A Travellerspoint blog

May/June 2011: Hiking & cycling in Tajikistan

sunny 20 °C
View Tajikistan 30 May - 12 June 2011 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

Tajikistan has just ca 8 million inhabitants (the capital Dushanbe 700 000), and although it is the smallest and poorest state in Central Asia, it is still huge compared to NL (but then, every country is huge compared to NL...). It is covered for 90% by the mountains. It borders to the south to Afghanistan, and furthermore to China, Uzbekistan and Kyrgizistan. The mountains are all but small: the highest mountain is the Somoni peak of 7495m.
The country has the doubtful honour to be the third country in the world for heroin and raw opium confiscations. The economy thrives on aluminium production, cotton growing and remittances from migrant workers. Many men are working in Russia. After its independence from Russia in 1991 there has been a civil war until 1997. Since then the country is relatively stable. It considers itself a secular state. The majority (98%) is muslim but in the countryside you hardly see a mosque and I have literally not once heard 'allah akbar' being sung from a mosque.

In Dushanbe women are not wearing headscarfs and are wearing short skirts. Outside Dushanbe you see everywhere headscarfs and women wear long dresses with trousers below them. I have experienced the people as extremely friendly and very relaxed. I did not wear a headscarf, nor a long dress. However, the Yagnob Valley and Fann Mountains are known to be rather relaxed. In the rasht valley you should be covering yourself more as a woman.

I went there to visit my partner who worked temporary in Dushanbe. We went cycling in the Yagnob valley in the North and hiking towards Iskanderkul (also in the North). The mountains there are just stunning. And this was not even in the Pamir which must be stunning as well. We drove to Margheb where we stayed overnight in a homestay. As for accommodation you will either have a homestay which is officially appointed as homestay or you simply ask where you can stay the night and are being warmly welcomed by the village.

The lovely village of Margheb in the Yagnob valley from where we started cycling (2000m)

The lovely village of Margheb in the Yagnob valley from where we started cycling (2000m)

The rough mountains in the Yagnob valley and me cycling

The rough mountains in the Yagnob valley and me cycling

Beautiful view at the glacer, river and fresh green hills (ca 4500m)

Beautiful view at the glacer, river and fresh green hills (ca 4500m)

Still cycling and enjoying the views in the Yagnob valley

Still cycling and enjoying the views in the Yagnob valley

Staying over in a small village (Mekan) at the other side of the valley is Kashi at same altitude (2500m).

Staying over in a small village (Mekan) at the other side of the valley is Kashi at same altitude (2500m).

The cheese 'factory' of the village: drying in open air: very tasty, strong, compact cheese is the result.  The very friendly Nazar and his family received and fed us with fresh butter and about 12 eggs...

The cheese 'factory' of the village: drying in open air: very tasty, strong, compact cheese is the result. The very friendly Nazar and his family received and fed us with fresh butter and about 12 eggs...

When we could not cycle further we continued hiking and climbed along the steep hill at the foot of this impressive rock. Joris climbed up for the picture...

When we could not cycle further we continued hiking and climbed along the steep hill at the foot of this impressive rock. Joris climbed up for the picture...

Taking a side valley in Yagnob valley, hiking towards Garmen where we were received with very tasty cream, butter, tea, bread, and potatoes

Taking a side valley in Yagnob valley, hiking towards Garmen where we were received with very tasty cream, butter, tea, bread, and potatoes

The hand made houses of Mekan where we stayed in the sunset

The hand made houses of Mekan where we stayed in the sunset

The soft stones have been blown away, resulting in beautiful statues with bigger rocks on top. Cycling below can be dangerous though...

The soft stones have been blown away, resulting in beautiful statues with bigger rocks on top. Cycling below can be dangerous though...

Almost alll houses were in this colour and had high roofs for all the hay. Very scenic village

Almost alll houses were in this colour and had high roofs for all the hay. Very scenic village

The village of Mekan. Look at the fertilizers that are being dried at the houses to be used lateron for cooking.

The village of Mekan. Look at the fertilizers that are being dried at the houses to be used lateron for cooking.

Cycling back through Yagnob valley

Cycling back through Yagnob valley

From Pasrud we explored the Fann Mountains. From Alaudin lakes we went up to the Jonat pass (3860m)

From Pasrud we explored the Fann Mountains. From Alaudin lakes we went up to the Jonat pass (3860m)

Once we had concurred the scree towards the Jonat pass (3860) we had a great view towards the lakes where we would camp

Once we had concurred the scree towards the Jonat pass (3860) we had a great view towards the lakes where we would camp

Traversing to the next pass through nice little snow fields

Traversing to the next pass through nice little snow fields

You will not find tourists here (0) but you will find huge herds of sheep/goats and their owners who stay for summer in the mountains

