12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition

12 day Pamir Highway expedition, tajikistan

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition

Join us on a wild adventure along Tajikistan’s famous Pamir Highway on this 12 day Pamir Highway road trip Expedition.

Starting from the Tajik capital of Dushanbe, this trip will take us along the legendary M41 and to some truly off the beaten path corners of the Pamir including a lovely trek to the village of Jizeu in the Bartang Valley, a side trip along the Wakhan Valley, and visits to far-flung Zorkul Lake and Great Game hold out Shaimak.

We will finally cross the border into Kyrgyzstan at Kyzyl Art and spend some time exploring around the beautiful Tulparkul Lake at the base of Peak Lenin.*

*If the Tajik-Kyrgyz border remains closed in 2022 as the trip approaches, we will make plans to return to Dushanbe where we will take a slightly different and equally as amazing route through the remote Pamir.

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Details

Dates: June-November (departures on request)
Start: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Finish: Osh, Kyrgyzstan
Cost: $2,800 per person
Max group size: 12 pax

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Itinerary

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 1: Dushanbe-Qala i Khumb

Nurek Reservoir, Tajikistan

Getting an early start load up into our 4WD vehicles and depart Dushanbe after breakfast to begin your grand journey along the legendary Pamir Highway. Our end goal today will be to reach the beautiful town of Qala i Khumb. 

Along the way stop for a photo op at the gorgeous Nurek Reservoir and a little later to visit the 11th-century Hulbuk Fortress before breaking near the city of Kulob to grab lunch at a local chaikhana (tea house). 

After lunch, we start to gain a little altitude as we approach Shurubod Pass. Coming down the other side the views are mind-blowing as we wind our way down to the Panj River with glimpses across the border and into neighboring Afghanistan. 

For the remainder of the afternoon, we follow the course of the Panj, arriving at Qala i Khumb in the early evening where we’ll have a nice dinner on the river’s edge. 

*For those arriving a day or more early into Dushanbe, we can arrange a guided city tour and/or accommodation bookings at an additional cost for those who are interested. Please note that the night prior to day 1 of the trip is included in the price of your tour.

Drive time: ~10 hours
Accommodation: Guesthouse
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 2: Qala i Khumb to Jizeu

Jizeu, Bartang Valley, Tajikistan

On our second day on the Pamir Highway we will actually veer off the main route at the village of Rushon that sits at the mouth of the beguiling Bartang Valley after about 3 hours of driving. We’ll continue about 30 kilometers up the Bartang Valley, stopping at a bridge to begin our trek to the idyllic village of Jizeu. 

The trek will take us about 2 hours from the bridge with us gaining about 500 meters in elevation over nearly 6 kilometers. 

Once we reach Jizeu we’ll have lunch at our homestay. Spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring around the beautiful valley and meeting some of the friendly people that call this village home. 

Note: Our vehicles will be waiting for us back on the main road so you can leave your large luggage in them overnight. You’ll only need a small daypack with water, layering clothing, and any other personal item you’d like to bring. 

Drive time: ~4 hours
Trekking distance | time: 6 kilometers | 2 hours
Accommodation: Homestay
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 3: Jizeu to Khorog

Kupruki-Vanj Border Crossing, Pamir Highway, Afghanistan-Tajikistan, Tajikistan, Tajikistan Expeditions

For those that want to take sunrise photos over the Jizeu Lakes before we have an early breakfast. Following breakfast, we will begin our trek back to the 4x4s waiting for us on the Bartang Highway. The trek is almost entirely downhill and should take about 1 hour 30 minutes. 

Once back to the vehicles we head back toward Rushon and meet the Pamir Highway once again continuing on it all the way to the Pamiri city of Khorog. The entire drive today is spectacular with amazing views of both the Tajik and Afghan sides of the Panj River. 

In Khorog we will have time to stroll around the city and visit the Central Park and Bazaar. In the evening we can arrange for a visit to a local banya.

Drive time: ~3 hours
Trekking distance | time: 6 kilometers | 1 hour 30 minutes
Accommodation: Hostel-style inn
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 4: Khorog to Yamchun

Yamchun Fortress, Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan

Today, get an early start and head to a common favorite among travelers that venture into the Pamir- the Wakhan Valley. This stunning narrow valley is home to the Wakhi people who mostly follow a unique sect of Islam called Ismailism and who have their own dialect.

After about 3 hours of driving time, we will reach the entrance to the Wakhan Valley at the small town of Ishkashim. From Ishkashim the valley is littered with ancient caravanserais, fortresses, solar calendars, and more. Our first stop beyond Ishkashim will only be a few kilometers beyond town for the ruins of a caravanserai.

About 15 km after leaving Ishakshim we’ll reach the village of Namadgut, home to the Kushan-era Khaakha Fortress that we’ll have the chance to explore. A little further down the Wakhan Valley Road, we will come to the village of Darshai where we’ll grab a simple lunch and take a little time to visit the Shrine of Oston i Bobo Khokhi in the nearby village of Shitkharv.

