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Old 11-07-2014, 03:05 AM   #1
bob66 OP
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Central Asia - Pamir, via Bartang valley, 2014

Part 1 - From Bishkek to Karakol

Hello to everybody. This is the story of this summer in Pamir. Here on adv there is another topic started by Dayana, from our group Click here for Dayana's story.
I want to show you some of my pictures here. On Dayana's topic you'll find the Zorkul Lake route, which is not here, you'll see why later.

Day 1, Saturday, 26 July 2014

The plane lands at 5 AM. It takes about an hour to get out of the airport (we get the Kyrgyz visa on arrival; this is possible only in Bishkek aiport). There are ATMís near the exit. Outside, Kajman is waiting with our bikes on the trailer.

After unloading the bikes we fix the luggage and leave. The first stop is after a few km at a gas station.

Because of our overnight flight we are very tired. After the first 3000 m pass we arrive on a plateau. Somewhere there is a cafť where we have a very good lunch and a very welcomed nap.

We go to Toktogul village to a homestay of which we knew from internet that there is a girl speaking French. Arriving in the late afternoon we have time to go to the market to buy some watermelons and beer. Here at this family we have the dinner, prepared for us in the evening.

Day 2, Sunday, 27 July 2014

At 8 oíclock the breakfast is ready. As the first rays of sun arrive in the yard we can feel the heat. In the afternoon weíll see on our thermometer 41 Celsius.

At 10 oíclock we leave Toktogul. We ride many km along the shore of the lake which from a particular angle has the colour of Caraibe Sea.

One of the 2 group pictures from this vacation

At lunchtime we find ourselves near a shashlyk

At 7 PM we arrive in Gulcha. We planned for today to go to Sary Tash, but there are still another 80 km, which means about 2 hours ride. So we prefer to stay here for the night. We find a hotel which looks like hell, but it's late so we stay. Here it is the worst accommodation in this trip. At least nearby there is a good cafť. They cook for us a chicken pot.

Day 3, Monday, 28 July 2014

The next morning we go to the same cafť to have breakfast.

In Gulcha there is a Gazprom gas station, the last 95 gas for the next two weeks.

The road is very beautiful. We arrive in Taldyk pass, at 3615 m. Here we meet a Russian guy, from Omsk, alone with his bicycle.

View from the pass

A few km before the border, in Sary Tash village there is the last gas station. They have 80 only.

We go further towards the Tajik border.

The next pass is Kyzyl-Art, 4282 m

We are lucky because there is no rain. Iíve heard stories about this red mud in the rain...

We pass very fast the Kyrgyz border, in 15 minutes. The other border is slow, about one hour and a half. We are higher than 4200 m and there is very hot.

Welcome to Tajikistan

Here is a 690 Adventure, by Rally Raid UK

Soon after we leave the border the asphalt appears. On the left side there is the border zone with China.

Itís like in a dream. The asphalt is pretty smooth. I feel like flying at about 80 km/h, and admiring the beautiful scenery I see in the last moment that the asphalt is gone and there is a river in front of me. I go out from the river without falling but after a few meters I land on a side, happily without being hurt. The only problem is a back flat tire and the rim is a little bent.

