We took a road trip today to the Sarez Lake which exists because of the Usoi Dam.
The dam and the lake are about 90 minutes from Dushanbe and the road starts out harmless and then goes through some serious, we're-not-kidding-around mountains. Which are only the foothills of the far outreaches of the Pamirs. I can't wait to get to the Pamirs if the outskirts are already to dramatic and scenic. We did see about five or six Pamir Adventure vehicles - sturdy 4x4s packed up with adventure tourists and the roofs piled high with tents and gear. One day, I want to be in one of those. The road, I have to add, is very good - almost like a highway but without the dividers because that would only inconvenience the Tajik drivers when they overtake a car overtaking a truck. You have to be flexible about your lanes here in this country.
After about an hour of driving, we went through a very long tunnel (built by the Chinese, and nicely so) and then a shorter one (ditto but the ventilation didn't work) and then, pow! There you have the lake and this is a lake that has an almost cartoonish color. Around you are the mountains, all dry and yellowed after a long hot summer, with red blotches as if someone had dumped a giant can of paint over the landscape, and down there is the lake with this blue that almost hurts your eyes. It's quite something. Of course, we were there at noon which is, as we all know, the very best time to take landscape images. Hmpf.
There is a stop area for just this purpose, to stop and gawk and take pictures. You can buy food and drinks and freshly picked and shelled hazelnuts from little boys running around.
We drove a little bit further but turned around soon - this further trip will require an overnight stay but we are looking forward to that. We enjoyed the lake views, then we turned off in Norak to see the Usoi dam and drove up along the Vakhsh river. We stopped at a sluice and gawked some more - the kids loved feeling the water spray and the rocks everywhere and the gorgeous colors of the river. Really. The water here is more colorful than water elsewhere.
We skipped the dam because we found out we needed a permit for it, so we're saving this excursion for a later date.
Come and visit us. There is so much to see!