Karakul, Tajikistan, Pamir, Pamir Highway, Pamir Travel, Pamir Gravel Guide, Badakshan, GBAO, M41

Pamir Highway Guide

Karakul, Tajikistan, Pamir, Pamir Highway, Pamir Travel, Pamir Gravel Guide, Badakshan, GBAO, M41

Pamir Highway Guide

*This is an extremely long post with information I have personally gathered over my travels in Tajikistan, so yes, some links in here are affiliate links.

As we made the colorful twists and turns down out of Shurabad Pass with my first glimpses across the River Panj into Afghanistan, I knew this surely wouldn’t be my last adventure along the famed Pamir Highway. What was historically an important route along the Silk Road was turned highway by the Soviets between 1931 and 1934 as a means to transport troops and provisions rather than the yaks, silk and horses of the past.

Looking to do the ultimate roadtrip? Look no further than the Pamir Highway, or the M41 as the Soviets had named it. So what gives me the gall to write about it? I’ve now done the route between Dushanbe and Osh twice. Some legs I’ve done several times such as Alichur to Murghab that I’ve now traveled 5 times, the true M41 between Khorog and Alichur I’ve done 3 times, I have spent enough time in Khorog that the family who owns the homestay I routinely stay at knows me by first name and treats me like a relative and my favorite restaurant doesn’t even ask, they just bring me out a bowl of Qurutob when I turn up at lunchtime. The only stretch that I haven’t fully explored ‘off-highway’ (yet) would be the far eastern Pamir. I have done the route by private 4×4 hire, shared taxi and hitchhiking, the only area I don’t have any expertise in is cycling it.

Pamir Highway Route

By Derived from CIA map by Bantman at en.wikipedia, transferred to Commons by User:Man77 using CommonsHelper. [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

There’s not really an official beginning or end of the Pamir Highway. So, unofficially I will say that it extends from Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, transits a brief stint of southeastern Uzbekistan and traverses Tajikistan to end in Osh Kyrgyzstan. For most of you, your M41 adventure will extend between Dushanbe and Osh, with most time spent between Khorog and Osh.

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Table of Contents:

1. Money Matters
2. Dushanbe to Osh or Osh to Dushanbe?
3. How to get a Tajik Visa
4. How to get a GBAO Permit
5. Other Permits
6. How to Travel the Pamir Highway
7. Dushanbe to Qala-i-Khumb
8. Qala-i-Khumb to Khorog
9. Khorog to Murghab
10. Murghab to Osh
11. Time Zones
12. Pamir Highway Budget
13. Packing List

Money Matters

In this article you’ll find prices quoted in Tajik Somoni, Kyrgyz Som, and US Dollars. At the time of writing (December 2017) The exchange rates are:

   8.80 TJS = $1.00 USD
69.74 KGS = $1.00 USD

Note that the US Dollar is widely accepted, especially in Tajikistan. Some drivers and accommodations will actually prefer dollars over Somoni. Come prepared with a stack of bills ranging from $5 to $100, it is best to arrive with US dollars from home if starting from Dushanbe as you will sometimes have difficulty getting money out of ATMs, you can easily get USD in Osh from ATMs as many dispense both USD and KGS. Still expect to pay for smaller purchases, such as items in shops and bazaars in Somoni (Som if in Kyrgyzstan).

Note: There are NO ATMs between Khorog and Osh.

ATMs can be found in Osh, Khorog and Dushanbe. I’ve had no issues with ATMs in Kyrgyzstan, however in Tajikistan I’ve found ATMs at times to feel more like a slot machine… Like are you gonna give me money or not?

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Dushanbe to Osh or Osh to Dushanbe?

