From Khorog, amid the Pamir mountain ranges, I decided to splash out for my 45th birthday and hired a jeep with driver to take me up the remote Bartang Valley, for a few days.

The scenery was stunning … the narrow gravel road at times barely hugging the river valley walls – which grew into canyons, revealing small villages of clumped green nestled within towering arid mountains. And while the landscape and tranquility were really something, the journey itself was a bit of disaster …

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In all fairness, the driver was an idiot.

OK, he was late to get started by hours – no surprises there; but when his “fixed” jeep kept breaking down … I just walked … I was meant to visit Savnob – but after 2 days and only 160 km, I decided it was time to turn back or stay forever on the road. Luckily I had warm clothes (but it wasn’t cold), and lots of food and water; the driver had nothing.

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That first night – broken-down 12 km before Basid, night fallen a guy helped us find shelter some kms away with a family in traditional Pamiri house; following the river, across a bridge, up a hill, by flash-light; it turned out to be a great stay.

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