It is very nice to relax after another exhausting cycling day in hot springs in the middle of beautiful mountains. Today we reached the hot springs of Garmchashma, one of the many natural not springs here in the Pamirs. But we had to earn this with a very steep ascent for the last 7 km.
Visiting Border Market in Khorog
After four nights in the Pamir Lodge in Khorog, today was the day that Anne was finally capable again of cycling. And by coincidence it was Saturday morning, so we decided to visit the Border Market with Afghanistan which is 5 km north of Khorog, so basically 5 km in the wrong direction. The idea is that Afghan and Tajik merchants can meet in a special area at the customs and trade goods easily. This was our chance to actually meet some of the Afghan people that we have been spotting for the last days when following the border.
This market originally took place in Ishkashim in the south, but was moved to Khorog and is supposed to take place every Saturday morning. As we were aware that the market is a delicate thing and is often cancelled, we confirmed at the tourist office that the market will actually take place today. So we cycled up those 5 km.
When we arrived at the border bridge where the market takes place, there was however nobody. One of the employees told us that the market does not take place today due the unstable political situation in Afghanistan. Disappointed we cycled back to Khorog with 10 additional km in our legs.
Fixing tires when going south
After the not so successful morning, we started cycling south from Khorog. The scenery along the Panj River was beautiful as always, and as we were going uphill more and more, the river got narrower and hence we were even closer to the Afghan side than a few days back.
After a few kilometers we had to stop however as Lucie had a puncture. And of course it was in a hot place without shadow and any villages nearby. It took three attempts to properly fix the puncture, we easily lost an hour. But then we could continue our ride.
Heading towards Garmchashma
After around 30 km, a side road turned into the mountains, to the village Garmchashma. It is home to one of the most famous hot springs in the Pamirs, and we decided to go there for the night so we could get a warm bath before sleeping in the tent. The side road however was extremely steep, and I was completely out of breath and sweaty when I arrived there. So a bath in the hot springs was even more welcome now.
Unlike in Europe, the baths here are strictly separated between men and women, and people do not wear any bathing suits. Where there is only one pool, there is a schedule that regulates when women and men are allowed to go bathing. In the case of Garmchashma, there was a beautiful outdoor pool (see picture) and a simple indoor pool. I was lucky that it was the men’s turn for the outdoor pool, Anne and Lucie had to go to the rather small indoor pool. Still, they enjoyed a nice bath, and maybe tomorrow morning they can also visit the outdoor pool.
Max elevation: 2586 m
Min elevation: 2094 m
Total climbing: 1287 m
Total descent: -876 m
Total time: 08:03:53