Ultimately this is pretty much just up to where you want to start and end. Many people find flying into Bishkek or Osh from their home country to be much cheaper (for me the prices to Dushanbe are always nearly the same), and will start from Osh. Others will start from Osh and make a clockwise road trip through Tajikistan (first heading into northwest Tajikistan visiting Khujand, the Fann Mountains and finally onto Dushanbe and will come back to Osh via the Pamir Highway), while others will take this approach in a counter-clockwise direction. It’s completely up to you. Before my first trip I had read on a blog or two that you should opt to go Osh to Dushanbe because the views are better, but I’m here to say that the views are equally stunning both directions.. not to mention: you can in fact turn around and catch the view that you are driving away from. I know, crazy concept! 

Price-wise costs will likely be nearly the same, so decide what route works best for your travel plans and go with it!

Tajik Visa

Most visitors will need a visa to enter Tajikistan, good news is: most nationalities are eligible for an E-Visa which is super simple and can apply for online here.

Visa Policy of Tajikistan, Pamir Travel Guide

Note: The E-Visa is only meant for single entry for a length of 45 days. If you plan to go into Afghanistan (or any other neighboring countries) and return, technically you’re supposed to apply for a double entry visa which means you do need to apply at an embassy. The visa can easily be acquired at embassies in Bishkek, Almaty, Tashkent and more. I didn’t have enough time to apply for a double entry visa before leaving home, so I applied for an e-visa prior to arriving and then applied for a second e-visa after I got my visa for Afghanistan- I later found out from a host that you’re not technically allowed to have out two e-visas with dates that overlap. I had zero problems crossing back into Tajikistan with the second e-visa. Just because I had no problems doing it doesn’t mean anyone else will have no issues or that it won’t change in the future- just an FYI.

The E-Visa will set most people back $50 USD, applying in an embassy prices can range somewhat.

If you’re planning to apply for visas on the road check out Caravanistan’s embassy reports.

GBAO Permit

If you want to take a trip down the Pamir Highway you will need a GBAO Permit. This will cost you $20 additionally when applying for an e-visa. If applying in embassy it should cost somewhere around the same amount.

Tajik National Park Permit

Tajik National Park Permit.

Other Permits

Other permits for travel in the Pamirs (however are not necessary if you don’t plan to visit these places) are the Tajik National Park Permit and the Zorkul Permit. These are only necessary if you plan to visit areas in the Tajik National Park or if you plan to go off the Pamir Highway to visit Zorkul. Both can be applied for at the PECTA office inside the Central Park in Khorog. The only other permit would be the Lake Sarez Permit, the only way I am aware of obtaining the permit is through Sarez Travel.

How to Travel the Pamir Highway

You have a few options here. You can opt to hire a private 4×4, go via shared taxi, organized tour, cycle, hitchhiking…. In this guide I will only be covering the true Pamir Highway route, meaning it won’t include the Wakhan, Shokhdara or Bartang Valleys. Those are included in separate travel guides. Note that it is easy enough to camp along the Pamir Highway if you are say, cycling or hitchhiking. Just take normal precautions and ask permission if it looks like you’re on someone’s private land. Temperatures can get downright cold at night even in the summer, so be prepared. Otherwise plan to stay in the homestays scattered along the Pamir Highway.

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4×4 Hire

Probably the best option for taking in the scenery if you don’t plan to stray too far away from the main road/routes if at all, although this is the most expensive way to do it aside from an organized tour. The going rate for a 4×4 hire (Landcruiser or Pajero) with a driver I’ve seen anywhere between 0.65¢ to 0.90¢ USD per kilometer on offer. The length of the M41 between Osh and Dushanbe is roughly 1,335 kilometers, so the full trip will likely cost around $1,000 USD plus about $20/day for the driver’s accommodations- more if you plan on taking side trips. If you can wrangle together a group of 4-6 travelers this can cut costs dramatically. The best places to look for other travelers is via the forum on Caravanistan, or putting a notice on the board at the PECTA office (if planning to hire from Khorog to Osh) when you arrive in Khorog.

