The Wakhan Valley
If the road trip on the Pamir Highway was not adventurous enough, from Khorog, I took a shared jeep up the Wakhan Valley. With fully charged batteries, electrical and belly wise, I headed south through Ishkashim and then north east to Langar. On my right, the Pamir River and across the river, Afghanistan. Yes, you read that correctly. The country where the Taliban eat people for breakfast, just about 50m away.
Bottom middle you can see the towns of Khorog, Ishkashim and Langar, the River and the very close proximity to Afghanistan. You can also see the towns of Osh, Sary Tash and Karakul marked.
Transport options up the Wakhan Valley are limited. Jeeps go when there are enough people. Some times there is high demand and some times there is no demand. It's a waiting game. You wait and wait and then wait some more. It's the way here.
Near the bazaar is the jeep stand. I turned up at 10am and didn't get going til after 2pm. I had wanted to get to Langar, the end point of the Wakhan Valley. But, the jeeps travel to where the jeep drivers live. As every woman in SE Asia is a potential masseuse, in the Wakhan, every vehicle becomes a taxi and every house can and will act as a homestay. So on this particular day, there were no drivers from Langar returning home, but there was one from near Bibi Fatima hot springs, 45km short of Langar. I'd be dropped off at a homestay, 6km up the switchback side road, 1km below the Yamchan Fortress and 2km below the hot springs. Sounded like a deal, not that I had any other option.
On the rough road out of Khorog, we enter The Wakhan Valley
The road along the river was in a crap state. Landslides are frequent along this road. Boulders the size of tanks have been buldozed out of the way, and the first 70km took nearly 3 hours. All the time we followed the river, and across the river, Afghanistan.
Yamchun Fortress.. high above the valley floor dating from the 12th century with its double walls and round watch towers.
Two days later from the homestay, I took the short cut down the hill side and was on the road by 9am where some locals came to state the obvious "niet maschina". Yet within 37 minutes, I know it was 37 minutes cos everytime I 'hitch', I time my waits, a car came passed and picked me up. We took the gravel road at 80kph, we hit every bump yet he steered expertly. Dust filled the car and they dropped me safely near the homestay in Langar.
Langar, arsch end of the world.. with broken buidlings, broken cars and ugly babies, I was happy to leave but the ride out was drama filled, at least the first half was. But I wont bore you with yet another getting there and away story other than to say that the Tajiks could not organise a piss up in brewery.
Tajikistan summary, awesome scenery, crap food, lovely people, though the mentality of some of the taxi drivers, leaves a lot to be desired!
Alone and content in The Wakhan Valley, on the Tajik Afghan border.
Back in Ishkashim, I stayed 5 days, waiting. Would the weekly
border market go ahead?