September 20th 2011: Denau, Uzbekistan – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 20th 2011: 110km (70 miles)

Driven distance total: 14’580km (9060 miles)

So, since quite some time we could pass a border. Actually it is every time a small adventure. First, you never know how much money you have to spend, second it is always interesting to see if they search your car, simply every time a nice and different experience;). First they wanted at the Uzbek side 10$ per person for some immigration form. I have asked several times for what the money is, and finally we could continue to the Tajik side without paying anything. At least they didn’t search the car, but on the other side there were a few border persons who explained me that we have to pay 30$ for some car documents. For more then 30 minutes I tried to reduce the price, and I said nicely to the official guy, that he and his buddies would use the money anyways only to go and drink vodka. Finally we still had to pay 25$, but at least we have received a receipt (don’t ask for what ;) ). After a little bit more then 2 hours, we have passed all the gates and offices at the border. Now in Dushanbe we have found a nice guesthouse, which seems to be famous among bicyclists. Several people from Europe and Australia are here with their bicycles. We almost felt a bit strange, rich, with our carJ.


September 21st 2011: Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 21st 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 14’580km (9060 miles)

In the morning we tried without any success (for stupid reasons) to obtain another Uzbek visa, just in case we couldn’t cross the Pamir highway (4650m / 15250ft). After this we went to see Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. There is not too much to see in Dushanbe, but the good thing is, that there is a good fast food place. After all that shashlik and kebab is a cheeseburger and fries a delicious mealJ.

In the afternoon we were hanging around in the guesthouse. Around 5PM I went to the nearby market to get some beers. At one place I stopped and got a drought beer for 40 cents;)! The one guy standing at the same table had two rolls with newspaper around. It looked like there are bottles wrapped into newspapers. Then thee was one more guy coming and he opened carefully one of the rolls. There was no bottle but a pigeon that was alive. The “buyer” looked carefully at the bird and was not happy with the bird, so the other guy wrapped the pigeon back into the newspaper.


September 22nd 2011: Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 22nd 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 14’580km (9060 miles)

Today was an easy day. We just prepared some small things for the Pamir highway.


September 23rd 2011: Dushanbe – Kalaikhum, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 23rd 2011: 390km (240 miles)

Driven distance total: 14’970km (9300 miles)

From Dushanbe to Kalaikhum are actually 2 ways. The main road would be shorter, but there are so many very annoying construction sights, because they are renewing the road. So we chose the smaller but better road. The street we chose was for 200km (120 miles) running directly parallel to the Afghan border. It was really interesting to see the small villages and the trails in the steep mountains in Afghanistan. Also on this road we had 50km (30 miles) of really bad road. It took us for this short part about 3 hours. At one place we had to traverse across a steep gravel field on a small road. On the right side it was steep going down and on top of the left side there was a construction vehicle. A good and safe feeling;). But since also big trucks are passing there, we weren’t too worried. After exhausting 10 hours driving we arrived in a small village called Kalaikhum. According to the guidebook it had some places to stay overnight. As soon as we arrived, a young guy came and led us to the guesthouse. Afterwards we ate something, and as always it was quite difficult to order, since our Russian still didn’t improve;). Either we usually go into the kitchen or just agree to the suggestion, without having a clue what it is. It’s always a nice surprise J. Since the bed wasn’t really comfortable in the guesthouse, I chose to sleep in the car, like this also nobody can steel it;).    


September 24th 2011: Kalaikhum – Khorog, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 24th 2011: 250km (160 miles)

Driven distance total: 15’220km (9460 miles)

For the 250km (160 miles) we still needed 8 Hours. So you can imagine the roads. As well as the day before, this road was mainly going directly at the border to Afghanistan. Although this area is considered to be very safe, we had some scary excitement as we heard three immediately after each other explosions! But they were just explosions on the Afghan side because they are building a new roadJ. Around 5PM we arrived finally in Khorog and were looking directly for the famous Pamir lodge. Supposedly this is a popular place among Overlanders. Just as we found it, there was a Canadian couple arriving. They have shipped their car from Seattle to Korea, then by Ferry to Russia, passing Mongolia into central Asia. Final destination London. We met nice people in the evening and had a good evening.

