Posts Tagged ‘Karakul’


We sat huddled in the metre high drainage pipe under the road. Outside it was howling a sandy gale in the moon landscape, and dark clouds were forming and swirling around the snowy peaks. Cycling downhill at 6 km/h against the wind with nowhere to hide, camping was looking problematic. ‘Onwards,’ we decided. There must be somewhere better than this.

Our hideout from the wind

Our hideout from the wind

After our monster effort yesterday, we slept in, and then went on a tour through the ‘markets’ of the town. Our homestay host took us to the markets, which were all in people’s homes. No chocolates were on offer to replace what I threw down the hatch yesterday in our evening slog. Like Old Mother Hubbard, the cupboards were bare. Just lollies and biscuits.

The grocery shop

The grocery shop

And then the cabbage truck drove into town. Hurray, hurray, oh glorious day! They even had a few apricots!

The cabbage truck

The cabbage truck

There was a blue hole in the clouded sky above the beautiful Karakul lake. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the lake created its own sunny weather. Skirting the lake, it seemed the wind always blew away from the lake – which lead to the theory of us having a tailwind going over the pass. This theory proved to be incorrect.

The long road out of Karakul

The long road out of Karakul

Lake Karakul

Lake Karakul

The wind was the strongest I have experienced – and it was a headwind. Scaling the steep bits of the pass involved 10 pedal strokes followed by a minute regaining breath. Descending required pedalling to move forward, and the speed rarely passed 10 km/h. After shivering in the drainage pipe, we realised we needed to continue to keep warm. We are now camping on the sand behind a mound that seems, somehow, to deflect most of the wind. It is going to be cold tonight.

Our moonscape camping spot

Our moonscape camping spot


A grunt to make it up the 3 metre sandy verge from the parallel road (with fewer corrigations) to the main road. At 4200m I fail, slide off my bike, and stand there heaving in the thin air.

The view looking back from the pass

The view looking back from the pass

Today was a 4655m pass, bone shaking corrigations, and hurricane headwinds that made the descent on good road surface a crawl to the town that never drew nearer. Exhausted, I collapsed to sleep with the dinner still in front of me.

We were saved from the first snow flurry ascending the pass by a kind family just after the sign for the pass summit (5km from the top).

At the base of the pass

At the base of the pass

Father and kids

Father and kids

Little boy

Little boy

The steep ascent to the pass was a 3 km/h affair with amazing views.

View northwards from the Akbaital Pass

View northwards from the Akbaital Pass

Towards Karakul

Towards Karakul

The next threatening weather descended as we were pummelled by the corrugations and the headwind.

Cold wind

Cold wind

Corrugations

Corrugations

We decided to push on to the only town in the area – Karakul. Little did we know the wind would get stronger, and the town, always visible in the distance, seemed to stay the same distance away for 20 km. The sun set over the beautiful Karakul lake as we pushed on to the town.

The road to Karakul

The road to Karakul

The road to Karakul

The road to Karakul