Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB

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-   -   Pamir Highway and Whakan valley (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/northern-asia/pamir-highway-and-whakan-valley-48336)

honey rider 9 Feb 2010 09:02

Pamir Highway and Whakan valley
I am planning to ride the Pamir road in august 2010, starting from Sary Tash to Kargush, than the Whakan valley to Ishkashim and Khorog, I would like to know:
- road conditions: I read that Pamir road is almost all tarmac, Whakan roads instead is quite dirt, other bad roads in Tajikistan ? (after Pamir we will ride to Dushanbe and Uzbekistan ...)
- GBAO permit for Pamir region is the same for Whakan?
- is it easy to find food and accommodations, or better to bring our own tent? We did so in Mongolia, and was really nice to sleep near a lake or in the mountains, but we are also considering the weight ... even because we would use it only in the Pamir region ..
thank you

Chris D (Newcastle NSW) 9 Feb 2010 09:24

Pamir Hway
Hi Honey,

We were along Pamir Hway and Wakhan Valley 2009, I don't remember any tarred sections, all the roads are as rough as and the altitude sickness got us also.

If you are after accommodation forget it, there are some home stays but very few.

If you would like some correspondence send me an email to ann_chris@bigpond.com


Nath 9 Feb 2010 11:27

Not wanting to start an argument, but I'd have to dissagree with that post entirely.

Rode the Pamhir hwy and Wakkan road last year and saw lots of homestays. Certainly in all the sizeable villages and in a few smaller places as well. I suspect there'd be houses willing to take you in any villages without official homestays as well if you asked around (It seemed to me there's somewhat of a wealth disparity ready to emerge in the Pamhirs, as official (and therefore signed) homestays have a big source of income over normal families). Price of the places I stayed was between $8 and $15 US.

Most of the Pamhir hwy between Sary Tash and Horog is tarmac though do expect a certain amount of potholes etc, and the gravel sections were all in good condition albeit with corrogations in places. Wakkan valley was good gravel. BUT due to all the mountains and the potentially extreme weather road conditions could change very quickly. Around three weeks after I entered Tajikistan I returned the same way to find the road between Karakul and the border had been swept away in two seperate places by rivers which I'm pretty certain hadn't even been there before. And some guys who crossed the border only a day or two after me nearly got stuck in snow at the pass between the borders when it was only wet and muddy when I was there (and fairly dry three weeks earlier). So there's no guarantee what you'll find, but in my opinion the general condition of the roads there was good.

No special permission needed for Wakkan, just GBAO stamp, but make sure you get all 7 regions listed on it.

I didn't camp once in the Pamhirs as I didn't have a proper tent with me. As it's a such touristic region I'd feel happier travelling there without a tent than I would elsewhere in central asia. All the places I stayed people spoke English to some degree. The Pamhir map you can buy from tourist agencies also marks homestays on it - It's anyway worth getting this or bringing your own detailed map if you want to explore some of the sideroads.

I can't answer your other questions but various people who use this site travelled that way last year and will probably come along and provide the answers.

colebatch 9 Feb 2010 15:14

Agree with Nath ... Pamir Highway in TJ is all asphalt, except for a little bit around the Ak Baital Pass, and for the bit around the Kyzyl Art pass on the border with KG.

The Wakhan and Panj Valley roads are mostly dirt, and some sections have deep gravel. But ... the road from Khargush, thru Ishkashim, Khorog, Khalaikhum and Kulob is mind blowingly beautiful.

I am currently posting a detailed report of photos on that section of road here:

Central Asia - Pure Photos (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan) - Page 13 - ADVrider

pages 13 - page 18 are all on that stretch. Earlier pages have more pictures of road condition in other parts of TJ and Uzbekistan.

I had a tent but didnt need to use it in TJ... accommodation was everywhere I needed it and inexpensive.

Sambor 10 Feb 2010 07:38

Colebatch is right. I travelled there many times (lat time August 2009). Situation still improve, roads are in better condition and more and more people can speak English. Traffic is higher and you can find acomodation in many places. There is a lot of dirt tracks in Pamir but M41 is tarmac - only pass sections are gravel.
You can find acomodation in every village along Pyanzh river and also in Pamir plateau you can sleep in Karakol, Murgab, Alichur, Bulunkul etc.
We slept on the ground without tent last year but take good sleeping bag if you want to try it...

Guy Scheveneels 3 Mar 2010 20:56

Did the Pamir Highway and the Wakhan valley in June 2009 on my old XT.
Relaxed driving, highway mostly tarmac except on the passes. Wakhan some gravel. Met nothing but friendly people and slept in very enjoyable homestays . And most of all the scenery is exceptionally beautifull.
Had only one freightening experience in Tadjikistan: the tunnel north of Dushanbe.

No doubt you will enjoy it.


jennabusa 12 Mar 2010 19:04

I,m also heading out that way, leaving the uk on june 1st.

