17 days

Tajikistan Pamir Adventure - Expedition

Tajikistan Pamir Adventure - Expedition

Istaravshan's blue-domed mosque and madrassah complex of Kok-Gumbaz

18th Century Hissor fort and its two madrassa

Khorog's bazaar and Botanical Gardens

Bazaar bargaining in ancient Osh

4th Century sulphur-infused Buddhist stupas at Vrang

Dushanbe to Kalaikhumb - the relics of Tajikistan’s civil war

Lunar Ak-Baital Pass (4655m) and Karakul Lake - the highest lake in Central Asia

Chorsu Bazaar of Tashkent - one of the largest and oldest farmers' markets in Central Asia

Penjikent - the ancient ruins of a 5th Century Sogdian settlement

The silk artisans and colourful bazaars of Fergana Valley

Pamir Highway - the world's second highest international road

The 14 metre reclining Buddha and diverse pre-Islamic cultural heritage of Dushanbe's Museum of National Antiquities

The petroglyphs at Ak-Jilga

Trip rating
  • This expedition provides an unparallelled opportunity to explore the spectacular mountain ranges shared between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Remote, yet to be developed for tourism and seldom visited, this is a part of the world that is truly for the well-travelled adventurer.

    Incorporating some of the most spectacular mountain passes and ancient cities of the Silk Road, our journey takes us through culturally rich and ethnically diverse areas. We drive from cosmopolitan Tashkent to Dushanbe - a national capital more on the scale of a rural centre - before several days of travel skirting Afghanistan's northern border. Far above the river valleys the road winds with kilometre after kilometre of stunning mountain landscape broken only by villages that seem to be cast back in time. We journey to the remote Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) of Tajikistan, a region better known for the colourful 'Great Game' events that took place here in the late 19th century. Traversing the full length of the Pamir Highway from Khorog to Osh, our route incorporates rugged roads and stark yet beautiful high-altitude desert plateaux, each day revealing a new and more beautiful aspect to little-known Tajikistan.

    Combining breathtaking landscapes with glimpses of a centuries-old way of life, this expedition will amply reward the traveller who is willing to venture to what locals call 'Bom-i-Dunyo' - the Roof of the World.

    Why we love it

    • This expedition provides an unparallelled opportunity to explore the spectacular mountain ranges shared between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
    • You will be accompanied by local guides with many years experience in this little-known and remote region along with a Peregrine tour leader, ensuring that this is truly a unique opportunity for the well-travelled adventurer.
    • Incorporating some of the most spectacular mountain passes and ancient cities of the Silk Road, this journey takes you through culturally rich and ethnically diverse areas that rarely see foreign travellers.
    • Drive from cosmopolitan Tashkent to Dushanbe via Kyrgyzstan with several days of travel skirting Afghanistan's northern border on the way.
    • Traversing the full length of the Pamir Highway from Osh to Khorog, your route incorporates rugged roads and stark, yet beautiful high-altitude, little known desert plateaux.
    • Journey to the remote Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) of Tajikistan, a region better known for the colourful 'Great Game' events that took place here in the late 19th century.
    • Combining breathtaking landscapes with glimpses of a centuries-old way of life, this expedition will amply reward the traveller who is willing to venture to what locals call 'Bom-i-Dunyo', the Roof of the World.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Tashkent

    • On arrival in Tashkent you will be met by one of our representatives once you’ve passed through immigration, and then transferred to your hotel.
    • In the evening you will meet your tour leader and the other group members for a pre-tour briefing. This is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.
    Uzbekistan Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Tashkent

    • Today your focus will be on completing the paperwork for Tajikistan - patience is required as you obtain the necessary group visa and additional permits for the Pamir region.
    • Please ensure you have your visa fee (up to $200) ready in US dollars cash, and that the notes are clean and recently issued (post 2005).
    • Your group may be required to present at the embassy or it may be possible for the paperwork to be completed without your presence - your tour leader will advise you at the meeting.
    • If there is time, you can explore this charming city with a tour including the Museum of History, Amir Timur Square, Barak Khan Medressa, Kukeldash Medressa and Chorsu Bazaar.
    Uzbekistan Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3-4 - Fergana Valley

