Flávio, me and Lok, a Sino-Malaysian-American chose a tour of Abdul’s agency at the Seman Hotel to Lake Karakul. We took the famous Karakoram Highway (KKH) that runs from the hotel to Pakistan, the Silk Road that connects China to the Indian sub-continent, passing through an incredible scenery between valleys, rivers, lakes and rugged dry mountains, other reddish mountains that give way to white, snowy peaks and black rocks.
The stretch is really beautiful, sometimes there is an avalanche of rocks on the road, which makes it dangerous, especially with the melting of snow from the top of the mountains. And the mountains are very high, many exceed 7,000 meters and others 7,500 meters. Karakoram, located in the mountainous region of Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan, is one of the great Himalayan mountain ranges, with several of the world’s highest peaks, on Pakistan’s and India’s border with China. It is about 500 km long, it is the region with the most glaciers in the world outside the polar regions. Karakoram means “Black Boulder” in Turkish, as several surrounding mountains are covered by these stones. The temperature up here was very cold, after all we were close to the glaciers.
The KKH is the highest paved international road in the world, passing the famous Khunjerab Pass at an altitude of 4,693m and 1,300km of road between Kashgar (China) and Havelian (Pakistan). The KKH is also known as the Road of Friendship in China, it was built by the governments of Pakistan and China, and was completed after twenty years of work in 1986. In the construction about 810 Pakistanis and 82 Chinese lost their lives, mainly due to slips and deadly falls.
Lake Karakul (in Kyrgyzstan means “Black Lake”) is situated some 200 km from Kashgar. There is another Karakul Lake in Tajikistan, much bigger than this. It is located inside the Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture of Kizilsu in KKH. It is situated at an altitude of 3,600 m and is the second highest lake in the world. Surrounded by snowy mountains all year round, the lake’s three highest visible peaks are the Muztagh Ata (7,546m), the Kongur Tagh (7,649m) and the Kongur Tiube (7,530m). The saltwater lake reflects in its waters the snowy mountains, just do not know why it is called “black lake”, because the waters vary from dark green to light blue.
After riding and riding the camel, we ate a typical rice with lamb (the “Guruti Ashi”) in a Kyrgyz yurt, at Muz Tag Fast Food, at least that’s what the sign said, but there was nothing “fast”. We saw a strange animal resembling a furry buffalo, called a yak.
Tajik merchants by the roadside – China.
We were in a communist country, we had to show our passports at a military post where it was forbidden to take pictures, I triumphantly managed to sneak one. Lok told us that an English woman had her guide book torn because it showed Taiwan as an independent country.
On the way back the water from the mountain thaw was even stronger, forming a stream in the middle of the road and rolling the stones towards the middle of the road. With some difficulty our taxi driver managed to pass, in one of the stretches we had to get out of the car for the driver to maneuver.
Today we had dinner at a cleaner Uighur restaurant.