The Slog to Khorog

by seanyoneill

Reality sunk in very early as we rode the first few hours outside Dushanbe. Huddled under a lone tree barely big enough to provide enough shade and gasping for air. This was going to be challenging, the shifting terrain and heat up to 39 degrees was overpowering. Over the next days we did acclimatize a little and sat out the most punishing hours in the sun.

On the third day we crested a difficult uphill and were gifted a breathtaking view; mountains bigger than I had ever seen, the Panj river and our first sight of Afghanistan. We would ride parallel to it for the next 450 kms slowly getting closer as the river narrowed.

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First Sight Of Afghanistan

Getting a brief snapshot of the Tajik and Afghan people going about their daily lives was a privilege. The Afghans constructed their communities from an extremely isolated and harsh environment, connected by the most basic paths where the only mode of transport we saw were motorbikes, donkeys or walking.

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Motorbike, Afghanistan

The Tajik children are a breath of fresh air, every village we went through the kids seemed to appear from thin air smiling, laughing and looking for hi-fives. Some were selling fruit. Seeing the kids running from the fields shouting for us to stop and talk for a minute is so touching and heart warming. One night while setting up the tent we were invited into a family’s home for dinner and to spend the night, we sat with the family and learned about life for them. Everything we ate was grown on their land, sustainable and organic.

Warning Landmines, Tajikistan

I’m currently sitting in Khorog, over 600kms into the trip and it’s been a real eye-opener. The takeaways so far; gruelling heat, stunning scenery and kind, warm people. A few rest days are almost at an end and tomorrow we begin the steep rise into the Pamirs. It’s an exciting and daunting prospect that I can’t wait to face.

Afghan Community on the right of the River Panj

Footbridge into Afghanistan

 

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