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  #1  
Old 11 May 2013
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Info on Pamir Highway in Tajikistan

Hi everyone!

I'm posting here this question even if it isn't strictly motorcycle-related... Hope you can help me anyway.
I'm planning a trip on the Pamir Highway from Osh to Dushanbe this August with a few friends in my car (small 4x4 but, alas, quite old). It wouldn't be a proper "tour" of the area, but part of a much bigger itinerary so it shouldn't take more than the needed 2 or 3 days (of course we'd be taking care of the visas and the special permit for the GBAO area before leaving in the first place).
If some of you more experienced guys could help us understand if we're up to the task, that'd be much appreciated… We've already travelled all around Turkey and Armenia, but this'd be a whole new experience.

Basically, we don't speak russian, tajik nor kyrgyz… is there any way we can communicate with locals, namely local mechanics or roadside assistance in case of emergency (which could mean technical issues with the car, so that's quite tougher to explain than basic needs)? Is there a tow truck service operating on the road and do you know how much it could cost? We'll travel on a tight budget, but being stranded up there is something we'd like to avoid.
Our main concern is communication regarding the mechanical stuff: is it hard to have a car inspected (for instance in Osh) before leaving for the "wilderness"? An inspection might be necessary 'cause our car will already have something like 10.000 km on its back since the beginning of the trip.
In short, I haven't got much faith in my car.
So the other option would be leaving the car in Dushanbe and renting a 4WD to drive at least to Karakul lake and back, possibly without a driver. Do you know if there are any agencies in Dushanbe that provide this kind of service (and an approximate idea of the price)?

That's pretty much it.
Your help, any kind of help, would be immensely appreciated.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 12 May 2013
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Originally Posted by BuddyGlass View Post
Hi everyone!

I'm posting here this question even if it isn't strictly motorcycle-related... Hope you can help me anyway.
I'm planning a trip on the Pamir Highway from Osh to Dushanbe this August with a few friends in my car (small 4x4 but, alas, quite old). It wouldn't be a proper "tour" of the area, but part of a much bigger itinerary so it shouldn't take more than the needed 2 or 3 days (of course we'd be taking care of the visas and the special permit for the GBAO area before leaving in the first place).
If some of you more experienced guys could help us understand if we're up to the task, that'd be much appreciated… We've already travelled all around Turkey and Armenia, but this'd be a whole new experience.

Basically, we don't speak russian, tajik nor kyrgyz… is there any way we can communicate with locals, namely local mechanics or roadside assistance in case of emergency (which could mean technical issues with the car, so that's quite tougher to explain than basic needs)? Is there a tow truck service operating on the road and do you know how much it could cost? We'll travel on a tight budget, but being stranded up there is something we'd like to avoid.
Our main concern is communication regarding the mechanical stuff: is it hard to have a car inspected (for instance in Osh) before leaving for the "wilderness"? An inspection might be necessary 'cause our car will already have something like 10.000 km on its back since the beginning of the trip.
In short, I haven't got much faith in my car.
So the other option would be leaving the car in Dushanbe and renting a 4WD to drive at least to Karakul lake and back, possibly without a driver. Do you know if there are any agencies in Dushanbe that provide this kind of service (and an approximate idea of the price)?

That's pretty much it.
Your help, any kind of help, would be immensely appreciated.

Thanks!
Good news .... There is no roadside assistance, so you do not have to worry about what language you will communicate with them.

Generally speaking, on the Pamir Plateau you are on your own, so any assistance you will have to arrange with whomever you can flag down at the side of the road. It is not a completely remote area, the Pamir Highway is asphalted, and there are regular vehicles that transit it. It would be reasonable to expect a vehicle after waiting 5-10 minutes (or less) - it is after all, as the name suggests ,a highway.

For info on further assistance or rentals including driver (or maybe without) contact this reliable chap:

Surat Toimastov in Dushanbe tel (+ 992 372) 23 54 24, mobile +992 95 151 7567 (See also his website MAT | Mountain Adventure Travel).
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  #3  
Old 12 May 2013
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Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
It would be reasonable to expect a vehicle after waiting 5-10 minutes (or less) - it is after all, as the name suggests, a highway.
I would rarely disagree with Walter on these things, but that was not my experience between the last village out of Khorog (before you climb to the first 4200 pass) and Sary Tash. We saw very few vehicles at all (on one day only one). That said there are regular tourist 4WD out of Osh to Murghab and Murghab to Khorog so there will eventually be some one by and the trucks from China also use this road.

On the Dushanbe side of Khorog and Osh side of Sary Tash things are quite busy though.

