We said farewell to our Khujand hosts, after Marina’s sister very kindly arrived with a SIM card for us. Retracing our steps back through the city and south on the road to Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital. Cooler today. We must be becoming acclimatised. Temperatures in the 30’s feel blissfully cool.
Heading for Iskander Kul Lake, we broke the journey for lunch under some trees. Yesterday’s bread, but just about edible. Back on the road again, we saw a sand coloured converted ambulance Land Rover Series 111 approaching us. It must be Kim and Jasper, the young Dutch couple we met in Khiva. It was, and so we both pulled over.
Great to see them. They have also had some mechanical issues, which meant them turning back from the Pamir Highway and spending a few days in Dushanbe, while their vehicle was repaired.
Dennis and Jasper spent some time with their heads under the bonnet of the “ambulance”. Jasper is concerned that it has started to blow blue smoke from the exhaust.
We decided to have afternoon tea by the roadside. Very civilised in the middle of Tajikistan surrounded by braying donkeys in the fields beside us. After wishing Kim and Jasper well in their travels we went our separate ways.
The mountain scenery is quite magnificent. We turned off the main Dushanbe road and took a small track over a decrepit looking bridge. 24ks up to Iskander-Kul Lake. I was uncertain at first that we were on the right track as our guide book had said it was spectacular scenery. At this stage it was a somewhat scruffy, partially sealed track with scattered habitations. It improved dramatically. Just a gravel road but as we climbed, the mountains were stunning. Reds, ochres, greys, every hue in between, with the river racing through the valley bottom. Aquamarine with frothy white foam where the water was dancing over the rocks. We climbed higher and higher through the pass before seeing the lake in the distance and the river pouring out from it. As we descended it started to rain. It came out of nowhere, but was a welcome relief. It only lasted about 30 minutes. We wound our way down the track to the lake and were met by a closed barrier. I had to climb a flight of steps to an office where an “official” stuck a piece of paper in front of me telling me we had to pay an entry fee of 18.61 Sonomi each, as foreigners. Locals only 5 Sonomi.
By this time the sun had gone down, and it was raining anyway, so getting any photos of the lake was not possible. The campsite was not far past the barrier. Very dirty and a disappointment. However, we had no other options, so put up our Caranex tent in the rain lose to another Defender. Once set up we cooked some dinner and prepared for bed. Hoping for a good, cool, night. It’s been a long time since we have slept in our home on wheels.