The Pamir Mountains in south Tajikistan are a series of ranges separated by high-altitude valleys. The Pamir people that live in these valleys were isolated for centuries. Today, they speak languages different from each other and the rest of Tajikistan! 

We ride along the Pamir Highway; built by the Soviet Military between 1931 and 1934 to transport troops and provisions to remote outposts of the Soviet empire. We also branch off to follow Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor; a narrow strip of land that juts STRATEGICALLY eastwards, between Tajikistan & Pakistan, to touch China. 

Marco Polo travels along both in 1271. We cannot resist this tricky stretch of the Silk Road. 

The titles, Highway and Corridor, are misleading. The cliffs are high, the valleys are tight, the passes are scary and the roads up, through and over are often just tracks! Zoom in on the post map (above) to have a closer look … the grey line is the border.

It takes Marco Polo 12 days to cover the 400 kms. It takes us only 3, but very full, days. 

Each day is a choc-nut sundae of beautifully isolated vistas. We pig-out on them! And on top of each day sits a cherry of a person … in these remote places. We squirrel them away! 

  • On day one, we travel from Khorog to Wrang and pass through a few, very small villages. We spend the night at the homestay of Rano and her young family.
  • On day two, we travel from Wrang to just before the Khargush Pass. It’s desolate and we find a sheltered spot and wild camp at an altitude of 4300m. We fight fierce winds, icy cold and high altitude headaches all night long! Two child herders, and their goats, pass our tent.
  • On day three, we end at a ‘holy spring’ called Ak-Balyk (White Fish) by the side of the road. Here a family makes a living from selling fried fish to occasional Chinese truckers and overland bikers!

 How fortunate we are!

Later we become aware of just how fortunate we are! We leave this region on 12 July. Border crossings suddenly close to foreigners on 31 July, due to political clashes in Khorog. Here follows a press quote …

 … Officials say 48 people died in clashes last week between the Tajik Military and armed rebels and supporters of the renegade military commander Tolib Ayombekov in and around Khorog. These new tensions were raised by the killing of a local politician, critical of government policy, on 21 July. …


Day 1 – Harry enters the road that is the Pamir Highway and the Wakhan Corridor.


Look at it stretch ahead of us!


We cross wet riverbeds …


… and dry riverbeds …


On the first day we ride through a few small villages.


Here I’m at the top of a pass outside a small village …. see Harry and his bike down below.


Ladies make use of a small tarred section of road to clean their carpets.


Men and Donkeys at Work.



Before the village of Wrang are the remains of hundreds of hermit caves …


… and a 4th century Buddhist stupa ( a fire worshipping platform).


We stop in the village of Wrang … in full view of the Hindu Kush.


Pamir houses are low with thick, carpeted walls to withstand -40 degrees celsius and 1m high snow. There is no running water or waterborne sewerage.


We stay in a ‘homestay’ with Rano and her son Emin and her daughters Asia and Nos.


Emin and his best friend take us for a walk through the village.

Back at home a meal waits for us.


After supper we chat easily with just a few words. About her husband, her sisters in the next village and the Imam celebration the next day …


Day 2 – Harry starts the next day whizzing Emin and Asia through the village in full view of their mates!


We turn away from the Hindu Kush and head northwards and upwards.


We really feel ourselves climb higher and higher …




And if this grader had only managed a little further before expiring  ….


… we may have been spared this! Harry (above) comes a long way down to help me pick this dead weight up!


I’m getting a little better at river crossings though.


Here we collect water … needless to say … this water is as pure as can be!


Nothing grows at this altitude

There are many tight switchbacks as we climb still higher.


At the top of one of many tops.


The first of many choc-nut sundaes!


Roads that suddenly drop and bend back on themselves




Can you spot me in the distance here …


… and here …


… and here…


… and here …


Our GPS shows an altitude of 4284 meters … we decide to camp just beyond the lake in the background.


Seems sheltered enough … now!


An extraordinary visit by a brother and sister team of goat herders.


We share a packet of biscuits and they move on, with their three dogs.


A little cold, but cozy until the wind rips the tent pegs out of the ground & us into a frenzy. We lash the tent to the bikes!


Day 3 – We see patches of salt and sulphur residue here …


… and there …


These look like Bactrian camels in the background. They have two humps and are only found in remote parts of Central Asia.


And abandoned buildings are not really a surprise.


This is one of only three cars we see !


And YES also these two crazy cyclists! We couldn’t believe each other!


At last we have sight of the tiny village of Alicur (far in the distance). The fertile valley in front is popular summer pasture.


We see our first Yurt; a summer tent used by nomadic herders.


… and our first ‘yaks’ …



Behind us the weather becomes foul over the Pamirs. Later we are told snow falls too (in the middle of their summer).


In this small room a Tajik family serves delicious deep fried fish to 2 Chinese truckers and 3 bikers. Paul, an Aussie, stops when he sees our bikes. He joins us for lunch and plans to enter the Pamir when the weather improves.


This shows the small ‘holy springs’ (behind our bikes) that the Tajik family fishes, a small outhouse and a basin for washing hands.