Highlights of Tajikistan along the Pamir Highway

  • Highlights of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan along the Pamir Highway

    Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Osh, Khujand, Penjikent via Istrafshan, Padrud, Walking to Seven lakes, Iskanderkul Lake, Saratog, Dushanbe, Kalaikhumb, Rushan, Gisev valley trekking, after the trekking transfer to Khorog, Ishkashim, Langar, Alichur, Karajylga, Murghab, Sary Tash, Osh, Flight to Bishkek

  • Included to tour price

    • Arrival and departure transfer
    • Meals as listed: 19 Breakfasts, 19 Lunches, 18 Dinners.
    • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
    • English speaking guide for whole tour
    • 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 permition
    • Ticket for domestic flight from Osh to Bishkek
    • LOI (Letter of invitation)
     

    Excluded to tour price

    International flights
    Supplement for single room USD 132
    Any airport taxes
    Travel Insurance
    GBAO permit
    Drinks
    Tips and gratuities
    Any personal expenses
    Any services not included in the above itinerary_ PS
    • 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
  • Country Notes – Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

    Essentials

    Safety.

    Tajikistan is safe place, much more than many European countries. However, because of the civil war of the 1990s, your embassy will have a website setting out their view of the latest assessment of the security situation.

    Visas

    Most nationalities will need to apply for a visa for both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Should you require an invitation letter, we will provide this for you. However currently British passport holders do not require a visa for stays of less than 60 days in Kyrgyzstan – for other nationalities please check with your nearest embassy.

    For Tajikistan you will need to request the embassy to issue the GBAO permit, which allows you to travel the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, which we visit on this tour.

    Please note that visa regulations can and do change and so you should check this again before your departure.

    From 1st June, 2016 in Tajikistan earned a new portal for the issuance of e-visas and GBAO permit «e-Visa»  https://www.evisa.tj  enabling foreign citizens entering the country with tourist or business purpose, fill out an online application and e-visa without appearance at the Consulate of Tajikistan abroad.

    Passports

    It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, valid for at least six months after the date of return to the UK.

    We strongly advise that your passport contains a minimum of two blank pages, as this may be a requirement of the local immigration authorities. In addition certain countries will stipulate that the two blank pages are opposite each other. If you are unable to meet these requirements you may be refused boarding by your airline or denied entry by the immigration authorities.

    For specific information about the requirements for your destination please check with the country’s embassy or consulate. Alternatively UK citizens can visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

    Airport Tax

    No departure tax currently applies when leaving Kyrgyzstan by air. There are also no border taxes to pay for the land borders crossed within this tour.

    Health and Immunisations

    We strongly recommend that you contact your doctor’s surgery or a specialist travel clinic for up-to-date information, advice and the necessary vaccinations. For a visit of less than one month, almost certainly you will be advised to have immunisations against the following: Diphtheria and Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Meningitis.

    Health at Altitude

    95% of Tajikistan is mountainous. On the Pamir Highway between Murghab and Osh, you cross two passes over 4300 metres and altitude sickness is a possibility. It is quite normal to feel tired for the first few days in mountain areas and it is important that you drink plenty of water. Do not drink any tap water. We will provide you with 2 litres of water per person per day. We will always try and gain height slowly.

    Insurance

    What should my travel insurance policy cover?

    medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad

     24 hour emergency service and assistance

     personal liability cover in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property

     lost and stolen possessions cover

     cancellation and curtailment (cutting short your trip) cover

     Extra cover for activities that are commonly excluded from standard policies, such as certain sports

    The policy should cover the whole time that you are away.

    Your policy may also have:

     personal accident cover

     legal expenses cover

    Common travel insurance policy exclusions

    Always check the conditions and exclusions of your policy:

     most policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents

    You must take reasonable care of your possessions or your policy will not cover you.

    Practical information

    Local Currency

    The currency in Tajikistan it is the somani, and in Kyrgyzstan it is the som. For current exchange rates visit www.xe.com

    Where currency can be exchanged

    It’s relatively easy to exchange money in Dushanbe, either at banks or moneychangers. ATM machines are not widely available in Tajikistan – and those that do exist tend to be unreliable. The best way currency to bring is US dollars – these should be crisp and free from any marks as many places will not accept them otherwise. Other currencies can be extremely difficult to exchange. Outside of Dushanbe you will find it difficult to exchange money. When you cross borders into Kyrgyzstan, your guides will be able to assist you with obtaining local currency.

