June 5th, 2014 was one of the most visually amazing days of my life. I rode in a taxi with Svend, Helen, and our new driver, Sailaubai (pronounced Sauleboy), from Murghab to Langar, Tajikistan. The day started with a view of the sunrise over Muztagh Ata of China, and ended with a sunset illuminating the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan. In between, we viewed some of the most amazing lakes, rivers, and, most importantly, mountains, I have ever seen. Rather than follow my usual blog post format, I will let you look through the best of the 100+ photos I took that day, posted below in chronological order.
If you click on a photo (I recommend starting with the first one), you can scroll through them all. Each has a caption explaining what the photo is, and a few have links to interactive panoramas on my Photsynth page. I apologize for the quality of the photos in advance, but I hope you get a general idea of this incredible place.
Author’s Note: This post is a part of many associated with my trip on the Pamir Highway in June, 2014. For a complete overview of this trip, please click this link.
Looking east from Murghab on a clear day, you can see Muztagh Ata on the horizon, a 7500 meter peak in Western China
Getting started early on the road from Murghab
Lunaresque Landscape on the high plateau of Eastern Tajikistan
Some of the first snowcapped mountains just after Murghab
Livestock on the road just off the Pamir River
Lots of mountains and livestock throughout the Gorno-Badakshan Region
Chatyr Tash, or Tent Rock
The huge landscape of the Gorno-Badakshan, and the poorly maintained road
The surreal blue waters of the Ak-Balyk spring, a rare fresh-water source in the very salty landscape.
Roadside Yurt in Alichur village. We were a bit early to see too much activity here, but according to Lonely Planet there is fish to eat here.
Sassyk-Kul, or Stinking Lake, from afar. We would initially head north here to the town of Bulunkul, before returning south and going towards Langar.
Sassyk Kul Panorama. For an interactive version of this photo, click here
On the shores of Tuz-Kul, or Salt Lake. The majority of the alpine lakes here were full of salt water.
This is Sauleboy, our driver from Murghab. He only speaks Russian, and Svend and Helen only speak English. As the bridge between the two, I got to know Sauleboy pretty well, and he is a really awesome dude.
Later, when I left my GoPro in the car, Sauleboy played with it until the battery died. I know this because I have a long video of his face. He is a great guy.
Yashil-Kul, or Green Lake, in Yashil-Kul national park. The waters were so blue it reminded me of a golf course in North Carolina that used to use dye to make the water appear blue.
Yashil-Kul Panorama. For an interactive version of this photo, click here
On the shore of Yashil-Kul, no dye here!
Your author and Yashil-Kul. It was incredibly beautiful
Panorama above Bulunkul Village. For an interactive version of this photo, click here
In the town of Bulunkul. I really like this photo, Svend and Helen are trying to take a photo of the well, while the local kids cannot figure out what they are trying to do, and the dog could care less.
The view from Bulunkul
We left Bulunkul, returned to Sassyk-Kul, and then left the M41, or the main road of the Pamir Highway, to head south towards Langar.
Chokur-Kul, another high-alpine salt lake on the way to Langar
The north side of Khargush Pass. Like most of the passes in the Pamirs, this was teeming with lines to ski.
The southside of Khargush Pass, at 4344 meters, has this out-of-place green pasture inhabited by a number of animals and a large family. It felt very out of place, but the greens of the grass were a sight for sore eyes.
Khargush Military Checkpoint. Also our first good look at Afghanistan, as the Pamir River is the border.
Panorama of the first view of Afghanistan. For an interactive version of this photo, click here
The Road and the Pamir River. Any views on the other side of the river are looking at Afghanistan. It looks a lot like Tajikistan.
Amazed to be on the border of Afghanistan
The Afhani Pamir and the Pamir river
Everywhere we drove between Khargush and Langar had at least one group of livestock per kilometer.
Driving into a drainage. My mind was so captivated by the mountains we could see in Afghanistan I had to remind myself to remember to look at the mountains in Tajikistan too.
The Road to the Hindu Kush. The mountains that line the Wakhan Corridor are the Pamirs, but Sauleboy insisted they are the Hindu Kush. I won’t disagree with either, all I know is that they were the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen.
When we came to this view, I got out of the car and walked in a trance for about a kilometer. I had never seen mountains so beautiful before. In the distance, some of the mountains looked like they were about to fall over, but I only had an iPhone so I can’t really show you what I mean. It was incredible to see though, especially if you like mountains.
Northern Wakhan Corridor Panorama. For an interactive version of this photo, click here
These mountains form the northern border of the Wakhan Corridor. I feel bad I only had an iPhone to take photos of them.
I really love these mountains.
Just as the light started to fade, we arrived in the wonderfully fertile and green valley of Langar
Panorama above Langar. For an interactive version of this photo, click here
Langar is where the Pamir and Wakhan Rivers meet, forming the Pyanj River. It is the most beautiful village I have seen.
Everwhere you looked in Langar, there were green fields and mountains beyond.
The view from our Guesthouse in Langar
I was amazed to be in Langar, and the rainbow was icing on the cake
Langar Panorama. For an interactive version of this photo, click here