Khorog is a stopover for practically all tourists visiting the Pamir region and it is therefor somewhat touristy. The village lies at 2100m (6890 feet), so we still have a big step in front of us until we finally reach the highest point at 4650m (15250 feet). The highest point we will reach approx. in one week.


September 25th 2011: Khorog, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 25th 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 15’220km (9460 miles)

Today wasn’t such an eventful day, some Internet, car preparation and general hanging around and relaxing. Surprisingly it is still warm enough to hang around in shirts during the day.

In the evening there was a group of 17 American students arriving. They are studying for one year Farsi (Language for example spoken in Iran) and History of the region in Tajikistan.

With them there were also a few drivers arriving who drove them here. As most of the time, they were interested in the Landrover. Fortunately there was one who was really interested in the car, and immediately he has seen that the rear shock absorbers are loose! This could have caused serious damage. He did help me immediately and gave me some spare part to fix it. Really nice!


September 26th 2011: Khorog – Ishkashim, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 26th 2011: 110km (70 miles)

Driven distance total: 15’330km (9530 miles)

First in the morning we have talked to the students from the U.S. and to the drivers. Afterwards we got some gas and replaced the air filter, so the Landrover gets enough air at those heightsJ. The weather is still quite nice, although now we can see from time to time more heavy clouds. Ishkashim is far in the south of the Pamir mountains and lies at 2500m (8200 feet). Now we could also see the first snow capped mountains, and it does have some similarities to Switzerland. The length of the valleys is fantastic. It seems almost endless, it goes and goes and goes.

Unfortunately is not Saturday, otherwise it would have been possible to visit shortly Afghanistan across the bridge without a visa. Every Saturday there is a market where it is possible to go (after depositing the passport).

Then we have found a nice homestay with 2 rooms to spend the night. The 8 year old daughter has shown us the room, was funny. Besides us, there are rabbits, Chickens sheep and a dog living here!


September 27th 2011: Ishkashim – Bibi-Fatima, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 27th 2011: 90km (60 miles)

Driven distance total: 15’420km (9580 miles)

Today we felt like a collective Taxi. First, there was an old man who asked if we could take him with us, and we said yes. Shortly after we picked up a young woman, so at least they could chat together. Later on the young woman got out and just after, another older women got in. Like that, the old man, who went a longer distance with us, wasn’t bored. We were then for a short time alone before we picked up two schoolboys for some time. In the Pamir mountains hitchhiking is normal, we figured outJ. And those who know my Landrover they also know, that it really is not comfortable in the back, specially not on those wonderful roadsJ.

After 90km (60 miles) we arrived in the early afternoon at the hot springs Bibi-Fatima, where we also found a place to sleep. Up here there is also a very old fort.

Daniel went already to the hot springs and I made a small trekking tour. I hiked about an hour deeper into the valley and I even had a good trail. The panorama of the Hindu Kush mountain range is really beautiful! Later on I also went to the hot spring, and it felt really good, especially after a short hike. Bibi-Fatima lies at 3100m (10’200 feet), so again a place to get used to the height in this region.


September 28th 2011: Bibi-Fatima – Langar, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 28th 2011: 50km (30 miles)

Driven distance total: 15’470km (9610 miles)

Since we went early to bed, we also waked up early. Around 6AM I started another Hiking tour. It’s not good to just be a lazy travellerJ. After almost 2 hours I was 460m (1500 feet) higher up and could enjoy the nature! When I was back down I took another bath in the hot springs.

On the road to Langar we took again 2 older men with us in the back of the car. Both of them were again really glad about it.

In Langar we found after some search a nice homestay, where the lady-owner even spoke some German. It even had a hot shower and a real toilet!


