A Pamir Highway Jeep Tour
Escape from it all on a road trip that takes you about as close to the edge of the map as it’s possible to be these days.
Winding through the mountains of Tajikistan and south-western Kyrgyzstan, this legendary highway is one of the wildest, most scenic roads on the planet. So named because it cuts through the High Pamirs – the fourth highest, yet least explored mountain range on earth – the Highway is famous for its thrilling driving and formidable scenery. Expect lashings of adventure, dusty tracks over distant mountains and heart-warming hospitality.
This rough wilderness is made for four wheels. Travelling in the comfort of a top spec Toyota Land Cruiser, you’ll explore ancient Zoroastrian ruins, mountain villages, thermal springs and much, much more. Prepare to be dazzled and humbled in equal measures.
A Tailor-Made Silk Road Adventure
Please note that, as with all of our tailor-made itineraries, this is a sample tour, and can be altered to suit your tastes and desires.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Dushanbe International Airport|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please ensure you arrive in good time for the expedition to begin|
- Car with driver
- All accommodation
- All meals
- Airport transfers
- Local English-speaking guide
- Entry into local historical/cultural sites
- Filtered water
- Water-to-Go Filter bottle
- International flights to/from Dushanbe
- Extra snacks
- Visas and other permits as required (Tajik visa, GBAO permit x 2)
Bespoke Wakhan Corridor Travel
This thrilling Silk Road tour takes you along Tajikistan’s stunning Wakhan Corridor, a mountainous slither of land that once acted as a buffer between the British and Russian Empires. There can be few places on earth where the views are so sublime, and the echoes of history so strong. As you stand amidst the ruins of 2000 year old Zoroastrian fortresses, above the glittering waters of the Amu Darya (the Oxus of ancient times), it’s easy to imagine the camel caravans that once passed this way, groaning under the weight of rubies, salt, silk and more.
Ultimate Pamir Highway: Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan Jeep Adventure
Minimum Group Size 1 person. Maximum Group size 9 persons.
Day 1: Monday
Start Point: Home Destination: Dushanbe Travel: Plane and Hotel Transfer
Arrive Dushanbe International Airport, Tajikistan.
Flights (usually Turkish Airlines via Istanbul) arrive at the rather ungodly hour of 03.45. A driver will collect you from the airport and whisk you to the comfort of your 5* hotel. Once you wake up, today will be a gentle day of sleeping, acclimatizing, eating and drinking. We can also arrange a number of bespoke experiences for you, from a tour of the capital’s old Soviet mosaics, to a behind the scenes look at the Opera & Ballet theatre.
Day 2: Tuesday
Start Point: Dushanbe Destination: Kala-i-Hussein Travel: 4WD
It’s chocks away as you hit the road to Kala-i-Hussein, 220 km east of the capital. You’ll stop for lunch and a swim by a beautiful blue lake, and end the day in a pretty little village in the foothills of the Pamir ranges. Here you’ll be staying in either the local mosque or a family-run guesthouse. Both are delightful.
Day 3: Wednesday
Start Point: Kala-i-Hussein Destination: Kala-i-Kumb Travel: 4WD
Day 4: Thursday
Start Point: Kala-i-Kumb Destination: Khorog Travel: 4WD
After a good breakfast at your guesthouse, you’ll head deeper into the mountains, following the Pamir Highway and the Panj River 240 km south-east to Khorog along the Afghan border. Expect soaring eagles, stunning mountain scenery and dusty roads carved through deep river gorges. In Khorog you’ll be staying at a comfortable hotel, and have the choice of pizza or excellent Indian for supper.
Day 5: Friday
Start Point: Khorog Destination: Yamchun
After a chance to explore Khorog’s bustling market and stock up on snacks for the road ahead, it’s south to Ishkashim, a small town on the Afghan border. If it’s Saturday, there’s a fascinating market here, where Tajiks and Afghans cross the border to trade their wares. From Ishkashim it’s east along the Wakhan Corridor, where you’ll be driving in the shadow of both the High Pamirs and Pakistan’s Hindu Kush. Tonight, after a stunning 160 km drive, you’ll stop in the village of Yamchun, home to a 2000 year old Silk Road fortress and some reviving hot springs. The view from here has to be among the best on earth. Well, we think so anyway.
