Tajikistan - first Day, first Challenge

Do one thing every day that scares you.  – Eleanor Roosevelt

Tajikistan was one of the countries on my way to India, which had a special charm. More than half of the country lies 3,000 meters or more above sea level. Daily life in the mountains is basic, often without running water and electricity and the situation has not much changed over the last decades. The Pamir Highway along the Afghan border was definitely a highlight but I also knew that the Pamir would be a challenge too. Some of the best shots I took during the last weeks have been taken there … I will get back to it later.

There was only one thing on my way from Tashkent (Uzbekistan) to Dushanbe (Tajikistan) that bothered me. It was a little passage but I was pretty much concerned about it and it mentally preoccupied my mind for days. I had heard of this section long before I started my journey.

It is a five kilometers long, dark and unlit tunnel. But it’s not just the lack of lighting, which makes the tunnel so dangerous. The tunnel is in a miserable condition and the concrete is broken in many parts exposing large, deep and dangerous holes. Cracked metal bares, which should stabilize the concrete stand out freely. To make matters worse, at several places the tunnel is filled with water, making it impossible to identify the depth of the potholes and as people told me, some holes are so big that they could swallow my front wheel. But that’s not all yet. The tunnel is not ventilated and due to the high amount of slow driving lorries and trucks, the air can be extremely toxic. If all goes well, I’d still need about 20 minutes to get through it …

I got one good and very valuable advice. The best way to pass this tunnel would be to closely follow a vehicle. This way you have a chance to recognize deep potholes in time. When I was approaching the tunnel I chose a fast moving white Land Rover. A slow-moving vehicle with frequent stops would complicate the passage and extend the stay in the tunnel unnecessary.

The last thing you want to have in this tunnel would be a breakdown, a puncture or a crash. What would you do in such a case? Honestly, I have no idea. You can not simply park at the right side and start repairing a tire … I mean, you would certainly like to avoid such incidents in any tunnel, but this one is somehow special …

Gravel Road Studies put a short trailer together 😉  Enjoy it

Tomorrow I will enter China and it could be that my access to the site is blocked. In this case the next update will only be possible end of July.

Tajikistan Part II will follow …