Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I awoke early, I'm getting myself ready to be able to cope with pre-dawn breakfasts when Ramadan starts in a couple of days time.

The sky was ominously gray & it started to rain while I was sitting in the guesthouse's garden waiting for the staff to wake up. A couple of them were sleeping outside on charpoys, not for long once it really started to pound down.

I was facing my first proper rainy day on the bike since late Spring in Iran. It felt like a bit of relief though it also spoiled my view of the mountains as I descended into Chitral. I donned all my rain gear & set off. As Nick didn't have any proper rainwear he planned to hang around the guesthouse until it looked to be becoming dryer & meet me later in Chitral.

The ride to Chitral followed the river down the valley, which like every other I'd been up or down was steep-sided & flanked by high mountains, gray skree slopes came down to the road & the villages. Clearly it had been raining for a few days prior to us coming over the Shandur pass & I was aware that this increased the possibility of rock falls though there was no sign of any having happened. However there was evidence of large volumes of silt having been carried down streams, in one case across the road & through a village. As beautiful as this valley was life in it was tightly held in the hands of Mother Nature.

Apart from a few climbs the road was mostly down & on nice smooth asphalt so I completed the 66km to Chitral & was checked into a cheap hotel there before lunch.

After 5 days on I'd hoped that Chitral would be a bit like Gilgit, with plentiful food & a decent Internet café. I didn't factor in that while it's the largest town around it's still quite isolated thus the range of things available was limited. This meant no fast Internet. Land access to Chitral requires going over either the 3100m Lowari pass to Peshawar & Punjab province or the Shandur pass that we'd just come over, both snow-bound during Winter. Later I learned that there was an alternative route to Peshawar that avoided the Lowari pass that cut through Afghanistan.

I cycled 66 km in 3 hours & 51 minutes
Total so far 11370 km in 176 days

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