After a morning of running errands (Tajik SIM Card, changing money) and visiting the Bazar and an old mosque of Istvarashan, we started climbing the Shahriston Pass after lunch. There were still more than 2000 altitude meters to climb from Istvarashan, so it was clear that we would not reach the pass in only half a day, but that we would climb half of the pass today and then do the rest tomorrow.
Being located at the foot of the Fann Mountains, the scenery around Istvarashan is simply beautiful. It is a combination of mountain city, green fields, trees, and stunning snow-covered peaks of more than 5000 m altitude. The city itself is not really a tourist destination, however it still has its charm because you basically meet only locals in the streets and you can observe well how their life is. As in every new country, first I had to organize a SIM card with Internet so I can keep my blog up to date. This went more or less easily as two locals were helping us with it. Also, changing Euros into Tajik Somoni was no big deal. Compared to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan where money is basically changed on the black market, we actually went to a bank and changed money for the official rate.
After running those errands we visited an old mosque and then headed back to last night’s host’s house to prepare our cycling today.
Our goal today was to climb in total 1000m which is half of what we need to climb in total for Shahriston Pass. The road was good and we made good progress. We reached today’s altitude goal after 4 hours of climbing and then we saw a nice grass field where we wanted to put up our tent. Unfortunately, there was an army base right next to the field and they were not very happy to have tourists camping in front of their base, so we had to move to a location on the other side of the valley. There we spotted a very simple farm and we asked the owner if we are allowed to camp on his land. He approved, but suggested that we sleep inside his one-room “container”-farm (see picture). We happily accepted because it already got quite chilly outside once the sun disappeared behind the mountains. We then all cooked some pasta together, had some tea and went to sleep at a very decent hour as there is not much to do up here (except writing a blog post on the laptop).
Tomorrow we will have to climb another 1000 m, followed by a 1500 m descent down. After this pass we are still have however one similar pass to cross until we reach Tajikistan’s capital: Dushanbe.
Max elevation: 1923 m
Min elevation: 908 m
Total climbing: 1353 m
Total descent: -338 m
Total time: 05:26:38