Along the Pamir Highway

 

Countries: Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

Tour duration: 13 days, starting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and ending in Osh, Kyrgyzstan

The Pamir Highway is a famous high mountain road running along the border with Afghanistan and China, which connects Khorog in Tajikistan and the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan. Without exaggeration, this road will turn out to be the most beautiful and diverse of what you have ever traveled in your life. Behind each new pass, new and crazy landscapes are awaiting you.  The road runs through deep gorges, high passes, huge glaciers and deserts, among small villages in which Pamir peoples live. National Geographic included the Pamir Highway in the top five places that must be visited in Central Asia.

Tour program:

Day 1. Arrival in Dushanbe

Meeting at the airport and transfer to hotel.

Today visit the Tajik National Museum of Antiquities hosting a Tajik pride – the biggest Buddha in Nirvana. Continue to explore the sightseeing of Dushanbe. Tajik flagpole-the World tallest flagpole. The 165-meter flagpole included in the Guinness Book as the world’s tallest in August 2011, in time for the country’s 20th anniversary of independence. Having visited the flagpole, continue our excursion to the main square of Dushanbe. The Monument of Ismoili Somoni - the forefather of Tajik Nation located on the main square. A 40-metre high monument built to the memory of Ismaili Saman-Khuda, founder of the Samanid dynasty in the X century. The base contains a permanent exhibition on the Samanids and is paved in granit slabs. The upper part of the statue is coated with gold.

Day 2. Dushanbe

Visit to the Mehrgon Bazaar- one of the largest markets of Dushanbe, then visit the private Museum of Tajik National Instruments – Gurminj Museum where you will be able to enjoy Tajik folk music.

Afternoon drive to Hissor Fortress - the remains of the Bukhara Emirate Beck’s palace. Its thick walls once guarded a pool, garden, and palace, while the fortress itself opposed a noisy market and caravanserai. What remains today is a peace of wall and gate towers which represent the 18th and 19th century style. The place is famous for its center of commerce during the Silk Road. You will also be able to visit the Old Medressa (Madrasai Kuhna) of 16-17th century with a museum inside, the new Medressa of 17-18 century as well as Caravan Saray.

 

Day 3. Transfer to Khujand, 300 km

In the morning drive from Dushanbe to Khujand via Shahristan and Anzob pass. On the way to Khujand visit Istaravshan town (ancient name Kiropolis). Istaravshan is considered as one of the most ancient cities of Tajikistan, existing for more than 2500 years. It is the place where according to historians Alexander the Great met his wife Roxanna Continue drive to Khujand then city tour you will be able to visit: Pushkin square (named after the Russian famous writer) with Kamoli Khujandi Square (named after the Persian poet); Timur Malik’s fortress and Sugd museum; Muslihiddin memorial complex; Panjshanbe bazaar (Khujand’s central market that has many shops offering different kind of goods and services. The name Panjshanbe comes from Persian language meaning “Thursday”. Panjshanbe is considered as one of the oldest markets in Tajikistan. The Silk Road which passes Khujand city had always made Panjshanbe to be crowded with traders and tourists).

In the evening, visit to Arbob palace which had its particular significance in 1992, when it was the site for the meeting of the Tajik Soviet which officially declared independence from the Soviet Union. Also, it was the site where the Tajik flag was chosen.

Day 4. Transfer to Penjikent, 255 km

Drive from Khujand to Penjikent - a city in the Sughd province of Tajikistan on Zeravshan River. It was once an ancient town in Sogdiana. The ruins of the old town are on the outskirts of the modern city. The Sarazm Important Bird Area (UNESCO World Heritage) lies downstream of the city on the tugay-vegetated floodplain of the river. The archaeological site of the ruins of old Penjikent - a walled inter-city which stood 2500-years ago - was once a Sogdian trading city on the Silk Road. Today, only ruins are left owing to the fact that the main construction material was clay-bricks.

Day 5. Transfer to Dushanbe via  Yagnob Valley, 375 km

Proceed to Yagnob valley. A trip to Yagnob is a time travel. The way of life has not changed here for several hundred years: people plow the land with wooden plow, instead of money they often pay with flour, grain and sheep, and if someone gets sick, they call not a doctor, but a mullah and a healer. Yagnobians are the last carriers of the endangered language and culture of ancient Sogdiana. Most Yagnobians are direct descendants of the inhabitants of ancient Sogdiana, who have preserved the language and culture of their ancestors.

Drive over Anzob tunnel and along Fon-Dariy river to Dushanbe.