You will not find tourists here (0) but you will find huge herds of sheep/goats and their owners who stay for summer in the mountains

large_20110606_115.jpgOur camp at Kulikalon Lake. We were offered fresh yoghurt from a family. Just around the corner is the mountain 'Maria'

Our camp at Kulikalon Lake. We were offered fresh yoghurt from a family. Just around the corner is the mountain 'Maria'

From Artuch where there was an old large alpine wooden accomodation with beds (!) (at homestays you sleep on the ground) towards the Laudan pass (2860m)

From Artuch where there was an old large alpine wooden accomodation with beds (!) (at homestays you sleep on the ground) towards the Laudan pass (2860m)

Seeing the rain going through the mountains from Laudan Pass (2860)

Seeing the rain going through the mountains from Laudan Pass (2860)

Waling towards Guitan (1890m). See the dry and 'green' parts with trees

Waling towards Guitan (1890m). See the dry and 'green' parts with trees

When we entered the village there was a meeting of the men at the village square having a heated discussion. Again we were warmly welcomed, with tea, bread, tomatoes & cucumber, potatoes and our host made us drink a bottle of wodka. You eat on the ground and you sleep also on the ground. — in Moskovskiy, Tajikistan.

When we entered the village there was a meeting of the men at the village square having a heated discussion. Again we were warmly welcomed, with tea, bread, tomatoes & cucumber, potatoes and our host made us drink a bottle of wodka. You eat on the ground and you sleep also on the ground. — in Moskovskiy, Tajikistan.

The view of Guitan. All handmade

The view of Guitan. All handmade

A family who offered us fresh yoghurt was very interested in the pictures taken

A family who offered us fresh yoghurt was very interested in the pictures taken

The seven lakes

The seven lakes

The wonderful homestay in No Fin at the seven lakes, with a great diner. We slept in a tjapsun (kind of lounge area) next to a little river with the stars and nice sounds around us.

The wonderful homestay in No Fin at the seven lakes, with a great diner. We slept in a tjapsun (kind of lounge area) next to a little river with the stars and nice sounds around us.

Women washing their birkenstocks (really!) in Kiglio

Women washing their birkenstocks (really!) in Kiglio

one of the seven lakes. water is just blueeeee

one of the seven lakes. water is just blueeeee

seven lakes

seven lakes

From seven lakes we hitch hiked / used public transport towards Sarrytag and drove for 7 hours over unpaved roads in packed cars, driving through the rough and beautiful sceneray. Look how the eroded walls are changing colour

From seven lakes we hitch hiked / used public transport towards Sarrytag and drove for 7 hours over unpaved roads in packed cars, driving through the rough and beautiful sceneray. Look how the eroded walls are changing colour

Women preparing butter, cream or other nice products

Women preparing butter, cream or other nice products

The play of the clouds never bores. This is seen from Simob.

The play of the clouds never bores. This is seen from Simob.

Delivering the pictures that Joris took a year or so earlier in a beautiful village

Delivering the pictures that Joris took a year or so earlier in a beautiful village

Family life

Family life

Posted by Marie-Jose 15:15 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains hiking cycling Comments (0)

March 2011: Skitouring Alpes Maritimes

Small characteristic vilages and beautiful Alpes

sunny 5 °C

The Alpes Maritimes are so incredible easily accessible, beautiful that it has been a surprise to me that I did not visited them beforehand: you fly to Nice, take a bus (for 1 euro!!) and it brings you straight to where you want to be: in the mountains, in one of the many little characteristic villages where you can start skitouring. We go the idea of skitouring from a book of several guys who skitoured through the whole alpes. In the end we only did part of the trip we intended to do due to broken finger and bad weather, but the region has so much variety (nice villages to visit, Nice with some nice musea, possibility of public transport bringing you easily to a region with better weather) that we really enjoyed our time there.

The Alpes Maritimes is full of nice little villages. After flying to Nice you take the bus for 1 (!) Euro to the mountains. Here in Belvedere (next to Roquebilliere) we spent the first night and stayed with Jean-Charles. Since one restaurant of the village was closed and the other fully booked, his wife cooked us even a meal! After we had our breakfast in the morning and wanted to leave, they invited us for breakfast so we started our back country skiing with a very good filled stomach...

The Alpes Maritimes is full of nice little villages. After flying to Nice you take the bus for 1 (!) Euro to the mountains. Here in Belvedere (next to Roquebilliere) we spent the first night and stayed with Jean-Charles. Since one restaurant of the village was closed and the other fully booked, his wife cooked us even a meal! After we had our breakfast in the morning and wanted to leave, they invited us for breakfast so we started our back country skiing with a very good filled stomach...


the lake is completely frozen and covered by snow

the lake is completely frozen and covered by snow

virgin snow with some animal traces, ready to leave my traces there as well...

virgin snow with some animal traces, ready to leave my traces there as well...


