Tajikistan · June 25 - July 6 2024

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition

It's wild, it's vast, and it's absolutely stunning

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Overview

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 near the base of Peak Lenin.*

Highlights

Visiting the Breathtaking Village of Jizeu

Visiting the Breathtaking Village of Jizeu

Our first hike in the Pamirs will bring us to Jizeu, a true highlight for many who visit the Bartang Valley in the Pamirs.

Exploring the Wakhan Valley

Exploring the Wakhan Valley

Home to the Wakhi people, historical fortresses and shrines, and views of the Hindu Kush, the Wakhan Valley is truly something special.

The Road Trip of a Lifetime

The Road Trip of a Lifetime

Taking in some of the best sceneries of Tajikistan, this itinerary will take us from Tajikistan's capital of Dushanbe to the nation's extreme east on an exhilarating road trip.

Itinerary

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Dushanbe to Qala i Khumb

Day 1: Kick Off the Pamir Highway Adventure

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. 

Drive time: ~10 hours
Accommodation: Guesthouse

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Qala i Khumb to Jizeu

Day 2: Take a Hike into the Bartang

On our second day on the Pamir Highway, we will actually veer off the main route at the village of Rushon which 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 who 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: 6 kilometers | 2 hours
Accommodation: Homestay

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Jizeu to Khorog

Day 3: Panj River Views & Khorog

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: 6 kilometers | 1 hour 30 minutes
Accommodation: Hostel-style inn

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Khorog to Yamchun

Day 4: Enter the Wakhan Valley

Today, get an early start and head to a common favorite among travelers who 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 in 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 of boosting 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

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Yamchun to Pik Engles Meadows

Day 5: Ancient Stupas, Silk Road History & Meadows

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: 12 kilometers | 5 hours
Drive time: ~2 hours
Accommodation: Camping

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Pik Engles to Hisor

Day 6: Back Down to the Wakhan

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: 7.5 kilometers | 3 hours
Drive time: ~2 hours
Accommodation: Homestay

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Hisor to Jarty Gumbez

Day 7: A Tour Into the Remote Eastern Pamir

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

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Jarty Gumbez to Shaimak

Day 8: Into Great Game Territory

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

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Shaimak to Karakul

Day 9: Back on the M41

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

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Karakul, Tajikistan to Tulparkul, Kyrgyzstan

Day 10: Goodbye Tajikistan & Hello Kyrgyzstan

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.

Driving time: ~4 hours
Accommodation: Yurt camp

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Tulparkul

Day 11: Explore the Tulparkul Area

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

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Tulparkul to Osh

Day 12: Onward to Osh

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


Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What's included

What's Included

All meals as indicated on the itinerary

English speaking guide

4WD transportation

Accommodation on twin room sharing basis in hotels, guesthouses & homestays

Shared double tent on treks

Tajikistan visa fee (if applicable)

GBAO permit

Personal kit and equipment

Sleeping bag (rental available)

Alcoholic beverages

Travel insurance

Tips to local staff

Hosts

Nicole Smoot

Nicole Smoot

Expedition Lead


Despite being born and raised in the mountains of Alaska with plenty of backyard adventures that could have kept her busy for a lifetime, the unusual dragon blood trees of Socotra, the truly bizarre landscapes of Iran’s far-flung Sistan and Balochistan Province, the gingerbread-house-like architecture of Sana’a, and the dazzling turquoise lakes of Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains lured Nicole to the other side of the planet and on to get to know these locations extremely well.

the.adventures.of.nicole

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12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition

The World's Most Epic Road Trip

FROM$1,800.00/pp

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Extras & Options

Single Supplement

Single Supplement

Opt for a private room when it's available. Subject to availability.

FROM$262.50/pp

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FAQs

Both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are generally safe countries to visit. The main concerns while traveling in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are the risk of injury during outdoor activities and altitude sickness. 

This 12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition will begin in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in the early morning of June 25th, and end in Osh, Kyrgyzstan on the evening of July 6th.

This Tajikistan expedition is rated as moderate and rugged. We will be staying in simple homestays and guesthouses along the Pamir Highway. During the trek to Jizeu we will be staying with a local family in their village homestay and on the trek to Pik Engles Meadows, we will be tent camping and sleeping in a primitive camp.    

Some nationalities need a Tajik visa issued by an embassy or consulate to enter the country, while others may only need an e-visa, visa on arrival, or may enter visa-free. If you are eligible for an e-visa, we recommend getting it to ease the process of obtaining a GBAO permit (read more about GBAO in the next section of the FAQ).


You can read an overview of Tajikistan's visa policy here but it would still be wise to check with your nearest Tajik consulate or embassy as visa schemes are always subject to change.


Note that if you will be entering Tajikistan visa-free and you will be staying in the country for more than 10 business days, you must register with OVIR. We will handle this process for you after you've checked into the hotel on the first day.


In Kyrgyzstan, most nationalities are eligible to enter the country visa-free for up to 60 days.

To enter the Pamir region of Tajikistan, foreign travelers are required to obtain a GBAO (Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast) permit. Those who are eligible for a Tajik e-visa can obtain a GBAO permit for an additional $20 USD when applying for the e-visa. The GBAO permit will be issued on the e-visa document. 


Those who plan to enter Tajikistan visa-free or with a visa on arrival will need to visit the OVIR office in Dushanbe in person with their passport and pay a fee to obtain the GBAO permit. This process can take up to two days. 

To join any Safar Expeditions departure you will need to carry an active travel insurance plan. Be aware that Tajikistan's generally remote nature poses very real challenges in the event of medical emergencies and serious illness. Because of this, it is recommended to select an insurance plan that covers both medical care and evacuation. 


We recommend using IATI travel insurance for medical coverage and an evacuation plan from Global Rescue


Prescriptions and over-the-counter meds are usually possible to find in Dushanbe, but we still recommend to make sure to bring any meds you need or may need with you. 

The Tajik Somoni (TJS) is the official currency of Tajikistan. The value of the Somoni fluctuates a little but seems to have steadily stayed around 10-12 TJS to $1 USD for the past couple of years. 

In Kyrgyzstan (KGS), the Kyrgyz Som is the official currency and has been steadily staying around 80-90 KGS to $1 USD. 

Yes, we do provide a suggested packing list and preparation guide for our Tajikistan expedition that can be viewed here

The food you'll encounter during your time in Tajikistan will be simple and traditional. In the cities and towns, we will have the chance to try different Tajik and Central Asian dishes in local restaurants. On the Pamir Highway portion of the trip, we'll mostly be eating homecooked meals provided by the homestays we'll staying in. You can expect flavorful soups and salads, plov (a traditional Central Asian take on fried rice), noodle dishes, and meat dishes. Of course, almost any meal in Tajikistan is accompanied by a hot glass of chai. 


Please let us know of any dietary restrictions or allergies in advance so that we can accommodate your needs. 

SIM cards are available for purchase in Dushanbe, with T-Cell and Megafon having the best service. Internet can be intermittent in the Pamir, as we will have some nights where we won't have access to mobile internet or Wi-Fi.


You can expect to have electricity most nights of the expedition except when in Jizeu and Pike Engles Meadows.

Yes, a minimum of 4 passengers will need to be on this expedition in order to run. If the minimum isn't reached, we will contact you about the potential to still operate the trip but at an additional charge or you will be given the option to cancel and your deposit/payment can either be returned to you or applied toward a different expedition of your choosing.

12 Day Pamir Highway Expedition

Tajikistan · June 25 - July 6 2024 · 11 nights

FROM$1,800.00/pp

BOOK NOW