This is the gps data. I think I had around 60 kmh when I saw the river
2989 28.07.2014 12:33:40 4198 m 25 m 0:00:01 90 km/h 129° true N39 13.961 E73 25.192
2990 28.07.2014 12:33:41 4202 m 74 m 0:00:03 89 km/h 129° true N39 13.953 E73 25.206
2991 28.07.2014 12:33:44 4206 m 49 m 0:00:02 88 km/h 129° true N39 13.928 E73 25.246
2992 28.07.2014 12:33:46 4207 m 71 m 0:00:03 85 km/h 129° true N39 13.912 E73 25.272
2993 28.07.2014 12:33:49 4211 m 46 m 0:00:02 83 km/h 129° true N39 13.888 E73 25.311
2994 28.07.2014 12:33:51 4215 m 23 m 0:00:01 83 km/h 129° true N39 13.872 E73 25.336
2995 28.07.2014 12:33:52 4214 m 47 m 0:00:02 84 km/h 129° true N39 13.865 E73 25.349
2996 28.07.2014 12:33:54 4218 m 72 m 0:00:03 86 km/h 129° true N39 13.849 E73 25.374
2997 28.07.2014 12:33:57 4221 m 24 m 0:00:01 87 km/h 130° true N39 13.824 E73 25.413
2998 28.07.2014 12:33:58 4221 m 68 m 0:00:03 82 km/h 131° true N39 13.816 E73 25.426
2999 28.07.2014 12:34:01 4224 m 53 m 0:00:03 64 km/h 131° true N39 13.792 E73 25.462
3000 28.07.2014 12:34:04 4222 m 23 m 0:00:02 41 km/h 128° true N39 13.773 E73 25.490
3001 28.07.2014 12:34:06 4220 m 7 m 0:00:04 6 km/h 132° true N39 13.766 E73 25.502
3002 28.07.2014 12:34:10 4216 m 0 m 0:00:01 0 km/h 0° true N39 13.763 E73 25.506

Dragos takes the sausages out, Bogdan the palinca (traditional Romanian house made drink), and we begin to work on the flat tire.

View towards Karakol lake and village, at 3900 m

Here is a 690 with a 10$ additional 5 litre tank ? (the red one)

Muslim cemetery

At 5 PM we arrive at Karakol homestay. There are bikes, bicycles and jeeps of other tourists. The dinner is with plov (rice with meat).

I donít know why they have so many power wires when they start the generator in the evening.

Having fun at Karakol Lake

There is a lot of salt here

And the beautiful Karakol Lake

View towards Kyrgyzstan

A few days ago we bought a watermelon. Itís still here, waiting to be eaten.

For me itís a good night sleep. Not too cold, not too hot.

To be continued...
Cristian / Bob
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Old 11-07-2014, 05:36 AM   #2
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Epic! What an awesome ride and gorgeous pics! Thanks for taking us along

ADV decals, patches & flag? Here
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Old 11-09-2014, 03:52 AM   #3
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I was waiting for your report...
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Old 11-09-2014, 04:04 AM   #4
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ckjj888 screwed with this post 11-09-2014 at 04:17 AM
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Old 11-14-2014, 12:30 AM   #5
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Part 2 - First day on Bartang Valley

Part 2 - The upper part of Bartang Valley

Day 4, Tuesday, 28 July 2014

Early in the morning is pretty cold. We eat something and leave. First stop is at the gas station from Karakol, where we have a surprise: they have 92 benzin. The cool thing in Tajikistan is that we will find in the next two weeks almost everywhere this 92 benzin.

Lake Karakol in the morning

A few km after we leave the village we turn right towards Bartang Valley. Our plan is to reach Savnov, 160 km away. The first ~80 km are above 3800 m.

There is not so much water because last winter there wasnít much snow. First river: easy

I donít know after how many km, there is a sheepfold

The time of the watermelon has come.

You cannot imagine how good it was. Now it is time to move.

There are many curves which one cannot see well. Beware, especially if you like to ride fast

We stop at the lunar calendar. I knew about this from Steffen (Boarder06 here on adv)

After about 80 km from Karakol there begins that steep descending

At first a little ascend

Itís not hardcore but you have to pay attention because you can go dooooown

We start to descend a few hundred meters. In front of us there is the valley which comes from Fedchenko glacier.

I donít want to imagine a mistake here

After the descend we stop somewhere along the river for lunch

There is a lot of salt along the river

From time to time there is a sand storm coming

And another water crossing

And the first village today: Ghudara

View to the West

We have to pay a tax for visiting Bartang

Ghudara village is in the back

Here is usual to walk many km to go where you need

Another place where in the past there was water above the road

As we are getting closer to Savnov, we begin to see some vegetation

A look back

We arrive to Alifbetov family, Savnov village, 2700 m. Iím impressed by the hospitality of these common people. The little boy speaks some English. When we arrive there we begin to eat apricots from their yard. After a few minutes the boy begins to pick himself too fruits from the tree. We make a joke: look at these guys, they fear that we would eat all the fruits and leave nothing for them. But we have a surprise at dinner: the fruits are there on the table!

