The Pamir Highway trip is an epic, high altitude cycle ride through spectacular remote mountains in two of the least visited countries in the world. At the cutting edge of adventure cycling, this journey offers a fascinating insight into ex-Soviet Central Asia.
Our cycle tour starts in Dushanbe, Tajikistan's sleepy capital; we travel through the Obkinghou Valley and over the spectacular 3,200m Khaburabot Pass. A precipitous cycling descent takes us into the deep cleft of the Pyanj valley where the massive Pyanj river marks the border with Afghanistan. Cycling through small villages, we follow the river upstream to Khorog, capital of the Pamirs.
From Khorog, we set out riding along the Pamir Highway, climbing the picturesque Gunt valley to the summit of the Koi Tezek Pass (4,200m). We descend onto the wide open Pamir plateau, a Tibet-like region of snow-capped peaks and eerie turquoise lakes. Threading our way through the mountains we reach the small town of Murgab, not far from the Chinese border.
Our route continues north to climb the 4,655m Ak Baital Pass, the highest point of the cycle tour. On the far side of the pass, biking through a remote valley we reach the the hauntingly beautiful lake at Kara Kul. From here, we ascend the Kyzl Art Pass and enter Kyrgyzstan. A very rough descent from the pass takes us out into the wide grassy Alay valley, studded with the Kyrgyz nomads traditional yurts. There are spectacular views of the 7,000m summits Pik Lenin and Pik Kommunizma.
We have two more alpine passes to climb before enjoying a 60km racing descent into Osh, Kygygzstan's second city. We have time to explore the city and its lively bazaar. The mountain bike tour ends here.
Day to Day Itinerary:
Day 1: Dushanbe. On arrival, you will be met at Dushanbe airport and taken to the guesthouse where you will have the chance to catch up on your sleep (flights arrive at 4am). You will then have the rest of the day to explore the relaxed, leafy capital of Tajikistan. Cycling distance: 0 km. Accommodation: Guest house.
Day 2: Drive to Tavildara. We enjoy a spectacular drive of around 200 km up the Obikhingou River to the small town of Tavildara. Cycling distance: 0 km. Accommodation: Camping (possible Guest house).
Day 3: Tavildara to Kalaikum, via the Khaburabot Pass. The cycling starts with a bang as we tackle the 3,200m Khaburabot Pass. The super fit amongst the party can try the climb from the bottom. Mere mortals can get a lift all or some of the way to the summit. From the summit there is long, very spectacular descent down the steep gorge that leads to the small town of Kalaikum and the Pyanj Valley. Cycling distance: 70 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 4: Kalaikum towards Khorog (Pyanj Valley). From Kalaikum we head along the deep Pyanj valley towards Khorog. Afghanistan is just a short distance away across the river. The road rises and falls as it finds its way along this steep rocky valley and we pass thorough small villages and apricot orchards. Cycling distance: 80 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 5: Pyanj Valley. We continue our journey along the Pyanj valley passing through numerous checkpoints and the odd minefield. Cycling distance: 80 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 6: To Khorog. We reach Khorog, capital of the Pamirs, and the chance for a well deserved beer. Cycling distance: 80 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 7: Khorog (Rest Day). A rest day in the capital of the Pamirs, where we have to complete some formalities. An opportunity to relax in the cafes, visit the highest botanical gardens in the world and browse around the lively bazaar. Cycling distance: 0 km. Accommodation: Guest house.
Day 8: Khorog to Wer. We set out on the Pamir Highway. A steady, but not too strenuous climb up the pretty Gunt valley. Cycling distance: 70 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 9: Wer to Jelandy. We continue up the Gunt valley to the sanatorium at the tiny settlement of Jelandy. Here there's the chance to bathe in the geo-thermal pools and enjoy unlimited hot showers. Cycling distance: 60 km. Accommodation: Sanatorium.