    Credit cards and travellers cheques

    Changing travellers’ cheques can be difficult and we do not recommend that you bring these. In addition to this, credit cards are not widely accepted. We recommend that you bring sufficient cash in US dollars to last your visit.

    Best time to go

    The Pamirs can only really be visited between mid April and October due to the possibility of snow closing the roads at other times of year

    Main Language

    In Tajikistan the official language is Tajik, from the Persian language family. In Kyrgyzstan it is Kyrgyz. English is becoming increasingly widely spoken but it is still not always easy to find someone who speaks it. With both countries only recently released from the Soviet Union, Russian is widely spoken.

    Main Religion

    The region is predominantly Sunni Moslem, although in the Badakshan region of Tajikistan most are Ismaili and follow the Aga Khan. Islam is interpreted less strictly here than in other parts of the world. There are also small pockets of Orthodox Christianity.

    Food and drink

    Central Asian cuisine tends to feature a fair amount of mutton as a staple. Food here is influenced by Turkish style cuisine and often involves kebabs, breads and various dips. Plov is a regional favourite – a mixture of rice, meat, fried onions and vegetables which is similar to a pilaf. Other dishes to look out for are steamed pumpkins, stuffed cabbage and vine leaves, and a variety of dishes made from fermented dairy products. The food in Central Asia contains a fair amount of spices but tends not to be too hot – cumin, coriander and sesame seeds are some of the most popular spices used. In summer, fruit, vegetable and nuts can be found in abundance. In home stays you will be offered tea – this is reasonably safe, as the water has been boiled.

    If you have any special dietary requirements you must notify us at the time of booking. While we will make every effort to cater for you, we cannot guarantee that this will be possible. Vegetarians may experience a lack of variety in food as much is made or flavoured with meat. As a rough guide, a simple meal will cost around $4-8, while something more elaborate will cost $8-10 or more depending on where you eat. Street snacks are cheaper, at around $1-3.

    Transport & Roads

    On our tours through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan we mainly use 4WD vehicles. On some sections of the tour, when a 4WD is not required, a minivan will be used. The significance of roads does not correspond to their quality. The quality of roads, the weather conditions and the quality of the vehicles are decisive in calculating the time needed between destinations. The roads in the region are rough and often unsealed, with some sections travelling on single-track roads above river valleys.

    We use highly experienced drivers, however this itinerary may not be suitable for those who suffer from heights or are nervous passengers. The driving habits in this part of the world are something for which you ought to prepare yourself!

    Local conditions

    Travelling in the destinations that we visit requires a good deal of understanding that often standards simply won’t be as they are at home. While we aim to make your trip as comfortable as possible, please be aware that we are visiting remote, less developed regions that have little infrastructure. This is particularly the case with regards to Tajikistan, where the tourism infrastructure lags behind its neighbouring countries. Tajikistan is almost completely undeveloped in terms of tourism and has a basic infrastructure once outside Dushanbe. During this journey the group will spend time in remote areas without home comforts or easy access to medical facilities. Apart from in parts of Dushanbe, most toilets are squat type. Although a high level of physical fitness is not required, travellers should be comfortable with the realities of a wilderness adventure, and prepared for very basic conditions in the countryside.

    What to take with you

    First Aid Kit

    The first thing on your list should be a first aid kit. Whilst there is no undue cause for alarm, travellers are best advised to travel well-prepared: adequately immunized, with sufficient supplies of prescription drugs, along with a medical kit.

    Clothing

    When it comes to clothing it is usually recommended that lighter clothes are worn through the day, and warmer ones at night. A hat is also advised to be worn through the day to protect from the sun as well as a hat for the cold. You should make sure that you bring a waterproof jacket for any rainy days. As the region is conservative in terms of dress codes you should make sure that you bring a few outfits that are suitable for entering mosques and religious buildings – long sleeves and trousers / skirts are a good idea.

    Torch / Head torch

    Essential everywhere. Power cuts are frequent, there are holes in roads and pavements and toilets

    and stairwells often have no lights.

