Osh - Irkeshtam

Irkeshtam Pass, KyrgyzstanThe first 140km of the road is mainly asphalt. The road serves as the main link between the south of the country, (and the Ferghana valley), and Kashgar). Almost as soon as it leaves Osh, the road starts to climb. The scenery along this first part of the trip is changeable with tree lined mountain slopes, small rivers and gorgeous panoramas.

There is a camp 140km away from Osh, right before the Taldyk pass which is run by Uzbek company. (In 2003 it comprised tents for at least 10 people, warm sleeping bags, one yurt and a small house. The price included evening meal and breakfast.)

The Taldyk pass is 3615m high, and could be difficult to cross (for example, on cycles) – snow can lie here, even in June – but it is worth it because at the summit there is an "unbelievable" view. It is the highest point on the way to Irkeshtam.

After this, the road descends some 30km to the village of Sary-Tash. Straight ahead lies the road to the Kyzyl Art pass and Tajikistan. To the right is the road to Irkeshtam some 50km away.

The condition of the road is bad because of the damage caused by huge trucks that carry metal to China. There are plenty of (not very deep) pits and there is no asphalt at all. The view, however, is "spectacularly amazing", with the Pamir mountain range covered with permanent snow and glaciers, (which seem really close to the road), on the right-hand side and small hills on the left with summer pastures.

For the last 60 km there are many small passes, each offering beautiful views. The Kyrgyz border is located at an altitude of 2000 meters, and there is a cheap hotel and small cafe.