(Tajikistan) It was time to do wild camping alone in Pamir Highway

Spread the love

Tajikistan Pamir Highway_001

Before pedaling again in the morning, I bought foods on the market in Murgab, last city in Tajikistan. I had cycled with other cyclists more than one week. Although it was a really tough road, I didn’t feel hard because I shared a hard time with them. But I felt sorry that I was too slow. So, I decided to cycle alone. Being alone first back, I was so excited because it was like to get freedom back. But just after one day, I became lonely and I missed them already.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_002

It was very cloudy as going between mountains.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_003

It was really difficult to cycle because there was a strong headwind.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_004

When I turned back, I saw two cyclists coming. Other cyclists whom I cycled together had told me they would stay one more day in Murgab. I thought maybe some of them changed their mind. But once two of them close to me, I saw it was Danish couple which I just met yesterday.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_005

I was very slow that after saying hello to them I saw they disappeared into cloud mountain.
It was around 4,000m (13,123.36 ft) above sea level that the weather was quickly changed around mountains. I was a bit afraid if it rains suddenly a lot, where to hide. There were not even cars passing. I saw only one or two cars from both ways per one hour.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_006

After passing many mountains next to the road, I could see blue sky again.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_007

This animal was running around. I was wondering what they were eating. They never came near me.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_008

The sky was overcast at late afternoon. But this time it looked serious.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_009

I couldn’t see front clearly. Soon suddenly lots of rain came. I just wore rain jacket quickly. I really didn’t see any tree or roof today that I was not sure where to sleep.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_010

What a lucky day!!!! I found the best spot to avoid heavy rain. If there was the downpour, I would be swept out. I hoped the best place was not turned to worst place. It was my first time that I put my tent just around the road. If I had wild camping before, I usually tried to hide from people.

I didn’t see any house today that it was a really empty place. Even there were not many cars passing today. If there were no people, it would be safer.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_011

I cycled hard today that I wanted to feed myself. I put all kind of vegetables I had and dried soy meat into the pot. Dried soy meat was really good because it gave good energy and I could carry for a long time. I bought some Kimchi stew sauce which didn’t have Kimch taste. However, it was really good dinner!!


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_012

When I opened my tent at the next morning, I was so surprised. I didn’t expect that there would be snow in the night.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_013

It was the really cold night that I saw icicles hanging on my tent.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_014

Tajikistan Pamir Highway_015

I usually didn’t cook in the morning. But Pamir was an exception. I usually had oatmeal in the morning. But sometimes I put vegetables and others into oatmeal because I wanted to heavy meal to have high energy on the road. The taste was good. To be honest I would never have breakfast at home like that. It was emergency breakfast. I usually like to have oatmeal with yogurt, milk, and fruit.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_016

The road was covered by snow that it was really wonderful morning.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_017

Today was really important in my cycling trip.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_018

I would reach to 4,655 m (15,272.31) above sea level. It would be the highest altitude in my trip. So far the highest place by my bicycle was in Peru, 4,335 m (14,222 ft) above sea level.

The sign was saying uphill would start to the top.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_019

At the beginning, it was not bad. As going higher, the scenery was amazing. But it was too difficult around the top. I pushed my bicycle but the road was so slippery that I fell off from my bicycle. It took almost half an hour for last 1 km (0.6mi) to the pass.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_020

After slippery steep uphill finished, I checked the altitude with my phone. It was higher than 4,655 m (15,272.31) above sea level. It meant I was on the top of the mountain. I was so happy that I jumped to reach to a higher altitude.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_021

I was looking around to enjoy the moment. I was curious if I go up the hill next to the road, what kind of view I would have. If I was with many other people, I would not think about going up there because I would arrive already too late to try something. But this time I was alone. Loneliness was definitely the worst con to be alone. But freedom was the best gift to be alone. I decided to go up to check it out.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_022

It was inclined steeply upward. So I walked in zigzag. I had slight headache because of high altitude. When I was near the top, I looked down. My bicycle looked like a little dot.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_023

I thought it took around 30 minutes to the top. The scenery was just fantastic that it was so far one of best scenes in my Pamir trip. I was wondering that sometimes there would be water flowing.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_024