Finally, in the afternoon, we reach Tughoz, where we will turn off the main road and head up a winding mountain road to reach the fabulous ruins of Yamchun with jaw-dropping views of the Hindu Kush that form the natural border between Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor and Pakistan. Tonight we will stay in a lovely homestay here in the Yamchun area that is operated by a lovely family who cooks up some fantastic meals.

We will also have the opportunity to take a dip in Bibi Fatima Hot Springs which sits at the top of the mountain road. Bibi Fatima is famous in Tajikistan because many women go there in hopes to boost their fertility. Note that the hot spring does have separate hours for men and women- bathing is to be done completely in the nude here.

Drive time: ~6 hours
Accommodation: Homestay
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 5: Bibi Fatima to Pik Engles Meadows

Kishtidjarob River Valley, Pik Engles Meadow Trek, Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan

Back on the road again in the early morning, our first stop for the day is just a short distance away at the village of Vrang where we will make a brief yet steep walk up to the famous Vrang Buddhist Stupa. Continuing on, we stop again in Zong for views of the Vishmqala Silk Fortress that would have served as a lookout to protect this stretch of the route from would-be Chinese and Afghan invaders.

Finally, we reach the village of Hisor, home to the Zangibar Fortress and the Oston i Nuri Muhammed Shrine, and the start of our overnight hike to the stunning Pik Engles Meadows.

From Zong, we follow a path that eventually meets with an irrigation canal with amazing views of the Wakhan Corridor to the south before bending into the narrow valley above Langar village that leads to the meadows beneath the distinctly shaped mountain of Pik Engles.

Once we reach the meadows in the afternoon we will have time to relax and explore the surrounding area. Note that the trek does gain nearly 1,000 meters in elevation over the course of 12 kilometers with us camping at an elevation of 3,950 meters.

Trekking distance | time: 12 kilometers | 5 hours
Drive time: ~2 hours
Accommodation: Camping
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 6: Pik Engles Meadows to Hisor

Pik Engles Meadows Trek, Tajik Wakhan, Tajikistan

In the morning we will pack up camp and descend the same way we came up to Pik Engles Meadows, finally reaching Langar after about 3 hours of walking. On the way down as we near Langar, keep your eyes peeled for petroglyphs that can be found scattered all around- there are over 6,000 of them!

The vehicles will come to pick us up in Langar and shuttle us the short distance to nearby Hisor village where we will be spending the night tonight. Hisor is home to the ruins of Zangibar Fortress and the Shrine of Oston i Nuri Muhammed which we will have time to visit for those interested. Otherwise, we will spend the afternoon relaxing in Hisor.

Tonight we will be staying in a great homestay run by a loving family who cooks up some delicious traditional food.

Trekking distance | time: 7.5 kilometers | 3 hours
Drive time: 
~2 hours
Accommodation: 
Homestay
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 7: Hisor to Jarty Gumbez

Marco Polo Sheep, Jarty Gumbez, Tajikistan

In the morning we will depart Hisor, first making the slow drive beyond the village of Ratm and onto Khargush Pass. Here at Khargush Pass is a checkpoint, from which we will show our permits for Zorkul and veer off the main Wakhan Valley Road and to the east to travel along bumpy jeep tracks into the truly off the beaten path corner of Tajikistan’s Eastern Pamir. We will eventually reach the famous Zorkul Lake that straddles the Tajik-Afghan border, one of Tajikistan’s most remote sights.

After a little time exploring around Zorkul, we will continue toward Jarty Gumbez for the night, a popular sheep hunter’s camp in the winter months. Here we will have access to hot springs and if we’re lucky we’ll see some Marco Polo sheep in the area.

Drive time: ~10 hours
Accommodation: Guesthouse
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 8: Jarty Gumbez to Shaimak

Shaimak, Tajikistan

After bidding our warm rooms at the hot spring goodbye we head for Tajikistan’s most strategic point of Shaimak, a grand holdout of the Great Game- where it is possible to see into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China all at the same time. We will stop for lunch along the way in the end of the world village of Cheshtebe. Keep an eye out for yurt camps belonging to semi-nomadic families who graze their livestock in these mountains.

Driving time: ~6 hours
Accommodation: Homestay
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 9: Shaimak to Karakul

Karakul, Tajikistan

After breakfast, we’ll say goodbye to Shaimak and travel north along the Ak Suu Valley through to the village of Toktymush and on to visit the tombs of Konye Kurgan before we meet again with the main Pamir Highway after a multi-day detour from it.

We will reach the wild wild east town of Murghab in the afternoon where we will grab lunch and visit the bazaar before continuing another 3 hours north and over 4,655 meter Ak Baital Pass. As we cross Ak Baital, keep an eye out for Marco Polo sheep as they do frequent this area.

