*Updated December 2020*
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 behind the scenes version of our Pamir Highway road trip on our Instagram Stories Highlights
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.
HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP (ONLINE VERSION)
To save this map to use online on desktop or mobile just tap the star symbol at the top. When you open Google Maps on your phone, navigate to ‘Saved’ at the bottom, then swipe along to ‘Maps’ at the top. You’ll find this map in your list of maps. On desktop, click the three lines at the top left, select ‘Your Places’, then ‘Maps’. Click the map, then scroll down and select ‘Open in My Maps’ to access the interactive version.
Alternatively, just tap the rectangle symbol at the top right of the map in this blog post to view the My Maps version larger on desktop. Note that this map is best viewed on desktop, using the ‘My Maps’ version instead of the mobile Google Maps version (which is less interactive).
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to view this map offline, but we’ve created a similar version for offline use as per below.
HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP (OFFLINE VERSION)
To use an offline version of this map with all the same pins and routes marked, first download Maps.Me (iOS/Android), then download our Pamir Highway Travel Guide bookmarks, and select open with Maps.Me.
You can easily plan your route in Maps.me by tapping the bookmark for your start point and selecting ‘route from’, then tap your end point bookmark and select ‘route to’. If you want to plot a different route to the one suggested by Maps.me, just tap a third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) bookmark between the start and end points and select ‘add stop’. You can use Maps.me offline, which is ideal when you’re travelling through the Pamir.
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.