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Tajikistan: The Pamir Highway

Group Tour

16 Days From £3,795

Overview

The Pamir Highway is undoubtedly one of the world’s most stunning roads and yet few Westerners have ever travelled its length, lying as it does in a rarely visited and remote part of Central Asia.

Our journey begins in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, from where we head east to Kalai-Khumb to meet the Amu Darya River - the ancient Oxus - and follow it upstream alongside the Afghan border into the Wakhan Corridor. This narrow valley, which lies between the mighty Pamirs and the Hindu ...
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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

15 x Breakfasts
14 x Lunches
14 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

Outside of Dushanbe, where we use a minibus, we will use 4WD land cruisers for the whole trip.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. 

On this particular trip we will stay in small hotels in the towns - beginning with a large, Soviet-style one in Dushanbe. We will also be staying in a number of homestays with basic, shared facilities; it is usual for 3 or 4 people to share a room and you sleep on mattresses on the floor. The homestays tend to have limited local-style toilet facilities of the long-drop variety and only some have a shower/ wash room.

Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low / Moderate

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE/HIGH: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-4hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-5 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

VERY HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 5-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Tajikistan: The Pamir Highway
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN DUSHANBE

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN DUSHANBE

The tour begins in Dushanbe. Accommodation for tonight is included in the tour due to the arrival time of our suggested group flights in the early hours of Day 2.

Avesto Hotel or similar

DAY 2: IN DUSHANBE

DAY 2: IN DUSHANBE

After a relaxed breakfast we have the rest of the day to explore Tajikistan’s capital city and see the sights. Depending on opening hours, we will visit the impressive Museum of National Antiquities, which houses Asia’s largest statue of a sleeping Buddha (a mighty 13 metres), ancient weapons and a carving of Alexander the Great. Alternatively, we’ll visit the impressive new National Museum located next to the world’s tallest flagpole.

Avesto Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: DUSHANBE - KALAI-KHUMB

DAY 3: DUSHANBE - KALAI-KHUMB

This morning we start our epic journey taking the Pamir Highway, a road built by the Red Army in the 1930s in order to link the isolated communities to the rest of the Soviet Union. We make a full day’s drive through the changing landscape of canyons and farmland to Kalai-Khumb, situated so close to the Afghani villages just across the river that you’ll be able to wave to each other.

Karon Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: KALAI-KHUMB - KHOROG

DAY 4: KALAI-KHUMB - KHOROG

This morning we drive south towards Khorog and spend the day exploring in 4WDs and on foot. Khorog is the administrative centre of the Pamir region, dramatically set deep in the valley at the confluence of the Panj and Ghund rivers and boxed in by the mountain peaks.

Lal Inn Guesthouse or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: IN KHOROG

DAY 5: IN KHOROG

Today we will visit a number of places of interest, including the Ethnographical Museum and the Botanical Gardens, one of the highest in the world and with great views. The town is also the site of one of Central Asia’s few university campuses.

Lal Inn Guesthouse or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: KHOROG - ISHKASHIM - YAMG

DAY 6: KHOROG - ISHKASHIM - YAMG

The road from Khorog is partially tarmacked, so the journey today should be relatively smooth. Not far from Khorog are the Ruby Mines of Khu i La’L, where Badakhshani rubies were mined as far back as the 9th Century. We’ll make a stop for lunch in Ishkashim and see the bridge which is the border with Afghanistan. If time permits, we will be able to stop off along the way and have a look at the old castles that once guarded this branch of the Silk Road, including Yamchun Fort. These castles are all built quite high up so as to dominate the surrounding valley. This part of the Pamirs is also dotted with a variety of religious sites from Sufi shrines to Buddhist stupas. We’ll stay overnight in Yamg village, where we can take a short walk, visit the local shrine or simply relax.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: YAMG -  LANGAR

DAY 7: YAMG -  LANGAR

We take a short drive along the Panj River today, taking in the cultural change between the nomadic and settled people of the Wakhan. Our destination for today is Langar, the last village of the Tajik Wakhan Corridor before the border with Afghanistan. Langar boasts a castle and some interesting petroglyphs, and is home to the Wakhi Tajiks, most of whom are farmers or shepherds.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: LANGAR - YASHIK KUL LAKE

DAY 8: LANGAR - YASHIK KUL LAKE

We start our day with an uphill hike to view the impressive collection of over 6000 petroglyphs and visit the Jamoat Khana, adorned with colourful murals. We then continue our journey along the Pamir River, hopefully spotting one of the rare herds of Bactrian camels that still exist here. The vista before us brings spectacular views of Afghanistan, with the ice-capped summit of the Wakhan Range. Once our passports have been checked at Kargush army base, we continue north and cross the Khargush Pass. We will pass by a number of interesting salt lakes before reaching our overnight stop at Yashil Kul Lake, where we will stay in the small hamlet of Bulunkul. The people living locally are Kyrgyz pastoralists living in a harsh but hospitable environment. Our stay here will deepen our understanding of how people have adapted to live in such remote mountainous areas, in fact the coldest place in Tajikistan.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: YASHIK KUL LAKE - MURGAB

DAY 9: YASHIK KUL LAKE - MURGAB

We will spend some time this morning exploring Lake Yashil Kul before driving on. After following the Alichur Plateau we plan to stop for lunch at a yurt camp and meet the local nomads. Weather permitting we’ll head up to Shorbulak Observatory, from where you can see the Muztag Ata and Kongur peaks, at 7550m and 7719m respectively, which are part of the Khun Lun Range. We then continue on to Murgab. This quiet town, which is home to the only bazaar of the High Pamir region, is still struggling with its development due to the nearby Russian border guards’ base being closed down – the last remaining Soviet influence in this region. The recent opening of the Chinese Qolma Pass, however, has slowly aided the town in its progression.

