Day 2 on the Pamir Highway - Kalai Khum to Khorog


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August 8th 2017
Published: February 11th 2018
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It took us 8hrs to cover the 240km from Kalai Khum to Khorog and we ascended 1,000m to 2,150m.

Pretty much the whole journey we spent in big gorges as we followed the river that marks the Tajik-Afghan border. At this point it is called the Ishkashim River but as we move up it, it becomes the Panj River. It is a big powerful river and its width varies. At the narrowest points we must have been about 30m from Afghanistan, but most of the time it is more like 100m. The whole time there was a road running parallel on the Afghan side also following the river.

Gorges have sheer sides and active slips. On the Afghan side we saw where they have lost the road and were blasting out of sheer rockface 100m up to restore it.

It was quite surreal to be so close to Afghanistan that you can see people going about their daily lives. We're in Tajikistan, we came to do the Pamir Highway, but you can't help but be mesmerised by Afghanistan. Maybe because its a name that is so familiar, and the 4 of us spent the entire day with our heads turned to the right looking at it. It does feel somewhat voyeuristic though.

We nearly didn't make it to Khorog due to a truck that had lost the back end of its trailer over the edge of the road and was hanging over the river. The army were there digging out the sheer rockface in front of it so vehicles could pass, which we did with literally a couple of inches to spare.

There wasn't as many checkpoints as we had expected, but at each one we encountered they were much more interested in our NZ passports than the Italian guys EU ones.

When we got to Khorog we went to the tourist information centre and found ourselves a homestay. The guys chose a more comfortable hotel on the other side of the river. Khorog is our best chance for internet but our homestay had none so we headed to the guys hotel and blagged the wifi password off the owners, and hung out on their river balcony attempting (unsuccessfully) to upload some photos while we waited for the guys to get organised themselves before heading out for dinner. We chose an Indian restaurant infamous amongst travellers because it is pretty much the only flavourful food to be found on the Pamir Highway. We wanted a nice meal since it would be our last with the Italian guys are we part ways in Khorog. They have more time than us and have organised another driver to take them the rest of the journey.

For the first time at our homestay we had beds on the floor, which is what we expect from here on given homestays are the only accommodation option. Tajiks have an interesting concept of privacy, bathroom doors often don't even shut never mind have locks.


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11th February 2018
The river border - Tajikistan to the left, Afghanistan to the right

Tajik/Afghan border
There is something about the enormity of these mountains that is impossible to capture with a landscape shot but even so the images such that you have captured bring it all back. This great pic transports me there.
22nd February 2018

Big gorges, tight squeezes and bad roads a plenty
...and yet we all have such fond memories. An amazing place on earth and checkpoints a plenty.
22nd February 2018
IMG_3957

Great shot
The rough water was something.

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