It was early afternoon by the time we set off for Skardu. At just under 2500 metres, the city is the gateway to the 'eight-thousander' peaks - K2, the Gasherbrums, Broad Peak, and the Trango Towers. Busy, and touristy, it is a popular starting point for multiple mountain treks. We did not have enough time left in Pakistan for a trek, but wanted to drive there (and then back to Gilgit via Deosai National Park) purely to enjoy the journey and the scenery.
Our day started in a gorgeous wild camping spot, in the valley, not too far from the Hunza river. From the top of the hill came three teenage boys, making their way down the steep mountainside with expertise rivalled only by mountain goats. They came carrying a huge carrier bag of plums. Our breakfast.
The Khunjerab pass is at 4700 metres, and, like in China, the customs and immigration offices are further down the road at a lower altitude. The 55 mile drive there was absolutely stunning. The road was in great condition, and we were surrounded by the breathtaking Karakorum mountains. We made multiple stops for photos, although they did not do the sights justice. It made our trials and tribulations in China completely worth it.
Suddenly Chris (who is not one to jump or easily scare when it comes to critters) leapt off the ground, grabbed me and pointed down. A huge bright yellow and green, part scorpion part spider, horns poised, ready to kill, was making its way towards us at the speed of light.
We hit the road - the only road that we would be driving on for the next 1200 miles. As soon as we left Uralsk, it was a vast mass of nothingness. Completely flat, we had a 360 degree view of miles upon miles of dry, partly sandy, partly grassy land. After 180 miles of exactly the same view, we pulled off of the road into an old quarry that offered us a hidden place to camp with some protection from the mild wind.
Instantly Ukraine was like no country either of us had been to before. In Romania, the majority of people we met spoke at least some English, we could make sense of some of the Latin based language, and there was some European familiarity to it all. Just by crossing the border, suddenly nobody knew a single word of English, the writing was all funny, and the cars surrounding us made it look like we had stepped back in time by at least 40 years.
The flat landscapes of Romania, and with them, (we hoped) less rain and hotter temperatures, were calling us.
It was time to leave Bosnia & Herzegovina. Due to the time of year and the mountains, most of our time there had been cold and wet. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful little country to visit.
Our trip to Morocco was more than a success. For Chris and I it was not just a holiday, but a test of; could we do it, could we afford it, and more importantly, did we enjoy it? Luckily the answer to all of the above was yes. At times the trip was difficult but the lows of the trip just added to the adventure, and left us with a story to tell when we got back. And, as my (not so) little sister wisely tells me, if nothing else, do it for the story.