    • Today you will drive from Tashkent to Fergana Valley via Kokand (approximately 6 hours) with a visit to Khan’s Palace on the way. Fergana Valley is a fertile bowl fringed by the Tian Shan mountains to the north and the Pamir Altay mountains to the south.
    • The valley area spreads across the border with Uzbekistan, and cross-border cultural and ethnic ties remain strong for the people of this region.
    • Here you will visit Babur's Memorial and learn about his legacy in Afghanistan and India - his descendants were the founders of the Mughal empire.
    • We stay in the town of Fergana overnight.
    • On Day 4 we move between the artisan towns of Fergana, Margilan and Rishton.
    • In Margilan you will start the day with a stroll through the bazaar, before continuing to a silk production centre - one of the few to still retain traditional methods. Here you will see the many processes used to turn the raw silk cocoons into beautiful silk cloth and exquisite tapestries, carpets and embroideries. For many visitors a real highlight is learning how the traditional and distinctive Uzbek cloth ('khanatlas') is made.
    • From Margilan you’ll move on to Rishton, and after lunch you will visit a pottery centre with a local family, to learn about the delicate ceramics for which the town is famous.
    • A local master will show you how he crafts each piece by hand before carefully decorating and firing them in a traditional kiln.
    • Be prepared for some shopping today - even the most seasoned travellers will find it hard to resist a purchase.
    Hotel Club 777 or Hotel Asia
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 5 - Osh

    • Will will cross the border into Kyrgyzstan today to reach Osh. While you are here, visit Suleiman's Mountain, a site of huge Islamic importance. We will also visit the Osh Bazaar, one of the biggest bazaars in Central Asia.
    • Your first night in Kyrgyzstan will be spent at a basic hotel.
    basic hotel
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Sary Tash

    • Today we will continue on to Sary Tash, a small village in the Alai Valley bordering Tajikistan. To get to Sary Tash we will take a 190km (approximately 3 hrs) majestic drive traversing the Taldyk Pass (3615m), here is where we will see the Pamir Mountains, the Roof of the World!
    • Season permitting, we may spend an unforgettable night staying in yurts (traditional Central Asian felt tents) at Sary Tash. Please note there are no showers/bathing facilities available in Sary Tash. If yurts are not available we will stay in a basic hotel or guesthouse nearby.
    Homestay or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Murghab

    • You will drive to Murghab today, experiencing more dramatic scenery and stopping at Karakul village and Karakul Lake which is at 3,915m above sea level. Karakul Lake is too high to support aquatic life and it is the largest out of 800 lakes in the Pamirs which were created by earthquake, tectonic activity and glaciers.
    • Murghab is located in a valley at approximately 3,000 m above sea level and surrounded by high peaks. This region is inhabited by nomadic Kyrgyz herders. Also from this point you can see Muztag Ata peak – the highest mountain in the Pamirs of 7546m! You will immerse yourself in local life through homestay in Murghab, complete with banya (traditional sauna).
    • Your schedule here will include an excursion to see petroglyphs at Ak-Jilga, the old mining town of Dara and the bazaar in Murghab itself (approximately 8 hrs travelling time including border crossing - 280 km).
    Homestay or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 8 - Langar

    • Drive through the picturesque Alichur valley and over the Khargush pass of 4,344m to the Wakhan corridor. As we enter the Wakhan, there are amazing views of the Pamirs to the right and the Hindu Kush to the left. On the other side of the pass we cross through another check point as we now driving along Afghanistan border. (Approximately 274 km - 8 hrs travelling time).
    • The view is stark and desolate. At night the clear view of the Milky Way is unparalleled. Your connection with the culture will deepen upon arrival in Langar, with another overnight homestay and the chance to enjoy some home cooking.
    Pamiri Homestay
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9 - Ptup

    • Today we will travel on and visit Yamchun and its fort before arriving at Ptup, where you will experience another Pamiri homestay in the traditional Wakhan style (Approximately 80 km/4 hrs travelling time).
    • In the cool of the morning we make a steep climb above the village and see the petroglyphs carved into the rock depicting mountain goats, caravans, horse riders with banners, and the Ismaili symbol of a hand.
    • Continue to Vrang where on a cliff-side pitted with caves, stands a Buddhist complex dating from 4th-7th centuries, reminders of the ancient pilgrim caravans that passed through the region. There are traces of this Buddhist history to be found throughout Central Asia, despite the dominance of Islam in recent centuries.
    • You may have a chance to freshen up in the Bibi Fatima hot springs, named for the Prophet Mohammed's sister. Local women believe they can increase their fertility levels here. Men and women will have separate bathing times and as fitting for the surroundings, the facilities are basic.
    Homestay or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 10-11 - Khorog

    • From Ptup you will leave for Khorog today.
    • You will pass through Ishkashim, near the Afghan border en route. The contrast across the river valley here is telling, Tajikistan is undoubtedly a poor country, but in general the roads are sealed and buildings are connected with electricity.
    • The situation barely 100m away is even starker, and it is as if the river represents not just a physical divide, but also a step back in time.
    • You will stay with a homestay again tonight.
    • You will be in the capital of the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) here - this is a restricted part of the country and you will have obtained permits to travel here. Nevertheless, be prepared for the possibility of some additional paperwork or reroutes at times depending on the local situation.
    • You will have a little time to explore Khorog including the bazaar and the lovely botanical gardens that are perched high above the town, affording some great panoramic views. (Total travelling time approximately 190 km/4-5 hrs).
    Parinen Inn or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 12 - Kala-i-Khum

