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2024 Iran & Stan landen

2024 Iran & Stan landen

Wakhan valley Pamir

The most impressive part of the Pamir for us was the Tajik Wakhan valley. This Wakhan valley is part of the corridor and our road follows the Pyanj river.

Instead of following the M41 east from Khorugh, the last change to get cash, do some serious shopping, get fuel and meet fellow travelers, we drove south. We found a great spot at 37.41544 71.49664 hidden in a rock formation.

We visited the famous Garm-Chashma Hot Spring. The men and women are allowed to use the outside “pool” at different times.

We passed the bridge at Ishkoshim which connects Tajikistan and Afghanistan and where every Saturday is a market where you can visit without a visa.

The interesting part of this part of the route started for us with a hike starting in Darshai, we hiked this gorge but turned around after some kilometers because the gravel and sand got in-stable due to landslides.

At the end of the afternoon we drove the steep and narrow road up to Bibi Fatime hot spring. An very nice, but as al hot spring here, inside spring. It is absolute worth the drive up. Here also men and women can use the pool separately. After this we drove down just a little to stay the night at 3.200 meters with a great view over the valley and to get adjusted to the height.

Zorkul valley

To add an extra road to our trip we planned at first on driving Zorkul. This route is joining the M41 at around 40 km south of Murghob.

Unfortunately we ate to early in the season, may/june, the roads are still impassable according guides we met in Khorugh. Khorugh is the place to buy the extra permit for Zorkul. We met a dutch couple who drove to the Zorkul lakes, which where still completely frozen, and the returned to the entrance at Khorgus checkpoint. But after watching their videos we decided it was to wet for our 11 ton campertruck so we decided to skip this part.

Bulunkul & Yashikul lake in Tajik National Park

After we passed the Khargush checkpoint, we where the 6th vehicle that passed today it was time for our real first mountain pass in Tajikistan, the Khargush pass 4.344 mtr. Because higher passes are coming we decided to camp 3.900 meter just after lake Churkurkul.

Since we did not see any shops and gasstations the last 100 km we decided the next morning to buy some bread and diesel in Bulunkul. But it turned out this coldest (-65 C) village in Tajikistan has no facilities whatsoever. Vincent baked later this day a bread in our little oven.

We continued our trip to two little geysers and had lunch here. Via a Yurt Camp with a hot spring we found our wildcamp at the eastern end of lake Yashikul. Fantastic.

The road to Alichur is impassable because of the very wet, swamplike, tracks so we decided to spend more time at lake Bulunkul and stay an extra night at lake Yashikul.

Tajik National Park

It is very large but quite expensive to be in. We pay with our truck € 40,- per day

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We started Pamir (9. May 2024) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and we take the south route via the Afghanistan, Pakistani and Chinese border. We expect to end this journey around 1.600 km and 4 weeks later in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

Why now?

We are close 😂👍. The Pamir Highway should offer stunning views of the rugged Pamir Mountains and is considered one of the most beautiful and remote highways in the world. And the Pamir Highway is part of the ancient Silk Road, and has been used as a trade route for thousands of years, making it a fascinating journey. But, it can also be a challenging adventure, with narrow, winding roads, high altitudes, and harsh weather conditions. Traveling this route in May will give us hopefully the best chances of snow free roads and good weather.


Car, entry more then 5 days and per

It for Wakhan to be close at the Afghan border.

High altitude

Our Unimog truck on high altitude

Unimog is running okay but starting the truck at 10C and above 3.800 meters take some longer starting. After this a lot of smoke and ikt takes still at least a minute for the engine to run properly. To drive up the passes needs more effort amd we are ashamed for how bad the exhaust fumes are bluring out. But then, the diesel quality is also not guaranteed in Tajikistan, so this maybe a factor also. Our airtanks are back to 5 bar, normally they stay steady above 10 bar after one night sleeping and also filling the airtanks seem to take longer.

The aircilinder which switches from high to low gear has a hard time.

Tyre pressure …

Eberspacher diesel heater at high altitude

We do not use our diesel heater so much. We only used it above 3.800 meters to keep it cosy amd warm in the evening. I have the feeling it had some problems starting up, but it is running and keeping us comfortable. Also with the diesel heater the diesel quality might be an issue.

Preparing ourselves for high altitude

We are careful in picking our spots for the night.

Sleeping, sport, hikes. breathing while sleeping is more difficult then hiking.

What else happend at high altitude?

First our chips bags exploded around 2700 meter so we ste all of it 👍😂. The higher we came the more stuff “exploded” or made a mess when we opened them. The shampoo and sunblockers made a mess yoghurt put open while friving so our fridge was all over either it. At 3700 meter we woke up st night from an explosion. I did not want to go out to check out the damage but then we smelted something very strong. After some researching I found a little can with paint where the little blew off jjaacckkes.

