10 Reasons To Visit The Pamirs
Updated May 2023, 10 Reasons To Visit The Pamirs was originally written in January 2017
The Pamir Mountains that wrap around and zig-zag the eastern half of Tajikistan are the country’s #1 tourist destination. But even as the #1 tourist attraction in the country, they are still widely untouched. Check out these 10 reasons to visit the Pamirs!
1. The World’s Most Epic Road Trip
The Bam i Dunya as it’s known to the Pamiris- The Roof Of The World: The Pamir Highway is the mother of all road trips. This is surely one of the world’s grandest adventures whether you drive it or cycle it.
The Pamir Highway will take you over high-altitude mountain passes surrounded by icy peaks and dotted with Kyrgyz yurt camps and Pamiri settlements. Then of course there are all those side trips you can take from the Pamir Highway- The Wakhan Valley, Bartang Valley, Pshart & Madiyan Valleys, Mountain Lakes of Bachor… just to name a few.
The Pamir Highway will bring you through the biggest province of Tajikistan, the GBAO (Gorno Badakshan Autonomous Oblast). Make sure you get your permit when you apply for your Tajik visa.
I definitely recommend grabbing a copy of Bradt’s Tajikistan guidebook if you’re starting to plan your travels in the Pamir and beyond.
Plan your own visit to the Pamirs: The Ultimate Pamir Highway Guide
Need help narrowing down where to go? Check out my 10 day Pamir Highway itinerary
2. All The Icy Pinnacles
93% of Tajikistan is mountainous, and trust me- there’s no shortage of mountains in the GBAO. The Pamir Moutains are home to countless peaks over 6000 meters and two that are over 7,000 meters.
One of my favorite places in the Pamirs? The Khafrazdara Valley
3. Off The Beaten Path Adventures
You already veered off the beaten path if you decided to book a ticket to Tajikistan, but a trip out to visit the Pamirs is a guaranteed off-the-beaten-path adventure. With countless escapades to be had up the side valleys leading off the Pamir Highway and more, there’s no shortage of excitement around every twist and turn.
Wanna Visit The Lake Pictured Above? Everything You Need to Know to Visit Lake Sarez
4. World Class Hospitality
The whole of Tajikistan is one of the most welcoming countries on Earth, but the Pamiri hospitality? Legendary.
The people living in the Pamirs are known to be some of the most friendly, welcoming, and generous people you’ll ever come across. It may be due to the sect of Islam- Ismailism that is practiced throughout much of the mountainous region that treats its guests as gifts from God. Or it may be a product of survival in the harsh climate where the winters are long, distances great, and the people few & far between.
Either way, expect to be welcomed in with open arms to many homes with a warm cup of chai and bread to go around.
5. Turquoise Mountain Lakes
The Pamirs are home to no shortage of beautiful lakes with high-altitude mountain backdrops.
Take a hike: The 10 best treks in Tajikistan
6. The Best Treks You’ve Never Heard Of
Visit the Pamirs and you’ll open the flood gates to a wealth of amazing treks- many of which you’ll be hard-pressed to find many other hikers on. Some favorites? The Bachor Mountain Lakes, Khafrazdara Valley & Grum Grijmailo Glacier, Lake Sarez, Pik Engles Meadows, Jizeu, and so many more!
Read up on trekking in the Pamirs and its side valleys in the Tajik Wakhan Valley Guide, Bartang Valley Guide, and in the Pamir Highway Guide. I recommend getting a copy of Jan Bakker’s Trekking in Tajikistan to help you plan out the treks you’ll take on in the Pamir, Jan has been an excellent resource over the years in my travels and hiking adventures in Tajikistan.
Looking for an awesome overnight trek in the Pamirs? Check out Jizeu
7. Diverse Cultures
The Pamir region of Tajikistan is home to 3% of the country’s 8.7 million inhabitants. Even though the Pamirs only make up a small number of the population it has no shortage of diverse cultures.
You’ll find ethnic Kyrgyz still living a nomadic lifestyle in the lunar-looking reaches of the Eastern Pamir. In the Wakhan Valley bordering Afghanistan, you’ll find the Wakhi people, and up the meandering Bartang Valley you’ll find the Bartangi people with a language all their own… and that’s just to name a small handful of the people that inhabit these mountains.
8. Lunar Landscapes
As you climb higher and higher to the high plateau in the Eastern Pamir you’ll start to notice the lack of trees and increasingly space-like scenery. Places like the Khargush Pass and the shores of Lake Karakul will have you feeling like you’re on another planet.
Learn more about these otherworldly landscapes in the Eastern Pamir Travel Guide
9. Silk Road Fortresses
Dotting the Wakhan Valley are several ancient Silk Road fortresses, some that date back to the Kingdom of Kushan. Travel along the Pamir Highway and there are many sun calendars and petroglyphs to explore in settlements and in the mountains nearby.
Wanna add the Tajik Wakhan to your Pamir Highway adventure? Start planning with the Wakhan Valley Travel Guide
10. Glimpses Into Afghanistan
So you’ve heard about the Afghanistan War in the media that has seemed to endlessly rage on year after year. Once you reach the community of Qala i Khumb and continue along the Pamir Highway you’ll hug the border with Afghanistan all the way into the Wakhan Valley. Sometimes the river Panj only separates the two countries by a few meters, leaving you feeling you could high-five the people on the other side.
Once many travelers get a peek into the seemingly peaceful and calm Afghan Wakhan Corridor, they can’t help the curiosity and end up heading back to Khorog to get an Afghan Visa to explore the other side.
Wanna visit Afghanistan? Here is everything you need to know in the Afghanistan Travel Guide
Have Any Questions About Visiting The Pamirs?
Ask in the comments section below.
Need Travel Insurance for Tajikistan?
Start shopping plans over at battleface, my go-to travel insurance choice, or over at World Nomads.
4 thoughts on “10 Reasons to Visit The Pamirs”
My wife and I traveled the 5 Stans, not Pakistan or Afghanistan. It was an awesome, fabulous great experience. The food was OK to very good, the people were friendly, helpful and very curious about Americans. The younger people, especially students, all wanted to come to the U.S. (at least when we visited). One of 3 great adventures of our lives (The Trans-Siberian RailRoad-the local not tourist one; The Brazilian Rain Forest are the other two). There are four more places I want to visit for and extended time: Kashmir, Siberian Tundra, Tuva, and the Pamirs. Given the world, the Pamirs will be next.
That’s great, enjoy the Pamir when you get out there!
I have to say I randomly stumbled across you blog looking for info about Alaska travel and got sucked into your writing and somehow ended up over here! I’ve never heard of the Pamir Mountains or Highway, or Tajikistan for that matter- but WOW! Your images are outstanding. You’ve now sparked an interest in visiting for me. It looks like a fascinating area to visit, hope to make it one day!
Thanks for all the helpful info on Alaska btw, and now Tajikistan 🙂
Thank you! Glad you’ve gotten some useful info out of all these posts! I hope you make it to both Tajikistan and AK one day 🙂