We’ve just finished a week-long road trip along the famous Pamir Highway that joins Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, and Tajikistan. The route has been used for millennia as a part of the Silk Road but the Soviet Union made a big push to turn it into a real road in the 1930s.
We started in Osh and quickly gained elevation. A side trip to Lenin Peak Basecamp took us up to our second yurt camp of the trip and fantastic views. I felt a strong pull to come back and (attempt to) climb this 7000m giant.
The weather was freezing cold as we crossed the border into Tajikistan but the welcome couldn’t have been warmer. “Welcome to Tajikistan, sir” said the border control officer. Just a touch more friendly than China.
Maybe it was because he wanted a ride. After checking our passports, one of the border guards asked us for a ride to the next town. We happily obliged. A few miles later, we came across a broken down truck and offered the driver a ride. Suddenly, we had a pretty full vehicle.
The little towns along the Pamir Highway might seem desolate at first glance but there’s a lot of character if you look beyond the windswept exterior.
There’s something special about high elevation places. Everything is more challenging but each day you wake up feeling stronger. Patience pays off.
Being pretty cheap travelers, we bought a bunch of ramen noodles and vegetables and fruit in Osh. Every day for lunch we found a nice spot along a river (or just sheltered from the wind behind a concrete wall) and cooked up hot soup.
Afterward we wandering around town, observing all the little details that make a place unique.
Sometimes the locals were really happy to see us.
After driving across the broad flat valleys of the high altitude Pamir, we dropped down into the Wakhan Valley. Here, a narrow river separates Afghanistan from Tajikistan – narrow enough you could throw a rock across in places. I was very tempted to wade across and check another country off my list.
Actually, it’s quite practical to legally cross the border here into Afghanistan and this is probably one of the safest places to do so. Personally, I’m more excited to see Kabul.
The Wakhan Valley becomes a deep gorge and narrow canyons cut sharply through the landscape.
In other places the valley is broad and fertile. Autumn is a wonderful time to visit. The fields are in harvest and fall colours brighten the land.
Next we’re heading to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. I can’t wait to see what it’s like!