Back in 2014, I was reading a book at home when I came across an article on the Pamir Highway - it showed some spectacular photos of snowy mountains and nomadic villages, it was an instant bucket-list addition. 5 years later, I found myself at the heart of it; the best part? It was a work trip.
The Pamir Highway is one of the highest international highways in the world, with the Aik-Baital Pass reaching 4,655m. Snowy mountains, dirt roads, hundreds of rocky valleys and lakes all make the Pamirs a stunning adventure suitable to anyone willing to explore a seemingly untouched culture by tourism. There's not much along the way, limited petrol stations, few villages and certainly no motorbike mechanics between Khorog (Tajikistan) and Osh (Kyrgyzstan).
My cousin Alex and I decided to rent some bikes and head out into the unknown. You can read the full article I wrote on the Petro Camp website here.
Here are some photos of the trip:
Giving some petrol to a group of locals who had run out
A 'petrol station'. The mountains you see behind are in Afghanistan.
The Tajikistan border.
Customs. The officers gave us delicious watermelon.
We went fishing.
We did a 4 day horse trek around Song Kul.
The snow stopped coming in mid February, the sun showed up and we had blue bird days for longer than I can remember. To get good snow we had to hike further and higher - we called it the Month of Missions. We had to figure out ways to entertain ourselves, so we hiked, skied the sea in Shakotan, used snowmobiles to access peaks that were too far to skin, hiked peaks just off road passes and hit Kurodake opening day on March 1st for some sweet powder. Truly, a Month of Missions.
The peak you see in the distance was our objective
What's a sledding day without a breakdown? We abandoned one sled and used a rope to tow each other on skis
Andrew working out the best route to the peak - we skied both sides off the peak
Orofuretogedake - great line
Kurodake opening day
Mitch, always at the front
Vince dropping in
One of the best skiing experiences I've ever had. It started out as a nice sunny day, but when we got closer to the summit the weather turned and the clouds rolled up. It took 4:30hrs to summit, we climbed a vertical of about 1,700m and reached the crater around 3pm. The top was cold, we stopped by the hut near the summit, but it took me a while to realise that that was the hut - it was undistinguishable form the terrain from a distance due to the rime, the temperature was -20 degrees Celsius. On the way down, the clouds cleared and Bron and I enjoyed an whole mountain all to ourselves. A dream come true.
I moved to Japan's Northern island for the winter, Hokkaido. I have come here to work for the winter season and ski Japan's famous fluffy powder all winter long. On my first weekend here there was still no snow around, so I packed my 600cc Mitsubishi Mini Pajero and road tripped across the south of the island. The autumn colours were definitely impressive - my first taste of living in Japan.
My cousin Carlos and I decided to go test out our new motorbikes, and what a better place to do it than Andorra? It was only a weekend trip, but we managed to pack in 500km of riding through rivers, rain, rocky paths and cow fields. Carlos ended up having a big crash, he was ok but the bike suffered quite a bit; a wrong turn and the bike went over a ridge and landed wheels up... The bike is a 950cc KTM Adventure, it's a heavy machine... luckily a couple of dune buggies stopped by to help, they through us a rope and we got it out of the ridge. All in all, a great weekend!
This short film sums up what we got up to in Bolivia and Peru. To see the photos just scroll down. Enjoy!
My friend Jacobo and I had always wanted to go on a long motorbike journey somewhere away from home, the summer after our second year at university was the perfect time.
Bolivia. We knew little about this country, we expected high altitudes (considering La Paz is the world's highest capital at 3,640m), cold weather and llamas, not much else... It turned out to be the most scenic country both of us had ever witnessed; rocky snowy mountains, dusty forests, vast plains, sand dunes, dense jungles, salt flats and colonial cities were all part of our daily commutes.
We managed to ride 3,300km on two Suzuki DR 200s, Nuna and Teresita. From muddy tracks, to endless straights, rocky paths, snow covered roads and even motocross tracks, these motorbikes made this incredible journey possible.
I'm working on a short 15 minute documentary, but for now, here are a few photos from the trip.