Shared Taxi

If you thought there was public transport along the Pamir Highway you were sorrily mistaken. The closest things to it are shared taxis and marshrutkas. A shared taxi is quite literally just about anyone with a vehicle sitting in the shared taxi lot headed for _____. They leave when full. Marshrutkas are usually shitty Chinese mini buses with next to no suspension that depart when full (meaning 7 people, sometimes more if a family of 8 decides to jump in while 6 of you are waiting for the last passenger to leave). The most common routes are Dushanbe to Khorog, Khorog to Murghab and Murghab to Osh (or vice-vera). Prices (roughly) are as follows:

Dushanbe-Khorog: $34-39/300-345 TJS.

Khorog-Murghab: $14-20/120-177 TJS.

Khorog-Shazud $2.30-5.70/20-50 TJS. (Shazud to Bachor via taxi/4×4 $11-17/100-150 TJS).

Murghab-Osh: $14-20/120-177 TJS.

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In my experience with shared taxis and marshrutka I’ve never had to haggle for the price as driver’s had given an honest price when I asked the cost, but I did know the relative costs beforehand (asked local friends), and I speak enough Russian/Tajik to argue. If the price they give is higher than the usual range, haggle.

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is relatively easy along the Pamir Highway although plan to pay something and be prepared for possible lengthy wait times. It isn’t impossible to do it for free but most drivers do expect a few Somoni. Good idea to pack a tent, some food, and cold weather gear in case you don’t manage to find a ride and need to camp somewhere and wait until morning. I always give a few Somoni when hitchhiking even if I’m not asked for payment. You can sometimes hitch on Chinese trucks from Khorog to Murghab from Tank, just 22 kilometers east of Khorog. The trucks aren’t allowed to transit the city during the daytime and they do expect payment. From Murghab to Khorog these Chinese trucks will stop overnight 2km northeast of Murghab and depart around noon, (expect to pay 30-40 TJS on these two routes). Hitchhiking tends to get a bit more difficult when you stray off the M41 such as parts of the Wakhan Valley, Shokhdara Valley, and Bartang Valley can get a bit testing at times waiting for a ride (I’d say the Bartang and Shokhdara more so). Hitching the Khargush Pass between Langar and Bulunkul is notoriously difficult, though not impossible

Organized Tour

There are several companies that offer organized Pamir Highway Tours. Kalpak Travel, Pamir Horse Adventure, Pamir Highway Adventure, Sarez Travel, among many others can arrange tours. Most organized tours I’ve seen advertised come in between $1,200 and $4,000 USD per person, of course depending on length of tour and levels of accommodations in cities.

Self Drive

Whether your driving in your own car or motorbike from Europe or East Asia as part of a greater Silk Road adventure, plan to rent in Kyrgyzstan, or buy a vehicle once you’re in the region. I’ve never self drove the Pamir Highway, but have read in the past that renting or even buying a vehicle is easier from Kyrgyzstan than Tajikistan (I can’t say how true this is from personal experience though!) Renting a Pajero or Landcruiser, I was told by people I met in Khorog costed them $120 per day for the rental from Osh. If you’re looking into buying a vehicle over there Caravanistan and its forums would be a good place to start your research.

Cycling

This is a bucketlister for many cyclists. Majority of the the other travelers I’ve met in Tajikistan have been cyclists. I do not have any expertise in this as I have never personally cycled the M41, so I’ll turn you over to some blogs that do! Good blogs to visit are We Love Mountains, Blanca on a Bike, and Traveling Two.

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Khafrazdara Lake, in the Pamirs but not on the highway.

Looking for a little more information on the Pamirs?

Want to know about treks in the area and some alternative routes? Check out the Pamir Travel Guide.

Dushanbe to Qala-i-Khumb

There are two routes to get you between Dushanbe and Khorog- the Northern or the Southern Route, three if you count the Tajik air flight. So which should you choose, the Southern Route or Northern Route? Well, that’s entirely up to you. The Northern Route stays on the true M41 the entire way from Dushanbe to Khorog, whereas the Southern Route strays off of it and rejoins it in Qala-i-Kumb. The northern route is shorter, but notoriously more difficult.

