After a beautiful morning ride through a very remote nature road along Bulunkul Lake, a non-existing Geyser, a very remote farm at Ak Jar, and around one hundred small descents and climbs in desert-like environment I reached the Pamir Highway near Alichur after 38 km. After a short lunch break, I decided to continue as far as possible towards Murghab, the next and last bigger village / town before Kyrgyzstan.
38 km of scenic road
To get to Alichur from Bulunkul village, the easy way would have been to cycle back 14 km on a bumpy road and then follow 24 km on the nicely paved Pamir Highway. However, my travel guide suggested to see Lake Bulunkul in the morning from the eastern shore, which was only accessible on a dirt track. And indeed it was worth starting to cycle at 6:30. The water of Lake Bulunkul was very calm and reflected the surrounding mountains and the blue sky in its water.
After that, I followed the same dirt track, which was also leading to Alichur, but on very difficult terrain at times. 10 km after the lake there should have been a geyser. While the signs of volcanic activity were clearly visible by colorful mini-lakes, salty, and sulfuric ground, I was however unable to spot any geyser. Nevertheless, the scenery was just stunning, and as there was absolutely no traffic on this dirt track, I was there completely alone. The only other living creatures I spotted were dozens of marmots, yaks, cows, sheep, and birds.
After about two thirds of the dirt track, there was a settlement of one or more sheep farmers named Ak Jar. When I was getting off my bicycle to take some pictures, the farmer spotted me and invited me to his home for a tea. Inside his home, I also met his mother who was sewing a blanket out of sheep wool, his wife, and his two children. He told me also that in Winter, he lives in the village of Alichur, but the Summer months he spends in this settlement with his family and his couple of hundred sheep, 12 km away from the next civilization and only accessible by the dirt road I was on. Life is very simple and hard up there, but this did not affect the Tajik hospitality by serving me what they had to offer: freshly baked bread, yoghurt, butter, and of course tea.
After another 12 km through the desert, I finally reached Alichur, where I found some small shops to buy some simple lunch.
From Alichur to Murghab
As Alichur did not have a lot to offer and it was only noon, I decided to continue cycling towards Murghab, which is another 103 km. In order to reach Murghab, I had to cross Niezatash Pass (4137 m), which is 300 m up from Alichur. As normal in this part of the Pamirs, there was strong wind from west, which resulted in tail wind for me. This allowed me to progress easily to the Pass, followed by a 600 m descent down to the city of Murghab, which also facilitated cycling a lot and allowed me to reach Murghab by 18:30 after 8 hours and 140 km of cycling.
Arrival in Murghab
I was quite tired when I arrived and I was happy when the hotel receptionist told me that there is hot water in the shower. Unfortunately, some people already showered before me, so it turned out to be a cold shower after all. Also, I met Anne and Lucie again at the same hotel here in Murghab. After a nice dinner in the hotel, I went to bed soon. The highlight today was the off-the-beaten-track route in the morning and the encounter with the shepherd and his family in the middle of nowhere. Also, I really enjoyed travelling alone today as Lucie and Anne already went ahead and I did not have to wait for anybody.
Tomorrow I will spend a day in Murghab for recovering from today. I don’t think there is much to see here in Murghab, but I can plan my onward trip through Kyrgyzstan and fill my stock of food.
Max elevation: 4148 m
Min elevation: 3640 m
Total climbing: 1421 m
Total descent: -1499 m
Total time: 12:09:06