Pamir Highway - the world's second highest international road

Pamir Highway - the world's second highest international road

The Pamir Mountains are arguably the most spectacular in the world –formed from the knotted, cathedralesque junction of the Himalaya, Tian Shun, Karakorum, Kunlun and Hindu Kush ranges, they are amongst the highest and most dizzyingly impressive mountains anywhere. Long considered the ‘roof of the world’, as their name’s translation suggests, here deep breaths don’t just come from high altitude, but the overwhelming sense of being amid the majestic. The Pamir Highway, the world's second highest international road, runs from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Osh in Kyrgyzstan through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province. The isolated region's main supply route, it is the grand, rugged platform for experiencing the most magnificent scenery in the world.  The Great Silk Road crossed the Pamirs through here, though the current road was pushed through in the thirties to supply the most far flung of Soviet Union outposts. Still remote and rarely travelled, the highway will have you agog at Tajikistan’s geographic treasures and the yurt-and-yak lifestyle of its high plateau inhabitants. Adventure unmuddied by common experience still exists in the world and no more so than when travelling Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway.

Much of the Pamir looks barren and lifeless, bar the odd hardy sheep and keen-eyed falcon. However, up some of the valleys comparative Gardens of Eden exist. These remote summer stretches of bright green are where Kyrgyz nomads spend the warmer seasons in yurts, grazing their goats, cattle and yaks and revelling in natural splendour. If you’re a teenager disinclined to agriculture, you might go mad here, but visitors will delight in these shocks of fertile soil accompanied by picturesque streams. Glimpse them all through the Pamir and perhaps walk a length of one in the Murghab valley. Beautiful.

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