We spent a good few days at the Green House Hostel in Dushanbe, relaxing, giving the bikes a service and preparing for the Pamir highway. We met lots of lovely travellers, including Claudia and Oliver (two cyclists from South Africa) who gave us loads of tips about the M41.
We got maps of Tajikistan, and annotated them with all the info we had on shops, water sources and hot springs. Then we found a mega amazing supermarket (with a bakery and pesto!) And stocked up on food for the next few weeks. There are shops on route but they sell only the essentials – pasta, noodles, fizzy drinks and snickers, so we needed a good supply of pesto, porridge and chocolate spread. We enjoyed doing some proper cooking using the hostel kitchen, and spent hours on the WiFi.
Finally we got back on the road. The first 100 km was a big, busy, properly tarmacked road out of Dushanbe. The green hilly farmland quickly turned into mountains and as the road got less populated, the mountains got rockier and bigger. The roads were really rolling, and we found a great hotel with a big bathtub filled with really hot water from the hot spring.
From then onwards the tarmac disappeared, and the road became tough. Constant up and down along the river, really rocky and whenever a car or truck overtook us there was a massive cloud of dust making it hard to see or breath. We had to stop for a while waiting for a bulldozer to clear a landslide off the road, and there was often only one lane.
But the scenery was epic. Huge mountains made up of every colour of rock towered over us, as we wound along their bases following a massive, rushing river. It more than made up for the hard cycling and the slow going.
That night we found a guesthouse and enjoyed chips and cay before the ladies of the house whisked me away for a make up session and some Tajikistan dance lessons.
We have started to notice a big increase in number of passing cyclists. Everyone who’s touring around here is heading to or coming from the Pamir highway. It’s nice to see so many other cyclists, and interesting to have a quick chat about the road ahead/behind!
So far we have had no problems with the police checkpoints, and have found some nice places to camp. It’s getting alot colder at night and in the morning now.
I’m enjoying the gravel and the scenery so much, and it’s only going to get better!
Jim’s words – Mechanic, Supermarket, Sorting, Lagman, Salty and Dengue.