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Day 9: To Chitral

Michael Palin - HimalayaWake to the sound of water and the smell of wood-smoke. After a couple of nights here I no longer feel cut off from the world, but protected from it, and not particularly anxious to move away. I can understand why Saifullah values the isolation that has shaped and strengthened this tight-knit community, and why he loves visitors so long as they don't want to change anything.

As our jeep rolls over the bridge and down the hill, the Rumbur valley narrows behind us until the village and the thin strips of green fields that sustain it disappear altogether, and we find ourselves descending through a tight, treeless gorge onto whose steep sides the track hangs by its fingernails. Nadir Begh, my driver, anxious at the best of times, never unfurrows his brow. He's less concerned by the precipice below than the rock wall above. Recently descended loose grey shale lies scattered across the road and he peers up in the air, accelerating forward at the slightest trickle of dust.

We're all relieved as the valley widens and reveals a perspective of broad mountain slopes that lead the eye remorselessly upwards to the solitary bulk of Tirich Mir, 25,228 feet (7708 m), the highest mountain in the Hindu Kush and, I realize, the highest mountain I've ever seen.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 9: To Chitral
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Chitral
  • Book page no: 28

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