Visit Kryss'Photos of Tajikistan
Yesterday in the afternoon we were able to contact Dania, the owner of Osh Guesthouse where we stayed, and he was able to put together a vehicle & driver to get us to Murgab. Sharshem, the driver, was very good...he had w/ him his niece, Fatima, who rode w/ us...she was a very good passenger and bravely fought off motion/altitude sickness as long as she could. A good trooper, always smiling, never complained once.
Leaving Osh the picture in my mind is a group of 4-5 Tajik standing by the roadside facing oncoming traffic waiting for a taxi/bus ride...then not more than 100' beyond them a donkey standing in the same pose looking for all the world as if he too was waiting for a ride as well!!!
Passing thru Gulcha & valley w/ sharp peaks on one side and rounded foothills on the other following a fine rushing river, we pass a froup of 6 bicycle tourists w/ bags & all along the road - now they are gutsy, experiencing the Pamir that way will test anyone to the fullest! We head up Taldyk Pass, driver stops to fill radiator w/ water & load up w/ extra water (3615 m. high)...heading for Sary Tash, last Kyrg town before the border Kyzyl-Art Pass (4282 m.).
The river bottom has junipers & willows alongside but the eroded side canyons & hillsides leading up to jagged, snow capped peaks are quite barren other than slight cover of some kind of bunch/low grass. Quite majestic and ost definitely remote - we see few other vehicles and sparse population/family compounds.
Stopped at a village just before climb & Bon & Mari were swamped by people wanting pics taken. There was music playing & women dancing...Mari asked if there was some kind of celebration and they said no, just decided to have some fun!!! (And a little vodka, ha!)
(Bon made copies of photos in Osh Sept 24/5 and we stopped on way back thru to give them copies.)
Valley narrows and yurts along the creek where women washing clothing/bedding & laying it out on green grass to dry - great contrast, mosaic of colors. At top of pass we confirm that the alpine sumer pasture is actual grass where cattle, sheep, donkeys, horses graze. Passed a semi loaded w/ bales of cotton(driver said it was from China) toppled over on its side right at the turn of a switchback going uphill dumping it...quite recent since only 3 trucks were blocked/stopped on downhill side. Beautiful Stary Tash Mtns - snowy jagged peaks against deep blue sky! It's now 1:45 and we've come 184 km. from Osh by the sign here in Sary Tash. Wide wide valley w/ tiny creek & huge river wash coming out of mtns. just before border - yaks grazing along w/ horses.cattle. Driver takes our passports to immig border control - 1st time we haven't been personally involved in a long time(now 2:30).
Now heading up towards Karakul crossing over the Pamirs themselves. Our driver has had to stop at least 6 times to put in water and cool the engine down along the way. We reach Kyzyl-Art Pass (4282 m.) and the closest we come to the Chinese border - we see it clearly just over a 'fence' off the road, still 100 + km from Murgab at 3:45. We reach the border to Tajikistan at 4 where we see 10 Italian motorcyclists waiting to cross...we cross at 4:45 and enter a wide valley with a wide, grey/black mud/gravel wash(from snowmelt?). The road is better, not nearly as many potholes as in Kyrg. Go see beautiful Lake Kara Kol(off the road a bit)...arrive in town 5:45 had dinner and left 6:45...7:45 began climb to last pass Al_Baital(4655 m.), sun is setting and snowcapped peaks are brilliant pink/peach...7:52.