Back in the big Dushe

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Dushanbe

Ahh civilization and the bustling capital of Tajikistan. It’s fairly Soviet-esque but still uniquely Tajik. Dushanbe has a number of accommodations from expensive Soviet-era hotels, hostels to homestays. My go-to any time in Dushanbe is Hello Hostel. It’s in a quiet neighborhood a few blocks from Rudaki (the main road), and the staff is amazing. I have also heard great things from friends and other travelers about Greenhouse Hostel and Yeti Hostel, all of which are located in the same neighborhood.

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Mevlana Yakub Charka Mosque in Dushanbe.

Where to get shared taxis from Dushanbe

Head to the Badakshanskaya Avtostansiya at 149 M. Nazarshoev, just behind the Sheraton Hotel. Walk through the gates and continue walking, people will likely ask where you are wanting to go and point you to where the Khorog bound taxis wait. Most shared taxis will depart Dushanbe for Khorog (or Qala-i-Khumb) early morning between 5am and 8am. Few will depart on Friday, Saturday and Sunday so you may have to wait a bit until yours fills up. There is a small chaikhana here to grab breakfast at right next to the taxis as you wait. Expect a shared to taxi to take anywhere from 14 to 20 hours between Dushanbe and Khorog.

Southern Route

This is the most common route and the route that most of the shared taxis use. This way will take you south to Kulob first passing the Nurek Reservoir before beginning the ascent up the Shurubad Pass, once over the pass you’ll descend down onto the River Panj with views into Afghanistan.

Nurak reservoir, Tajikistan, Pamir Highway

Nurak Reservoir

Nurek Reservoir

Worth a short stop to stretch your legs and take in the beautiful scenery.

Kulob

Not much of interest to most in Tajikistan’s third largest city aside from the 14th century Mir Sayid Ali Hamadani Shrine.

Shurubad Pass

If coming from Dushanbe the top of this pass this will be your very first (of many!) GBAO checkpoints, or last if coming from Osh. You will wind down out of the pass to the border with Afghanistan and follow the River Panj until Qala-i-Khumb.

Northern Route

This is the road less traveled. You will stay on the M41 the entire way between Dushanbe and Khorog. From Dushanbe you will first head east toward Vahdat and continue to Obigarm where shortly afterwards the road will make a turn toward the south to Tavildara, up and over Sagirdasht Pass before descending down to Qala-i-Khumb. Note that the Sagirdasht Pass is typically closed from October until May due to snow.

Tavildara

Tavildara is a small town along the M41. It’s a great jumping off point for adventures off the M41 into Garm and the Rasht Valley.

Sagirdasht Pass

This 3,252 meter (10,670 feet) monstrosity is typically blanketed in snow from October to May, sometimes longer. In the brief summer it is possible to cross over the pass. Lots of beautiful and colorful wildflowers in spring and summer and great camping opportunities.

Qala-i-Khumb to Khorog

The Pamir Highway from Qala-i-Khumb all the way to Khorog stays along the River Panj, giving you sometimes pretty close glimpses into Afghanistan’s Badakshan Province.

Qala-i-Kumb

You’ll feel like you’ve hit civilization once you reach Qala-i-Khumb, there are several shops, restaurants and accommodations. Darvaz Guesthouse is a good, inexpensive option as well as Roma Jurayev. There are pricier options like the Karon Palace Hotel.

Vanj Valley

Vanj sits just off the M41. If you plan to pay a visit to Tajikistan’s largest glacier, Fedchenko from the village of Poi-Mazar this is your jumping off point.

Rushan

Rushan is your jumping off point for adventures further into the Bartang Valley. You can opt to get dropped in Rushan rather than continuing onto Khorog. Try Homestay Mubarak +992 934052304 or Rushan Inn Guesthouse +992 935550049 for accommodations .