    Footwear

    Footwear is a main priority on this tour. Comfortable walking shoes/boots are recommended.

    Luggage

    Your luggage should not exceed 20kgs (44lbs). Our style of travelling means that it is desirable to carry a backpack as your main luggage and use a daypack for items you will want to access during the day. Please bear in mind that your luggage will be loaded in a jeep and we are travelling on bumpy roads — fragile items should be well protected, and you must be prepared for your luggage to get dusty and be thrown about a bit. Please pack as light as possible since there will be times when you will need to carry your own luggage and this will also maximise space in the vehicles. Investment in protective bags for camera equipment and similar is well worthwhile.

    Other

    Suncream/sunblock is a must. Insect repellent, including a bite spray will also be useful to have.

    Fitness

    This tour does not require any special degree of fitness but you will find it more enjoyable if you are reasonably fit.

    Cultural and environmental guidelines

    Women should not enter mosques unless specifically told they can do so and you should always refer to your guide regarding dress code and behaviour in and near religious sites.

    You may come across beggars while on tour in Central Asia. Every traveller has different perspectives on this and ultimately the choice is up to you. Many sources recommend that you watch to see if local people give, and then follow their lead with genuine beggars. We do not recommend giving money, sweets, pens etc to children as this can encourage a begging mentality and can lead to children choosing to beg rather than go to school.

    Haggling is a way of life in Central Asia when making many purchases, especially with tourist souvenirs. Usually, but not always, the vendor will start with a price that is higher than they are prepared to accept, and the buyer is expected to haggle. There are no hard and fast rules with this – some vendors may initially quote a vastly overinflated price, others may start with a price close to the true value, while others may just present you with one price and not be prepared to discuss it. Although many tourists may feel uncomfortable with this, it’s important to remember that this is best entered into in a relaxed manner. Once you have agreed upon a price, it is extremely bad form to then not pay this. Please also bear in mind that a small amount of money to you can be a relatively large amount for the vendor, and that it is not necessarily best practice to ‘beat the vendor down’ to the lowest possible price. Remember that they also have a living to make.

    A sleeping bag is not required as bedding will be provided when camping. However, you should take a lightweight sleeping bag liner as this will be required in the home stays when only blankets may be provided. We also recommend that you bring a towel.

    Email us now on tours@pamirhighwayadventure.com  to make your reservation

    Please make sure that you take any rubbish back to the hotels or camps with you where it can be properly disposed of – this includes cigarette butts as well.

    Please do not buy any products made from endangered species – this is not sustainable and hastens the species’ decline.

    Photography

    You should always ask permission before taking anyone’s photograph and respect their decision if they say no. In more remote areas women and older people often do not want to be photographed. Some people may also ask for some money – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot — in return for a photo. Taking photos of military installations, state buildings, and airports can lead to problems with local authorities. If you are unsure about whether it is acceptable to take a photo, please ask your tour leader or guide.

    Please note that many sites charge photography fees, which are not included in the cost of your tour. You should allow around $40 or so if you wish to take photos at a wide range of sites.

    Tipping

    Tipping is common practise in Central Asia. If your local guide has been helpful then you could think about tipping. For people travelling on our group tour, a reasonable amount to allow would be around $70-100, to be split between the guide and driver.

    Foreign Office Advice

    We constantly monitor the advice posted by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At the time of writing there is an FCO advisory in place for travel to the GBAO area of Tajikistan. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns or if would like to know in detail what measures are being taken to ensure visits remain trouble free and without incident. It should be noted that this information applies to British citizens. Other nationals are asked to check the current position of their respective government.

    Further Information

    Public Holidays in Tajikistan:

    1 Jan New Year’s Day.

    8 Mar Women’s Day.

    21 Mar Navruz (New Year)

    1 May Labour Day

    9 May Victory Day

    27 Jun National Unity Day

    9 Sep Independence Day

    6 Nov Constitution Day

    9 Nov National Reconciliation Day

    In addition to there are a number of Islamic holidays which follow the lunar calendar and so vary annually.

    Dates are for guidance only and may vary year to year

    Electrical Supply

    Electrical supply is 220V and plugs usually have two round pins like most European countries.

