Travel: Beam me down, Scotty
Sunday 28 June 1998
38 55' N 72 10' W
Oh my God! Run! It's the "snezhny chelovyek" (local slang for the abominable snowman).
COUNTRY AND REGION
You have landed in the Pamir mountains, in the east of the Republic of Tajikistan, central Asia, just down from the 24,583ft-summit of Pik Kommunizma (on a clear day you might be able to see over to Pik Lenina).
NATURE OF THE TERRAIN
On an ice cap on the roof of the world - this is a virtually untracked wilderness.
Meteors (OK so the last one was 10 million years ago). Shortage of oxygen. Armed check points where, if you don't pay a little something, you're liable to be arrested under suspicion of drug smuggling or terrorism.
Tajik would be handy, though it still might be difficult if you do bump into a local tribe as they all tend to speak different dialects.
TAKE ME TO YOU LEADER
Tricky one. The official Tajik leader is Imamoli Rakhmonov. However Tajikistan has been involved in a bloody civil war since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 and many areas are contested by local Pamiri activists fighting for the region's independence.
LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS
July is the best time to be here as it's not as cold as usual.
REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND
The breathtaking landscape and the fact that you will be almost the only foreigner who has ever been here.
GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE
First try sliding down as far as you can to get to the Pamiri Pass.
From there if you're lucky you might beg a lift on a passing aid truck carrying humanitarian supplies to the locals under a scheme organized by the Aga Khan (who is revered by Pamiris as a living God). Hitch as far as Khorog where for $61 (pounds 38) you can fly to the capital Dushanbe. From there you can get a direct flight to London.
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