We finally left Khorog, and began the ‘proper’ Pamir highway. We followed the river upstream, with the mountains along side us getting bigger, and more often covered in snow.
The air began to get quite thin, putting stop to our usual mid-ride singalongs, and the nights began getting colder. No more sleeping outside without the tent!
As we climbed it got winder and colder, although the sun could still burn quite badly. The green valleys became brown and rocky, and we stayed the night at a old russian sanitarium, where I swam in a hot spring pool with some Tajik ladies. Breakfasts started becoming very dairy based, and we had some nice rice puddings. We also began seeing orange marmots scurrying around!
We climbed up to 4271 m, and onto the Pamir plateau. Rewarded with amazing views of mountains with lots of snow, and a small altitude headache.
Once on the plateau we stayed above 3800m, but climbed a few more peaks, enjoying both the climbs and the descents through the multicoloured rocks. We met plenty of other cyclists taking on the M41, and stayed in some very nice homestays.
We finished this week on a big high, having a gentle downhill and favourable winds gave us a big day in the saddle to get to Murgab, the biggest town in the Pamirs. We sped down the valley, between huge peaks, to a wide green valley full of yurts and a large river. We stayed at the fanciest homestay, they had a hot shower and a western style indoor toilet, and I had my best meal for a long time, fried veg and pasta! We also got a real bed, instead of mats on the floor. It was luxury!
The Pamir highway so far has been amazing, and we are getting used to the altitude. It’s going to get more uninhabited and harder from now on. So we shall see what next week brings.
Jim’s words : Ill, Pamir, Sanitarium, Pass, Lake and Fast.