Day 6: Saturday
Start Point: Yamchun Destination: Langar Travel: 4WD and Foot
There’s so much to see in the Wakhan Corridor that today you’ll just drive 40 km to the village of Langar. On the way you’ll stop to climb up to ancient Buddhist stupas, visit a great little museum and stop in some lovely Wakhi villages. The views across to Afghanistan and Pakistan are quite something, and the family at tonight’s homestay utterly delightful. By now, you will have well and truly left all your worries behind, and be relishing the remoteness of this rare and wonderful place.
Day 7: Sunday
Start Point: Langar Destination: Jarty Gumbez Travel: 4WD
After breakfast at the homestay, you’ll hit the road and wind north-east out of the Wakhan Corridor, leaving the Pyanj far below. Turning off the ‘main’ road, you’ll head east into the wilderness, following the Pamir River through the Zorkul Nature Reserve (conditions permitting). This route lies between the Alichur and Great Pamir mountain ranges and offers some spectacular views. You’ll be crossing a 4400 metre pass today, then dropping down to a remote settlement for a night at a simple guest house replete with its own hot springs. Tonight’s altitude is 4100 metres.
Please note that this route is only passable at certain times of year, and is weather dependent. At other times, you will spend the night near Alichur, on the Murghab Plateau.
Day 8: Monday
Start Point: Jarty Gumbez Destination: Murghab Travel: 4WD
This morning it’s a blustery 165 km drive across the extraordinary lunar landscape of the Aksu River valley, through the remote, high altitude desert of the Bam-i–Dunya, ‘the roof of the world.’ To your right lies the Saray Kol range and behind it, China. To your rear are Afghanistan and Pakistan; this is truly one of the most remote tri-borders in the world and the views will knock your socks off. Watch out for yaks, Kyrgyz nomads and fat golden marmots. Time and weather permitting, you’ll stop off at an abandoned Soviet observatory and a vast meteor crater. Tonight will be spent in a cosy homestay in Murghab, at 3600 metres above sea level.
Day 9: Tuesday
Start Point: Murghab Destination: Sary Tash Travel: 4WD
From Murghab it’s a short drive up and over the 4655 m Ak-Baital pass (the highest pass in the former Soviet Union) and on to the Kyrgyz border, via the turquoise waters of Lake Karakul. As soon as you cross the border you’re into another world – gentler mountains, nomads and glossy herds of horses flowing across the felted steppe. After a total drive of 235 km, you’ll arrive in the small town of Sary Tash, where you’ll spend the night in a cosy homestay.
Day 10: Wednesday
Start Point: Sary Tash Destination: Osh Travel: 4WD
After breakfast at your homestay, it’s a beautiful 180 km ride through the southern heart of Kyrgyzstan (the Switzerland of Central Asia) to Osh. On the way you’ll stop at a UFO cafe (you’ll see what we mean) for a leisurely lunch, before arriving in Osh in the afternoon. In Osh you’ll stay in an old Soviet hotel we’ve come to be rather fond of. There are smarter places, but they don’t have the character of this old relic.
Day 11: Thursday
Start Point: Osh Notes: Rest day in Osh
Today it’s a day off in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s main southern city, to explore this former Silk Road city with its brilliant bazaars, mosques and museums.
Day 12: Friday
Start Point: Osh Destination: Khujand Travel: 4WD
Today is the longest day on the road, a 380 km drive through the Batken region to Khujand, in Tajikistan. You’ll cross the border in the afternoon and arrive in Khujand in time for a delicious supper. This will be a very different Tajikistan to the one you left behind in the Pamirs. Tonight is in a good hotel in the heart of this attractive town.
Day 13: Saturday
Start Point: Khujand Destination: Dushanbe
It’s your final day on the road, and the day you tackle the infamous (but recently repaired) Anzob Tunnel. After 220 km on tarmac roads, you’ll be back in Dushanbe for supper. Tonight you’ll be in the best hotel in town.
Day 14: Sunday
Start Point: Dushanbe Notes: Rest day in Dushanbe
Day off in Dushanbe – it’s your time to explore this interesting city, maybe visit a spa for a massage, do a spot of shopping, explore the bazaar or just relax in the comfort of your 5* hotel. We will be taking you for a delicious farewell supper in Dushanbe this evening, and then you can sleep before your early morning flight tomorrow.
Day 15: Monday
Start Point: Dushanbe Destination: Home Travel: Airport Transfer and Plane
The suggested Turkish Airlines flight (via Istanbul) departs at another ungodly hour of 05.40. Hardly worth going to bed is it?
