*Updated December 2020*
THE ESSENTIAL PAMIR HIGHWAY GUIDE
A remote route through high mountainous lands, a journey on the Pamir Highway is both a geographical feast for the senses and a cultural treat. Mountains, valleys, lakes and high plateaus serve up an ever changing array of spectacular vistas, while the divergence between the Tajik West and Kyrgyz East offers a fascinating insight into the peoples of this starkly beautiful region. It’s this variety that helps to make a trip through the Pamirs so special.
When planning your own Pamir Highway road trip, there are a number of important things to be aware of. In this complete Pamir Highway Guide we cover everything you need to know, including budget, transport options, which route to take, food, accommodation, and all the rest. We’ve also created a detailed map which can be downloaded for offline use on the road.
Read through the full guide, or jump to a specific section by clicking the links below
WATCH THE VIDEO
Watch the behind the scenes version of our Pamir Highway road trip on our Instagram Stories Highlights
PAMIR HIGHWAY MAP
We’ve marked each of the three Pamir Highway routes outlined below on this map, along with key sights, hikes, side trips, suggested accommodation, etc. Tap the menu button at the top left for more info, to toggle routes on and off, and to switch between satellite and terrain view. See the expandable info boxes below for tips on how to save this map and download offline versions for use on the road.
The actual Pamir Highway refers to a largely Soviet built road known as the M41, traversing the Pamir Mountains through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. While the majority of travellers will journey on sections of the M41, a trip on the Pamir Highway rarely means actually sticking to this road the whole way. For most, the Pamir Highway is a more general term used to describe a route between Dushanbe and Osh through the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Region (GBAO). That route will likely include the Wakhan Valley, and possibly side trips to other valleys along the way.
Essentially, the way we see it is that the Pamir Highway is whatever journey you decide to make it. With that said, let’s cover a few options.
THE OFFICIAL M41
This road runs between Dushanbe and Osh, via Tavildara, Kalai Khum, Khorog, Jelondy, Alichur, Murghab, Karakul and Sary Tash. This route is approximately 1250 km in length. Unless you’re a purist, chances are the only sections you will travel on are Kalai Khum to Khorog, and Alichur through to Osh. Most people take the southern route from Dushanbe to Kalai Khum via Kulob (better road, open all year round) instead of the northern route via Tavildara. Between Khorog and Alichur, most travel via the Wakhan Valley and Khargush Pass, instead of the direct route via Jelondy.
THE TOURIST ROUTE
The most common route for people travelling the Pamir Highway is via the Wakhan Valley. The route runs between Dushanbe and Osh via Kalai Khum, Khorog, Ishkashim, Langar, Alichur, Murghab, Karakul and Sary Tash. It’s approximately 1500 km in length. The Wakhan is spectacular, and definitely worth seeing on your Pamir Highway trip.