17 hours on a plane was a record for both of us. That got us to Dubai and then we had 17 hours on the ground before our flight to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. It was near 40 degrees in Dubai and riding the air conditioned public transport helped kill some time. We were blown away by how built up the city is, tall towers all trying to outdo each other in height and architecture. The tallest building in the world is there, a spire reaching higher into the sky than any other.
After waiting so long for our next flight we almost missed it as we were both dozing as they repeatedly made the calls for boarding. We arrived in Tajikistan before sunrise and reconstructed our bikes before pedalling the 2km to the Green House hostel.
The next couple of days were spent looking around the ‘modern’ city and recovering from the travel. The city is clean with lots of green spaces and a mix of modern shops and large markets. The people are super friendly. There is little English signage so always a challenge if you are looking for something in particular. Temperatures are in the mid 30’s so it was good to pack up and leave in the early morn for the cooler temps of the mountains
The Fann mountains are north of the city and have peaks up to 6000m. We headed up the main highway which follows the Varzog river which was fat with snowmelt. We followed continuous whitewater for 60km thru spectacular rock gorges. The day was overcast and we were lucky to find shelter from the thunderstorm which poured torrential rain for over an hour. In the upper section there are a number of avalanche tunnels of varying lengths – intimidating for cyclists.
We were pleased to get to the turnoff for the now unmaintained road across the Anzob pass. It has been replaced by a new road that goes thru the mountains via a 5km tunnel – well known as the tunnel of death because of lack of ventilation and massive potholes. In contrast we had the most amazing climb the next day up a road devoid of traffic with crystal clear mountain vistas thanks to the thunderstorm the day before.
It was a 2000m climb to the snowy pass and we were kindly invited in to the building at the top where the family that look after the meteorilogical equipment that was up there stay. We were served tea, bread, yoghurt and cheese and then a bowl of rich soup. Ramadan has just started so they could not join us in eating or drinking.
Unfortunately we were unable to cross the pass as the northern side was too snowy so we backtracked to a high camp with good views. Sadly the dust from the plains was building up so the mountains were losing their crispness.
it was a fast downhill trip back to Dushanbe the next day (after 2 days of uphill) and before we knew it we were eating burgers in the hot city.
Tomorrow we leave the comforts of Dushanbe for the Pamir mountains and our journey eastward…