Bartang Valley

If you want an amazing side adventure to the Pamir Highway the Bartang Valley has tons to offer. Check out the Bartang Highway Travel Guide for more information on Bartang travel. The most popular trip into the Bartang Valley is to the picturesque village of Jizeu.

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Somewhere between Khorog and Murghab.

Khorog to Murghab

I’m focusing on the actual M41 for this Route. I will be releasing separate guides for the Wakhan and Shokhdara Valleys.

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The view of Khorog and the Ghunt River from the Botanical Gardens

Khorog

Khorog will always have a special place in my heart. I have spent a lot of time here, more time than any other sane tourist probably would have. It’s a fairly compact city and is easy enough to get around on foot, although there are two marshrutka routes. Khorog is a great place to base yourself for trekking in the Central & Western Pamir, Bartang Valley, Wakhan Valley, Shokhdara Valley and more. It’s also where you’ll want to pick up an Afghan Visa if you plan  to cross the border in the Wakhan Valley. The best things to do before you leave Khorog is to at least spend an afternoon in the shaded Central Park and a visit to the Botanical Gardens. There are several restaurants in Khorog, my favorites are Nan-Melan for Qurutob, Delhi Darbar for Indian food and Hotel Lal cafe for a pizza. There is a nice chaikhana in the Central Park on the riverside. Khorog has a decent sized bazaar in the middle of town where you can stock up on just about anything. There are several accommodation options in Khorog, my favorite being Do Nazarbek Hostel. Nazarbek is very friendly and helpful and treats you like family, and although it’s listed as a hostel each room is a double with private toilet and shower, each room is $20 per night. Other good options are Hostel KhorogStay, Bomi Jahon, Khorog B&B, Hotel LAL, and the ever popular Pamir Lodge.

Where to go for shared taxis and marshrutkas

For shared taxis and marshrutkas bound for Murghab via the Gunt Valley and for the Bartang Valley go to the parking lot alongside the Bazaar (there’s also vans everywhere in the lot selling melons), and even out front of the bazaar in the completely clogged road. The driver’s will likely find you before you find them. Just say where you’re wanting to go and they’ll point you to the vehicles headed that direction. If you plan to head to the Wakhan or Shokhdara Valleys you’ll need to cross the footbridge in that same parking lot for the Murghab taxis. Once across the river there is a lot over there. If you’re not sure if you’re in the right place, ask- people in Khorog are extremely friendly and helpful. Khorog-Dushanbe shared taxis should cost 300 TJS and take 14-20 hours. Khorog-Murghab shared taxis will ring in at 150 TJS (120 TJS for marshrutka) and take about 7-8 hours. A marshrukta bound for Shazud (for those planning to visit Bachor) will cost 20 TJS per seat and 50 TJS in a shared taxi and takes about 3-4 hours (Hiring a taxi from Shazud to Bachor should cost about 120 TJS on average additionally). Shared taxis bound for the Wakhan Valley’s Ishkashim should cost 50 TJS and take 3 hours, and expect to pay 120-250 TJS for the 7 hour drive to Langar. You may have difficulty finding transport on Sundays out of Khorog as nearly everything is closed that day.

Bachor

Bachor is located off the M41 via the village of Shazud. From Bachor you can trek to Yashilkul, Bulunkul or make a loop of to the stunning mountain lakes beyond Bachor. Technically you’re supposed to have a Tajik National Park Pass out here, but I was never asked for it.

Jelandy

Jelandy is home to a hot spring that many from Khorog will make a occasional weekend family trip out of.

Koi-Tezek Pass

This 4,272 meter pass will make you feel like you’re on the moon with its lunar landscapes and high altitude.

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Bulunkul.

Bulunkul

This small village just off the Pamir Highway and allegedly the coldest place in all of Tajikistan (a record low temperature was recorded at -60ºC!). Bulunkul isn’t much to write home over, but the morning reflection of the swirled mountains in the morning are worth it. It’s also the gateway to Yashilkul.

