Along the Pamir Highway and Afghanistan Wakhan Adventure
Experience the best natural sights, real life of nomads and all main monuments in one week time with an intensive route trips. Travelling along the famous Pamir Highway, the second highest highway in the world running between Osh in Kyrgyzstan to Khorog in Tajikistan and winding its way through the Parmir Mountains, their 7,000m peaks earning this artery the title ‘roof of the world’. As we travel through remote communities scattered along the Highway and beyond, we stay in welcoming homestays, immerse ourselves in a cacophony of cultures, with each village speaking in a unique dialect.
Most interesting in our journey visit to Afghanistan Wakhan side and explore local cultural life, You will make your way slowly up the valley, visiting villages, taking some day walks and enjoying some traditional Afghan hospitality. You will stay in basic guesthouses throughout your time in Afghanistan as you discovering the delights of this famed region.
This is a trip right out there on the edge of civilisation, What you will experience here though takes you back to another century when people lived in a very different way – unlike so many you hear about, this trip is a true adventure of a life time.
Our trips are designed to offer a mix of active adventure, culture, wildlife, and sightseeing and there is also time to relax and explore for your self – the balance is just right. Tour ends in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.
Day 1: Osh to Tulpar Kul
Today we drive from Osh to Sary Moogul village, via beautiful Alay ranges and over the Taldyk Pass (3615m). We will stop for a lunch in between. Once we pass the village of Sary Tash, the natural scenery of Pamir Alay range is spectacular. You could even see, we will arrive Kyrgyz nomadic village near the lake Tulpar Kul,the village is close to see Lenin Peak (7134m).
– Overnight in Nomadic yurt stay. – Meals: (1 Lunch and Dinner)
Day 2: Tulpar Kul to Murghab. (320km 6/7hours 3670mh)
Today we will start our trip to Murghab visit Karakul Lake. Our first step the High Pamir, we depart the high mountains of the Pamir-Alay range, leaving behind us the cross roads of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. This drive will see us enjoying some of the most dramatic scenery of the trip, with the lunar-like landscapes and bright blue lakes providing plenty of opportunities to take our breath away. Kara kul means “black lake” but in spring, summer and autumn the water are almost always turquoise blue. Karakul lake spread its waters in Markansu valley – one of the most driest place in Central Asia. Surrounded by high mountains which block humid air masses the valley has less than 30 mm of precipitation a year which is 3 times less than in Karakoram desert. Fluctuation of temperatures is a usual thing for desserts and in Karakul lake they are just incredible. Tonight you will sleep on Asian style bedding on the mattresses and blankets on the floor in a few rooms of a Pamiri House with shared bathroom facilities
We will cross a high-altitude pass Ak-Baital Pass (4655 meters) which is the highest section of road in the former Soviet Union. This is the Pamir Highway we have anticipated, with the route between Osh to Khorog completed in 1931 across a Tibetan-plateau style high altitude terrain. With a total of 240kms to cover today, we anticipate arriving in Murghab early evening. Arrival Murghab, Murghab (3670 m) itself has few attractions, but it will serve as our base for a couple of nights as we explore the area a little. The 7546 m – high Chinese peak of Mustag Ata is visible to the northeast of town. The Eastern Pamirs have been populated by nomadic ethnic Kyrgyz since the 17th century.
Overnight at the Home stay – Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch and Dinner)
Day 3: Murghab to Khorog via M41 320km 6/7hours
In the morning we will drive to Khorog along Pamir Highway, known as M41 Pamir Tract. It is considered the second highest mountain road after highway of Tibet. The road lies over mountains and passes on the elevations of more than 4 000 meters above sea level. En route visit Rock painting dated 8000-5000 BC at Shakhty cave and visit Bulun Kul and Yashil Kul. The most beautiful lakes of the Pamirs are Yashil Kul and Bulunkul (Blue lakes), stretched on the altitude of 3 700 meters above sea level. The color of water in Bulunkul is a subtle inter-play of violet and dark-blue in the sunlight. Species of fish like are found in abundance in the lake. There is the opportunity to see yaks, a unique species of domestic animals, sharing features of cow and sheep, traditionally used as a beast of burden apart from giving milk and meat products. On the way you will drive over Koitezak pass (4271 m). Arrival to Khorog, we stay in home stay tonight, having reached the capital of the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO).
