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Ak-Baital Pass, Tajikistan

The day got off to a shaky start when at sometime between 2am and 3am I was woken by a small earthquake at the home stay by Karakol Lake. I few hours later we were on the road again and heading up to the highest pass on our journey. The road winds up to the 4,655 metre Ak-Baital pass which is a headache inducing 15,272 feet!

This part of the Pamir Highway (M41) heads to Murgab through the Muzkul Mountains and the Ak-Baital pass is the highest pass in the former USSR. Along the way you may be lucky and see a few yak wondering around by the road.

It was a hard climb even for our 4-wheel drive vehicles and it took it’s toll on me too with a splitting headache and difficulty breathing. The dusty roads and constant wind mean that you get a bunged up nose which makes it harder to breath and the just getting in and out of the vehicle is hard work.

The weather closed in as we reached the top of the pass and it snowed, but there were already people at the top.

A group of hardcore cyclists had just reached the top travelling in the opposite direction. There were many cyclists travelling along the Pamir Highway along my journey and I’ve a profound respect for their strength and commitment to take on the second highest road in the world. Impressive!

Once over the pass there are nice views on the way down towards Murgab and you can take a slight detour to take a look at the Shor-Kul and Rankul lakes.

The lakes were nice and we took a lunch by Rankul lake, but the road was better. A real sense of remoteness, plus the washed out roads, off-road driving and the tyre blow out adding to the experience.

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