Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cycling in the Afghan Wakhan – Is there a road somewhere?

When we told people in Ishkashim that we wanted to cycle to the Wakhan, we would always get the same answer: “bicycle, problem, not possible”, to which we invariably responded: “bicycle never problem, we go anywhere”. Well, that was before we actually saw the state of the so-called “road”…

It took us almost 4 days to cover the 140km between the small village of Wazed where we had ended the trek at the foot of the Big Pamir and the border town of Ishkashim.

After just a few kms, we encounter our first big river crossing. The boys go ahead to scout it out. It seems to be OK. Céline dives in, water up to her chest. I start crossing and end up both feet stuck in several inches of thick mud, water up to my waist, a tiny bit stressful! After a few trips back and forth, we manage to get all the stuff across.

I keep my helmet on, you never know what can happen these days!

This was the first of a long series…

Help !

No tarmac anywhere of course. The “road” often disappears under water, mud, sand or the occasionnal landslide. When there’s no mud or sand, there are rocks. The small streams or mud puddles that come before each sandy part are the worst… The transmission and brakes squeak and screech. I’m glad I don’t have rim brakes !

Landslide :

Some rocks :

That looks hard work !

On the left, posing for the photo, on the right moving on anyway I can
(or the other way round, I don't remember)

Some sand and mud for a change :

Sand and water :

Some more rocks :

Rocks plus water :

It can be fairly steep :

Sometimes, it goes down :

At some point, the road is cut off: a bridge is under construction. Good thing some Afghan workers give me a hand to go across.

Stay focused. And don't look down!

Wait, I'm coming!

To jump or not to jump, that is the question...

Everywhere we stop, it seems like we are the attraction of the day, especially near schools. People always love trying the tricycle.

I told you it was super comfortable !

In the evening, if there is no guesthouse in the village, people invite us to stay in their homes. This sometimes gives us the opportunity to try out new food like this wonderful "afghan fondue"…

On the last day, we rush as fast as we can (which is not very fast…) to get across the border in time. Everyone is longing for a shower and a good beer. At 4.15pm, 500m from the border, a car stops. It is the bloke from the passport control: “Border close 4 o’clock. Come back tomorrow”. Bad luck ! We have to climb the rocky road all the way back to the guesthouse, and wait yet another day for the well-deserved beer…

1 comment:

  1. supper grazzy action in my opinion.It must be really good adventure.Nice photo nice people nice countryside....congratulation good performance.

    Miroslav Dušánek