    Recommended Reading

    Central Asia – The Lonely Planet Guide — Bradley Mayhew

    The Great Game — Peter Hopkirk

    The Lost Heart of Asia — Colin Thubron

    IMPORTANT NOTES – PLEASE READ

    Please note that the information provided is correct at the time of writing but may change. It is intended as a guide only. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health visit www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk or contact your local healthcare provider.

    In addition we strongly advise you to check the information and any travel advice provided by your government. For British citizens you should visit the Foreign Office website www.fco.gov.uk

  • Dates not fixed, we will organize this tour based on your request dates. Please contact us to request this tour.

  • Itinerary

    Day 1 – Osh KYRGYZSTAN

    Arrive in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second city which has 3000 years history, and transfer to  hotel.

    The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. 

    Overnight at Hotel Sun Rise *** (or similar).

    Meals: (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)

     Osh city

    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.

    Day 2 – Osh to Khujand (415 km, 7/8 hours)

    Today we continue our adventure as we drive from Osh, crossing Kyrgyz-Tajik border and continuing on to the Tajik town of Khujand. Khujand is a further 110 kilometres from the border, the second largest city in the country and capital of Soghd Province. We will arrive to this ancient city early evening and our sightseeing here for today and next day will include the local museum and the ancient citadel that dates from the 10th century and which fell to the Mongol invaders who swept through this region in the 13th century,

    Mosque-medresse of Sheykh Muslihiddin of XVI century). 

    Overnight in hotel Firuz *** or similar. 

    Meals: (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)

    Khujand city

    Khujand is the capital of northern Tajikistan and the second largest city in the country. Khujand, continuously occupied for 2500 years, was founded by Alexander the Great. The city became one of most important places in Central Asia. It was a key junction of the Silk Road. The beautiful city was razed by Gengiz Khan. Through history it remained a center of considerable power. Prior to the Russian invasion in the nineteenth century it was one of the main emirates in Central Asia.

     Khujand stands at the entrance to the fertile Fergana Valley. Owing to this it was one of the main centers of the Great Silk way and enjoyed prosperity and richness. One of the ancient cities of the Central Asia Khujand has been known since the 7th century.

    Day 3 – Khujand to Penjikent via Istrafshan (235 km, 7 hours)

    We continue the 95kms to Istaravshan, with its hilltop citadel guarding the beautifully preserved town. En rout short stop will be in Istaravshan, which is a museum city, the ancient center of trade and crafts, one of the most ancient cities of the Central Asia. In 2002 Istaravshan turned 2,500 years old. Exploring the old town we visit the blue-domed mosque and medressa complex of Kok-Gumbaz, dating back to the 15th century. Arrival to Penjikent an ancient Sogdian city, overnight in Guest house. 

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)

    Istrafshan town

    The city was founded in the sixth century B.C. by a Akhemenid king Cyrus who fortified the settlement by means of three wall lines and a citadel.

    During the years of Arabian sovereignty Istaravshan became a province Arabian Caliphate. It was at this time when Islamic architectural structures of portal-dome design such as mosques, madrasahs, mausoleums, minarets, etc. started to appear. The rapid development of Istaravshan is connected with the rule of the first ethnic Tajik Samanid dynasty (the 9th – the 10th centuries). In the 13th century the city was destroyed by Mongols

    Then drive onward to Penjikent.

    Dinner and overnight at a homestay in Penjikent

     Arrival to Penjikent an important town on the Silk Road. It is known as the “Pompeii of Central Asia”, because of the wonderful frescoes from the 8th century, which have survived.

    Visit Rudaki museum, a bustling bazaar and an 18th century medrassa, the old city, abandoned, ancient citadel, which hosted the place of the rulers of Panj, is on the hilltop to the east of the town.    

     Panjikent town

    Tajikistan travel destination Penjikent is a Sogdian city, which flourished from the 5th to 8th centuries. It is well preserved and it was called “Central Asia’s Pompeii”. An opulent governor’s palace, homes, and temples can be seen. At one time Sogdiana controlled a key section of the Silk Road, but in the 8th century Empire collapsed and people fled to the mountains. Descendants of this ancient kingdom still live in the more remote regions of present-day Tajikistan name Jagnob Valley and still speak a remote dialect of Sogdian. City Sarazm, some 20 km from Penjikent, is one of the most ancient settlements of Central Asia, dating from the Bronze Age.

