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Old 10-08-2013, 07:44 AM   #58
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Joined: Dec 2012
Location: Newcastle
Oddometer: 51
Into the Wakhan

Arriving Juma's guesthouse a young tour guide is there ready to leave with an Italian couple about to drive up the Wakhan. We meet and they ask if I would like to join them and to share costs as the Jeep is very expensive (400$) to Sarhad. I thank them for their offer but tell them I'll be riding my motorcycle.
The tour guide Azim asks me if i have all the paperwork done for the wakhan. I sigh at having to do more paperwork, he then offers to help me out as the couple need to complete their's also. we walk back to the bazaar with our passport photos and USD visiting a couple of different government agency's, both the police and army also and are done in about an hour. we each have 4 copies of the wakhan permit describing our intentions along with a hand written note that I am to deliver to border police in Khudud and Kala-e-panja so they can then write me another to hand onto the guards in Sarhad-e-broghil.
The Guesthouses in the Wakhan are expensive along with the transportation largely I suspect its because there are many expedition type tourist groups that visit here and also weathy NGO workers pushing the prices up. The Afghans like to just throw out numbers like 30-35$ a night but usually they come down to 15-20$ with dinner and breakfast.

Looking back on Eshkasheim.

No kids have bikes here but they all have Donkeys.

Into the Wakhan.

Down In the Valley.

It's hot and dusty riding up the valley the following morning, it seems like as soon as i get into 3/ 4th gear the road throws up some surprise in which i have to knock it down to 1st in order to negotiate. The valley is wide and flat on my first day with many swollen stream crossings, some take over an hour to get around & through but I realize if i simply follow the tracks of the previous vehicle it shows me an easier place to cross. I am always having to get off though and walk through though trying to find some good lines for fording, noting large rocks in the way and always the water is bloody cold which turns my legs into popsicles. I make it into Khandud mid afternoon and once i actually find and complete my registration at the police station its getting on a bit, so i decide to call it a day and retire to the guesthouse.

Wakhi Valley Dwellers.

It's Great to be able to ride over a Bridge every now and again.

Climbing a little just past Kala-e-Panja gives me an idea of whats ahead of me.

Knee deep icy torrents are to be respected.

Gotta love the Ural, it never gives up. First kick 99% of the time.

Second day in the valley and its only just over an hour to Kala-e-Panja for my next registration, after some difficult stoney and long thick sandy sections the road opens out onto an airstrip. It's great to be able to stretch the Urals legs before arriving in Kala. I stop in front of the barrier arm for the border police with the officers walking up and kicking the tyres asking about the Ural. I pass on the handwritten note and am waiting some time for the officer to return. while wait i answer all the standard questions i get everyday from riding the Ural. "what is it?" "how many litres/100km does it get?" "how much is it worth?" "can i buy it?" and so on... The officer returns and instructs me to come inside the barracks, I go in and meet with the commander. After hearing my story, he asks me, "where is your guide? you must have a guide"... "the road is my guide" i answer him back. He just smiles and then informs me that the river is too high to continue all the way to Sarhad by motorcycle and that I will have to walk if i want to get there. he grants me permission to continue and wishes me good luck. Back to my bike the barrier arm goes up allowing me to ride on. I ride another 2 hours to Sargaz still some 50-60km from my destination, there's broken down 4x4's and cars in random locations parked half off the road awaiting there owners return. I stop and help out a Toyota corolla owner with my hand pump as they have had a flat and the spare is also. (the locals all drive Toyota corrolas in which they jack the suspension right up in order to drive the roads, its quite impressive really where they can take these cars) Passing through Sargaz locals inform me through hand gestures and the few words of persian that I know that the road is closed just up ahead and I should stay here. I press on to see for myself, there are two roads now one on each side, the one on the left bank, the river is up running 5ft over - while on the right bank streams coming down from the Hindukush mountains has destroyed a bridge and washed away sections of the road. I'm told the road is closed for at least 3 days. I finally admit defeat after looking for a way past for hours and return to the guesthouse for the night where i arrange for them to store my bike for the next 2 weeks as now I will be walking into the Pamirs.

Ural babysitters.

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