The Bolivian Andes' jagged Cordillera Real in the background, its highest point is Chacaltaya at 5,421m
Turning point to 'Death Road'
Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat is at an elevation of 3,656 meters
A flat tyre on our way to La Paz in the Yungas road. This was one of our first days and we were suffering from altitude sickness, so we wanted to reach La Paz as quickly as possible.
Jacobo riding his DR 200 to Potosí
We got snowed in while visiting Uyuni, temperatures reached -10ºC during the day
After the longest, coldest, wettest and longest day, we woke up in the beautiful town of Totora. Having arrived the previous night, wondering the streets asking for a room, since all the accommodations were full due to the town festivities, we didn't notice how nice the village was until the next morning.
We rode past a town were they had set up a rough motorbike track on a field, I asked if I could enter the race. I ate a lot of dust, crashed a few times but the crowd cheered me on, "Vamos Gringo, vamos!". Jacobo took the role of athlete manager and photographer. I came 3rd and carried the trophy the rest of the trip.
La Ruta del Che. This route took us a few days to complete, finishing in La Higuera, the town where Che Guevara was captured and killed. We met a woman who was there on the day and she told us what happened.
Sucre, Bolivia's most beautiful city. White colonial houses covered the green landscape. The central market is a must-see if you are visiting.
After taking a wrong turn and only realising it 2 hours later, we needed up crossing a road with the infamous name of 'La Siberia'. It was wet, cold, foggy, muddy and extremely windy. We didn't have time to turn around it was too late in the day, so we had to press on for 5 hours through the gruelling conditions. 140km later and arriving in the middle of the night at the town of Totora, we slept for 10 hours straight. The following day a 10 hour ride day lay ahead.
After having ridden over 3,000 kilometres on our bikes across Bolivia, Jacobo and I decided to spend the last ten days of our trip in Peru. We didn't have a plan, only a deadline, in ten days time we would be flying out of Lima.
Peru turned out to be much warmer than Bolivia, a lot more touristic but the scenery was just as nice. Machu Picchu was very impressive, the mountains surrounding it are spectacular and the hikes around the area are very relaxing. Another Peruvian highlight was sand skiing in Ica, if you are a skier and happen to be in Peru, don't miss your chance.
We rode motorbikes on a beach, went on hikes, had 18 hour bus rides, raced through traffic to find a lost GoPro, chased buses and surfed. Overall, Peru was an unexpected success.
Our ferry in Lago Titicaca. The lake connects Bolivia to Peru and sits at an altitude of 3,812m
Copacabana, Lago Titicaca
Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire
Sunrise in Machu Picchu. Can you spot the llama?
Taking a dip in the Urubamba river while hiking down from Machu Picchu.
The only mode of transport you can use to reach Aguas Calientes, the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu. We chose to walk.
Jacobo's face after sitting in a bus for 18 hours
Fresh powder sand. Dropping in 3, 2, 1...
Huacachina. In this oasis we met two motorcycle riders who then took us riding with their KTM 450s around the dunes and beaches.
Surfing in Lima
Enjoying a beer on the last day of our trip in Lima. Where to next?
I had some spare time before starting university again in October, so I booked myself a flight to Lombok. The plan was to surf, scuba dive, hike and see rice paddies. I began my trip in Kuta, Lombok and made my way up to the Rinjani Volcano. A quick pitstop diving with mantas and Nemo's friends in Nusa Lembongan and finished the trip in Bali (Canggu and Uluwatu).
Ekas break, Lombok
This is Yarto, he helped me get around Rinjani
Mt. Rinjani looming in the distance
Views from Mt. Rinjani, Day 1
Mt. Rinjani, Camp 1. A deceased person was being carried down the volcano by the porters, apparently the person had fallen of the ridge the previous night. Not the sight I wanted to see 4 hours into the hike.
A volcano inside a volcano crater. Mt. Rinjani, 6am.
Exhausted after a long two day trek. Next stop, scuba diving in Nusa Lembongan.
Met my brother in Bali, we explored a ghost hotel together
The perfect left...
My brother surfing Impossibles, Uluwatu