Goodbye to Panj and Pamirs

Khorugh City

Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region

Republic of Tajikistan

August 27, 2019

Good-bye to the Panj River

The route of the Panj River is remarkable.  And invigorating.

Five tributaries crash down the mountains to join the Panj.  At 1125 km (699 miles) long, it forms the major border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. 

The Panj completes its rambunctious journey in Termez, Uzbekistan where it joins the Amu Darya, an important river in Central Asia.  In ancient times the Amu was called by its Latin name, the Oxus.

Alichur and Highway M41

Sher's House Inn

Alichur Village

Murghhob District (pop 1788)

Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province

Republic of Tajikistan

August 25, 2019

Sunrise

Alichur means “Ali's curse” and is reputed to have been spoken by the prophet's son-in-law Ali on a journey through the area, on account of the harsh climate and penetrating winds.  (Above the tree line at 3991m or 2.5 mi.)

Despite the climate and the wind, I wake up early in this tiny village and walk across the plateau.  I look forward to a cloudless sky and the morning sun as it illuminates the surrounding mountains.

Bulunkul

Bulunkul

Tajikistan

August 24, 2019

“You must be very rich,” the visitors from Saudi Arabia remarked.  “You have rivers!”

So reported Bakhtiyar, my driver in Tajikistan who quoted his Saudi clients from last year.

Just today, on my own journey, I climb from the fertile valleys and stop at the Pamir River, one of the five rivers that flow into the Panj River, a major tributary of the Amu Darya (or Oxus River). 

I take lunch at the Koi-Tezek Pass4122m, 13,523ft, 2.56 miles high in the barren desert.

The Saudi visitors also had a special goal in Tajikistan.   They wanted to visit Bulunkul, the coldest village in the country.  

The Wakhan Corridor

Langar

Langar Region

Wakhan Corridor

Tajikistan

August 23, 2019

My guidebook printed a cautionary notice:

“Visiting the Wakhan Corridor should come with a strong warning: having trekked or driven down the Tajik side of the corridor, you will return home and start planning your trip to Afghanistan.  It’s unavoidable.  The Tajik side is majestic, but Afghanistan is so tantalizingly close that it drives you almost to distraction.” *

Will I ever visit Afghanistan?  The prospect is “tantalizing.”

Nevertheless, the Tajik side of the Wakhan Corridor is truly “majestic.”

Pages