The Route

Yurt Blockade

After the breakdowns in Samarkand and the Pamir Mountains come the yurts. A protest blockade in Osh, Kyrgyzstan has left our teams stuck with no option of turning back, thanks to visa complications in Tajikistan. What happened next? Read on to find out.

 

Yurt Blockade

A blockade of Yurts – local residents blocked the road Osh-Irkeshtam

 

As some teams try to make it out of the Pamir Mountains with damaged vehicles or none at all, others have made it into Kyrgyzstan, but not without further problems.

All photos by Travel Scientists.

For the past month, a protest has been raging in the city of Osh, currently made up of 15 yurts and over 120 people. The block on the Osh-Irkeshtam road has meant the route has been closed for 3 weeks, and has also incited the Chinese government to act, requesting the Kyrgyz authorities to secure the safety of the Chinese citizens, since “food is scarce, weather conditions are life threatening.” More than 300 trucks are stuck.

But what about our teams? Who made it over and who made it out?

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Yurt Blockade

The blockade also used stone to cut off the track, which had been brought by a truck and spilled onto the roadway.

Yesterday, we got the news that the Central Asia Rally teams are stuck on the road. The authorities would not let them continue further due to the road block in Osh, and could not turn back and cross the border into Tajikistan, since they only had a single-entry Tajik visa.

Sometimes it’s best to off-road in these situations, but in this case, it’s a no-go for 99% of the participants, even without all the car trouble.

What to do?

Back in Budapest at the Travel Scientists’ HQ, we tried to figure out how to get our teams through.

We thought of plan B, which is to get them back into Tajikistan and reroute them on the route to Hudzhand-Bitken road, around 9am CET on the 16 June. We got in touch with our contact Emil Nurbekov in Kyrgyzstan to help out and even played with the idea of getting emergency Tajik visas to send the Central Asia Rally participants back over the border.

Emil flew out to Osh to examine the situation on site. With the road being closed for 3 weeks already, the team could be stuck there for a month. Once everyone was safe and the situation under control, he flew back to Bishkek to prepare for everyone’s arrival.

Reunion in Osh and onward to Toktogul

Yurt Blockade

We’re not sure of the full story at the moment, but somehow the teams made it out of the blockade and went on their way. We’ll update more on this once the teams check in with us again.

The Travel Scientists team, along with the Rough Edges, Llanfair Railway and Team Sisu met up with the Belgian Red Devils and the Polish Girls Team in Osh.

The group continued on to Toktogul for the night, arriving at midnight, although the Finns in team Sisu, along with Rough Edges and Llanfair Railway stayed in Osh to wait for Utter Fiatsco.

Team Utter Fiatsco made it to Osh without their Fiat Punto in tow. The girls hitchhiked over to Kyrgyzstan in a Russian troupe transporter, a Tajik truck, a Lada that apparently blew up and Pajero with 10 other people took them over.

The girls nearly didn’t make it, since the Pajero driver said he didn’t want to continue into Kyrgyzstan due to the insurgent activity going on, but fortunately, they continued onwards.

The Utter Fiatsco itself may not have made it to Kyrgyzstan with its owners, but has been given as a gift to the girls’ Tajik savour, Sheralie, who helped the girls out.

Imogen and Emily from Utter Fiatsco showed up in the early hours of the day and joined the teams that stayed behind in Osh.

Despite the tense situation in Osh, the reunion inspired so much camaraderie the Central Asia Rally participants in Osh painted the town red, finishing the party at some undocumented hour of the morning.

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