Where will we be staying?
This is a tailor-made trip, so we will arrange your accommodation based on your own tastes and desires. In general though, you’ll be staying in good hotels in Dushanbe, Khorog and Osh, guest houses or basic hotels in other towns, and in homestays with local people and their families. The homestay concept is widely used throughout Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and these nights are highly enjoyable glimpses into local customs and lifestyles.
We feel that true luxury is getting to know a place and its people, rather than being measured by the thread count of the bed linen.
What will the weather be like?
This is a very difficult question to answer when traversing the fourth highest mountain range on earth. But you can expect some hot days lower in the valleys – 25 degrees or higher. At altitude, we have experienced every season in the course of a single day – warm sunshine followed by winds and rain, hail or snow on the passes and perhaps down to freezing for a short period of time. In general, the rule of thumb is to expect warm days and cooler nights.
What kit do I need to bring?
We will provide you with an information pack after signing up to this trip, and this will detail any particular equipment we think either necessary or useful.
How much are flights?
This is a moving feast! It depends on where you are travelling from and how you want to get there. From London, the cheapest flights to Dushanbe might be via Moscow. We often use Turkish Airlines via Istanbul for this route because they are good, cost-effective connections. Costs are usually around the £600 mark, return. Again, we’ll send you an information pack containing all the information you need when you book your place.
What will the food be like?
Varied; the Pamir area is not particularly agriculturally inclined, mostly due to the precipitous nature of the topography, and often poor soils. But many of our homestay hosts pride themselves on making good meals for their guests, so we will be well looked-after. If you are a vegetarian, food can be a little dull (lots of bread, potatoes and eggs with salads) but perfectly acceptable. For meat-eaters, pilaf is the main dish. Usually rice and meat in one dish and often very tasty. Freshly made non (bread) is available almost everywhere and can be delicious. We try to ensure we have some treat foods in the back-up vehicle for picnics. In general we think food is a core part of any cultural experience and there are a good number of local dishes to try on our route.
Will I be affected by altitude?
Altitude can affect different people in different ways. It can also affect the same person in different ways from trip to trip. We will be spending quite a number of days above 3000 metres, and up on the Alichur and Murghab plateaus, often above 4000 metres. We also cross some high passes, with the Ak Baital being 4700 m (over 15,000 ft). If you feel that you might suffer from altitude sickness, or have history of it, you should consider discussing this with your doctor prior to booking and travel. Diamox and other similar prescription drugs are available to ease symptoms, but the key way to address any onset of altitude sickness is to descend. Luckily, from anywhere particularly high, descent is possible rapidly thanks to our vehicles. Our route is also planned to gain altitude in the smallest increments possible to aid acclimatization. Simple precautions and awareness go a long way.
Do you perform proper risk management on your expeditions?
Yes. We are members of TRIP – the Travel Risk and Incident Prevention Group – and perform detailed country risk assessments prior to departure, in line with the ISO 31000 international standard for risk assessment. We also maintain close contact with the relevant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for countries we plan to visit, in addition to making use of the Australian Smart Traveller assessment tool, and the US State Department’s OSAC service. Beyond this, we have a full set of risk management and disaster contingency plans for each expedition and are expedition first aid trained by Crux Medical. For final back up we also use the services of Remote Medical Support that allows us to have a UK expedition doctor on the end of a telephone line wherever we may be. And we always carry a satellite phone if there is any danger of being out of signal in the places we travel through. We really don’t mess around when it comes to safety.
Is this really for me?
Although this is an extremely enlivening way to spend two weeks of your life, it’s also potentially dangerous, and isn’t for everyone.
Travelling by 4WD is an inherently risky activity and to compound this, you will be travelling in a developing part of the world.
Not only could you be hurt, maimed or even killed but in the event of an accident it could take hours for the emergency services to reach you.
It will also be physically tiring due to altitude.
We adore travel in Tajikistan, but it isn’t for everyone, and you need to be prepared for a good dose of adventure. The loos are a long way from Western standards, the roads are bumpy and you won’t have access to Wi Fi for days. These, of course, are some of the things we love about travel here, but if you like your holidays to include foie gras, butlers andquilted loo roll then please look elsewhere.
If however, you want a proper, unique and delightful experience that you’ll remember forever, then you are in luck.