From Morghob we drove off on the Pamir Highway towards the Kyrgyz border, taking in the Akbaital pass (White Mare Pass) which was the highest pass (4655m) on the Pamir Highway and in the former Soviet Union.
It was a gradual climb and the road was better than some we had travelled through and so it held no fears. We were delighted to get to the top and also a little sad as we knew that our trip in Tajikistan was soon coming to a close.
Although we had time in hand we did not veer off up the Rangkul pass to take a look at the lake and Petroglyphs as we were now in cautious mode after the recent unfortunate bog experience, when we were feeling more invincible.
We stopped over in the small village of Karakul (3,923m) which was situated on the shores of a beautiful lake by the same name.
On a recommendation, we located the Sadat Homestay with a view to camping outside in Landy and taking meals at Sadat.
Unbelievably I was still knocked out by the altitude and had no heart to wander through the village to get up close and personal with the lake - this was left to Jim (who was knackered when he got back after walking a few hundred metres).
We were also a bit twitchy about the border crossing from Tajikistan into Kyrgyzstan, the following day, having read a few reviews on IOverlander which suggested that the Tajikistan side could be tricky and if the paperwork was not quite right, we could have been turned back. Our worry was that our car permit had run out and was not co-terminus with our visas which had not run out. We had been advised in Khorog not to apply for an extension as the cost could run into the hundreds of dollars as now we were effectively overstaying. The view was that at the border a small payment usually sufficed.
Also we read that we needed to have Kyrgyz currency for the entry into Kyrgyzstan to pay for the car tax/import papers. It was also stated that if you paid in dollars that they charged twice the amount. Although the amount was not huge, this was perplexing us. This uncertainty was making Jim a bit twitchy as we poured over the I-Overlander tellings.
So we just had to play a few hands of two handed bridge in the back of the car to take our minds off the logistics of the next day.
We had a disturbed night as the local guard dogs decided that our car was a threat to shipping and barked outside the door for hours. I had a panic about lack of oxygen in the night and even when the dog stopped barking, I found it difficult to drop off in case I died in the night!
(Why was my pulse dropping to mid 40s when I was sleeping rather than speeding up at high altitude?)
So the next day needed to proceed without too much stress.
We took off for the border which intrigued Jim because there was a security fence all along the right hand side of the road. The other side was no-mans land and then the peaks we saw beyond were China! Yes, we were that close. Only two passes for Landy to climb and we were in Kyrgyzstan 🇰🇬.
We kept our eyes peeled for a couple of Caravanserai shown on the map and we found them en route. The first caravanserai had foundations that looked very old and upper courses that looked slightly more modern. There was a plaque with the date 1899 and a large N, presumably a reference to Czar Nicholas II, who was to be executed in 1917.
The actual exit from Tajikistan was very high up (4336m) and in an extremely remote location. I was hoping that we would not hang about for too long, given my aversion to being up so high. In the event, we passed out of Tajikistan in 15 minutes and no mention was made of our overstay. (Phew). In the absence of vodka, the only thing we lost was a roll of gaffer tape which we donated to a second local vehicle being inspected behind us.
Needless to say there was barely a car in sight and so we were ushered through very quickly.
We had been warned about the road between the Tajik and Kyrgyz border. It was 15 kilometres long, so a huge no-mans land, and very steep downhill with a muddy boggy road surface which was heavily rutted and full of holes. Call that a road?
Luckily it was a dry day and we were going downhill. I could see how difficult, if not impossible, it would be to come the other way in snow or heavy rain. And certainly 4WD would be required going uphill.
The Kyrgyz side, when we had managed to descend without mishap, was also without incident. We were through two checkpoints within half an hour.
The car import tax was simple and the dollar rate was not inflated at all and everything was sweet and inspection was minimal.
What with the terrible road, we thought we were in for more challenges the other side. However, once we were clear of the borders the road surface picked up and beyond Sary Tash the road was asphalted and almost perfect and we had an amazing drive through the Kyrgyz winding passes way down into Osh. (Where I am just beginning to recover from the effects of the altitude.)
Amazing because the other side of the same mountain ranges were totally different. The stone colour changed and things became increasingly green. It was becoming apparent that this country was indeed the Swiss Alps of Central Asia.
At first we stopped to photograph amazing meadows dotted with yurts, surrounded by such handsome horses and other livestock. These animals were not scrabbling around for feed as grass was abundant by comparison to their near neighbours in Tajikistan.
Soon we realised that there were yurts everywhere and that this nomadic way of life was still very much in vogue here. Some yurts were surrounded by livestock pens, chicken coops and all the paraphernalia of settled life. Some had cars or trucks parked alongside and children with European clothes and backpacks coming and going.
There were heavily cloudy skies and the roads were mountainous but in very good condition as we sailed into Osh very quickly. Can I admit that it was a bit of a relief? We are planning to be in Kyrgyzstan till the end of August and do you know, I am actually looking forward to it.