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Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan Overview

Travel through the mountainous heart of Central Asia, along the legendary Pamir Highway between Dushanbe and Bishkek. Our group will explore ancient Silk Road forts and stay as guests in some of the most remote communities on our planet. Hike amidst stunning scenery, rub shoulders with local traders at village bazaars and cross high mountain passes

Itinerary

Day 1 – Dushanbe

Arrive in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan and transfer to your hotel, where if required your room will be available for early check-in. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Hotel Gulistan or similar.

Day 2 – Hissar – Dushanbe

Drive to the nearby town of Hissar to visit the remains of the 18th century fort as well as two nearby madrassahs. Return to Dushanbe in the afternoon and visit the bazaar and the excellent Museum of National Antiquities. Overnight Hotel Gulistan or similar. (BL)

Day 3 – Kalaikhumb

We set off east towards the Pamirs and Kalaikhumb, driving through beautiful scenery and interesting villages en route. This area is a little more conservative, and we see many men with beards, and women wearing traditional dress. We cross the Khaburabot Pass, arriving in Kalaikhumb (360km) in the early evening. Overnight local guesthouse. Shared bathroom facilities tonight. (BLD)

Days 4-5 – Geisev Valley

Travel to Rushan the administrative centre of the Bartang district. We may have some time to explore upon arrival but we will explore in more depth tomorrow. On Day 5 we drive to the Bartang valley and cross the river by a wagon hanging on a wire rope. We then embark on a trek that begins on the river Bartang just beyond Bhagoo village and is mostly gentle uphill for about 8km to the upper of the three lakes. The first houses in Geisev are reached after about 5km. The abundant vegetation, the gnarled trees, the lakes and the ever-changing river - sometimes frothing with energy, sometimes limpid and blue - create a very special peaceful atmosphere. This route passing lakes and rivers traverses some of the most magnificent scenery in the Pamirs. Overnight at a homestay with shared rooms and bathroom facilities. (BLD)

Day 6 – Khorog

Drive through more superb scenery (97km), alongside the river Panj which forms the border with Afghanistan. We stay in relative luxury tonight, having reached the capital of the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). We have a little time to explore Khorog including the bazaar and the lovely Botanical Gardens which are perched high above the town, affording some great panoramic views. Overnight Lal Inn or similar. Shared bathroom facilities. (BLD)

Day 7 – Ishkashim

About 50kms (140km total) along the road to our next stop, Ishkashim, we will stop at Garmchasma hot springs for an (optional) dip in the waters. From here, we enter the Tajik half of the Wakhan Valley (shared with Afghanistan) and pass regional gem mines mentioned by Marco Polo. The most famous mine is Koh-i-Lal ruby mine which is visible from the road. Ishkashim itself may be the regional centre, but it is essentially still a large village and we stay in a traditional style guesthouse here. Shared bathroom facilities this evening (BLD)

Day 8 – Langar

Visit to the nearby village of Namadguti to visit the Khahkha Fortress. This impressive structure rises from a naturally formed platform of rock and dates back to the Kushan era of the 3rd Century. There are a number of these ancient fortresses in the area, and we also visit Yamchun fort, perhaps the most impressive of them. We take a break at the Bibi Fatima hot springs, named for the Prophet Mohammed’s sister and where local women believe they can increase their fertility. Continuing on we then stop at the 4th Century Buddhist stupas at Vrang, reminders of the ancient pilgrim caravans that passed through the region. (130km today) Overnight homestay with shared basic bathroom facilities. Tonight you will sleep on Asian style bedding on the mattresses and blankets on the floor in a few rooms of a Pamiri House (BLD)

Day 9 – Murghab

Leave behind the lush valleys of the Wakhan Valley and enter a landscape that is rocky, mostly barren but nevertheless dramatic. This is the Pamir Highway we have anticipated, with the route between Khorog and Osh completed in 1931 across a Tibetan-plateau style high altitude terrain. With a total of 240kms to cover today, we anticipate arriving in Murghab early evening. Overnight homestay with shared rooms and shared basic bathroom facilities. (BLD)

