central Asia behind it. Suggested the Irish woman share the fourth bedroom with Naddya..."No way" she yawps...entering the room. "This room is filthy, I'm not occupying this room until it is cleaned...and the window sill is dirty"...stamping her feet. ... read more
Road to Kara Kul in the Higher Pamir
Black Lake
Sunset at Kara Kul

TAJIKISTAN with the Tajik Outlaws...Part 5. Sherali our guide lives with his wife and two children in Alichur in the High Pamir (see last blog). Zamanbek (Mr Zee) our driver lives with his wife and four children in Murghab.(our next destination). In the 4 months of Summer they must work and earn as much money as possible to support their families as Winter is a gruelling 8 months long...temperatures averaging minus 45 degrees Celsius during the day and minus 55 degrees Celsius at night. In preparation for Winter Sherali buys 3 tonnes of coal and a lorry load of yak dung for fuel. He also buys a lorry load of a woody bush that is used for kindling. These are burnt in a stove in the middle of their dwelling which has pipes running off it ... read more
Yurts in the High Pamir
A lorry load of dung
Mr Zee visits his sister & nephew

TAJIKISTAN with the Tajik Outlaws...Part 4. I am constantly thanking folk in remote locales for showing me that another life is matter how testing of human goes on...usually with a smile. If life is hard they get hardier...only the tough survive...the young may try city life...but in their world the heroes are those that endure...nature moulding their identities. And so it is in the High Pamirs of Tajikistan...where summer is four months a year...and winter eight. I am honoured to be among the people of the High Pamir...sharing their bread...sharing their homes...receiving their hospitality...appreciative for them sharing what little they have...and providing me with a bed. The Milky Way shimmers above me...altiplano deserts surround me...turquoise lakes enthral me...the hospitality of the people humbles me. ... read more
"They are beautiful"
Tajik High Pamir Lake
Been here he cry

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 ... read more

It is 220km from Bulunkul Lake to Murghab, but with the sealed highway it only took us 3.5 hrs with a couple of stops; one at the 'holy' pond of the white fish spring, a freshwater spring pond full of fish, a little hut next to it serves up the fish, but it was too early in the day for us to contemplate eating so we passed. It was strange to be on seal after so many days of rough unsealed road, even if some parts were not so good. The scenery was pretty cool - typical high altiplano, but we've been a bit spoilt lately so it didn't blow us away. Murghab sits at 3,618m, and with Khorog, is the only town in the Pamirs. It's known as one of the few points of civilisation, ... read more
Murghab Hotel

We left Langar, and the Wakhan Valley, and travelled to Bulunkul Lake. We don't know how far it was - not so far - it took us 4.5 hours and the road most of the way was rough. The road out of the Wakhan Valley is called the road of the fallen soldiers, though we can't recall why. Langar sits at the confluence of the Wakhan and Pamir rivers which then becomes the Panji River. The Tajik/Afghan border follows the Pamir River, as does the road but it eventually turns north to rejoin the Pamir Highway. So our departure from the Wakhan Valley also marked the end of our 4.5 days following the Afghan border. As the road leaves Langar it climbs up and up. Langar sits at about 2,800m and the pass out of the ... read more
Our Bulunkul Lake homestay
Bulunkul Lake
Bulunkul Lake

A key driver for this trip is our desire to traverse the Pamir mountains. With public transport infrequent hired drivers with 4WDs are the usual mode of travel. We depart Dushanbe with the driver we've found tomorrow for a 10 day Pamir adventure that will take us to Osh in Kyrgyzstan, via the Pamir Highway, with one detour off the highway to travel through the Tajikistan side of the Wakhan Valley. So why are we so excited about this? The Pamir mountains are fabled to be one of the most highest and beautiful ranges in the world. Occupying Tajikistan, China and small parts of Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan they lie between the Hindu Kush, Tien Shan and the Himalayas. Known in Persian as 'Bam-i-Dunya' or ‘Roof of the World’, they apparently form one of the most ... read more

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