Overnight in Home stay – Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
The capital of Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast, Khorog is a small town that at various times has been under the control of the Russia, the Emirate of Bukhara and Afghanistan. The Russians built a fort here in the Soviet era, with Khorog being in a highly strategic location on the border with Afghanistan, but today it languishes and is one of the least developed parts of the country, with the Aga Khan Foundation contributing to the bulk of the local economy. It holds the distinction of being home the second highest botanical garden in the world, at 3900m.
Day 4: Khorog – Ishkashim – Sultan Ishkashim (Afghanistan)
In the morning we will go to Afghan consulate in Khorog to obtain Afghan visas. Please note: maybe it will take a time till 12-00 AM.
We have a little time to explore Khorog including the bazaar and the lovely Botanical Gardens which are perched high above the town, affording some great panoramic view. About 50kms along the road to our next stop, Ishkashim, we will stop at Garmchasma hot springs for an (optional) dip in the waters. Visit detour to the nearby village of Namadguti to visit the Khahkha Fortress. From here, we enter the Tajik half of the Wakhan Valley (shared with Afghanistan) and pass regional gem mines mentioned by Marco Polo. The most famous mine is Koh-i-Lal ruby mine which is visible from the road. Enter to Afghanistan from Ishkashim transborder bridge, our partner will meet you from the border and transfer to you Sultan Ishkashim. Explore Afghanistan.
Overnight in Home stay – Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
The Wakhan Valley (also pronounced Vakhan) is a majestic alpine valley in the Badakhshan region of Afghanistan and Tajikistan (the “Wakhan Corridor” refers to the part of the valley in Afghanistan). It is located in the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia. Its upper reaches consist of two wide, hilly plains surrounded by alpine peaks, beginning near the Chinese border in one of the most remote regions of the world. Further down, where the Pamir and Wakhan rivers join to form the Pyanj River, the valley narrows, finally becoming a severe canyon with roaring river rapids at its end in Ishkashem. Its muddy rivers are fed by water from huge glaciers on some of the highest mountains on the planet, fantastic views of which are visible throughout the area.
Day 5: Sulton Ishkashim (Afghanistan)
You will make your way slowly up the valley, visiting villages, taking some day walks and enjoying some traditional Afghan hospitality. You will stay in basic guesthouses throughout your time in Afghanistan as you discovering the delights of this famed region.
This is a trip right out there on the edge of civilisation: you will not find mobile reception, internet access or even electricity for the most part! What you will experience here though takes you back to another century when people lived in a very different way – unlike so many you hear about, this trip is a true adventure of a life time.
Overnight Guest House – Breakfast Lunc and Dinner.
Day 6: Ishkashim to Langar (110 km 6/7 hours altitude 2882mh)
In the morning our Afghan Patner will transfer you till the border, after your crossing you will continue trip through Tajikistan’s Wakhan valley.
Driving along the Wakhan valley and visit detour to the nearby village of Namadguti to visit the Khahkha Fortress. This impressive structure rises from a naturally formed platform of rock and dates back to the Kushan era of the 3rd Century. There are a number of these ancient fortresses in the area, and we also visit Yamchun fort, perhaps the most impressive of them. We take a break at the Bibi Fatima hot springs, named for the Prophet Mohammed’s sister and where local women believe they can increase their fertility. Continuing on we then stop at the 4th Century Buddhist stupas at Vrang, reminders of the ancient pilgrim caravans that passed through the region.
Overnight homestay – Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 7: Langar to Murghab (240 km, 6/7 hours altitude 3500mh)
Today we get a chance to explore the amazing landscape of this area. We drive up to Murghab via the Kargushi Pass (4344 meters). On this journey we leave behind the lush valleys of the Wakhan Valley and enter a landscape that is rocky, mostly barren but nevertheless dramatic. This is the Pamir Highway we have anticipated, with the route between Khorog and Osh completed in 1931 across a Tibetan-plateau style high altitude terrain.