    Day 4 – Penjikent – Padrud (40km 1/2h)

    After breakfast an excursion in the Settlement of “Ancient Penjikent”, introduction the culture and history of ancient City (8th – 9th Century AD). We will continue driving to the beautiful Padrud village which is located in the picturesque place of the Fan Mountains, where located seven stunning lakes. On the way we’ll visit (if time allows) the mausoleum of famous Tajik-persian poet A.Rudaki passing Panjrud village. We will stop at small lakes Migon, Guzhor and Nofin lakes and alpine meadows of outstanding beauty and character. Arrival to the village Padrud and Lunch at the homestay. Afternoon you will have gentle walking around the Lake.

    Today we’ll stay at traditional homestay “Padrud 

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)

    Day 5 – Padrud – Walking to Seven lakes (6/7km walking) 

    After breakfast drive up to the 6th lake “Marguzor”. Today we will hike to Seven lakes which is one of the most fascinating places in Tajikistan. We can enjoy invigorating trip in fresh mountainous air along unique and wonderfully clean lakes. From the Marguzor lake we will start our hike to the 7th lake “Hazor chashma” . Short stay on the shore of the lake, walking around the lake and continue our gentle walking along Hazor chashma River towards Hissar Pass as long as we can. After Picnic Lunch and relaxing on the lush alpine meadows, and juniper forest we will come back to the Padrud village. Before dinner we’ll introduce with the local people and their life.

    Dinner and overnight in home stay.  Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)

    Day 6 – Padrud – Iskanderkul Lake – Saratog (195 km 5 hours)

     Today we drive to Iskandarkul. A good asphalt road winds up the valley to the lake which has its name derived from Alexander the Great – in Persian called “Iskander”. He camped at Iskanderkul’s shore during one of his campaigns en route to India. According to one of the many legends originating from this time, Alexander’s famous battle horse Bucephalus drowned in the lake – and to this day may be seen racing over its surface at full moon.

    Arrival to Iskandar Kul Lake the rout is along the Fan darya valley and Iskandar Darya.

    The Lake is surrounded by mountains, and is about four km across. The views across the lake are impressive in all directions. At 2000 m, it is pleasantly cool in summer. “Iskandar Kul or Lake Alexander is indeed a beautiful spot”, there are many waterfowl and it is possible to fish in this tranquil and beautiful spot. We will walk to the impressive waterfall of 40m height. A platform allows spectators to stand right above the thunderous torrent.

    Then, drive to Saratog village for dinner and overnight at a homestay or will stay in cottage near by the Lake. 

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)

    Day 7 – Dushanbe, (162 km, 4/5 hours)

    Our destination today is the Tajik capital of Dushanbe, 150km away. We have a tough drive ahead of us as a picturesque serpentine road goes through the huge gorge along Zarafshan River, and then climbs to Anzob Pass (3372m).  A wonderful panorama of high mountains reveals from the pass. Coming down to Varzob Gorge and further arriving in Dushanbe we take a short rest at our comfortable hotel before heading out for an evening stroll. ‘Dushanbe’ means Monday in Tajik, with the town named for the small weekly bazaar which was once all the town had to recommend it. Now it is a pleasant, if small, capital, with broad tree-lined avenues and pleasing architecture surrounded by mountain scenery. 

    Overnight at the hotel “Lotus or similar”.

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch)

    Dushanbe city 

    Dushanbe is a relatively modern town that rose to prominence during the Soviet era, when it was made the capital of the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and named Stalinabad. Its name means ‘Monday in the Tajik language, arising from the fact that this was the day that the market was held when Dushanbe was still a small and fairly insignificant village. The ousted Emir of Bukhara, fleeing from the Bolsheviks, stayed in Dushanbe and cooperated with Enver Pasha’s Basmachis until he had to leave the region. From Dushanbe, he fled to Afghanistan in 1921, the year the town was freed from the Basmachis as well.