Day 6. Dushanbe – Kalai-Khumb, 360 km

From Dushanbe we will drive to Norak reservoir, one of the largest artificial lakes in Tajikistan. On the way visit of Hulbuk Fortress. Continue by south road towards Kalai-Khumb, first region of Pamir. The more conservative attitudes of this region can be seen in the local style of dresses and beards, but the hospitality is just as welcoming. Over Shurobad pass (3252 m) to Kalai-Khumb and the scenery and people change again. Here the people are Badakhshan – not Tajiks but a number of separate tribal groups. Beautiful landscape and view of snow peaks on opposite side- “Afghanistan”. The beautiful landscape and view of snow peaks and several passes will not leave indifferent.

Day 7 Kalai-Khumb - Khorog, 250 km

In the morning you will start driving to the capital of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) - Khorog, along the Panj River. You will be able to enjoy the spectacular view of mountains; on the other side of the river you will have a chance to see the lifestyle of Afghans. From Khorog, the road joins the river Panj, which forms Tajikistan's border with Afghanistan. This is a fascinating drive. On the Tajik side of the river, the road is asphalted and buildings have electricity and are constructed using metal and glass. On the Afghan side – only about 100 m distant – the road is a donkey track and buildings are built of clay and wood.

Day 8. Khorog – Yamg, 180 km

In Khorog, you will be able to visit the botanical garden which was renovated by the initiative of the president. Also you will get acquainted to the life of local people.

On the way to Yamg you can stop and observe the ruins of the ancient fortress called Kah-Kaha fortress - 4th century AD monument left from Kushan era.  It is the second notable fortification built in Wakhan to secure Western Pamirs after Yamchun fort.

For many centuries locals were coming to this place to heal every kind of disease. You will have an opportunity to take a bath in hot waters.

Drive to Yamchun and walk along a ridge to see the  Zoroastrian “Fortress of Fire Worshippers”. You will have an opportunity to visit quirky museum of the local poet, scientist, musician Sufi Mubarak Kadam, whose descendants still live in this village. Also it is possible to visit the famous hot spring called Bibi-Fotima and take a bath in its healing hot water.

Day 9. Yamg – Vrang – Langar, 120 km

In the morning, start driving to Langar. As we enter the Wakhan, there are amazing views of the Pamirs to the left and the Hindu Kush to the right. Straight ahead is a peak of Karl Marx (6,723 m) and Friedrich Engels (6,180m). On the way visiting of Buddhist stupa (also known as Zoroastrian Fire Temple) - a construction, believed to have been built in the 4th century, thought to be used in some of the oldest religious rites in Central Asia. Excursion to the Bronze Age petroglyphs at Langar. Small folklore show during the dinner.

Day 10. Langar - Murgab, 240 km

After breakfast drive to Murgab. The road will take you via Alichur valley and Khargush Pass (4344 m), where you can stop and do some photo shots of spectacular view.  Murgab is the capital of Murghob District in the Pamir Mountains. The modern town was constructed during the Soviet period as a rest stop along the Pamir Highway. Murghab is expected to become a major center for trade between Xinjiang and central Asia. There is a Yak house in Murgab handicraft center, which you will be able to visit. Due to its altitude, the sunrise in Murgab is especially beautiful. You can make incredibly beautiful shots.

Day 11. Murgab - Sary-Tash, 230 km

Transfer to Tajik/Kyrgyz Border over Ak-Baital pass (the highest pass in our tour with the altitude of 4655 meters). Further drive along Karakul lake. Karakul area was used to be called Mara Kansu, meaning the dead valley, while Karakul means the Black Lake. As black is associated with death and emptiness and over. The lake lies at an altitude of 3,900 m (12,800 ft) above sea level. A peninsula projecting from the south shore and an island off the north shore divide the lake into two basins: a smaller, relatively shallow eastern one, between 13 to 19 m (43 to 62 ft) deep, and a larger western one, 221 to 230 m (725 to 750 ft) deep. It is endorheic (lacking a drainage outlet) and the water is brackish. There is a small village with the same name as the lake. Further transfer over Kyzyl-Art Pass (4,280 m) to Tajik/Kyrgyz border and transfer to Sary-Tash village.

Day 12. Sary-Tash – Osh, 185 km

We leave dusty roads of Pamir behind and proceed to lowland Osh over Taldyk (3588 m) and Chiyirchyk (2402) passes. The town is situated at a crossroad of ancient trading routes that became known as the Silk Road.  The age of the city can be judged by the rock drawings and inscriptions found on the northern slope of the four-­headed Suleiman Mountain. Visiting of the mountain and Museum of History.

Day 13. Departure from Osh

Transfer to the airport and end of services

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