In the late afternoon, we will descend into Karakul village, perched along the shore of Karakul Lake. Catch the sunset over the lake before dinner inside our warm homestay.

Driving time: ~10 hours
Accommodation: Homestay
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 10: Karakul to Tuparkul, Kyrgyzstan

Pamir Highway, Karakul, Tajikistan

We’ll get an early start toward Kyzyl Art Pass, which forms the natural border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. We’ll bid a ‘khair’ to Tajikistan at the top of the pass where we’ll go through immigration and customs formalities before we descend into the stunning no-man’s-land between the two countries. At the bottom of the pass, we will reach Bordobo and officially enter Kyrgyzstan.

Once we have cleared immigration and customs at Bordobo we will continue onto Sary Tash where we’ll grab some lunch and then continue another hour to reach dazzling Tulparkul Lake where we’ll be staying in a yurt camp for the night.

Note that there is a very good chance that the Tajik-Kyrgyz border at Kyzyl Art will not be open to foreign travelers in 2022- if this is the case we have an alternate plan for returning to Dushanbe via the Bartang Highway. If we do have to return to Dushanbe to finish the trip we will let you know this in ample time and days 10-12 will be: Karakul-Badara, Badara-Qala i Khumb, Qala i Khumb-Dushanbe.

Driving time: ~4 hours
Accommodation: Yurt camp
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 11: Tuparkul

Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Today we’ll spend exploring the area around Tulparkul. Some of us can opt to trek to Peak Lenin Basecamp or you can spend the day relaxing near the lake.

Accommodation: Yurt camp
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition Day 12: Tuparkul to Osh

Suleiman Too, Osh, Kyrgyzstan

We start our final day of this 12 day Pamir Highway road trip by packing up everything and departing Tulparkul back toward Sary Mogul and Sary Tash, eventually reaching Osh in the early afternoon. We’ll take some time to explore a bit of the city today before having our final farewell dinner in a hip restaurant in Osh.

Drive time: ~3 hours
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

What’s Included?

Included:

  • English speaking local guide
  • Transportation (4WD Toyota Landcruiser or similar)
  • Accommodation on twin room sharing basis and tents on trek
  • 12 nights accommodation + 1 night tent camping
  • 3 meals per day
  • Eco tax
  • OVIR registration

Excluded:

  • Visa fee (if applicable)
  • GBAO permit fee
  • Personal kit and equipment
  • Alcoholic beverage
  • Travel Insurance
  • Gratuities to the local staff

Single Supplement

Single supplement is not possible every night of this expedition due to the limited accommodation options in many of the places we will be staying (many nights this will be in a simple homestay where travelers will all sleep in one single room or possibly split between two rooms). On nights in Dushanbe, Qala i Khumb, Khorog, and Osh it is possible for us to make arrangements for single rooms for a fee if you let us know well in advance.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is mandatory in order to participate in all Tajikistan Expeditions/Safar Expeditions tours. You will need to submit proof of travel insurance prior to the trip departure. It is your responsibility to make sure that the travel insurance you choose provides adequate coverage.

All passengers on our trips must have a travel insurance policy that covers international medical expenses. It’s also recommended to choose a plan that covers international airfare (ie: in the event of trip cancelation).

Terms & Conditions

Itinerary changes: Itineraries are subject to changes, especially in Tajikistan. Causes can range from inclement weather, poor or deteriorated road conditions, political unrest, and many other things that are completely out of our control. Changes to an itinerary are not subject to a refund.

Booking: A 30% deposit is required to reserve a spot on this departure. Reservations are on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Deposits: Deposits are refundable up to 30 days after the date the deposit was received. After the 30 day mark, they are no longer refundable.

Final payment: Final payment is due at least 30 days prior to the trip date.

Payments: Payments can be made by Paypal.

Airfare: Airfare is not included in the price of the trip.

Travel insurance: Travel insurance is required in order to join this trip. The policy must cover international medical treatment, trip cancellation, and reimbursement of the tour cost if the tour is canceled.

Cancellations (by passenger): Cancellation of the trip by you is not refundable. In some situations, we can apply the trip fee (minus deposit) toward a future departure of your choosing.

Cancellations (by us): If we have to, unfortunately, cancel a trip you will be refunded your money paid to us, however other expenditures outside of the expedition will need to be settled with your travel insurance (ie: airfare, hotel bookings outside the tour, etc).

Dietary restrictions: We can and do try to accommodate meal requirements for passengers. Please let us know well in advance of any dietary restrictions and/or allergies so that we can plan for you.

Accommodations: On this trip, we do stay in guesthouses and homestays on most nights and will have some access to electricity most evenings and shower facilities, but know in a couple of destinations on the trip this will not be the case. This itinerary does include one night of camping and tents will be provided for this.

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