Tashkorgan Overnight Trip – Fully Satisfied

Kashgar itself is a worthwhile travel experience on its own but it is also the gateway to some of the most spectacular mountain scenery we’ve ever seen – the Pamir mountains.

The folks at the Gallery Cafe helped us to book a comfortable car and driver for the 5 hour journey to Tashkorgan (on the border of Pakistan and Tajikistan). Having once, in Malaysia, hired a car and driver who turned out to be mostly blind (could only see shadows) we asked for a ‘good’ driver and that is what we got. About an hour after leaving Kashgar we started into the mountains — first dirt and gravel types shrouded in wispy mists and transitioning into jagged rocky peaks reaching for the sky, then snow caps reaching into the bluest skies we’ve seen, an area of sand dunes and finally Everest and K2 type glacier covered peaks — interspersed with beautiful grassland valleys and Lake Karakorum. The highest local mountain is Mustagh-ata, >20,000ft, and each new vista just took away what was left of our breath in this already rarified high altitude air.

The folks at Gallery Cafe gave us some good advice – if you see a photo-op, ask the driver to stop. Take the picture because on the return trip the weather may have changed drastically.

Tashkorgan, the town on the border of Pakistan is populated with Tajiks, recognizable by their colourful pill-box style hats. By this time we were craving some familiar food so had dinner and breakfast at the Singaporean operated Crown Inn. It is the best hotel in the town and meets western standards. We also got a wifi connection there to catch up on email.
Worth seeing is the ‘ruined city’ which dates to the Han dynasty (if I understood correctly). The ruins look out over a beautiful vista of grasslands. The next day we walked among the yaks and were invited for tea by a Uyghur lady tending her yaks while collecting dried yak turds for some useful purpose. The people are friendly. We were glad we were advised to bring rubber boots as the grasslands are wet.

Remember to also bring your passport as it is a travel restricted area and visitors are required to register at one checkpoint along the way. Also the driver will at times stop for 15 to 20 minutes every so often as the travel times between points are recorded. This is making the mountain roads safer for travel. The roads are good — paved the whole way.

If you go to Kashgar — Lake Karakorum, Mount Mustagh-ata and Tashkorgan with the ruined city are must-see.

Note: This article contributed to our blog from Gallery Cafe in Kashgar when they left from Kashgar middle of  last summer. The original article was published in 10th Nov 2010. We posted here because we thought it might be helpful for fellow travelers to make future Xinjiang travel plan. We missed Gallery Cafe!

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