September 29, 2010

Visiting hot springs Garm Chashma and little hike

Garm Chashma mineral rich water makes funny formations. It looks like something from alien movies. And in a way, it was. More about the hot spring bath after our hike...

When we arrived to Khorog we had no specific plans in our travel itinerary. Years of life in Central Asia have taught us that plans will change million times and flexibility is a virtue. So we were very flexible and just plain happy to be alive after our monstrous 24 hours road travel.

But we knew of some hot springs up in the Pamirs and were quite interested. We decided to visit Garm Chashma and at the same trip hike a bit in the mountains. Our wonderful host family advised us where to get taxis. The place is about 46 km south of Khorog in the Wakhan Valley. Marco Polo traveled the valley AD 1274 ( As we had million kids with us, half of us sick and tired, the "hike" was a very small walk through a village and up a hill.

Actually traveling with children should be honored in its own post, but let me just say that they can have some hilarious comments. We were praying for our trip in the car and in the middle of "Andy's" mom's prayer my son said loudly "I will marry Andy". His mom stopped the prayer and laughing quietly said "Hopefully not" to me.

As you can see, the mighty 10 minute walk on a village road has done it to my 4-year old.

There was a very pretty brook.
This is a good little bridge.

We decided to stop here, where the views were great, for a picnic.

Would have been great to visit the snow topped mountains, too!

Children playing with water.

Men planning conquering the mountains.

Family picture, again.
Boys decided to dam the stream.

Important part of the picnic: the food. We had ordered a shop to boil some eggs for us the night before, and we just picked them up in the morning. The price was the same as fresh eggs. Central Asia is nice and hospitable in things like this. Then we had Russian sausage and cheese plus some tomatoes and green peppers to eat with Central Asian bread, non.

Suddenly I got hungry.

This is a funny little cave I saw on the road. Looks really spooky, actually. We did not visit it.

Guess what? The hot spring is near! You can smell it! The water has sulfur in it and it smells like...sulfur. The formations look like giant monster tentacles to me.

It was ladies time to bathe in the outside pool and we headed up a little hill to find this pool behind a wall. There were some local women bathing there. And they did not wear swimming suits. But do not fear, we did. We, the brave, Northern, Finnish people who spend all our lives going to sauna naked carefully covered ourselves. Somehow swimming outside in a hot spring in our birth suits did not feel comfortable. But local ladies were very comfortable and even commented on our swimming suits. 'You don't need to wear one!' 'Oh, yes, I need to!'.

The views were quite something. I mean, look at the water! It is basically steaming! And it was HOT!

The water was flowing down from the top. The pool water was really warm, but you could still swim in it. I read somewhere that the pool water is +38- +50 degrees Celsius. Wow.

THIS water is HOT!

We turned nice and pink after soaking in it for awhile.

The pool water was nice milky colored. There was white mineral clay that the women were getting from the walls and rubbing it in their skin. It is believed to have curative characteristics.

After this we felt ready to go home and sleep. But there was the ride home. Even though the kilometers were only 46 something, it took couple of hours in the car. The roads are not very good.

I was fascinated by the Afghan side of the river. Those little paths up there are the main roads!

We saw people and villages and it is such a different world out there. A stone throw away.

But Garm Chashma is a place worth visiting, if you happen to be on that side of the world!

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