One of our Kashgar activities was a day-trip to the heights of the Karakorum Pass and Lake Karakol on the Tajikistan border.
The Karakoram Pass is a 5,540 m or 18,176 ft mountain pass between India and China in the Karakoram Range. It is the highest pass on the Silk Road, the ancient caravan route, between Leh in Ladakh and Yarkand in the Tarim Basin. ‘Karakoram’ literally means ‘Black Gravel’ in Turkic
Historically, the high altitude of the pass and the lack of fodder were responsible for the deaths of countless pack animals while the route was notorious for the trail of bones strewn along the way. There is an almost total absence of vegetation on the approaches to the pass. (Wikipedia).
The Karakorum mountain range is the second highest in the world, with 8 peaks over 8,000 metres, including K2 (second highest after Everest), and the most heavily glaciated area outside Antartica.
We started late morning, following the deeply carved valley of the Karakash river, on a very tortuous and dangerous road which is understandably not on the map.
Spectacular scenery, a few isolated herding communities, lots of goats and sheep and camels, some horses, but everywhere massive construction projects- hydro but no road work, alas.
We did not see masses of pack animal bones- but we could see why that would come about.
We climbed higher and higher into the snow-covered Pamir Mountains…
to the edge of a mysterious lake, probably created by a dam.
Perhaps because of the altitude, the lake was shrouded in an effervescent mist. An ethereal band of white sand lined its edge, Soon we reached our destination, Karakol Lake, on a high mountain plain.
We passed through the Tajik/ Kyrkyz village of Karakol on the lakeside to, lo and behold, a tourist faciltity (!)
…where after some intense persuasion by the locals, Ariana and I rented horses for a trail ride.
Across the lakeside plain, we could see Pamir peaks reaching over 7500 metres.
Going back the way we came, we passed the mysterious lake which had lost its mist in the changing light…
…back through the rough range astride the raging Karakash.
Back in time for a well-earned Uighur dinner.