Yashilkul

A 4km drive or walk from Bulunkul, and a much bigger lake. You can do some treks out of Yashilkul, but you do technically need that Tajik National Park Permit to visit (I was never asked for mine at Yashilkul).

Alichur, Tajikistan, GBAO, Pamir, Pamirs, Pamir Highway

The view from Alichur.

Alichur

A predominately Kyrgyz community that consists of scattered white homes, a small handful of homestays, a restaurant and a mosque. Alichur doesn’t see many travelers stay overnight, so curious locals will likely give you a tour of their village.

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Ak-Balyk.

Ak-Balyk

One of my absolute favorite places in Tajikistan and it’s ironically easy to access. Just north of Alichur it will be on your right side if you are Osh bound, on your left if Dushanbe bound. Whatever you do, stop! Especially in the morning, the water is crystal clear. But don’t get in it or pee in it- its sacred. Ak-Balyk means ‘white fish’ in Kyrgyz.

Bash Gumbez

Just a few kilometers of the Pamir Highway, Bash Gumbez is nearby to an old Chinese tomb.

Madiyan Valley

Just south of Murghab extending toward the west. If you follow the jeep tracks up far enough there is a hot spring out here. You can hike up and over Gumbezkul Pass and reach Pshart Valley (or vice-versa).

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Murghab.

Murghab to Osh

This is the final stretch (or the beginning if you’re starting in Osh)! Murghab to Sary-Tash is a strange adventure through lunar landscapes, but beyond Sary-Tash you begin to descend towards the Ferghana Valley.

Murghab

Welcome to the wild-wild East! This is your best base to explore the Eastern Pamir from. It’s equal parts weird and wild really, from the shipping container bazaar, the dead goat polo At-Chabysh festival, to the Soviet era reminants- Murghab will keep you occupied for at least a couple days. There is a chaikhana in town, but most people just eat at their homestays. I’ve randomly ended up at Tulfabek Guesthouse +992 935389159 every time I’ve stayed in Murghab, it’s a great value at only 45 TJS per night including breakfast. Other places popular among backpackers are Pamir Hotel +992 93050586321762 and Erali Guesthouse +992 93563751421618. One thing to note about Murghab is that electricity is irregular. Don’t be surprised if it’s out or so weak it’s nearly impossible to charge anything while you’re there.

The Murghab to Osh shared taxi 🚕

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Shared taxis from Murghab

From the bazaar expect a small few vehicles to depart daily toward Khorog and usually a couple to Osh/Sary-Tash, although if you want to guarantee a seat best to arrange the day before. Expect to pay about 120 TJS for the 7-9 hour drive to Khorog and 150 TJS for the 12 hour ride to Osh. Some evenings drivers will go homestay to homestay asking if anyone is looking for a shared taxi in the morning (the last time I was in Murghab this was how I ended up arranging my shared taxi), you can also ask at your homestay and they will likely make a call and get you square to leave in the morning.

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The colorful Pshart Mountains.

Pshart Valley

This rainbow swirled valley sits just north of Murghab and can be combined with the previously mentioned Madiyan Valley via Gumbezkul Pass.

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Ak-Baital Pass.

Ak-Baital Pass

White Horse Pass in Kyrgyz. This pass goes up and over 4,655 meters, be on the lookout because many times Marco Polo sheep can easily be spotted from the highway. Don’t be surprised if it’s snowing up here, even in mid-summer.

Kyrgyz kids playing in Karakul.

Karakul

Karakul is a large lake created by a meteor impact and with a twilight zone-esque village of the same name at it’s shores. There are a scattering of homestays in Karakul and some even have signs posted on the highway as you cross through the village.

Karakul, Tajikistan, Pamir, Pamirs, Pamir Highway

Karakul.

Kyzyl-Art Pass

This is the second highest border crossing in the world at 4,282 meters. Wave goodbye to Tajikistan and hello to Kyrgyzstan (or vice-versa). There are some beautiful color striped mountains in this no-mans land between Kyzyl-Art and Bordobo.

