Pamir Highway trip Day 11 - Murgab to Karakul

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July 22nd 2016
Published: July 25th 2016
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July 22 - Pamir Highway trip Day 11 - Murgab to Karakul

Today we had breakfast at 8am and our new driver, Baatr, arrived in a flashy red jeep. We paid Dish and he took off home. He couldn't come with us because his passport expired. It will only take him six hours to get back to Khorog, while it's taken us about a week to get here from there. We had to wait for our new driver to come back, as he had gone home for something, I think. He picked us up around 9:15am and then we hit the road.

We drove first on a slight detour to Pshart Valley, just outside of Mugrab. We drove in for about an hour, and it was quite beautiful. It was a dirt track, but it was a far better road than the asphault one from yesterday. We took several pictures and saw a few yurts and herders.

Next up was the drive to Karakul, our last stop in Tajikistan. We had a few hours in the car, and at one stage we went through the Ak-Baital (White Horse) Pass, which is at 4655m (over 15,000 feet), so quite high. It started to get cloudy and cold, and then it was even snowing a tiny bit. Luckily that did not last long. We also rescued a car at one point, towing it to the top of the pass.

When we started to get near Karakul, we could see Lake Kara-kul that it is built near. It is beautiful, the best lake we have seen so far. It's quite large and was formed 10 million years ago by a meteor impact. It's also salty and frozen for most of the year. There is nothing built directly on the lake - no buildings or piers and no boats to speak of. There is the obligatory trash, like we saw in Bulunkul - glass, animal bones, cans, old cars, etc. I guess it is quite a hard place to get rid of your garbage.

We came to the homestay for the night and settled in. When we got here, we could see that there were two German motorcycles, but one was on a truck. Then we could see the Germans, and one of them has his arm in a makeshift sling. It turns out that it was a dad and his son taking a trip together on the highway here. They had only just started, and the dad had an accident and broke his clavicle. So only a couple days in and they were now preparing to go back to Osh, get medical treatment and fly home. Such a bummer.

We had soup for lunch and then took a walk to the lake. Anna and I made it to the lake first, only to discover that you should not get too close to the lake - there were mosquitoes EVERYWHERE!!! We were instantly covered and had to retreat. They were everywhere. I've never had an easier time trying to kill a mosquito. But it was gross. We walked back quite a ways and then it was fine. But it was cool and quite windy, so I was a bit cold. I did not pack a wind- or rainproof jacket for this trip, and I may start to regret it as we get into Kygyzstan. We did walk a bit and see the lake and some other weird structures nearby. Afterwards it was time for a bit of relaxing at the homestay, and we listened to a podcast about fondue and the Swiss Cheese Union (cartel). Pretty interesting.

Additional photos below
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26th July 2016

Yikes broken bones
Sorry their trip was cut short. Hope they can do it again soon.

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