Hello everyone and today we want to tell you slightly more about Pamir. This destination is traditionally popular with adventure travelers, furthermore we started doing motorcycle tours over the Pamir Mountains. From our point of view this year Pamir will be one of the most demanded destinations and hence we want to give you more information about it.
What is so special in Pamir?
Pamir Mountain System is the highest in the world, the average height of the plateau/highlands here is 4000 meters.
The longest mountain system in the world is the Andes (Latin America, Patagonia), and the highest mountains are in the Pamirs. We are talking not about certain peaks, but of general roads and plateau. Many peaks here are more than 7000 meters, the most famous peaks are 7495, 7134 and 7105 meters.
Pamir is part of a large mountain system that begins in Tibet, continues in the Pamirs, then goes through Afghanistan and Iran to Anatolia (present-day Turkey). The central part of Anatolia, the Anatolian Plateau, is on average 800 meters above sea level in the west, and 1500 meters in the east, in the region of Van, Kars and Ararat.
As you can understand, Pamir is a part of this huge mountain system. And it is often called “Roof of the World”, because its highest part.
Where Pamir is located
Officially, the Pamir Highway is the road Osh – Murghab – Khorog – Dushanbe. The construction of the road began in 1933 and was completed in 1937. Before that, for many thousands of years there was a path along which pack animals walked.
In fact, the vast majority of the Pamir Mountains, the most beautiful part, are located on the territory of Tajikistan, this is the Murgab – Yamchun – Khorog triangle. Some people make mistakes and call tours to Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan as Pamir, but that is not correct. In fact, the Pamir Mountains are primarily in Tajikistan.
Planning a motorcycle tour to Pamir
Let's start with the fact that Uzbekistan is least of all related to the Pamir Mountains, but when traveling through Central Asia, through the Stans, it is logical to visit Samarkand and Bukhara, especially since they are so closed to Tajikistan and well fit into the round trip to Pamir and back.
What is more important for motorcycle travelers, is that at the moment the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is closed. That is, you cannot drive through Murgab – Osh segment and make a round tour Dushanbe – Khorog – Murgab – Osh.
The reason is that since the USSR there was no clear state border between these countries, it was somewhere along the river, somewhere along the mountain ridge, and it was fine for all in those time. But when several years ago dry years began and the river dried up, conflict between locals happened, who can take water and who can’t. Locals began to divide the river, forbidding others to walk to it or take water from it.
People in these mountainous regions, at the maximum distance from the capitals and large cities, lived a very simple rural life. It may seem strange to some, but lack of water => poor harvest => a matter of life and death. Several conflicts happened, authorities intervened and began the procedure for dividing the borders of the two countries. But the process is long and complicated, border was closed in 2020 and still no reopened. There were talked it will be reopened in 2021, then in 2022, now we wait that will happen in 2023.
At the moment you can enter Tajikistan only from Uzbekistan. If you will see our map above, you can come in Tajikistan by a solid line on the map, go to Murgab and slightly higher to the Akbaital pass (4655 meters) and then return back to Dushanbe by another road, dotted line, and then leave Tajikistan and through Uzbekistan again return to Osh, from where to Bishkek by another road.
So, it was “short” loop with Murgab – Osh segment and 4000 km itinerary. But because border is closed now its 5200 km and slightly different, alternative route.
This year we will arrange three motorcycle tours along the Pamir Highway and we plan, if the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will be open, to take the short route Murgab – Osh. If the border is closed by April, then we will go as shown on the map with a dotted line back to Osh with a little bypass. In terms of beauty, alternative route is even more interesting than the first option, we spend more time in mountains, but it is 1200 km longer.
What is important to know if you want to ride Pamir
Total mileage is about 4,000 thousand km if through Osh, and more than 5,000 km if bypass. 80/20 paved/gravel roads. The route in the mountains is not easy – high passes, little infrastructure, segments of gravel roads.
We don’t recommend to go to Pamir Highway on motorcycle alone. Better with a friend at least, or with a group of friends, or with a tour company.
Passengers are not recommended for the mountain segment. If you have support vehicle its ok, they can ride there, but if you travel solo on motorcycle, dont take passenger.
Tires for this tour should be 50/50 or off-road. Although 80% of the route is paved, still there will be almost 1000 km of gravel roads, which is a lot.
Central Asia is the birthplace of ancient civilizations, the Great Silk Road from China to Central Asia passed here. Such geniuses, scientists, educators and poets as Avicenna, Ulugbek, Omar Khayyam lived and worked in the countries of Central Asia. Thousands of years ago, grandiose cities with beautiful mosques, minarets and madrasahs were erected here. Medieval monuments of Samarkand, Bukhara, Shakhrisabs, Penjikent are known all over the world. Deserts and cotton fields, camel caravans, ancient fortresses of Khorezm – all this you will see in Central Asia.
As you can guess from text above, plan 2.5-3 weeks for such tour, its not a 7-10-day ride. Too much interesting things, you won't have time to see anything in a week.
It is also very important that in this tour you will ride high mountains. The climb will be gradual, but most likely you will not be able to fully acclimatize, there is not enough time for this. In our motorcycle tour the climb stages will look like this: 1300 m (overnight) – 2100 m (overnight) – 2800 m (overnight) – 3500-4300 m (riding day) – 3600 m (overnight) – 3500- 4500 m (riding day) – 2100 m (overnight).
Most healthy people do not have serious problems with a more or less long stay at an altitude of up to 3000 m, but complications can arise at an altitude of more than 3000 meters. The best preparation for the body before going to Pamir will be aerobic exercise, which must be given to yourself at least 3 months before the start of the trip. If you suffer from any chronic diseases, please consult your doctor.
According to the weather – end of May and September are best months.
If you want to ride Pamir Highway with motorcycle, get ready for this – prepare yourself, prepare your motorcycle.
If you need help – contact us, we are always ready to help adventure riders. If you want to go to Pamir with our guided tour and rented motorcycle, please book a place on our website.
The tour, as you could understand, is not easy, but very interesting and exciting. The Pamir Highway is one of the most beautiful roads in the world and it is one of the most beautiful mountain ranges on Earth.
We hope that material will be useful and would live to hear feedback. Don’t hesitate to drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, contact via WhatsApp/Telegram, social networks.
Good luck to everyone and hope to see you soon!