After three nights at the Green House Hostel in Dushanbe, without doing anything except resting my body and especially my legs, I was ready for the next challenge, getting to Khorough. Cycling from Dushanbe to Kelob and then to Khorough is quite a tough ride.
Before leaving Dushanbe, I made a bank transfer at the Sheraton hotel because it’s not like in Europe where ATMs are everywhere. Here, you need to have cash!
The first 25 kilometers towards Kelob were mostly easy cycling on a very good road. Then I had to work hard to climb all the hills.
After nearly 40 kilometers, I had reached the summit for the day and enjoyed a nice descent before I cycled through the 4.5-kilometer-long Khatlon tunnel, previously known as the Chormaghzak tunnel. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, I must say.
The tunnel had no lighting, and my bike’s lights were too weak! When I finally emerged from the tunnel, it had become dark, so it was time to look for a suitable camping spot.
A side road about 300 meters from the tunnel took me up to a plateau, where I found a place to set up my tent. I also had a good overview of the traffic below.
I woke up to the screams of local youths and the sounds of their livestock, along with the thundering traffic below.
I rode downhill for a few kilometers before crossing a beautiful blue-green shimmering river called Vakhsh, which is also home to one of the world’s highest hydroelectric dams, the Nurek Dam. Hydroelectric power is one of Tajikistan’s export assets.
Crossing Vakhsh river at Nurek
Then, I faced a tough uphill climb of nearly 10 kilometers before reaching the next tunnel to pass through. The heat, which had now risen above thirty degrees, made cycling quite a challenge, and the water I had with me was lukewarm.
The tunnel was unlit, and cycling through it was no fun. When I emerged on the other side, I was greeted by a breathtaking view down to a lake that the road signs referred to as the Blue Sea. It’s actually the reservoir of the Nurek Dam.
Blue Sea, Nurek dam from above
A few hundred meters ahead, after a mountain cut, I saw a large gravel area with numerous tents set up, serving food and drinks. Many cars, trucks, and buses had already stopped here for a meal and a break so did I. Was hungry and also need some rest, especially from the heat and sun.I ordered soup with boiled meat.
While eating, I enjoyed the view of the large blue lake with several prominent mountain formations. Again, it’s the reservoir of the Nurek Dam. After this lunch, I had a challenging climb left before completing the final 25 kilometers on relatively easy roads.
Unfortunately, I noticed that my front tire had a slow leak, but it wasn’t bad enough to prevent me from pumping it up and cycling a few kilometers at a time. I decided to wait until my evening camp to change the inner tube. I also needed to replace two broken spokes, which I planned to do when I reached Kulob.
At a roadside eatery, I stopped when I saw a few other cyclists and parked my bike beside their table. I changed the inner tube, pumped it up, and was about to go inside for some coffee or a glass of beer when I noticed that the couple had parked their bikes in a courtyard and had a room for the night.
The eatery had a large yellow-green grassy area in the courtyard where you could pitch a few tents, but they also had three or four rooms that you could essentially stay in for free if you dined there. There were shower facilities, but the water supply wasn’t up to our usual standards.
The German couple, a man my age and his wife about 15 years younger, were wearing light blue T-shirts that piqued my interest. I found out that the man had been battling blood cancer for twelve years, and the text on the back of their T-shirts read, ”Cycling for Cancer.” It was quite an achievement, as he had cycled in many countries, including Iceland six times. Apparently, exercise is good for both the mind and keeping diseases at bay.
The room had four bare white walls with two electrical outlets, no carpets, no tables, so I inflated the mattress and brought out my sleeping bag. Before settling in, I had to chase out all those pesky ants, but the flies were harder to deal with.
Despite the heat, I fell asleep fairly quickly.
Today’s distance: 68.5 km Travel time: 4 hours and 16 minutes Total time: 10 hours and 11 minutes Max speed: 53.8 km/h Average speed: 16.3 km/h Max altitude: 1311 m.a.s.l Min altitude: 615 m.a.s.l Total ascent: 813 meters
Yippee Ki Yay, I been waiting for this day since august 2. Of Course I’ve seen a lot in Baku and it was worth to be rememered but my hotel or hostel visit dosen’t.
My flight to Uzbekistan depart 12.15 p.m first for a stopover in Almaty, Kazakhstan where I need to find somewhere to stay one night.
Wrapping my bicycle in plastic at Baku Airport
My connection flight to Tashkent departs day after. The flight did well and also to find a cheap room.
Almaty Airport in evening light
Just outside the entrance to the airport a tall woman, perhaps 175 cm in height, handed me her business card and said they have a small hotel with good WiFi just a four-minute walk from here.
Initially hesitant, but the woman seemed trustworthy, and I accepted. I did’nt need to worry about my luggage and bike, this had already been taken care of at Baku Airport.
Four, maybe five minutes later, we reach the hotel, which looks more lika a single storey house and nestled in a residential area with lots of greenery.
Nice double room, with large TV, working WiFi, waterboiler and microwave own, clean, cheap and just a few minutes walking to Airport. On Eurosport they send cycling. Shower and bathroom close at the corridor. Also search for E-VISA to Tajikistan. Easy and quick to get access to the country. Got some probs with the connection while I was typing. Tomorrow I will finished it.
After changing clothes time to look for a dinner restaurant. 15 minutes walk I found a resturant and it seems to be popular, lots of guests inside.
On my way back to hotel withdraw some cash from a ATM