Pamir Hwy #1, Tajikistan 7/2014
Turning off the Wakhan Corridor, we breathed a little sigh of relief, but really, compared to the roads we had driven through Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan just to get to Khorog, the Wakhan had been a drive in the park. Now we headed west again, back to Khorog to resupply and to experience the Pamir Highway, reported to be vey beautiful and supposedly the best highway in the country. Humm??
We immediately hit pavement. Wow!! Real blacktop. Should we air the tires back up? Well not quite yet. The Pamir is paved, sort of, in-between the potholes the size of toilet bowls and sections of dusty gravel and rocks. Maybe 20 years ago it was a good road, but the convoys of overloaded Chinese semi tractor trailers hauling everything from earth movers to plastic household goods and rice have pretty much destroyed the road bed and no effort has been made to repair it. It was so bad, for a while, we almost turned around. Very glad we didn’t. The road didn’t get any better, but the scenery was spectacular, even more impressive than the Wakhan had been.
Local people were welcoming and friendly. Kids waved. A few times we were invited for “chai”, but we promised to stop on our way back. Already being familiar with Khorog, we knew the market and where to camp, get Internet, water and fuel. We arrived just before dark so we parked and headed straight to the well-known Indian restaurant for, (as we had been told), an excellent dinner and even a decent glass of wine. We deserved it!
We spent three days recuperating, meeting new people, shopping and catching up on our email and blogs (joke!!). The roads, (sic), we had followed since Turkey had pounded and beaten The Turtle V unmercifully. If it had feelings, it must have felt like one of those slave prisoners tossed into the Coliseum in Rome, set against wild animals and vicious gladiators armed with chain-whips, spears and clubs. The truck had survived, but tires, suspension, clutch, brakes, steering, and every mechanical component you can imagine has been severely tested. Careful preparation at Ken Imler’s Diesel Performance in Sacramento and our own choice of the best aftermarket products available have paid off. We can’t possibly list all the important companies who have helped build and outfit our expedition trucks for many years, but if you are curious, they are listed on the Suppliers Page on our web site.
After a rather futile attempt to wash off the mud and dust from the last thousand miles, we filled water and fuel and headed back east on the Pamir Highway, on our way to the Kyrgyzstan border. We knew with dread what the first part of the road conditions would be like, but we looked forward to a few stops to revisit new friends we had met on our way back from the Wakhan turnoff to Khorog.