All the people here in Bartang are good householders. Itís true that they have no choice. I donít know if they receive welfare here, like in Europe. The village has a very clever irrigation system, so everybody has a little garden with vegetables.

The familyís garden

And inside the house

They work in the field

This is the family house seen from an opposite hill

to be continued...

Cristian / Bob
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:04 AM   #6
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This is some really great riding! Thanks for posting it! Keep it coming.
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:02 AM   #7
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Awesome places, photos and ride!
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Old 11-18-2014, 03:39 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by bob66 View Post
What about this passage?

Great RR, Bob!
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Old 11-18-2014, 04:20 AM   #9
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It was with some little emotions but not so scary as you might think seeing the pictures.

Cristian / Bob
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Old 11-18-2014, 05:43 AM   #10
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Thanks for the very nice photos...
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Old 11-18-2014, 05:59 AM   #11
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I'm speechless, great shots and great trip.
Renzo A.K.A. Ciccio

Is not about the destination. Is all about the journey!
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Old 11-18-2014, 07:44 AM   #12
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Awesome, as always! Keep it coming!

7 times down, 8 times up. Such is life.
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Old 11-21-2014, 03:47 AM   #13
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Part 3 - The lower part of Bartang Valley

Day 5, Wednesday, 30 July 2014

After breakfast we walk a little on the opposite hill to take some pictures. Some people are working on the fields.

Savnov village as seen from above

Here is the exit from Savnov where it was flooded when Steffen was here the first time. You can take the road up left and make a detour via another village.

There are times when we are lucky we are riding

And, suddenly I loose control of my bike and I wake up in the bushes. There was a stone in the middle of the road, and because of the nice landscape I was contemplating, I saw it in the last moment. It is good that we are many and itís easy to get it back on the road.

Of course Iím very upset about this happening. But luckily, Iím not hurt and my bike is running as nothing happened so we go further.

Down the valley there are many villages. In one of these villages we are invited in a yard to have lunch and tea.

There are some water crossings, but the water is not high.

At the end of the valley we go to put some gas. And of course, a cleaning is welcomed.

To be continued...
Cristian / Bob
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Old 11-21-2014, 04:56 AM   #14
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Every time I see a super report, such as yours, I sit here in awe at the amazing openness of that land. Close my eyes and dream of what it would be like to ride it on the proper bike.
Thanks so very much for sharing this journey with us that will never see it any other way.

A '00 KLR 650 40,000 miles, A '07 1250S 74,000 , A '03 5.3L Chevy Truck 78,000 + '43 style dude , Simper Fi ;-)
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Old 12-09-2014, 12:27 AM   #15
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Part 4, From Khorog back to Bishkek

Day 6, Thursday, 31 July 2014

Today is a free day in Khorog. We go to the central park to find PECTA office, to get the permits for Zorkul Lake. This park is like an oasis for this town. The trees are very high and there is a large swimming pool. We get our permits from here, but we didnít know that these permits are only for Zorkul Lake natural reservation, and not for going further to Shaymak, along the border, as we plan. So for anybody who wants to ride further than Zorkul should ask about border permit.

There in the park it is a good restaurant where we have lunch. Also good to know that at PECTA you can find magnets and postcards. They even offered to put my postcards to the postal office.

Day 7, Friday, 1 August 2014

Today is the long waited moment, the meeting with the Afghan border. We ride along the Panj River, which is the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. There are some places where this river seems so easy to cross. There is asphalt almost to Langar.

Panj River

As we get close to Ishkashim we see the poplar trees which are so popular here in the villages. We find 92 benzin before the town entrance. And we have lunch in the town.

Far away there are snow capped mountains from the Pakistan - Afghanistan border.

From Tuggoz village there is an unpaved road to Bibi Fatima hot waters. On the way up you can see Yamchun fotress (1-3 BC).

