Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Saturday, November 4, 2023

We never saw a single cloud the whole time!

We didn't have much in the way of food available for yesterday. We had some snacks only. So when we woke up, we didn't have any breakfast.

But then there was a knock at the door...

And it was our caretaker guy Hamid, with a care package for us!

Not much that Ruth could have, but at least some hard boiled eggs.
The stuff in the bowl was some kind of sweetened condensed milk to dip your bread into.
And we had some green tea.

Once again, the internet worked surprisingly well up here in the middle of nowhere. We found out later there were two possible reasons for that.

We set off around 10:30am with clear sunny skies.

Our plan was to hike 8.5 kms (5.3 miles) up to the village of Sarytag where I had read there was a guesthouse open. If they were open, they would probably also serve food!

What a perfect day.

The first part of the hike took us along the shore of the lake.

A (closed up) guest house along the shore.

I had read that the President of Tajikistan liked this area so much that he built a summer home up here. This was the first reason that there also would be high speed cellular internet installed. I was able to zoom in on his compound.

A horse standing in between the two helicopter landing pads.

There is a little picnic area where there are five natural springs coming out of the rocks.

We are heading to the base of that mountain.

Yes, our four legged friend came with us the entire way!
We named him Charlie.

The road you see on the other side was built for the newly opened Talco Gold Mine.

That is reason number two for the cell signal. The new gold mine is a Chinese investment in the region providing many jobs. It also brought a new electricity line to the village of Sarytag and for the first time they have electricity more often than not.

Taking a break on the way up.

Posing for a photo.

Waterfall in the distance.

Charlie jumped into the frame just as I was about to take a photo.

Scenery along the way.

We went through an area with a bunch of goats and sheep, and saw two ladies sitting in the distance. We waved at them, and they called us over to have some tea!

We sat and said hello. Of course they spoke no English, and I'm not sure they would have been able to read anything I put into Translate. But I translated anyhow, and tried reading it in the Tajik translation. They thought my Tajik was pretty funny, but they got the idea!

Then we asked if we could take their photo. It was funny because at first they didn't want their photo taken. But then I started showing them pictures from our hike so far, and then they wanted their pictures taken so they could look at them. They thought it was funny being able to zoom in on their faces.

Ruth with the two shepherd ladies.

Where they keep the sheep and goats.

Just a spectacular day in the mountains!

We made it to Sarytag.

The first two guest houses we saw were closed. The third one was the one that was supposed to be open. There didn't look like there was a lot of activity but we walked up and yelled "hello" and an older woman appeared. She went and opened another door and yelled inside, and an older teen boy appeared, along with a maybe 11 year old girl.

The boy spoke a little English.

We explained about our bags being down at the lake, and that if we had some way of going to get them we would be happy to stay overnight at the guest house. But they didn't have a vehicle available, and said they would have to call someone down at the main highway. It seemed like a hassle, so we didn't bother.

He said they would make us some lunch though! We didn't bother asking the price because we would have paid it anyhow! And we didn't bother asking what we were going to get because beggars can't be choosers!

Some kind of beef and cabbage stew.
With not very much beef.

We guessed that 50 TJS would have been a fair price, so when we asked for the bill, he said 150 TJS ($18.75 CAD, $13.70 USD) which we thought was a little high. But I had read that this particular guest house is fairly expensive for what you get. But our stomachs were full, and that was the important part!

Then we set off back down to the lake.

Our four legged friend Charlie had disappeared. We figure he must have headed back home. But this time, one of the dogs from Sarytag hooked up with us and seemed willing to do the hike all the way back to the lake.

Looking beyond Sarytag.

Ruth, and the village behind her.


Me, and our new four legged friend.

This dog seemed older, while the other one had been a youngster. This one just plodded along beside me, and stopped when I stopped. Just a friendly dog.

Sheep and goats and the mountains.

We are headed back down to that valley.

Love these big old trees!

And who did we see in the distance? Yep, Charlie the dog. He was a little unsure of coming back to join us, because we had the other dog with us. Eventually they met, and did some sniffing, but Charlie wanted to play. Eventually the older one put him in his place, and they got along.

Known locally as the cave of Alexander the Great.

Ruth, with the President's "cottage" in the background.

The new power line that runs to the mine.

Back at the lake.

The sky was sooo blue all day long.

We never saw a single cloud, the whole time!

Just like the famous Lake Louise, but without any people!

Funny erosion.

Zoomed in on the mountains across the way.

We saw this old sign telling about the local wildlife.
Notice the tiger and the bear!

Doing further research, there definitely are bears in this area. But they are much smaller than the big one shown in the photo. There have even been reported sightings on the shore of Lake Iskanderkul.

With regards to the tiger, yes... the Caspian Tiger did once roam this area. It is thought to be extinct, but only recently. The last confirmed sighting was in 1996. although there is a valley area east of the capital Dushanbe where there have been unconfirmed sightings as recently as 2018. Wow. Can you imagine seeing a tiger in the wild??

We arrived back at our caretaker cabin at 4:15pm. And we had done just over 17 kms (10.5 miles).

What a great hike! 

Our caretaker guy Hamid came by to see if we wanted any food, but our lunch was fairly late and we didn't want to put him to any trouble. We'll survive until morning.

Next up... making our way to the capital of Dushanbe.

Record low deal on the Ninja Foodi 8 Quart 6-in-1 Air Fryer.

And in Canada...


  1. My favourite picture is the one with the sheep and goats with the mountains in the background.

    1. I like that one too, not sure I have a favourite one though. I like the one of the big old trees with the blue sky as well.

  2. The area reminds me of Navajo rez with sheep and goats...haha. Even the women Shepards remind me of Navajo ladies. Charlie definitely photo bomb your picture lol. The meat in your stew might have been mutton instead of beef and yes food would be expensive since some items might be hard to come by. Loved the hike.

    1. Yes, he certainly did photobomb that picture but it turned out great. I expect that the meat was either lamb or goat and I had mentioned that to Kevin when we were eating it. Potato, carrots, onions and cabbage all seem to be easily available here, actually they seem to be the most common veggies that we see. I am pretty sure that most people there have gardens in the summer and have a good store of it stashed away for the winter.

  3. What a beautiful day you had! The blue sky with no clouds, the mountains, the lack of people, and two friendly dogs to join you on your hike. I love it! I would not do so well with your accommodations (outhouse in the middle of a chilly night is where I'd draw the line, as I have to get up every night to "go to the loo"!), but I love the environment you're in, other than that. So exotic and interesting!

    1. It was an absolutely perfect day weatherwise, we couldn't have asked for better on that hike. We loved the hike and wish we could have stayed longer but as you mentioned the accommodation was not perfect but it was good enough for a couple of nights. We don't particularly like having to go outside in the cold to go pee either but it also isn't the first time that we have had to do that! It is nice to know that it is only for a minute or two then you can climb back into a warm bed, lol.


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