Come join us on a unique expedition to Afghanistan. This is by no means a popular direction and it won’t be a typical tour. The organization of such an expedition requires experience, knowledge of the terrain and the socio-political situation, and last but not least reason. Luckily, we have it all. The route leads through the outermost part of the country – a valley hidden between the Hindu Kush and Pamir, which is very easy to control. The mountains have shielded this little scrap of land from the atrocities of war and fanaticism of Taliban. Even so, we make utmost effort to implement all possible safety precautions. One of them is having a guide who speaks the local language. Afghanistan, however, will be only one of the goals on this expedition’s to-do’s. The Bartang Valley in Tajikistan will definitely leave you in an awe. The event is intended for singles, the route doesn’t favour a large motorcycle with a passenger. And although it’s not extremely difficult, the participants need experience on gravel roads. Most of all however, each and everyone on this trip needs to be level headed. We enter a country with a very different culture and we must be respectful of its customs and traditions. If a stamp from the Afghan border is all you’re after – thanks, but no thanks.
We leave Osh and take a gravel road to go south through the mountains. This is a new section on our routes, we could take the M41, but you need a test ride on difficult sections. Accommodation in Sarah Tash, tent or guesthouse – depending on the weather.
We leave in the morning and head for the Tajik border. The first four-thousandth pass ahead. It’s also the most difficult one – Kyzyl Art can surprise with mud and snow. The real Pamir Highway will start abroad, but as it is not our goal we take right in Karakol to continue towards Bartang. Today’s goal – to get as far away as possible and sleep as low as possible.
Many consider Bartang the most beautiful valley in Tajikistan. The road improves with each kilometer, but the views will remain breathtakingly beautiful. But the real treasure of Bartang are the people, unquestionably the best we’ve met during our lifelong travels.
We reach the asphalt that day and continue south, to Khorog. Tonight’s accommodation – the iconic Pamir Lodge. In 2006 we were the first customers there. A lot has changed since then.
Some of you might choose to have a rest, others can set off on an optional trip to the valley of Roshtala. In the meantime, we take care of the permissions to enter Afghanistan.
We enter Afghanistan first thing in the morning and go along the Pianj river on a very unusual road – carved in rock, often suspended high above the water. You will remember it for the rest of your life – that’s for sure. Today’s destination – Afghan Ishkashim.
This morning’s plan – Ishkashim. This is not a typical tourist destination, so the main attraction will be… you. As outsiders are a rare view there, prepare to get a lot of attention from the locals. Grab your cameras and shoot away – we recommend telephoto lenses for portraits – not everyone likes to be photographed. While you’re sightseeing, we’re taking care of the permits to go further. In the afternoon we continue along the river to reach Qal`eh-ye Panjeh in the evening.
Today we leave Pianj and Tajikistan on the left and drive along the Wakhan River. Tourists come here very rarely, only climbers and ubiquitous cyclists venture a visit in this part of the country. Sarhad is the last Afghan settlement in the Wakhan Corridor, then there are only Kyrgyz villages. This place feels surreal. Like it’s the last human settlement on some lonely planet.
Getting to know the neighbourhood. If you feel like it, we might go to the Boroghil Pass to see Pakistan.
There is no other way back – there is only one road to Sarhad and have to return the same way. This time, however, we stick to the right side of Wakhan and in Langar get to Tajikistan through a different crossing.
We don’t go far today, but as we always regret there wasn’t enough time to marvel at the Tajik Wakhan, we’ll take a while now. Buddhist stupa, petroglyphs and finally a fortress in Yamchun.
We leave Wakhan and follow the Pamir River to Jarty Gumbez. We take a break to visit Lake Zorkul on the way. You won’t regret it – the mountains are marvellous, vast spaces truly overwhelming. An unexpected bonus – there are no tourists. In the evening we reach Jarty Gumbez and relax after the long ride in the local hot springs.
Today we take a beautiful gravel road towards Murgab, have lunch there and go to Karakol. This section takes us along a nice, Pamir, asphalt road. This is the day we reach the highest pass of the entire route – The Ak Bythal Pass, 4655 m.a.s.l.
We leave Tajikistan and Pamir and cross the border to enter Kyrgyzstan. The route continues down to the Alia Valley and head towards the Lenin’s Peak. If we are lucky enough and the weather’s nice – which is usually – the views are truly stunning.
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