Cycling the Silk Route: Part 5 of our 9-Part YouTube Series
Last Friday in our monthly newsletter we announced the release of the fifth in our series Cycling the Silk Route – a 9-part YouTube series. During each of the coming months, we will be releasing one episode each month. The best way to make sure you don’t miss it is to sign up to our monthly newsletter where the official release happens.
Part 5: Osh to Dushanbe
On the section known as the Pamir Highway, the cyclists will pedal out of Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s oldest city and home to one of Central Asia’s largest and busiest markets. The route heads south to the crossroads town of Sary Tash before heading west into Tajikistan, a remote country described by Lonely Planet as “a patchwork of self-contained valleys and regional contrasts, forged together by Soviet nation-building and shared pride in a Persian cultural heritage that is claimed as the oldest and most influential in the Silk Road region.”
Here the riders will embark on our own “Great Game,” as the first cycling expedition organized by “foreign devils” to navigate the fabled Pamir Highway, which was off-limits to travellers until recently. Known locally as Bam-i-Dunya (Roof of the World), the Pamirs lie at the heart of the Hindu Kush, Tien Shan and Karakorum ranges, reaching skywards to 7495 meters. Afghanistan beckons to the south, China and Kyrgyzstan to the northeast. Here the cyclists face magnificent desolation, and a gruelling test of physical and mental strength. Nomadic herders, warm nights in Yurts, the indescribable beauty of Kara-Kul Lake, and the literally breath taking 4,665 meter Ak-Baital Pass are some of the highlights of this route. Amidst such stunning scenery, travellers should be on the lookout for the giant Marco Polo sheep and the elusive snow leopard, while guarding themselves against altitude sickness.
After crossing the 4th pass of more than 4000 meters, the riders will reach Khorog, a stones throw from Afghanistan, and the site of our second rest day in this stretch after Kara-kul. From there it’s on to the Tajik capital of Dushanbe; transformed from a small village into a city by the Bolsheviks, it will grant us a day to explore its busy markets, and to experience a bit of luxury after the trials of the Pamirs.