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A Rainbow Mountain in the no-man’s land between Kyzyl Art Pass and Bordöbö.

Bordobo

This is the Kyrgyz side of the border crossing, not too far from Sary-Tash.

Sary-Tash

Home to a couple shops and a small handful of homestays. Hostel Muras is a good place to start. Plan to head off 30 kilometers west to Sary-Mogul for the best views of Pik Lenin or to stay at the yurtstay at Lake Tolpur.

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Suleman Too in Osh.

Osh

Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city in a flat valley with a giant rocky mountain in the center of it. Osh is ancient, interesting and has a strange vibe. Occasional ethnic tensions come to a head here as it sits in the gnarl of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan coming together in the Ferghana Valley. But, Osh is normally completely safe to visit. Things to check out here include the large and sprawling Osh Bazaar, Suleman Too, Cave Museum, Animal Market and of course the Lenin Statue. There are a plethora of restaurants here, my favorite being Izyum- if you need a break from Central Asian fare. My personal favorite for accommodation is Osh Backpackers, the staff is very helpful and great to chat with.

Where to grab shared taxis in Osh

Shared taxis bound for Tajikistan (Pamir Highway) usually can be found at the Murghab-Baza taxi stand and sometimes at the Argomak taxi stand, expect to pay about 1,500 Kyrgyz Som per person in a shared 4×4 for the 12 hour ride. You can also speak with your guesthouse and ask for them to arrange for you. For transport to most elsewhere in Kyrgyzstan by marshrutka or shared taxi head to the Main Minibus Station. If bound for Batken to continue into Tajikistan’s Ferghana Valley cities of Isfara, Khujand, and Istaravshan head to the Batken Minibus Stand.

A weird thing about time in Eastern Tajikistan

The entire Murghab District of Tajikistan (think: Murghab, Alichur, Bulunkul, Bash Gumbez, Rangkul and so on…) operates 1 hour ahead of Tajikistan time. Therefore the Murghab District operates on Kyrgyzstan time. I always ask once I’m in Eastern Tajikistan which time we’re leaving/meeting/etc. in the morning just to verify.

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A Kyrgyz nomadic family’s yurt between Jasty Gumbez and the M41.

Pamir Highway Budget

What should your budget be? Well, that all depends on how you wanna go about this.

For accommodations

Expect to pay $10-20 USD per night including breakfast and dinner.

For food

As breakfast and dinner is likely included in the cost of your homestay, expect to pay anywhere from 10 TJS to 40 TJS for lunch at a chaikhana.

For Transportation

This is largely dependent on if you go about this via 4×4 hire or by shared taxis. Expect a 4×4 hire without side trips at an estimated 7 days to come in around $1,200 USD (of course this can be split amongst 2-6 of you). If doing the journey solely by shared taxi/marshrutka expect your cost to be $65 USD per person.

So my estimated budgets for the Pamir Highway are:

Via private 4×4 hire (meaning you on your own)

$180 per day

Via 4×4 hire shared amongst 4 passengers

$50 per day

Via shared transport

$25 per day

*These are averaged over 7 days.

Pamir, Pamirs, Pamir Highway, Tajikistan, GBAO

Packing List:

Here are a few handy items I like to have on me when exploring in the Pamirs.

The Inreach Explorer +. A GPS & SOS beacon, that can also send and receive text messages. Delorme/Garmin offers some good monthly plans when in use.

A Solar charger can be a great way to keep your electronics and batteries charged when trekking in remote areas of the country with no access to electricity for days on end.

An External battery pack can also help you out in a pinch when batteries are dead and you’re in the middle of nowhere.

I use the Osprey Aura 65L Backpack, and recommend Osprey’s products because of their guarantee. Shop backpacks here!

