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On arrival at the border town of Taftan in Pakistan, two things stuck out:the locals take great pride in their trucks and a wide open hot windy bust bowl. The only tar road between Taftan and Quetta, 640 kilometres of it and really only room for one car at a time. Passing and overtaking cars, let alone trucks, is a mission to say the least!
Southern Pakistan is mainly desert and very hot, hence the early morning starts.
The usual terrain: vast, barren desert. A big bonus was having fitted 43 litre fuel tanks. Fuel stations were not often seen.
Close to the Afghan border and due to the heightened security from September 11, we were required to stop and sign the registers at many police check points such as this one. The usual interested locals looking at the bikes at Panjpai on the road to D I Khan.
The view from our hotel in Quetta. Here a donkey cart goes about his daily business.
Downtown Quetta from our hotel roof. Although this town is a dirty, smelly place, it has the feel of life to it. There are many locals bustling about their daily activities at most times of the day or night. Whether they are rickshaw/taxi drivers or selling fruit, everyone seems to be busy as a bee.
This is the mighty Indus river, the biggest river in Pakistan. It starts high up in the Himalayas and runs down south gaining momentum and size all the way down to the sea at Karachi. Here we cross it at D I Khan where it is only about half its eventual size.
The nightmare "road" from Quetta (along Afghanistan border) to D I Khan
Crossing the rivers was no easy task.
It's a waiting game for the rivers to subside so that we can cross them. These are flash floods and don't last that long. A 30 minute wait and the river is half the depth it was. Some of the cars take the plunge but the choice is where to cross...?
Gary, patiently makes his way across making sure to keep his feet wide in case of unseen rocks which could throw the bike to one side.
bed surveyors hard at work, a foot deep in the muddy water. It's best
to walk the route you wish to ride first to move any rocks which could
The bikes, all kitted out and nowhere for them to go! This was the last crossing, or not, before making camp. We decided against crossing as it was quite deep and we would only have to cross it again as the river wound its way down the valley.
As we had been stopping constantly all day for the rivers, we ran out of light and so had to make camp close to one of the rivers. This is quite hostile country, not far from the Afghanistan border. We ducked in behind some grass patches and made camp. We keep a emergency supply of pasta and tuna for such occasions and they always seem to come in handy!
Dom, navigator and leader of the group, has to pick all the difficult routes though rocks, mud, etc. and it's easy for the others to follow. However, some places are not easy to pass. Although they appear to be ok at a glance, they'll either subside (rocks) or sink in (mud) when you put a 300kg bike on them! Dom crossed an average looking mud spot and, as the back wheel drifted across to the left, the right pannier, quite low to the ground, dug into the mud. He was going at about 20 kph so as the bike came to a sudden halt, he was thrown through the front screen and the pannier stayed in the mud, being cleanly removed from the bike!
the wonderful road that greeted us after the rough camping in Taliban
country. The river had subsided overnight and, although we had to cross
it 3 times, it was worth the effort to ride along the
beautiful valley that the river created.
The Karakoram Highway - on the Karakoram range - 2nd largest mountain range only to the Himalayas.
road from Chitral to Gilgit had some wonderful river crossings over
home made bridges. There is not much traffic along this route so we
not too sure how stable these were but they all passed with flying
The bikes certainly had their work cut out on the offroad section from Chitral to Gilgit! Here Maggie, Doms bike, shows the after effects of the conditions, she needs a good wash!
Some beautiful scenes of the Karakoram Highway
Sometimes we had to be patient for the roads to be repaired before we could continue.
Pakistan - China border
Dwarfed by this 7800 metre, snow-capped giant.
The Indus gains momentum and we hitch a ride on the local transport in Gilgit!
Dom found his Ohlins shock to be leaking so it had to be stripped out for inspection. Sultan, our friendly host for the past 2 nights, offers a helping hand.
Shisper, the last town in Pakistan before the Chinese border. We were unfortunate not to find fuel here and so, had to return 100 kilometres back to Hunza, where we were very fortunate to get the last of the areas fuel!
Eventually, the top! It was freezing at the top of the Khunjerab pass (Chinese border). We did not stay long here as, at 4200m, temperatures are below 0! We had donned our full winter gear of Goretex jackets, winter gloves and neck warmers in order to stay relatively warm, some equipment we hadn't seen since Europe!
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