Romance in the snow

Romance in the snow


View of the Alpes Maritimes (France)

View of the Alpes Maritimes (France)


Cime de Diable 2111m - First day from St Grat towards Refuge de Merveilles

Cime de Diable 2111m - First day from St Grat towards Refuge de Merveilles


Picture 312

Picture 312

From refuge de Nice we went to Pas de Mont Colomb (2548m)

From refuge de Nice we went to Pas de Mont Colomb (2548m)

Picture 360

Picture 360

walking up the last part towards the pas du Mt Colomb (2548m). It is too steep too skitour so we put the skis on the back

walking up the last part towards the pas du Mt Colomb (2548m). It is too steep too skitour so we put the skis on the back


After Pas du Mont Colomb (2548m) I am walking down over a little field where there had been an avalanche (before we arrived). Just after that corner I started skiing down, fell and broke my finger. it was rather windy so next to this we lost a skin for the ski so we had to go down to the village unfortunately

After Pas du Mont Colomb (2548m) I am walking down over a little field where there had been an avalanche (before we arrived). Just after that corner I started skiing down, fell and broke my finger. it was rather windy so next to this we lost a skin for the ski so we had to go down to the village unfortunately

St Martin de Vesubie. A lovely village where there was 1 hotel open and 1 restaurant...

St Martin de Vesubie. A lovely village where there was 1 hotel open and 1 restaurant...


To get a new skin for the ski and an x-ray for the hand we had to go to Nice. In the hospital 24 people have been occupied with me, incredible but true: inscribing, waiting, nurse 1 - nurse 6, doctor 1, doctor 2, co-assistants, etc etc. Weather was great so in March people were lying on the beach.

To get a new skin for the ski and an x-ray for the hand we had to go to Nice. In the hospital 24 people have been occupied with me, incredible but true: inscribing, waiting, nurse 1 - nurse 6, doctor 1, doctor 2, co-assistants, etc etc. Weather was great so in March people were lying on the beach.


St Martin Vesubie

St Martin Vesubie

Since snow conditions and weather were perfect for back country skiing we decided to continue our back country trip. So just some pain killers, a mitella for the finger and there we went back on track

Since snow conditions and weather were perfect for back country skiing we decided to continue our back country trip. So just some pain killers, a mitella for the finger and there we went back on track

Bivak out in the open can actually be really nice. We had great weather (nice stars), found a spot where there was wood so we could make a fire and we found a spot well protected against the wind. After 11 hours, being it the first day back on track with broken finger and having never had a bivak out in the open in the snow, my nerves were not in best shape though ...

Bivak out in the open can actually be really nice. We had great weather (nice stars), found a spot where there was wood so we could make a fire and we found a spot well protected against the wind. After 11 hours, being it the first day back on track with broken finger and having never had a bivak out in the open in the snow, my nerves were not in best shape though ...


Breil sur Roya

Breil sur Roya

What makes this picture a bit strange?

What makes this picture a bit strange?

beautiful beautiful Saorge

beautiful beautiful Saorge

We wanted to visit an old monastry at Saorge. We saw this beautiful olde tower and thought to be there. It appeared to be private property which was allowing tourists 2 afternoons per year... The actual monastry appeared to have been 'pimped' in heavy baroque style and looked rather kitch

We wanted to visit an old monastry at Saorge. We saw this beautiful olde tower and thought to be there. It appeared to be private property which was allowing tourists 2 afternoons per year... The actual monastry appeared to have been 'pimped' in heavy baroque style and looked rather kitch


Saorge

Saorge


look at those rocks, look at those mountains, the snow and one skier...

look at those rocks, look at those mountains, the snow and one skier...


La Brigue is a mideaval small town, another cute village in Alpes Maritimes

La Brigue is a mideaval small town, another cute village in Alpes Maritimes


The small chapel is full of quite impressive frescos in which the most horrifying scenes are presented. The hell is certainly not very attractive...

The small chapel is full of quite impressive frescos in which the most horrifying scenes are presented. The hell is certainly not very attractive...


Tende

Tende

A Huskie trying (and managing) to escape his 'house' in Casterino at the very nice Auberge Marie Madeleine. His 5 fellow huskies were of course very jealous that he was walking freely and they were not. The huskie on the picture was of course very happy and proud... Even his boss was impressed how he managed to get over the fence.

A Huskie trying (and managing) to escape his 'house' in Casterino at the very nice Auberge Marie Madeleine. His 5 fellow huskies were of course very jealous that he was walking freely and they were not. The huskie on the picture was of course very happy and proud... Even his boss was impressed how he managed to get over the fence.


The remainders of the beautiful fort de la Maguere on the French - Italian border

The remainders of the beautiful fort de la Maguere on the French - Italian border


Fort Central

Fort Central


Enjoying a drink in Limone. Skis are resting aswell against the wall

Enjoying a drink in Limone. Skis are resting aswell against the wall

Posted by Marie-Jose 15:14 Archived in France Tagged mountains france alpes skitouring alpes_maritimes Comments (0)

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