CallumT wrote:Finished up our trip about a week ago now so here is some of the latest information.
Such a useful report! I'm planning a 4 month trip in Central Asia next summer and hope to spend 2-3 weeks in Afghanistan as a part of it.
I have a few questions if you don't mind:
You said you took the lower route towards the Little Pamir, and that it is open year round unlike the high route. That is the opposite of what this website says. http://www.juldu.com/Pamir/trek_wakhantolittle.html
. I ask as it looks like the green route on that site is interesting, and I will probably be there in late June to early July, so just trying to figure out what is possible.
Am I correct in understanding that you hired a guide only for your time in Ishkashim to help arrange permits? $50 a day for a guide is definitely out of my budget for the entire trek. Is 1 donkey enough for one person (you were two, and hired two?). I will be solo, so wondering how feasible taking only a donkey and it's owner with me for the trek would be with regards to the language barrier. Do the animal owners know the trek & area well?
What were the temperatures like when you were there?
Thank you so much for the great info! Can't wait to see your blog post with photos from the trip.
2-3 weeks in Afghanistan would definitely be a good amount of time to get out and see the nicer Kyrgyz villages if you get everything organised quickly.
From what we learned from our guide it sounded as if a bit of work has been done to negate the high water problems of the past. Certainly for us there were no issues, besides the river we had to get our shoes off for after the Afghan Border post near the end of the Little Pamir. On the way back each river was a little higher than the way there, but you could still get across most of the them without getting your shoes too wet. Worse comes to worse you ride your animal across. I would expect it to be open all year unless there was a freak snowmelt event.
Originally we planned to have a guide for the entire trek but like you say, $50 per day is just too much. Maybe if we tried to haggle a bit we could have got it a bit cheaper as we were doing a longer trip, but with everything else even $30 a day was pushing our budget so we didn't try. Having him help with permits and registration in Ishkashim and along the way to Sarhad was a huge help though, plus it was great to have a local to talk to about the region. To be honest it's way overpriced for the actual work they help you with but he was a super friendly guy and made everything very comfortable. If you don't want him to accompany you to the trek starting point and only need help in Ishkashim though you should make that known.
Assuming you are not carrying a ridiculous amount of gear, one donkey should definitely be enough for one person. Our second donkey was carrying very little most of the time. Our donkey man knew the area very well and we had no trouble with navigation or at the villages. His English was quite limited though so don't expect them to translate for you, but for very basic questions we could mostly make ourselves understood.
At a guess, the temperatures during the day were around 15C, but the sun can feel quite hot so when there is no wind it feels very warm. The wind in the afternoon can either be a refreshing breeze or a hurricane-like nightmare. At night the surrounding streams formed a layer of ice occasionally, so it got very cold.