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Along the Pamir Highway – Tajikistan

Pamir Highway - TajikistanThe original Pamir Highway is part of the legendary Silk Road that led from China and India toward Europe and the Middle East. Much of the road runs along the River Panj, or Amurdarja, which flows into the Aral Sea.

We picked up the trail at Dushanbe in the Tajik lowlands. Civilization’s grasp fades with every mile driving into the Pamirs. Was it not for a few narrow, fertile river valleys, the Pamirs would be completely empty. A 2-day drive takes you to Khorog, an island of relative comfort and civilization in a vast mountain range.

We tried to reach the Geisev valley but due to the high Bartang river, the road was blocked and we didn’t want to take the mountain pass. Having failed to reach the valley we asked in a local village to stay in someone’s house. We were warmly welcomed and fed (potatoes) by the locals, but our thin skin was not able to withstand the relentless attacks that followed during the night. Various bed bugs/fleas/mosquitos ate us alive. We were mere junior training partners for those bugs from hell. In the morning, we limped away, utterly beaten.

In the Vanj valley, we learned the meaning of hospitality. We stayed at local people’s homes, who made us part of their families despite the language barrier. Whenever we turned up somewhere, the best food was served and refusal was impossible. This way we were treated to several Tajik lunches and dinners on the same day.

We came across a very strange tree that grows delicious fruit: Toot. Toot fruit looks like a large white maggot and tastes delicious. As we were sitting in the garden, Toot would fall on our heads and all around us from the trees. All we had to do was pick the fruit up from the ground and eat them.

Check out the full slideshow in the portfolio section

Copyright Frank Röhrig

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