Robb and I finally decided to give the Pamirs a go even though locals (mainly our hostel) kept saying it was still too cold to go and very expensive. This post explains the breakdown of the costs and where we went.
We hired a driver courtesy of Pamir Highway Adventures to get us from Dushanbe, Tajikistan to Osh, Kyrgyzstan in 8 days. The cost of hiring a driver was $1,000USD. (Holy crap, but yes. That’s what we spent.) This did not include accommodations and board.
The driver used a Toyota Land Cruiser, a solid 4WD that many guys drooled over whenever it was parked. It drove over rocks, streams and potholes well. I was especially impressed with the car on Kyzyl-art Pass as the driver, and the car was able to handle the treacherous, snowy terrain. (I feel like a Land Cruiser poster-girl now!) In the summertime, the road conditions will probably not be as ridiculous as what we had. But I definitely recommend renting a good car for the Pamirs. Although, I did see several Ladas chugging along just fine.
This was our planned route:
- Day 1: Dushanbe to Kakikhumb
- Day 2: Kakikhumb to Rushon
- Day 3: Rushon to Khorog
- Day 4: Khorog to Ishkashim
- Day 5: Ishkashim to Langar
- Day 6: Langar to Murghab
- Day 7: Murghab to Karakul
- Day 8: Karakul to Osh
In a perfect world, all would go according to plan. However, we were dealing with the Pamir Mountains with the mid-April weather, meaning still snowy passes due to avalanches and lots of rain, which could result in landslides. We were fortunate enough to experience both! Locals also mentioned that early 2017 brought more snow than usual. (Thank you, global warming!)
Our actual route:
- Day 1: Dushanbe to Kakikhumb
- Day 2: Kakikhumb to
RushonDeh (roadblock due to a landslide)
- Day 3:
RushonDeh to Khorog
- Day 4: Khorog to
Ishkashim(road to Ishkashim was closed due to landslides) Jelondy
- Day 5:
Ishkashim to LangarJelondy to Murghab
- Day 6:
Langar to MurghabMurghab to Karakul
- Day 7:
Murghab to KarakulKarakul to Sary-Mogol
- Day 8:
KarakulSary-Mogol to Osh
In total, we drove 1,322km over 8 days. Yes, it was a lot of sitting. The nature was breath-taking. The roads were frustrating. We couldn’t really do much outside of being in the car. When we did get to a village, it was nice to interact with the locals, especially children who wanted to practice their English.
Because part of our deal with the tour company was that we paid for our own meals and accommodation, we were able to keep the costs low. It was also in our favour that it was still low season. On the Tajik side of the Pamirs, we spent 720TJS ($84.93) and the one night on the Kyrgyz side it cost us 1,400KGS ($20.81). Overall, we spent $105.74 ($13.22/day) on housing.
On the food end, we did some grocery shopping in Dushanbe and spent $32 on instant noodles, cookies, fruit and 19L of water. We had one warm meal for lunch per day with our drivers, which ended up being costing around $12. (Thank you, plov and laghman!) We were also fortunate enough that even though we asked for no food, our hosts insisted on giving us a homecooked meal.
To get up-to-date road conditions around the GBAO region, we suggest sending an email to spallaev [at] focushumanitarian.org to be added to its daily email updates.
Overall, it was a pretty cool experience. We got to see rural life in Central Asia. We met wonderful people along the way. And we saw beautiful nature. Would I do it again? Probably not. It was a lot of sitting in a car. The only thing I would go back to the GBAO region for is the Wakhan Valley. I’ve seen so many pictures, but as everyone told us, come back in the summer. Next time…