I was curious that how much altitude would be on the top of other mountains and there would people ever passed in the past.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_025

I could see the road I would go down soon. The mountain next to road looked like Mars. My decision to go up to the hill was good that I could enjoy all this beautiful scenery. Now I had to go down to cycle on that beautiful Mars roads I was looking down.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_026

Sometimes car passed with lots of coal(?). They dropped small coal. I was wondering that I could use later. But I was lazy that I didn’t pick actually.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_027

I took some water from the small stream bank on the way down. I bought many bottles of water in Murgab but it was not enough for cooking. So I decided to use water from stream bank to cook.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_028

After downhill, I saw the hotel sign. How would hotel look like at middle of nowhere?


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_029

This was Pamir Hotel!


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_030

Tajikistan Pamir Highway_031

Tajikistan Pamir Highway_032

There was a washboard whole day that it was difficult more than a gravel road. I had to cycle on the edge. Some edge was really bad that I had to move like from left edge to right edge time to time.
There was one funny thing that I kept seeing other cyclist’s tire track. It was a very dry area that the track stayed longer.

In my memory, Pamir was the driest place in my trip. I had big cracked lower lip vertically. Whenever I ate or laugh, there was bleeding coming. So, when I was laughing while cycling with other guys on wakhan valley area, I heard “Hey you are bleeding”. Actually, that was the biggest cracked lip in my life.

I had wide thumbs and when it was dry, I had a crack on both edges of thumbs. If I stayed most of the times on the inside, it would be no problem. But the thing was I was cycling that I had to use my thumbs quit lot while packing, holding, camping, and so on. So it was a big pain.
I would like to give one advice to people going Pamir. People should take a good lip balm which they can find only in a pharmacy. My Nivea lip balm never worked. Also, bring some good cream from a pharmacy for dry skin. I was not the only one suffering from dry weather, but also other travelers suffering, too.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_033

I kept thinking where to set up my tent two hours before the sunset. Then I found some place I could hide from the road. But I guessed car could see me from far away or under the road. But I believed that it would be difficult to find a better place.
The land was a bit leaning and there were many rocks that it was not such a good place for camping.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_034

I cooked some weird food. Usually, when I cooked, the taste was weird. But after five minutes eating, tongue got paralyzed that I felt it was such a good food.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_035

The camping spot under the bridge was really good because I thought nobody would see me and there would be no people around. But this camping spot was just so so that I slept also so so.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_036

In the morning, I cooked again some weird food which made myself think so tasty after five minutes eating. It was like to meet weird people. When you met some weird people, you didn’t want to talk. But as talking more, you realized it was a good person. My food was like that.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_037

I found some abandoned house on my way. I was thinking it would be warmer if I slept here. But maybe it would be possible that some people could come. So my last night camping spot was better.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_038

It was such a blessing to cycle in Pamir. People said No pain, No gain. But actually, I gained more than my pain in Pamir that I felt lucky to be out here.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_039

Finally, washboarding was finished. There was endlessly long fence just next to the road. I guessed that there must be some natural resources.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_040

I was wondering where a nomad was going in the middle of nowhere.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_041

Some backpacker told me he wanted to hitchhike from Murgab to Kyrgyzstan. But I doubted it because there were not many cars although it was the only highway to Kyrgyzstan.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_042

There was the huge lake, Karakul. The color was so beautiful. I was sure that there would be many travelers camping and swimming when the weather was hot enough. Although it was beginning of September, it was too cold to swim now.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_043

Amazing Karakul Lake


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_044

After Karakul Lake, there was a small village. I was happy to see civilization after three days wild camping. I went to some guest house for lunch, but it was around 5$ for the meal. One night was around 15$ without running water. It was almost two times more expensive than other guest house where I slept in Alichur, other village. Thank to Lonely Planet, although the guest house didn’t have any running water and more expensive than other guest house, it was already full with other travelers.
I wanted to find grocery store first that I was walking around. Then I found some small cafeteria.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_045

It was local people’s house but two times cheaper than popular guest house’s meal.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_046

