Going through the Kyrgyzs border was (again) surprisingly easy. They try to talk to you and they’re very friendly there (luckily, we had met a Polish guy who can speak Russian and had started to ride with us, so we didn’t look like 2 idiots smiling while kyrgyzs soldiers gave us the World Cup news).
Only few kilometers after the border we said goodbye to the asfalt. We said goodbye to the (relative) flatness we had had so far as well. The climb to the Tajik border starts ok but it gets VERY hard towards the end; last 2-3 kilometers are really hard, so be ready! Also, it was really windy for us, but fortunately we had tail wind (it looks like you might always have it if you cycle in this direction). The views, by the way, are quite nice. Maybe not the best ones ever, but nice.
There’s not a second Kyrgyzs border at the top (like we could expect after the Pakistani and Chinese experiences), only the Tajik one. Again, no customs nor anything, really easy to go through (if you have the visa and GBAO permit, of course).
Warning: they tried to sell us some kind of “biological cleanness certificate”, which would clean our bikes and give us a paper saying we were “clean”. They said it was necessary if we wanted to leave the country through some other border (but not that one). The guys selling this were not soldiers nor officials, just two random blokes. We didn’t pay those 11 USD they were demanding. Time will tell whether we did right.
The landscape changes dramatically after the pass. It can remind of the moon a little bit, were the moon filled with snow-covered peaks. It’s just beautiful. Really.
But you’re alone. There’s absolutely nothing until Karagul lake (not even a shadow), so be ready. The road has still no asfalt but that’s not the worst: it’s very bumpy. You can’t ride quietly. Well, been through worse.
WARNING: WIND. We were lucky and we had ultra-strong tail winds. It looks like they always go in this direction. If you’re planning on cycling in the other direction, do it very early in the morning or it can be a little hell!!
The asfalt came back some 20 kilometers from the top, and that was nice. Then, afyer a slight uphill (slight maybe because of the tail wind), you get to see the Karagul lake for the first time. Wow.
From then onwards there are some 20-30 easy kilometers. Some of the most spectacular of the trip, I must say. Enjoy. (I’m not going to say anything else; you better discover this yourself and have your own opinion).
And finally Karagul village. Couple of Homestays and a shop that were very appreciated, since we weren’t expecting anything at all. But above it all, a great place to stay!!