Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan - Along the Pamir Highway


Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan - Along the Pamir Highway

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 16 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Itinerary

Day 1 – Dushanbe

Arrive in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan and transfer to your hotel, where if required your room will be available for early check-in. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Hotel Gulistan or similar. Single room accommodation is available today and the accommodation has private bathrooms.

Day 2 – Hissar – Dushanbe

Drive to the nearby town of Hissar to visit the remains of the 18th century fort as well as two nearby madrassahs. Return to Dushanbe in the afternoon and visit the bazaar and the excellent Museum of National Antiquities. Overnight Hotel Gulistan or similar. Single room accommodation is available and the accommodation has private bathrooms (BL)

Day 3 – Kalaikhumb

We will cross the Shurabad Pass (2200m) and visit Hulbuk ancient fortress 8th Century which has been recently restored. We continue towards the Pamirs and Kalaikhumb, driving through beautiful scenery and interesting villages en route. This area is a little more conservative, and we see many men with beards, and women wearing traditional dress. We cross the Khaburabot Pass (3200m), arriving in Kalaikhumb (360km) in the early evening. Overnight Hotel Karon Palace or similar. Single room is available and the accomodation has private bathroom facilities (BLD) 

Days 4-5 – Geisev Valley

Travel to Rushan the administrative centre of the Bartang district. We may have some time to explore upon arrival but we will explore in more depth tomorrow. On Day 5 we drive to the Bartang valley and cross the river to embark on a trek that begins on the river Bartang just beyond Bhagoo village and is mostly gentle uphill for about 8km to the upper of the three lakes. The first houses in Geisev are reached after about 5km. The abundant vegetation, the gnarled trees, the lakes and the ever-changing river - sometimes frothing with energy, sometimes limpid and blue - create a very special peaceful atmosphere. This route passing lakes and rivers traverses some of the most magnificent scenery in the Pamir. Later we continue to Khorog alongside the River Panj which forms the border with Afghanistan. Day 4 overnight will be at a local homestay with shared facilities. Day 5 overnight at the Lal Inn or similar where single rooms are available but bathroom facilities are shared. (BLD)

Day 6 – Khorog

Today we have a full day to explore Khorog, the capital of the GBAO region, including the bazaar and the lovely Botanical Gardens which are perched high above the town, affording some great panoramic views. Overnight Lal Inn or similar where single rooms are available but bathroom facilities are shared. (BLD)

Day 7 – Ishkashim

About 50kms (140km total) along the road to our next stop, Ishkashim, we will stop at Garmchasma hot springs for an (optional) dip in the waters. From here, we enter the Tajik half of the Wakhan Valley (shared with Afghanistan) and pass regional gem mines mentioned by Marco Polo, the most famous being the Koh-i-Lal ruby mine. Ishkashim itself may be the regional centre, but it is essentially still a large village and we stay in a traditional style guesthouse here which has a handful of rooms but single rooms are available this evening. Shared basic bathroom facilities (BLD)

Day 8 – Langar

Visit to the nearby village of Namadguti to visit the Khahkha Fortress. This impressive structure rises from a naturally formed platform of rock and dates back to the Kushan era of the 3rd Century. There are a number of these ancient fortresses in the area, and we also visit Yamchun fort, perhaps the most impressive of them. We take a break at the Bibi Fatima hot springs, named for the Prophet Mohammed’s sister and where local women believe they can increase their fertility. Continuing on we then stop at the 4th Century Buddhist stupas at Vrang, reminders of the ancient pilgrim caravans that passed through the region. (130km today) Overnight homestay with shared basic bathroom facilities. Tonight you will sleep on Asian style bedding on the mattresses and blankets on the floor in a few rooms of a Pamiri House with shared basic bathroom facilities (BLD)

Day 9 – Murghab

Leave behind the lush valleys of the Wakhan Valley and enter a landscape that is rocky, mostly barren but nevertheless dramatic. This is the Pamir Highway we have anticipated, with the route between Khorog and Osh completed in 1931 across a Tibetan-plateau style high altitude terrain. Today we can also see some Neolithic rock art dating back some 8000 years in Shakhty cave. With a total of 240kms to cover today, we anticipate arriving in Murghab early evening. Overnight homestay with shared rooms and shared basic bathroom facilities. (BLD)

Day 10 – Karakul

After breakfast we head for Karakul (135km). We cross several high altitude passes, including Ak-Baital Pass (4655 metres) which is the highest section of road in the former Soviet Union. We descend to Karakul Lake and then cross our final Pamir Highway high pass, the Kyzyl Art (4282 metres), which essentially forms the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Karakul Lake is the highest lake in Central Asia, and at 3915 metres, too high to support any aquatic life. Karakul means “black lake” but in spring, summer and autumn the water is almost always turquoise blue. At the northern end of the lake a track turns off west to geoglyphs and Saka graves (5000– 3000 BC), located about 500m from the turnoff. Overnight home stay “Sadat” or similar. Tonight you will sleep on Asian style bedding on the mattresses and blankets on the floor in a few rooms of a Pamiri House with shared basic bathroom facilities (BLD)

Day 11 – Osh

We depart the high mountains of the Pamir Alay range, leaving behind us the crossroads of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. The drive offers a contrast as we encounter lush farmlands and small villages on this side of the mountains, instead of the stark high altitude plateau of Tajikistan. En route we cross the Taldyk Pass (3554m) and enjoy some beautiful views - if we're lucky we may even catch a glimpse of Peak Lenin, at 7134m the second highest mountain in Central Asia. We expect to arrive in Osh (285km), Kyrgyzstan's oldest city in the afternoon, with time to explore. Overnight Hotel Sunrise or similar where single rooms are available and the accommodation will have private bathroom facilities (BL)

Day 12 – Chichkan

Today we drive to the Suusamyr Valley along the picturesque mountain Osh highway to the Chichkan gorge. Time permitting we take a walk in the area and meet the local shepherds who still adhere to age old traditions. Overnight Hotel Osmon or similar where single room not available and shared bathrooms (BLD)

Day 13 – Song Kol Lake

Today takes us to stunning Song Kol Lake (240km). The lake itself is 3916m above sea level and is one of the highest alpine lakes in the world. Overnight yurt stay with 4 – 5 beds in one yurt and shared basic bathroom facilities (BLD)

Day 14 – Lake Issyk Kul

Travel to Cholpon-Ata on the north side of Issyk-Kul Lake to the largest and most beautiful lake in Central Asia. There is an optional opportunity to visit the open air museum of Stone Inscriptions in Cholpon Ata. Most of the drawings date from several thousand years B.C. up until the 12th Century A.D. Overnight at the Hotel Amin or similar. Single rooms are available this evening and the accommodation has private bathroom facilities.  (BLD)

Day 15 – Bishkek

Drive to Bishkek and explore the capital, visiting Ala-Too Square and the History Museum among other sites. Overnight Asia Mountains Hotel or similar. Single rooms are available tonight and accommodation will have private bathroom facilities (BL)

Day 16 – Bishkek

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)