    • You will set off to Kala-i Khum today, a small village on the Pamir Highway. Today is mostly a travel day.
    • This area is a little more conservative, and you will see many men with beards, and women wearing traditional dress.
    • Along the road you will also see relics of Tajikistan's bitter civil war of 1992-96, as tanks and armored vehicles lie decaying wherever they were left. (Total travelling time approximately 239 km/8 hrs).
    • You will stay with a family overnight here.
    Guesthouse
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 13-14 - Dushanbe

    • A busy day of sightseeing awaits you as you drive 30 kilometres to the remains of 18th century Hissor Fort and its two medressas before travelling on to an afternoon exploring Dushanbe itself.
    • The history of Hissor fort is colourful, with the fortress the stronghold of local basmachi forces (local freedom fighters, what we would call mujaheddin today). Through the 1920s a power struggle was played out in the region between Bolshevik forces and Pan-Turkic would-be occupiers under the Ottoman Enver Pasha.
    • Back in Dushanbe, you will visit the bazaar and the excellent Museum of National Antiquities. This relatively new museum reflects Tajikistan's diverse pre-Islamic cultural heritage, with exhibits from Bactrian, Buddhist, Zoroastrian and Hindu eras of influence.
    • Total travelling time approximately 350km/8 hrs).
    Marian's Guesthouse or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 15 - Khojand

    • On your way to Khojand today, you will stop off at Istaravshan, with its hilltop citadel guarding the beautifully preserved town. You may have time to visit the bazaar, which is among the regions largest and a good place to look for handicrafts and souvenirs.
    • Your sightseeing here will include the local museum and the ancient citadel that dates from the 10th century, which fell to the Mongol invaders who swept through this region in the 13th century. (Total travelling time, approximately 285km/6 hours)
    Grand Khojand Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 16-17 - Tashkent

    • You will journey back into Uzbekistan and drive on to Tashkent today. (Total travelling time is approximately 190km/8 hrs including border crossing).
    • Tonight there will be a final dinner to say goodbye to your new friends and reminisce about your adventure.
    • Your epic trip through Central Asia’s heartland will come to an end after breakfast on Day 17 in Tashkent.
    Uzbekistan Hotel or similar
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Arrival transfer
    • Authentic Accommodation includes: Comfortable Hotels (6 nts), Basic Hotels (1 nt), Guesthouses (4 nts), Homestays (5 nts)
    • An experienced, English-speaking Peregrine leader and specialist local guides at some sites
    • Transport by 4WD vehicle through the mountains
    • Sightseeing and entrance fees as per the itinerary
    • Visa support for Uzbekistan & Tajikistan

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Departure transfer
    • Visa & permit costs
    • Meals unless specified in the itinerary
    • Optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips - this is something to consider, and it might be worthwhile speaking to your group about making a group contribution at the end of the trip
    • Laundry - may be available at locations where we stay two or more nights
    • Sleeping sheet or bag (optional)

    Safety Information

    It is now over ten years since the Tajik civil war ended. The political situation is currently stable in general, but you should remain vigilant in public places and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people. Your leader and local guides will advise you of any specific safety advice.

    There was an outbreak of localised violence in Khorog, the administrative centre of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) a region close to the Afghan border, on 21 May 2014, with a second incident on Friday 24 May. The situation is currently calm but tense and further violence remains possible. The Government had suspended issuing permits, but as of 2 July 2014 has recommenced issuing permits allowing travel to the GBAO by foreign nationals entering Tajikistan on tourist visas. The situation is still subject to frequent change at short notice.

    We will continue to monitor the situation through our local partners in Tajikistan along with government foreign travel advisories. Our first departure of Tajikistan Pamir Adventure (PCPT) which began on 17th June 2014 was able to enter Tajikistan and the GBAO region successfully.

  • Map Itinerary

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PCPT
Group size 4 - 12
Start City: Tashkent
End City: Tashkent

What to know

Venturing well away from cities and into remote areas, this trip takes you right off the beaten track. Accommodation and facilities my be basic but the rewards are immeasurable. You will need a good level of general health for this trip. There are some very long driving days over rough terrain, shower and toilet facilities are limited. Most meals are taken sitting on the ground and sleeping arrangements may be multishare or simple matresses on the floor in some locations.

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