    Day 8  – Dushanbe – Kalaikhumb (360 km 8/9 hours),

     We set off east towards the Pamirs and Kalaikhumb, driving through beautiful scenery and interesting villages en route. This area is a little more conservative, and we see many men with beards, and women wearing traditional dress.  We cross the Shurabod Pass (2200 metres), arriving in Kalaikhumb in the early evening. 

    Overnight in Guest House. 

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)

    Day 9 – Kalaikhumb to Rushan (200 km, 5/6 hours)

    From Kalaikhumb we leave for Rushan the administrative center of Rushan district with some 200 kms of terrain ahead of us, and the promise of some spectacular scenery along the way. The road joins the river Pianj, which in turn forms the border with Afghanistan. The contrast across the river valley is telling, Tajikistan is undoubtedly a poor country, but in general the roads are sealed and buildings are connected with electricity. The situation barely 100m away is even starker, and it is as if the river represents not just a physical divide, but also a step back in time.

    Overnight in Home stay. 

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)

    Day 10 – Rushan to Gisev valley and trekking, after the trekking transfer to Khorog.  (9/10km trekking 120km Drive) 

    From Rushan we leave for Geisev through Bartang valley with some 30 km of terrain ahead of us, and again the promise of some spectacular scenery along the way. Arrival in Emtz village in Bartang valley. We will cross the river by wagon hanging on the wire rope as the small bridge washed up. Our trek begins on the river Bartang just beyond Bhagoo village. The hike is mostly gently uphill, for about 8km to the upper of three lakes. The first houses in Geisev are reached after about 5km. The abundant vegetation, the gnarled trees, the lakes and the ever-changing river – sometimes frothing with energy, sometimes limpid and blue – create a very special peaceful atmosphere, ideal for a short break without too much physical effort. This rout passing lakes, and the rivers traversing some of the most magnificent scenery in the Pamirs. We will again cross the river and drive to Khorog for overnight.

    From Gizev we leave for Khorog along river Pianj, border of Afghanistan. We stay in hotel tonight, having reached the capital of the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO).

    Overnight in Hotel Parine Inn/Lal In.

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch)

    Khorog town

    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 11 – Khorog – Ishkashim (130 km 4/5 hours)

    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. Ishkashim itself the regional centre, but it is essentially still a large village and we stay in a traditional style guesthouse in Ishkashim.

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)

    Wakhan Valley

    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 12 – Ishkashim to Langar (110 km 6/7 hours)

    Driving along wakhan valley and visit detour to the nearb
    y 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 13 – Langar to Alichur visit to Bulunkul and Yashil Kul  (192 km, 6/7 hours)
    Today we get a chance to explore the amazing landscape of this area. We drive up to Bulung kul Lake 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.

    Arrival to Bulung kul. Visit to Yashil kul and drive to Alichur and short stop at geyser en route. 

    Overnight in Alichur homestay. 

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)

    Day 14: Alichur to Karajylga (174 km, 5/6 hours)

    An excellent and adventures trip will take us on the unspoiled lunar landscape of high mountains and wide plateau to Karajylga. Short stops at the “Ak Balyk” Lake and Mouseleum of Alimbek datka at Bashgumbez en route. Today we are on the  The Eastern Pamirs have been populated by nomadic ethnic Kyrgyz since the 17th century. The traditional architecture is beautifully represented by yurts, mobile habitations made of felt on an ingenious wooden frame, with the interior decoration bearing witness to the wealth and skills of the owners. Felt and wool serve as the basis for handicrafts. Precise stones, including rubies and emeralds, are also found in the area, and these are sometimes used in local handicrafts.

    Overnight in nomadic yurt stay

    Meals:  Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

    Day 15: Karajylga to Kok jigit and Zorkul – Murghab (215 km, 7/8 hours)

    We drive towards Zorkul Lake and some walking will be to follow the grazing route of Marco Polo sheep. Driving to Sarjylga valley to spot Marco Polo sheep and Ibex.