A tent it handy if you plan to do any trekking, or are planning to cycle or hitchhike the Pamir Highway. I use the MSR NX Hubba 1-man tent and love it! MSR also sells the same tent in other sizes: 2-man, 3-man and the 4-man Mutha-Hubba.

A sleeping bag can prove useful if planning to camp while cycling or trekking and also for chilly nights even in a homestay. I use a Northface Sleeping Bag cold rated to 20ºF/-7ºC.

A good pair of hiking boots. My personal favorite is the Merrell Moab hiking boot.

If planning on trekking/camping and you like to enjoy a warm meal I can recommend a Lightweight Cooking Camp Set.

I personal use the Katadyn water filter. Tap water in the entire country is unsafe for drinking and natural water sources can be contaminated. The Lifestraw or chlorine tablets are useful as well.

I still don’t own trekking poles, I probably should… click here to browse through some nicely rated sets.

A headlamp will come in handy!

Don’t forget the sunscreen! Don’t let the cold fool you.

Mosquito Repellant can prove handy in spring time at lower elevations, although I’ve personally never ran into many bugs out here in my late summer and fall adventures.

Books:

‘Tajikistan and the High Pamirs’ by Robert Middleton & Huw ThomasThis is a huge book, but it has so much good info on Tajikistan from the history, great-game stories, travel and more!

‘Central Asia’ by Lonely Planet.  Handy to have with you, although don’t treat it like a bible. Many times information is out of date as things change rapidly here. The ‘Central Asia Phrasebook’ by Lonely Planet. I found this to be a handy item for Tajik, Russian and Kyrgyz phrases, not so much for the Wakhi phrase section, which appears to be 100% all incorrect.

Maps:

The Pamirs by Markus Hauser. Can be found online on Amazon, or can always be picked up at the PECTA office. The creators also created a Northern Tajikistan map as well as Southern Tajikistan map.

Great online references:

Caravanistan: Saule and Steven are a wealth of knowledge on Central Asia. They are very responsive via email and can put you in contact with numerous tour agencies in the country.

META: Only provides advisory services. Working to develop tourism in the Murghab district.

PECTA: Can help you arrange anything Pamir. Very responsive.

Trekking in the Pamirs: Jan Bakker’s website with information on many hikes all over Tajikistan (not just the Pamirs!).

Indy Guide: Making travel in the whole of Central Asia & Mongolia easier buy providing the largest community marketplace of Central Asian tour operators and drivers.

NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?

Start shopping plans over at World Nomads.

Bartang Highway, Bartang Valley, Bartang, Pamir, Pamir Mountains, Pamirs, Tajikistan, GBAO, Gorno Badakshan Autonomous Oblast, Badakshan, Badakhshon, Khafrazdara, Khafrazdara Valley, high pasture

WANT MORE POSTS TO HELP PLAN YOUR TRIP IN TAJIKISTAN?

I’ve spent a good chunk of time exploring Tajikistan over the last couple years, so check out these posts to help you start planning your trip!

Pamir Travel Guide- Everything you need to know before setting out into the rugged and wild Pamir Mountains.

Fann Mountains Guide- Wanna visit the Fann Mountains, Tajikistan’s premier trekking destination? Look no further.

Bartang Valley Travel Guide– How to visit all the places and see all the things along the Bartang Highway.

Tajikistan Travel Guide- The ultimate guide to traveling Tajikistan.

Solo Female Travel in Tajikistan- What it’s like and what you need to know before you ladies out there travel solo to one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

NEED MORE INSPIRATION TO GET YOU TO BOOK THAT TICKET TO TAJIKISTAN?

Here’s some click bait for you…

10 Reasons to Visit Tajikistan- Who doesn’t love a generic ‘10 reasons‘ posts? At least it’s not a generic destination…

Walking Among Giants in Beautiful Tajikistan- A little about my first time trekking in the Fann Mountains.

Tajikistan, Fann Mountains, Alovaddin, Lake Alovaddin, Alauddin, Lake Alauddin

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