After 7 km we arrive to Bibi Fatima. There are 4 hotels. After we check in one of them we take our towels and go to have a hot bath. There are two rooms where women and men enter alternatively. A lot of Tajik people come here to treatment. We meet a guy from Dushanbe and talk to him.

Day 8, Saturday, 2 August 2014

We go towards Langar. There is no hurry because we have only 70 km.

Another view of Yamchun fortress and Hindu Kush Mountains

And another view towards Afganistan

We stop to the first homestay sign in Langar village. Itís early so they begin to cook lunch for us. We take a little walk to the local store. We want to buy some bread among other things. They donít have and they tell us to come a few hours later.

These are the kids from the store

And near the store

We go back to have lunch

After we have lunch we return to the store to take the bread. They donít want to take money for the bread. After we exit the store we realize that here, they donít sell bread because everybody make bread at home, and that bread was made especially for us.

This is the homestayís garden

Day 9, Sunday, 3 August 2014

From Langar we go towards Kargush along Pamir River, which flows from Zorkul Lake.



Notice the biker in the next to pictures

Somewhere around 3400 m Bogdan stops and he tells me that is not feeling good. At first, we think it might be the altitude.

There appear two bicycle groups, one from Europe and one from Asia. They give us some pills for altitude. I give them some of my bread I received one day before. We stay about one hour here and after that we go to Kargush where the others are waiting. After one hour negotiations our friends managed to convince the officers there to let them pass towards Zorkul. The officers are telling us that we have the permit for Zorkul Natural Park, not for the border area thatís after Zorkul.

Anyway, Bogdan is still feeling bad so he decides to return to Khorog and I go with him. For today, we think itís best to go to Langar and the others will continue to Jarty Gumbez.

We go to the same homestay and here we meet Andy, a British guy who is in a 4 month vacation riding his bike.

Day 10, Monday, 4 August 2014

We arrive in Khorog today. We meet with Andy right before Khorog and we go to the same homestay, Laalmo.

Bogdan asks at the guesthouse owner about a medical consult. She tells us that a physician will come here in the evening. We go downtown to eat something and return for the consultation. The conclusion is that the problems are not from the altitude but from lack of rest, food, etc. She doesnít want to take money for this.

Our friends arrive today in Shaymak.

Day 11, Tuesday, 5 August 2014

We leave Khorog and ride via M41 to Murghab.

After around 70 km from departure, the road climbs up to 3000, and after another 70 km we arrive above 4000, at which altitude weíll ride until Murghab. I donít have sun glasses and I arrive in Murghab dizzy. In the higher passes there is white sand with gravel which is a killer for my eyes. At some point I cannot distinguish well the bumps of the road.

We pass the road which comes from Kargush pass and arrive in Alichur. The landscape is lunar.

There are more cyclists than motorcyclists

As we approach Murghab the landscape becomes greener

A view towards Murghab from the distance

We go to the only hotel in Murghab where our friends are waiting for us.

Day 12, Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The last day in Tajikistan is the cooler one. We leave Murghab with destination Osh.

First stop is at Ak-Baital sign, which is about 300 m lower than the pass. The pass is the highest from our trip, at 4655 m.

In front there is a house with some people leaving there with kids. I donít want to imagine life here

We arrive in the pass. A second photo stop is necessary

This is the view to the north

China is not so far away

Karakol Lake once again, this time the sky is clearer


Here we meet Radu from Romania, with his girlfriend. He invites us to their tent to have a Romanian palinca, but unfortunately we are in a hurry because we wish to be in Osh today.

No manís land

We are now in Kyrgyzstan and say goodbye to Tajikistan

We arrive in Sary Tash at 15:30 and have lunch there at a cafť. We vote for what we do today: some of us want to stay here; some others want to go to Osh. We vote for Osh so letsí ride. We arrive at the hotel a little before sunset and after we check in we go to celebrate at a good restaurant in the central park.

Day 13, 14, 15, 16 August 2014

We go back to Bishkek the same way we came. At Toktogul Lake we stop for a bath.

Another trip is over. Kajman ( arrives at noon to take our bikes

The End
Cristian / Bob
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