I melt my body with hot tea, warm bread, and good meal. It was just around 2 pm that I was not sure I should stay in the village for one night or cycle more. Maybe it would be better to cycle that I just bought something from the grocery shop. Actually, it was very tiny grocery shop that I could buy some snacks and pasta.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_047

There was a very strong headwind that I felt cycling was wasting time in the afternoon.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_048

Because of too strong headwind, I didn’t move much. I decided to stop and look for a place to sleep. Then I found this place. It was not possible to set up inside, but it would be very cold to use the only sleeping bag. However, I could hide from the road perfectly and strong wind.
I kept thinking what to do and checked around. But the only good place was just next to the road.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_049

It would be my first time ever that I set up my tent just beside the road. The car could see me so easily. I decorated my house with the horn of Marco Polo sheep. Because of strong wind, the tent was shaking strongly and made a big noise, which could make me scared.
But tonight, horns of Marco Polo sheep would protect me.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_050

At the next morning, I saw the amazing sun. It meant I survived! To see the sun from my tent meant I was still alive that I should thank.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_051

I was busy with preparing breakfast.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_052

I cooked oatmeal. I wished it stayed longer on my stomach.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_053

I could see lake again on the way to the border.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_054

On the middle of steep uphill, I looked back to see my path and I was impressed. I was so happy to realize all my path was so beautiful.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_055

Tajikistan Pamir Highway_056

After one pass, I had some snack because I was already hungry. Also I got some water from the river.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_057

Going near Kyrgyzstan border, I met the cyclist which I saw at the guest house yesterday. I thought if there was no strong headwind yesterday, he couldn’t catch me up. Um… really?? Nah…


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_058

I was a bit lonely to cycle alone after cycling with many other guys. So I was happy to see another cyclist on the road. He took a nice picture of me.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_059

People loving adventure and traveling should visit Pamir maybe one day. If there were people loving to travel by bicycle, they must come here in their lifetime. This was an amazing path. However, it would be difficult for a beginner that it could be hard to enjoy. So after having some experience, it would be the perfect place to visit.


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_060

Here I came to the border. Tajikistan would remain in my memory as a special place. I had such an amazing time with other cyclists, saw beautiful nature, and learned how to be brave on Pamir Highway. I felt thankful that I could pass here without the problem. Now it was time to move to the next country. Usually, at the border, I was nervous and excited. What kind of thing would happen to me in the next country? That’s the biggest question on the border always.
Okay let’s move to the next country!


Tajikistan Pamir Highway_061

My Cycling Route and Details in Tajikistan
Cycle Distance – 1,337.77 km (831.25 mi)
Expenditure = $780
(Included-Visa $75, renting flat $150)
($1=7.86 Somani)

[2016/07/05~09/07 (D+1834)]

Spread the love
Show all Most Helpful Highest Rating Lowest Rating Add your review
  1. Wow! Absolutely fantastic! Maybe I should go there! I’m not planning to, at the moment. But I’m so tempted!

  2. Impressive photos of your trip!

  3. Love your story. Your courage is amazing.

  4. love it every time you have a new blog. you are amazing and quite an inspiration

  5. Amazing .. I always look forward to your posts.

  6. Extra ordinary. Love to read your and see those pics. Keep it up.

  7. 시간과 돈이 없어서가 아니라 용기가 없어서 못간다라는 말이 뭔지 보여주는 이야기네요, 타지키스탄 이야기를 계속 보고있는데
    너무 멋집니다. 저도 언젠가 모든걸 내려놓고 이렇게 할수 있길 소망해봅니다.

  8. Hi This is YJ Cho. your article give me the powerful worldtour energy; thanks

  9. Was just in the mood to flip through your blog again. I am so glad that you keep it, it is so much joy to read. Thanks so much for this beautiful part about Pamir Highway and how you camped on your own under the bridge. What an out of this world experience this must have been. And great to see these many small things next to the road like “Pamir Hotel”. Spring 2018. What a long time ago. Actually, it was the time I first visited Korea for hiking and while I walked along Han river, I felt a strong urge to start cycling long distances. Marvelous year, this 2018.

Leave a reply

Cycling Around The World