24 May. Dushanbe- Kalaikhum. 360km
Left Dushanbe during lunch. I had a problem with my permit to enter Nagorno Badaqshan. There are only two roads from Dushanbe to Pamir – one thru Tavildara, i.e. the northern route or Route M41 and second through Kuliab, the south route. We initially planned to run thru Kuliab, but a disaster happened there in May. A powerful mudflood caused by non-stop rain washed several streets away and killed many people. The principal vehicle bridge collapsed, too. So, we went thru Tavildara.
After Dushanbe, some 60 kilos are good road, asphalt, good mountain sceneries, vegetation and River Vaqsh.
“Careful! Dancing Little Men” Sign
Asphalts end here, now we turn to obstacle course. It was raining here just one day prior to our arrival and now the water runs in mud springs from each valley.
Plus herds of sheep directed by their sheepherders on a not so broad road.
It is rather challenging to drive by them, as I already told how Tajik roads are like. The nerdiest thing in the world is when those herds walk in the same direction as you, so passing lasts forever.
Later, we made our ways through trenches left by bulk trucks and settled masses of mud. That was some torture, I should tell you.
By 12 o'clock the night, soaked to the skin, hungry, brutally stilled by the cold, we stood on top of the pass Shaburabat (3300m). Smoked cigarettes with hands shaking from cold. And some psychedelic fairy tale around us – full moon, snowy mountain tops and sky full of alluvial deposits of stars and starlets. That particular moment, for some reason, got engraved in my soul and will keep returning back to it. Unfortunately our camera soaked and frozen battery no keep this moment..
Shaboorabat road with snow walls
Pass descent was funnier and warm air was blowing in our faces. Frontier rangers gave us some hot tea at the checkpoint, registered our credentials and checked our permits to enter (first and only time during journey) and wished us good luck. We entered Kalikhum at three. The village was asleep. A knew the name of the guest house owner and it took us a long time to find it. Then we found some convenience store where people helped us to find our ways and sold us a mobile SIM we used all the time for necessary and not so expensive calls.
In half an hour, guest house owners met us, took us inside, put us in the warm environment and gave us food and put us to bed beneath mattress fat duvets.