It looks like i,ll have a good time, just as long as the atitude doesnt affect too much.(i actually live in the fens below sea level):helpsmilie::helpsmilie:

colebatch 12 Mar 2010 19:16


Originally Posted by jennabusa (Post 280533)
I,m also heading out that way, leaving the uk on june 1st.

It looks like i,ll have a good time, just as long as the atitude doesnt affect too much.(i actually live in the fens below sea level):helpsmilie::helpsmilie:

Well at least your bike will be able to handle it just fine

Ahe59 4 Apr 2010 21:13

for me is now 30 days before I start the trip, all visa are ready and the bike(XT600) is also ready.

the route is:
via Ukraine, Russia to kazachstan, then via Bejneu to Uzbekistan.
following Nukus, Buchara and Samarkand to Dushanbe.
Then the Wakhan and Pamir to Kyrgistan and via Kazachstan (M32) back home.

Have someone info about the Anzob Tunnel?
some tips about bordercrossings?

I planned to go from Bejneu to Nukus in two days, I can take straigt the road but maybe it is possible to ride via lake Aral.

It is for me possible to carry 40 liters of petrol (23 in tank and 2x 10liter in Jerrycans) eneugh for 800km

CornishDeity 5 Apr 2010 03:43

Tunnel of Death
Hi there,

We nicknamed the Anzaob tunnel, the tunnel of Death, more in jest than anything else. We did it in a car and it was easy, but some of the bikers we travelled with had a hard time. It has not lights, not ventilation and raod wide puddles that appear a meter deep. You an see a video of it here:

YouTube - The Tunnel of Death

The border Uzbek-Tajik was our best border and we were through it in about an hour. Leavingf Tajik remember they will want some cash off you.

The road we took from Dushambe to Pamir was the southern Wakhan route and was for us the more enjoyable. But this was a dirt road, that we had to stop 2-3 times for avalaches to be blasted away. Pamir is all tarmac.

Be sure to stop in Bebe Fatimas hot springs - famous for it's fertility. My wife was pregnant within a week or stopping there!

CornishDeity 5 Apr 2010 03:52

Iskander Kul
Oh - I should have added if you have time on your way to Dushambe, go down and stay in Iskander kul. We had a magical 5 days staying down there, once you get over the offers to drink vodka with the locals for breakfast.

This is a beautiful lake fed by glacier water. Bring plenty of supplies, although there is a shop where you can buy over priced beer and cheap vodka down there.

WE ended up taking two days to get there from the border, because the road down there gets very hairy at night, and also one of the roads (the good one!!!) was closed due to Chinese road works during the day. But we loved it and well worth taking a bit of time out and having a mini holiday down there. Lots of photos on our blog etc or here

Picasa Web Albums - Oliver - Khiva to Dush...

Knight of the Holy Graal 21 Feb 2011 08:57

Guys, I take this thread back from the dead, because there is a thing I cannot sort out, despite the many searches on this board and on Google.

As for my 30-day trip of July 2011, I'm considering to skip Turkmenistan and kill those 3 days in Tajikistan on the road that goes from Panjakent east then south to Dushanbe, I mean this

Bing Maps==

but I cannot locate the terrible Anzob tunnel: will I run across it on this road or not?

How are the road conditions on this road from Panjakent to Dushanbe?
I found out that the road from the junction of M34 to Iskandar Kul lake is tarmac, but I don't know how the entire stretch of M34 from the UZ-TJ border to Dushanbe is.

I ride a big and heavy Harley, so road conditions are important to me...

Thanks to whoever can tell me something.

- Nick from northern Italy -

fernan_ci 21 Feb 2011 16:37

I´ll do it this summer too, and I can help you to locate Anzob tunnel, you can choose tunnel-Anzobpass bier


I forgot it, but for me the best way to plan the route is the openstreetmaps (my photo is tadjikistan OSM in garmin basecamp program, it´s free), very accurate:

OSM Map On Garmin/Download - OpenStreetMap Wiki

Central Asia and Russia maps:

Google Traductor

go to countries and choose one to download.

dnicoletti 21 Feb 2011 18:27

hi knight,
i did that route on august 2010. the road from penjikent to m34 is rough unpaved and quite lot challenging for bikes like ours. once you get the m34 to dushanbe you'll find a smooth chinese tarmac (except the anzob tunnel) 'till the capitol. nice sceneries.
anzob tunnel is an absolute experience;dark, cold, humid, foggy, rainy and flooded. but it worth...

and after dushanbe going towards the pyandhz river and pamir it's even worse...


Knight of the Holy Graal 21 Feb 2011 19:49

Thank you guys.

Just 10 minutes ago I read on a Tajik tourism website that the border Uzbekistan-Tajikistan close to Panjakent is now closed for undefined period.
I'll have to choose another direction.

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