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We are stuck at the remains of the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan. We followed a much driven track in the sand but at once we break through this thin layer of sand/clay to land in the meters thick soft clay.

After a first try to get out the situation gets worse very quickly. I am afraid we might topple to the side or even worse the whole truck might just sink down in this clay.

Our travel friends Arnau, Ruben en Mathilde help us but after some days we decide we need help.

Because this seems to happen often here, to locals and tourist, there is a special rescue team.

They work hard to get us out and finally this works.

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We wanted to drive from Iran to Kazachstan, Mangystau and Turkmenistan is then the country to pass. At this time, april 2024, you need a guide to accompany you and therefore we choose to travel together. Via Social we found Ruben and Mathilde, Traveling Scouts, who are willing to travel together.

The border crossing and how we got in is described here.

Although our guide was very nice he and we made a big mistake at planing this route. We drove 3578 km in only 6 days, which with our truck is impossible. We only had to hurry and drive till late at night and we hate doing that. The only good road in Turkmenistan is between Ashgabad and Turkmenbashy, the rest is pothole tarmac or just gravel or plain earth with lots of washboards.

And to be honest, the only things really worth visiting are the crazy city of Ashgabat and the Darvaza Gas Crater. The Kow Ata Cave and the Gochmyrat-Ahun Cemetery are nice to see, but if this was worth all the money and hectic…

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While driving on a snow covered 2.500 meter high mountain pass 100 km west from Rasht we heart a loud sound coming from the engine/gearbox. All gears where still working, crawlgear, low/high gear, splitgearbox and drive/reverse worked all like before. But it was like someone was hammering on the cabin with a small metal hammer.

We didn’t want to be towed and have the risk of accidents or burned brakes going from 2.500 meter to sea level without using the engine-break and the gearbox, so we decided to keep driving to reach Rasht.

Terrible sounds coming from the gearbox

Here we found an Amico workshop where we found 2 teeth at the bottom of the gearbox. They coudn’t help us so we decided to ship the truck to Isfahan where our old Iranian friend, Mohammed from Tak Taku guesthouse & Overlanders campsite could help us. He speakes very good Englisch and understands internaional tourist. He found a workshop for us where we could take out the gearbox to see what was wrong.

After opening the main gearbox we found the damaged countershaft. Our Dutch friend and Unimog specialist Unimog Donald has it on stock. So we start posting request for people flying to Iran this week and who are willing to take the 11,4 kilo shaft for us. Not to many tourists are comming to Iran at the moment.
DHL is the only shipping company which is allowed to ship to Iran due to the sanctions but they would need more then a week and customs could still be a problem. Our problem was also the upcoming Nowruz, the Iran newyear. All workshops would then be closed from 19. March for at least 10 days.
An alternative would be Kirstin flying home, pick up the part and fly back, not only expensive, but she also needs to apply for a new Iranian visa which needs at the very fastest 3 days of processing time. And there is always a slight change of not getting a visa and then we would be in real trouble.

After a lot of investigation we found a company in Turkey who builds these shafts for Unimogs and is also supplying the Turkey army.

An Iranian citizen is allowed to fly to Turkey without a visa. So at once we had our solution. Mohammed, our host, is willing to fly to Istanbul, pick up the part, and fly back. In Turkey our dear friend Unsal organized the parts and delivered them to Mohammed at the Istanbul Airport.

Then the crazy thing happened, the flight from Iran had so much delay that Mohammed was not allowed to check in a suitcase with all the parts. He tried to take them as hand luggage but the security found it suspicious that an Iranian man, sweating, to much in a hurry and nervous, tried to take an 11 kilo piece of metal into the plane. The airport police took his passport so Mohammed would mis the flight and we had to book a new flight. For the next 20 hours there would be no flight to Esfahan so Mohammed had to fly to Tehran and take a 5 hour ride home. Unbelievable he did that for us! 👍❤️🇮🇷

Then there is the big question for us; what made this happen. We did an oil change 1.000 km before at an modern garage in Armenia. Did we use the wrong, to modern oil?
What does our truck really need? I do not have a workshop guide or truck manual and in the internet is not to much to find about our Unimog 2150.
What is the best and what is available in Iran, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China for us???
Engine oil, gearbox, splitterbox, differentials and Portal axles?

We decided following:

Engine: 5W-30 of 10W40 (semi-) synthetisch

Gearbox, distribution box, crawler-gearbox and splitter gearbox : 75W90 GL4

Differentials: 75W90 GL4/GL5

Portal axles: 75W90 GL4/GL5

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