Pamir Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: IN & AROUND MURGAB

DAY 10: IN & AROUND MURGAB

This morning there will be time visit the local market before we depart to explore the stunning Madian Valley, one of the main grazing areas near Murgab. Driving out of town, we will then head off on foot towards Eli Su hot springs. Here we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch and spend time relaxing, before returning to Murgab for the night.

Pamir Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: MURGAB - KARAKUL

DAY 11: MURGAB - KARAKUL

Our journey today takes us to Karakul. The road climbs up to the Ak Baital Pass - the White Mare Pass. At 4655m, it is the highest pass in the former USSR. Views of mountains and glaciers along the way are simply breath-taking. The stunning Karakul Lake is hidden deep in this expanse of arid landscape. It is a body of water thought to have been created millions of years ago by a meteorite and noted as one of the most geologically fascinating places on earth. We’ll have the opportunity for a short walk along the lake to our homestay in Karakul village. The surrounding area offers some spectacular views, which are especially dramatic with the sun setting over the nearby snow-capped mountains.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: KARAKUL - BARTANG VALLEY

DAY 12: KARAKUL - BARTANG VALLEY

Today we head west towards the Bartang Valley. Very different from both the High Pamir and the Wakhan Valley, Bartang is dotted with small villages and plots of land are carved out of the mountainsides to provide for the local farmers. Considered to be one of the most impressive spots in the western Pamirs, the valley is famous for its superb climbing, hospitable villages and local musicians. We will spend our first night in the valley in Koudara, with time to explore the local village on arrival.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: IN BARTANG VALLEY

DAY 13: IN BARTANG VALLEY

Leaving Koudara this morning, we continue our journey through the Bartang Valley today by driving on to Siponji village, historically used as a shelter from neighbouring Afghan slave traders. On arrival we’ll be able to take a short walk to explore this friendly village and maybe witness something of their pastoral life, such as milking time.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: BARTANG VALLEY - KALAI-KHUMB

DAY 14: BARTANG VALLEY - KALAI-KHUMB

This morning we’ll set out on foot, crossing the river and walking to the next village, where our drivers will meet us. Leaving the Bartang Valley behind us, we retrace our steps today and drive on to Kalai Khumb to spend the night.

Karon Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 15: KALAI-KHUMB - DUSHANBE

DAY 15: KALAI-KHUMB - DUSHANBE

Our final drive today sees us bid farewell to the mountains and return to Dushanbe. This evening we’ll head out for our final dinner together and a chance to reminisce over our adventures of the last two weeks.

Avesto Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 16: TOUR ENDS IN DUSHANBE

DAY 16: TOUR ENDS IN DUSHANBE

The tour finishes today after breakfast at the hotel. However, those on the suggested group flights will depart for the airport early this morning, before breakfast.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Homestays

In Tajikistan, we will stay in the homes of hospitable locals. This is a great way to meet and interact with the local people, understand their limited infrastructure, and be introduced to their culture and way of life. With the homestays we use, the money goes straight into these remote communities and so benefits the people directly.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
TK 1980 London Heathrow (LHR) 11:30 Istanbul (IST) 17:20
TK 254 Istanbul (IST) 21:00 Dushanbe Airport (DYU) 03:40
TK 255 Dushanbe Airport (DYU) 05:10 Istanbul (IST) 08:30
TK 1989 Istanbul (IST) 10:40 London Heathrow (LHR) 12:50

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour UK passport holders currently require a visa for Tajikistan.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

 

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

Tajikistan

Explore Tajikistan further by heading up to the Fann Mountains in the north of the country, either before or after the tour. Allow 3-5 days.

Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan

If you have more time in the area why not explore neighbouring Kyrgyzstan with its alpine and steppe scenery and semi-nomadic peoples, or visit Uzbekistan with its striking cultural legacy. Allow 1-3 weeks.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

The weather conditions can be extremely varied on this trip. In the mountains of Tajikistan we will often be travelling at heights in excess of 3,000m and even in the middle of summer it can turn cold with snow falling. At the same time, mercury in the thermometers of Dushanbe can be nudging 40C. You should therefore come prepared for a variety of temperatures and possibly rain.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, as many of the activities are optional. However, please note that this trip spends considerable time at altitude in the mountains. There will be a chance to undertake some short walks to help acclimatise during the trip, which are easy and should be within everyone’s capabilities.

Please note that this is not designed as a walking tour though, but rather is predominantly a road trip and will involve considerable driving. Whilst please be prepared for this, don’t panic too much – we’re sure that what you will be witnessing will easily make up for any discomfort.

Also, please be advised that on this trip vegetarians can be catered for, but the selection and variety will be very limited.

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation, but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour spent in hotels and guesthouses, but not in the homestays. You will need to be prepared to share a room with others at the homestays.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £500 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 6714 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

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