Destination 》The Pamir Highway and Wakhan Valley
Year Visited: 2019 – August
Exploring the Pamirs was in my bucket list for a long time. I read many blogs before my travel, but let me assure you, no blog or picture can do proper justice, you need to experience this place by yourself. I started the journey by self-driving in a rented 4×4 (with a German couple) for first 4 days, after that, I traveled by shared taxis, shared 4×4, hitch-hiked in 1974 Lada, in 18-wheeler Big Rig, in custom ex-military vehicle, hiked for few KMs. I had most amazing and most memorable twelve days in the Pamirs and Wakhan Valley. This is one of the place I would like to come back and spend more time. Sections below provides more information about the Pamirs and Wakhan Valley.
Tajik National Park, that includes Mountains of the Pamirs, is inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage site since 2013
In addition to Tajikistan visa, travelers to the Pamir Highway and Wakhan Valley will need Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) permit. (2019 – August)
The Pamir Highway
A Soviet built highway M41, unofficially know as The Pamir Highway, is the second highest altitude international highway in the world (4,655 m), after the nearby Karakorum Highway, China. The Pamir Highway is one of the most spectacular highway in the world, it passes through the mountainous Pamir region of Tajikistan between the capital Dushanbe and Osh in Kyrgyzstan.
The Pamir Highway is a wild, rugged, and remote. Bound by pristine alpine lakes, golden plains and snow-capped peaks, the Pamir Highway is incredibly photogenic. From this highway, you can look at China and wave to villagers in Afghanistan.
The Tajik Wakhan Valley
The Wakhan valley follows the Panj River south from Khorog along a narrow canyon till Ishkoshim after that it follows the Panj River through a wider valley towards Langar. The Panj river is a natural border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The entire valley on either side of the river is dotted with picturesque villages, nestled in fertile plots of cultivated land and fruit orchards.
Apart from travelling within view of Afghan communities across the river, there are several sites of interest along the way, including castle ruins, hot springs, ancient shrines decorated with ibex horns and sets of petroglyphs. The biggest reward for visiting this region is experiencing local culture and meeting the friendliest, most hospitable locals.
The most famous foreign traveler to Central Asia, Marco Polo, came this way on his journey east to China. The Wakhan Valley was a major transport artery on the Silk Raod through the mountains to the east, it was visited by traders and pilgrims, explorers and adventurers.
The Pamir highway is one of the world’s greatest road trips and is an adventurous traveller’s dream. You will meet travelers riding on this highway by bicyle, scooter, motorcycle, horse, donkey, old Lada car, 4×4 Landcuriser, custom ex-military vehicle, every kind of transport you can think of other than those Luxury Tourist buses.
The Pamirs are remote, a challenging destination for body, mind and soul. Traveling the Pamirs is not easy or comfortable. Roads are in a bad to very bad condition, home-stays are very basic, many times toilet is just a big hole in the ground covered with wooden planks. it is cold year-round, altitude sickness and landslides can mess up your plans, hygiene is a big issue, it is difficult to avoid stomach bug, one study shows 75+% travelers get sick at least once during their time in the Pamirs. This means the Pamirs are a destination suited most to the adventurous traveler.. Seekers of comfort should stay away.
Tip: Google map is not accurate for The Pamirs and Wakhan Valley. Almost all the time, Google map can’t find location or route in Wakhan valley (August 2019). Your best bet is Maps.me, download local maps before you arrive in Tajikistan.
In this section, you will find photos and stories of my Twelve days journey through one of the most amazing place on the earth. Please click on any photo (Day) to view photos and stories… Enjoy