The Pamir Highway
In the greatest American tradition, I and 1-6 of my closest (proximal) friends hit the open road in vast expanse of the Tajik Pamirs. What does the Great Pamiri Road-Trip look like? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Gas up the car.
Then hit the road. Given a reason to hurry, you could probably drive from Dushanbe (Tajikistan) to Osh (Kyrgyzstan) in three pretty full days of driving.
If you have the time, though, these inviting mountains and sometimes-troubled towns can hold your attention for as long as you’re willing to linger.
Even if you don’t linger, Khorog is a great place to restock before heading further up the Pamir Highway or south to the Wakhan for trekking.
This Highway is at times a road only in name. Built by the Soviets, the route has seen very little maintenance since the end of the USSR.
As such, it may occasionally be a bit rough on the car.
When that happens, stop and make time to enjoy your surroundings.
Then go back and help change those tires.
I promise, eventually things will all look better.
In fact, you’ll be to the desolate little town of Murghab before you know it!
Unless you’re headed up into the mountains nearby, though, maybe just plan on a short break here.
There is, after all, a crystal-blue mountain lake waiting for your arrival and enjoyment. This is Karakol.
There’s a small crowd, but nothing too unreasonable.
With the size of Karakol, though, you’ll almost surely be able to find some solitude if you’d like.
After you’ve had a moment at Karakol, back on the road and up the Pass.
This is the rarified peak of the whole Pamir Highway, so if you feel your heart-rate rising its probably just the effects of high altitude.
By the time you’re over the Kyrgyz border, you’ve been in the car long enough to justify a break.
Admire those yaks quickly, because pretty soon its back on the road and onwards to Osh!
The only real complaint one might have is that organizing this stuff independently takes some time and some Russian skills. The other option for the Pamir Road Trip would be doing it with the support of one of the adventure rally operators that does trips through Tajikistan.
The Pamir Highway is a great trip, whether as a journey itself or as part of a larger Central Asia journey. Start in Dushanbe, ride to Khorog, and from there to Murgab and across the Kyrgyz border to Osh. Come prepared to bargain, and study up a bit on your Russian numbers.