    Wildlife observation will be undertaken during this tour. The famous and endangered Marco Polo sheep (ovis ammon poli) world’s largest-horned argali sheep, Snow leopard endangered and fully protected species, ibexes, marmot and Brown bear, fox, hare are not full list of representatives of wild life of the area. From birds one can find the mountain goose (ular) pigeons, eagles, vulture, and etc. This Arkhar (Marco Polo sheep), as they are called on Kyrgyz, have very long horns and live in herds of up to 30 or more together, separated mostly by gender and unite only at the time of mating for several months. Due to deforestation and erosion, the Arkhar are now threatened by extinction. Moreover, they are very shy, but with a little luck, we’ll get some of them to face. It is necessary very much greater happiness to sift one of the very rare snow leopards. The chance is about the same size as that to meet, who will circulate in the Pamir mountains on the famous Yeti. Other inhabitants of this area are rabbits and gray hamster, also – at heights of 4,000 meters – foxes, wolves and bears are also. Maybe we meet even one of the giant bearded vulture or see over the peaks majestically soar an eagle. These areas are all unique in their own way, and trips to these places are always fascinating.  Than, we will drive to the west of a high mountain plateau to view the glazy and spectacularly beautiful lake – Chakan kul Lake. Despite its name (“Small Lake”), for most of the year the cloudless skies and pure air (4135m) give it a translucent azure color.  

    We will drive on a muddy road as far as we can to reach to Zorkul Lake. Walking on this area you can see the majestic northern wall of Afghanistan Hindikush and fantastic Zor Kul Lake.

    Along the western half of the Zor kul Lake runs Afghan – Tajik border. The lake’s eastern half lied in Tajiksitan.

    In 1842, Lieutenant Woods of the British India Navy Explored the Pyanj and Pamir rivers as far as the latter’s source in Zor kul.  Zor kul itself is 20 km long – the road runs along its northern shore.

    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 River at an altitude of 3,650 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 the evening. 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 16: Murghab – Kara kul (135 km, 3/4 hours)

    We depart today to Karakul. 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.

    Overnight in Home stay. 

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)

    Day 17 – Karakul – visit to Achik Tash (Lenin Peak (7134 m), base camp, 210 km, 7 hours) to Sary Tash

    We depart today to Base Camp of Peak Lenin. 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. Be warned, even in August we could see sub-zero temperatures through the border areas, so make sure you have some extra layers to hand in case we are delayed by formalities. 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! 

    At Sary Tash we will turn to the west and continue to drive through stunning mountain scenery to the Alai mountain valley along Kyzyl suu River and then to Achik Tash camp site. Base camp of Peak Lenin (7134 m), the second highest mountain in Central Asia is situated on a raised meadow between two steep river valleys. The ground is a carpet of wild garlic and alpine flowers. After exploring Pik Lenin we wiil drive to Sary Tash village for overnight

    Overnight in Guest House. 

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)

    Day 18 – Base camp to Osh (260 km 6/7 hours).

     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. 

    Night in hotel “Sun Rise”./similar 

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch and Dinner)

    Day 19 – Flight to Bishkek

    Transfer to airport take a domestic flight to Bishkek.

    Meeting at the airport Manas transfer to Hotel.

    Night in hotel “Rich”./similar 

    Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch)

    Day 20 – Transfer to airport

    End of tour.

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Agency's Info

Our friendly team of experienced specialists, managers and guides are always ready to help you to organise tours on request in Tajikistan and throughout Central Asia. Tours offered can begin in Dushanbe, Bishkek or Tashkent or Almata. On our tours we give all our guests the opportunity to experience something completely different, your own adventure, and thereby giving you the tour you want at a price you can afford. We have a deep and long-standing bond with the amazing countries of Central Asia. We want, you to experience the beauty of the arched mosques and mudbrick minarets, as well as the fabulous bazaars piled with pomegranates and vivid handloomed carpets. And we want to introduce you to the amiable people who live among these treasures. We visit ruined forts from the days of the old Silk Road, and pass gem mines mentioned by Marco Polo. Our tours runs through the Pamir Highway, Pamir Mountains have long been known as ‘the roof of the world’, a region of utterly breathtaking scenery and home to a fascinating melange of cultures. This is an ‘Expedition’ trip and we hope to expose you to all aspects of the local culture. Please be open-minded. The easiest way to overcome any problems is to be open-minded and bring with you “The Spirit of Adventure”! Take a look at your options, from small group escorted tours to independent trips, from luxury rail journeys to custom and private travel: “Pamir CENTRAL ASIA” team