THE ROAD TO MUZTAGH ATA PART 2 – Torugart Pass
Torugart pass is located at an altitude of 3752 m and it is one of the more guarded border crossings into China – closed for the weekends and only open 10-18 on week days. It is not possible for a random individual to cross. The transport company (a driver or his helper) has to present a list of passengers along with matching passport numbers and if one is changing into a Chinese rented bus (as was in our case) its driver also has to have a matching list. Alternatively one can take a bus service Bishkek-Kashgar running on Mondays and Thursdays.
For those wishing to chose an easier, long way around route into China there is also the Irkeshtam Pass in the south of Kyrgyzstan. From Osh you go to Sary-Tash and then to the border crossing. There are busses running between Osh and Kashgar. It is also possible to rent a taxi to the boder and then another one to the village, however best to have currency for both countries prior to starting the journey as exchange rate on the border is quite bad.
Crossing the steel, border gate was only the beginning for us. After a few km we reached 1st checkpoint where passports were checked again along with thorough luggage control. All the bags had to be opened and content examined, including book pages and computer drives. Portable radio sets, walkie-talkies are forbidden – if found these are confiscated.
Mountain winding road gradually took us lower. The progress was slowed by numerous goat herds blocking the road every few minutes. After around 1.5 h we reached the real and proper customs control. The luggage was x rayed and again opened, every item examined. There was also a quick medical examination and our body temperature was checked to prevent and epidemic spread (Chinese are really paranoid or thorough – depending how you look at it ). We all had to fill in a declaration of entry. Once all this had been done we had our passports stamped and went on our way. On the road to Kashgar we passed one more checkpoint where only our documents were checked. In the evening we got to our destination and checked into Seman hotel.