July 16 Murgab to Sary-Tash 227 km
Today we will go to just 25 km inside the Kyrgyzstan border. There is nothing at all in between the towns of Murgab and Sary-Tash except the border posts. It takes all day and not 3 hours!
Dan was up early to work on the bikes (clean the chains, tighten all the bits shaken loose this week, and inspect in general. This is when we find 4 inch nail #2 in Sara’s rear tire!!! Unreal no flats in 5 years and 2 in 2 weeks. We plugged it and hoped for the best. We will need to take the tire off and patch it/vulcanize it when we get back to civilization.
It is an hour later here with the time change and with all the things we needed to do we did not get rolling until 1030. The first stop was the gas station. Here you tell the guy how many liters you want and he has vessels of various volumes and very large funnels.
The high mountain plain road is initially surfaced with only a wash out or two.
The road continues to be paved and rise until just before the first pass at Beicera. Dan decided to do a little off off road riding and hill climbing to 4644 m . Lucky he did not get stuck in the sand.
Here it goes to dirt and rises to 4655 m.
On the down side of the summit the road gets pretty bad. The washboard is horrible and bone shattering. It was so bad Trevor’s mirror actually broke off while he was riding.
In fact cars have left the road and created a side road which though muddy in spots is much smoother. There is some deeper gravel to contend with too.
There is then a section of paved road for about 20 km and a few scattered homes and yurts in the distance. This barb wire fence went on for ever. It marks the disputed Chinese border. Not sure what the point is since there are lots of places where the fence is in disrepair and falling down.
The pavement ends again before the road rises up to the second pass and the washboard combined with the gale force winds made for a challenge for about 10 km.
Finally the road heads up again and the mud surface is smoother and firm.
The approach to the Tajikistan border is huge mud ruts from trucks. It would be a nightmare here in the rain. You stop at the first gate and hand your customs declaration to the agent and then “you can go”. We figured we needed an exit passport stamp so we kept going past the construction site to a small office to get it. Then they raise the gate to “no man’s land”.
The road here is hard packed mud and rises to the next summit at 4285 M. It is very windy here as well.
The clay/mud road is firm if a bit rough. There are a number of switchback as well. You go about 20 km to the next border for Kyrgyzstan. We saw about 15 bikes on a Polish tour headed up the hill at 330 pm. Not sure where they expect to get to this late in the day.
Here you stop at passport control and the agent asks for your passport and registration. Very friendly and professional. After this you go 200 m to customs. Here they want the same info and 10$ for customs clearance. Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Russia are a customs zone and we are now cleared for all 3 and we have 2 months.
The road from the border is paved is a bit pot holed and we have just 25 km to Sary-Tash. Some kids had blocked the road with donkeys and clearly wanted a toll to pass, but there were one donkey short of a barricade.
We rolled into the “town” at about 5 and there arrived to the one hotel in the GPS.
Hotel is a loose term it is one room with a dais and you supply your own bedding. There is an outhouse and no shower. While Trevor was inside checking it out a couple walked up and asked if he was traveling with Dan and Sara! This is Graham and Katrina Perkins who we have been following as they came west across Asia on their Africa twin. There had seen the bikes come into town from their hostel nearby.
We were not keen on either of these 2 options. A guy rolled up in a car and said he was a tour operator and had a house for rent. We followed him out of town, across a cow field to a house with no running water, an outhouse and a single room again. Ah NO.
We then wound our way father thru the fields and the village back roads to the main highway where we had seen a restaurant and hotel. Very nice family. There had room with no beds, but they sleep on several layers of mats and gave us pillows and duvets. There is of course only outhouses, but they have running water. The owner is the chef and his wife the manager and she speaks English. She arranged for me to have a shower at a friends house about 150 m away. This was a hot steamy tiled room with a cement floor and a drain. There is a huge boiler at one side and a barrel of cold water to mix in for the best pour over shower ever! The price was right too. 15$ each for room, dinner, and breakfast. They also had wifi at least to check in after 4 days off line.
The total SPOT of the Paimr and Wakhan Valley route! The dots are 15 minute intervals!