Day 10 – Karakul

After breakfast we head for Karakul (135km). We cross several high altitude passes, including Ak-Baital Pass (4655 metres) which is the highest section of road in the former Soviet Union. We descend to Karakul Lake and then cross our final Pamir Highway high pass, the Kyzyl Art (4282 metres), which essentially forms the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Karakul Lake is the highest lake in Central Asia, and at 3915 metres, too high to support any aquatic life. Karakul means “black lake” but in Spring, summer and autumn the water is almost always turquoise blue. At the northern end of the lake a track turns off west to geoglyphs and Saka graves (5000– 3000 BC), located about 500m from the turnoff. Overnight home stay “Sadat” or similar. Tonight you will sleep on Asian style bedding on the mattresses and blankets on the floor in a few rooms of a Pamiri House (BLD)

Day 11 – Osh

We depart the high mountains of the Pamir Alay range, leaving behind us the crossroads of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. The drive offers a contrast as we encounter lush farmlands and small villages on this side of the mountains, instead of the stark high altitude plateau of Tajikistan. En route we cross the Taldyk Pass (3554m) and enjoy some beautiful views - if we're lucky we may even catch a glimpse of Peak Lenin, at 7134m the second highest mountain in Central Asia. We expect to arrive in Osh (285km), Kyrgyzstan's oldest city in the afternoon, with time to explore. Overnight Hotel Pekin or similar. (BL)

Day 12 – Toktogul

Start the day in the rocky backdrop of the Alay Mountain range just outside Osh. We visit Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain which is Kyrgyzstan’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was once an important pilgrimage site in Central Asia and its location in the Fergana Valley meant it was also an important hub along the Silk Road. The mountain houses a hive of places of worship, both ancient and newer. You’ll find ancient petroglyphs along the craggy mountain peaks, and sites dating back to the 16th century, like the two mosques. The mountain is symbolic of Kyrgyzstan’s ancient pagan heritage combined with the contemporary Muslim one. Continue to Toktogul town named after the well-known akyn (Kyrgyz bard) Toktogul Satylganov (1884 – 1933) who was born here. Time permitting we shall spend some time exploring the town. Overnight local guesthouse (BLD)

Day 13 – Song Kol Lake

Today takes us to stunning Song Kol Lake (240km). The lake itself is 3916m above sea level and is one of the highest alpine lakes in the world. Overnight yurt stay. Shared room facilities tonight with 4 – 5 beds in one yurt. (BLD)

Day 14 – Lake Issyk Kul

Travel to Cholpon-Ata on the north side of Issyk-Kul Lake to the largest and most beautiful lake in Central Asia. There is an optional opportunity to visit the open air museum of Stone Inscriptions in Cholpon Ata. Most of the drawings date from several thousand years B.C. up until the 12th Century A.D. Overnight at Amin Hotel or similar (BLD)

Day 15 – Bishkek

Drive to Bishkek and explore the capital, visiting Ala-Too Square and the History Museum among other sites. Overnight Semetei Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 16 – Bishkek

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
Find out more about the Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan tour

Reviews of this holiday

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by Newbs, 31 Aug 2018
Traveller rating:

The pamir Highway, it was stunning! read more

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by maxbaz, 28 Jul 2016
Traveller rating:

Pamir Highway - the roof of the world - an astonishing adventure in Central Asia that will literally take your breath away... read more

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by Lynne P-A, 25 Jul 2016
Traveller rating:

I have just had the most amazing and exciting trip to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The scenery is so dramatic and every place ... read more

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by Avid Traveller, 3 Aug 2015
Traveller rating:

This was off the beaten track in a remote and glorious part of the world. The homestays in particular gave a whole different ... read more

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by Travelling Frog, 30 Jul 2015
Traveller rating:

I did a Pamir Highyway trip with Undiscovered Desinations. Great guides, route with stunning scenary, service, communictions etc... read more

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Reviews Submitted: 5
Reviews Accepted: 5
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Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by Newbs, 31 Aug 2018
Traveller rating:

The pamir Highway, it was stunning! read more

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by maxbaz, 28 Jul 2016
Traveller rating:

Pamir Highway - the roof of the world - an astonishing adventure in Central Asia that will literally take your breath away... read more