The road is quite an easy road to traverse and from Sary Tash to Osh is most excellent pavement, sports bike good.
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Old 12 May 2013
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if your vehicle has made it to the Caucasus then why not the Pamirs? There should, as Walter said be plenty of people around, its just a matter of time. I wouldn't fix yourself to 2-3 days, take it steady and easy on the vehicle. We will be there at the end of this month, hopefully for 10 days or so.

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Old 12 May 2013
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Thank you all for the prompt responses.

I guess we'll take our time, more than the planned 2 or 3 days for the trip, seems like it's definitely worthwhile.
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Old 12 May 2013
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Fair call .... 5-10 mins might be a short wait on the Pamir Highway.

If you take the variation via Ishkashim and the Wakhan valley, the bit between Langar and the Pamir Highway is pretty remote. Saw only one other vehicle there.
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  #7  
Old 13 May 2013
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Last summer we saw two backbackers just before Karakul. They had been trying to hitchike to cars going past but problem was that it was second day going and there hadnt been any cars going. They were quite desperately asking if there are any cars coming behind us from Kirgisia direction.
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Old 14 May 2013
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I rode/drove Pamir Hgw several times. I don't know how many but more than 20.
3 days is too short for this road. I would recommend at least 5. Wakhan corridor is the best part and it would be silly to drive M41 only.
When road is easy CAN be done by each car. When there is really wet and is difficult even 4x4 will not climb on Kyzyl Art pass. When was landslide we have to wait 2 days. There are mountains men. Big mountains. I had snowfall in July and in August and also have to wait half a day for melting.

Traffic? Almost no traffick between Sary Tash and Murgab, then much better from Murgab to Khorog. After Khorog road is "full" of cars.
Don't worry about your car. 2 years ago I drove to Khorog using 15 years iveco daily. Old, simply cars are easier to repair.
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  #9  
Old 14 May 2013
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Thanks for the heads-up.

Now we're planning at least a week for the whole Pamir experience from Kohrog to Kyrgyzistan and a detour to the Wakhan corridor. And we're much more confident about our car's chances of surviving the trip.

Another question...
Would you recommend keeping Ishkashim as "headquarter" for the Wakhan area and then going back to Khorog to take the M41, or travelling all the way to meet the M41 near Sasyk-Kel (according to the maps I've found)? I suppose both the routes offer different kinds of views and experience, and it's safe to assume the M41 is in much better shape than the other road bordering on Afghanistan. But is this other road still "doable"? Is it worth the extra effort?
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Old 21 May 2013
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The road south of khorog

In the past week I have heard many conflicting accounts about the safety of the road that splits off of M41 and heads south from khorog and follows the afghan border. I have also heard it is one of the most beautiful pieces of earth and a must see.

I have been told it is not safe to do solo on a moto. Any advice? anyone want to ride it with me in the next 4 or 5 days?
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Old 21 May 2013
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In the past week I have heard many conflicting accounts about the safety of the road that splits off of M41 and heads south from khorog and follows the afghan border. I have also heard it is one of the most beautiful pieces of earth and a must see.

I have been told it is not safe to do solo on a moto. Any advice? anyone want to ride it with me in the next 4 or 5 days?
I've not heard of any problems on that road. Sambor is who you want to listen to tho ...

Krzysztof?
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Old 22 May 2013
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I've not heard of any problems on that road. Sambor is who you want to listen to tho ...

Krzysztof?
I don't have such a information. There was always safe and people in Wakhan Corridor (both sides) are extremally friendly. But serious problems started on the other side between Ishkhashim and Faizabad. 16 afghan soldiers were killed in March in ambush near Warduj.
Afghan army started operation Eagle and visiting this area is not recomended. Road from Ishkhashim towards Sarhad is safe so far.

KUNDUZ (AIP): Eleven villages in Warduj district of Badakhshan province are under the control of Taliban, an official said Wednesday.
Talking to the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP), the Warduj district governor Daulat Muhammad said despite military operations by the security forces, 11 villages of the district were still under the control of Taliban.
“Taliban in large number exist in these villages. They are also supported by the people who don’t want to join the government, creating concerns for the security forces. The government is so far unable to bring the district under complete control,” he added.
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Old 22 May 2013
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Just to clarify Sambor, you are talking about the Afghan side of the border right?

No reported issues in the Tajik side I assume?
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Old 22 May 2013
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We are looking to head from Ishkhashim up to Sarhadd in the next week or so. Would appreciate any extra info on security in the region.

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Old 23 May 2013
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I'm headed that way (leaving Osh) today. I'll post on my experience in about a week. Cheers. thanks for the info.
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