September 29th 2011: Langar - Bulunkul, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 29th 2011: 130km (80 miles)

Driven distance total: 15’600km (9690 miles)

Now the trip led us to the first of five high mountain passes, to 4300m (14’200 feet). In the morning at this homestay we finally received something else for breakfast. We got “Griessbrei” like my grandmother used to make it 20 years ago, simply greatJ. The costs for 3 meals and the sleeping was 20$ per person, that’s OK;). We had breakfast together with two other travellers who staid there from Germany and France. Since all of us departed at the same time and needed to go into the same direction, we took the two guys with us for 2km (1.5 mile). Since it is annoying to get in the back of the car with two backpacks, one of the guys was sitting on the right side and one of the guys was sitting on the left side on the front of the car. The people looked at us a little bit strange J.

To drive the 130km (80 miles) it took us approx. 6 hours, without any long breaks. Now it also got quite cold. On the entire trip we crossed one car. Sometimes it would have been almost possible to jump over the river to Afghanistan. The thought occurred just to shoot a remembering pictureJ.

In Bulunkul we immediately found a homestay. The village lying at a small lake at 3700m (12’200 feet) is really small. Those homestays are somehow really great. As soon as we arrive, we get some tea and some foodJ! On the other hand there is absolutely nothing to do in those places, and sometimes you go to bed around 8PM. The entire village was empty after 6PM! Everyone was in their houses.


September 30th 2011: Bulunkul – Alichur, Tajikistan

Driven distance on September 30th 2011: 120km (70 miles)

Driven distance total: 15’720km (9770 miles)

Getting up and eating breakfast at the homestay. In the room we had less then 10°C (50°F), but it was OK to sleep. The woman of the homestay asked us if we could take somebody with us until the next village called Alichur. Since we anyways went there we agreed. Before the woman got into the car, we went to see one of the nearby lakes. The drive went well, and at some places the Pamir highway is even paved.

In Alichur (3860m; 12’700 feet) we found immediately a homestay and were welcomed really friendly. We became rapidly some tea and cookies.

In the afternoon we wanted to drive up a dirt road to check out a viewpoint and an old silver mine, but the road was so crappy that we turned around. Instead we went to a small fish restaurant at a tiny lake. Well, we became each a plate with 4, 10cm (4 inches) long, fishes. I ate the fishes almost complete, otherwise it would have taken hours to separate them. But anyways it wasn’t that bad. In the later afternoon we were back at the homestay. In the evening there were quite many people, and some could even speak some German or English. It was great to be able to talk to people. The food was once again soup, as usualJ.


October 1st 2011: Alichur – Murgab, Tajikistan

Driven distance on October 1st 2011: 110km (70 miles)

Driven distance total: 15’830km (9840 miles)

Some photos were taken after the breakfast in the homestay. Not only from us, but also from the daughter which had a digital camera.

The trip to Murgab was relatively good and we arrived already before 11AM. Murgab is one of the bigger places in the Pamir region with a population of 6500. In the afternoon we visited quickly the market, which was not in a hall or big building. The market was made out of several old containers. For dinner in the homestay we received for once something then soup. We got some spaghetti, what a delightJ.


October 2nd 2011: Murgab, Tajikistan

Driven distance on October 2nd 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 15’830km (9840 miles)

In the morning we went by foot to the nearby water power station. When we arrived we had the possibility to check out the small power station from the inside. It is from the sixties and has only 2 small turbines. It is only used to cover some of the energy demand from Murgab. Impressive were also the 3 big diesel generators for the power generation. They were delivered at the time of the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Those generators were never used and are useless today.

In the afternoon once again we didn’t do too muchJ


October 3rd 2011: Murgab – Karakul, Tajikistan

Driven distance on October 3rd 2011: 130km (80 miles)

Driven distance total: 15’960km (9910 miles)

Today we went over the probably highest point of the entire trip. We crossed a mountain pass of 4650m (15’300 feet). It was not really like in Switzerland where there is always a nice restaurant on top of the passJ. Surprisingly we had no problems with the high altitude. Even the Landrover didn’t show any problems at this altitude J. The road was for the most part of it quite acceptable. Even though it is really high here, you feel more in the mountains in Switzerland then here.

We found directly the homestay in the small village of Karakul and received as usual some tea and some small food. Karakul lies nicely at a really blue mountain lake with some mountain peaks in the background, really beautiful.