A journey to the Wakhan Corridor

For many years Syd Cumbus has provided a brief review of the week’s meeting to the Lancaster Guardian for their Social Scene column. We’re now very happy to be able to also present these round ups on the website.

The Society welcomed Peter Cordell from Mawdsley, near Southport to present his lecture entitled ‘Journey to Afghanistan’ Peter is a member of Chorley Photographic Society with an interest in travelling to some of the world’s remotest destinations in search of wild mountain landscapes and alpine flora.

The three week journey commenced in Tajikistan for an expedition using 4WD Toyota Land Cruisers into the Wakhan Corridor, a remote peninsula of north east Afghanistan bordered in the north by the Pamir range of Tajikistan and the Hindu Kush mountains of north east Pakistan and finishing at the Chinese border. All provisions had to be bought in Tajikistan and carried by a pickup vehicle for the three week tour. The region has little infrastructure, a few poorly surfaced roads but mostly the driving was over stony moraines with the added difficulty of crossing fast flowing rivers up to 18 inches deep.

Peter illustrated the talk with digital images of the terrain, surrounding side valleys, snow capped peaks and the limited flora of the area which included the Pomegranate, Foxtail Lilies, Marsh Orchids and the Ephedra plant which was the original source of the drug Ephedrine. The indigenous population existed on arable subsistence farming and this was only possible with irrigation using the melt water from the mountains. The journey inwards took over 5 days, mostly following the River Wakham, firstly in Tajikistan before crossing the river into Afghanistan at a remote bridge which served as a border crossing, a process which could take up to three hours. On one day a journey of just 82 kilometres took over 7 hours because of the almost non existent tracks which passed for roads. The group of nine intrepid travellers explored many of the side valleys of the Pamir mountains. Accommodation was in primitive guest houses with meals prepared by a local man who was part of the tour group.

The vote of thanks for a most interesting evening was proposed by Bill Wilcockson.