We leave for Murghab the center of East Pamir. The road up Murghab, however, is spectacular an, passing through again the settlement of Mamazair. This small town bestrides the Murghab at an altitude of 3,500 m. Younghusband visited it in 1890 and wrote “It is a dreary, desolate spot… with a certain amount of grassy pasture and a few scrubby bushes by the river, but surrounded by barren hills, and bitterly cold. How these Russian soldiers can support existence there is a marvel…shut up in dreary quarters, with nothing whatever to do – week after week, month after month passing by in dull monotony….” Over a century later, nothing much has changed. We anticipate arriving in Murghab in Lunch time. Murghab (3670 m) itself has few attractions, but it will serve as our base for a one night as we explore the area a little. The 7546 m – high Chinese peak of Mustag Ata is visible to the northeast of town, 110 km away in a direct line.
Overnight in Home stay – Meals included: 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Day 8: Murghab to Osh 420km 8/9 hours
We depart today to Osh Kyrgyzstan. This drive will see us enjoying some of the most dramatic scenery of the trip, with the lunar-like landscapes and bright blue lakes providing plenty of opportunities to take our breath away. We will again cross a high-altitude pass Ak-Baital Pass (4655 meters) which is the highest section of road in the former Soviet Union. We descend to Karakul Lake, the highest lake in Central Asia, and at 3915 meters, too high to support any aquatic life.
Our final Pamir Highway high pass is the Kyzyl Art Pass (4282 metres), which essentially forms the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Border formalities take place shortly after crossing the pass, with 20kms of ‘no man’s land’ to cross. Having crossed to Kyrgyzstan, we will keep our driver – although we are in a different country, the ethnic lines in this region are greatly blurred, and Russian, Tajik, Kyrygz and Uzbek are all spoken with interchangeable ease!
After Sary Tash village we depart the high mountains of the Pamir-Alay range, leaving behind us the crossroads of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. The drive offers a contrast as we encounter lush farmlands and small villages on this side of the mountains, instead of the stark high-altitude plateau we recently crossed in Tajikistan. En route we will cross the Taldyk Pass (3554m) and enjoy some beautiful views. We must travel about 185km from Sary Tash, and depending on road conditions and travel times we expect to arrive in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s oldest city early evening.
Overnight at the Guest House – Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Osh is ancient – various sources date it back around 2500 years, and legends abound over who founded it, including Alexander the Great and King Solomon. On the edge of the Ferghana Valley it is home to both Uzbek and Kyrgyz people, with its position on the border giving rise to an extremely lively market, one of the most interesting in Central Asia. The rock known as Solomon’s Throne is an important place of pilgrimage for Muslims, and a 15th century mosque on the top has now been reconstructed, with excellent views of the surrounding countryside. Osh is also home to the largest mosque in Kyrgyzstan, and is one of the few places in the former Soviet Union still to have a statue of Lenin.
End of the service
Included to tour price:
- Arrival transfer
- All accommodation on twin share basis (home stays 6, Guest House 2)
- Meals as listed: 7 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 8 Dinners.
- Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
- All transfers according the program (price includes driver’s per diem, road and parking fees, all necessary permissions fuel and taxes;) Experienced and basic English speaking drivers, type of car: (A/C Toyota Land Cruiser or Nissan Patrol)
- Mineral water (1L per day per person)
- Ticket for Tajik National park and permit
- Two days trip in Afghanistan Sultan Ishkashim, Include to tour price: (Permit, Guesthouse for two nights, Guide, Jeep boarder to guesthouse, guesthouse to boarder, Lunch)
- International flights
- Supplement for single room
- Eraly chechking for first night
- English speaking local guide
- Afghanistan Visa
- Any airport taxes
- Travel Insurance
- GBAO permit
- Tips and gratuities
- Any personal expenses
- Any services not included in the above itinerary
- Important – early arrival is not included.
- Some sightseeing places and excavations might be closed / not possible to visit due to local changes, reconstruction, roads condition, and security reasons. We do not guarantee all advised places will be covered, but we will try to do our best to cover them.
- Pricing is confidential & non commissionable
Route map: (To see full map on Google-Maps click to image below)