Day 10: Jelandy to Koi Tezek Pass. As we continue our climb up the valley, the landscape gets ever wilder and more desolate. A long climb on gravel tracks takes us over the Koi Tezek pass (4,200 m) and onto the remote Pamir plateau. Cycling distance: 60 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 11: Koi Tezek Pass to Niezatash. Continuing across the Pamir plateau we pass eerie turquoise lakes and through the tiny settlement of Alichur. Mostly on the flat, we press on through a wide-open landscape of dry rocky mountains. Cycling distance: 80 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 12: Niezatash to Murgab. A long descent brings us out into the valley leading to the small town of Murgab. Here we are able to stay in friendly guesthouses and stock up in the small bazaar. Cycling distance: 50 km. Accommodation: Guest house.
Day 13: Murgab to the Northern Pamirs. Heading North from Murgab we set out across a flat desert of dry mountains. At times the border with China is only a few hundred metres away. Cycling distance: 80 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 14: Ak-Baital Pass to Kara Kul. We start the day climbing to the summit of the 4,655 m of the Ak Baital Pass, the high point of the trip. Although it's a steep climb in the thin air, it is not desperately long as we are starting from around 4,000 m. A very rough descent from the pass brings us out into the remote valley leading to the lake side settlement at Kara Kul. Formed by a meteorite some 10 million years ago the lake at Kara Kul is hauntingly beautiful place and one of the highlights of the trip. Cycling distance: 60 km. Accommodation: Guest house or camping.
Day 15: Kara Kul to the Kyrgyz border. We continue round the lake before summiting a small pass that takes into the desolate valley that leads to the Kyrgz border. Cycling distance: 60 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 16: Kyzl-Art Pass to Sary Tash, via the Alay Valley. After passing through the border post, we climb to the summit of the Kyzl Art Pass (4,300 m). A very rough descent takes us into the wide Alay valley, with spectacular views of the 7,000 m summits of Koh-I-Samani and Koh-I-Garmo. The valley is a favourite spot for Krygyz nomads and the grasslands are studded with their traditional yurts. We camp near the village of Sary Tash. Cycling distance: 60 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 17: Sary Tash to Gulcho Valley, via Taldyk Pass. From Sary Tash we have a strenuous climb up the double-headed Taldyk Pass (3,600 m), before a spectacularly dusty descent leads us into the pretty Gulcho Valley. Cycling distance: 50 km. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 18: Gulcho. We continue at a relaxed pace down the pretty Gulcho valley. Cycling distance: 50 km. Accommodation: Camping or homestay.
Day 19: Gulcho to Osh. From the town of Gulcho, we climb the Chyrchyk (2,600 m), the final pass of the trip and are rewarded with a 60 km racing descent into Osh. Cycling distance: 80 km. Accommodation: Hotel/Guest house.
Day 20: Osh. A day in Osh and the chance relax and explore one of the liveliest bazaars in Central Asia. Cycling distance: 0 km. Accommodation: Hotel/Guest house
Day 21: Bishkek. We fly to the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek where the tour ends. Cycling distance: 0 km. Accommodation: Hotel/Guest house.
Airfare is not included in the tour price.
Part of the Tajikistan's charm is that it is well off the beaten track. Few tourists visit the country and consequently the infrastructure is not well developed. On this trip we will be using a mix of accommodation, including:
- Western style hotels and guesthouses in Dushanbe, Osh and Bishkek
- Camping in two person per tents.
Village guesthouses and home stays. These are clean and comfortable, but quite basic.
- Most food is included, see trip notes.
- The staple drink, is Chia or black tea. Fizzy drinks, such Coca-Cola, Fanta, and their Russian clones, are available in the towns and from the occasional roadside shop. The beer in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is surprisingly good.
About This Supplier
Joined InfoHub: Mar 2011
M20818 is a specialist company taking small groups of cyclists to spectacular, remote areas of the world. We offer a unique blend of physical challenges, cultural experiences and cycling camaraderie, at highly competitive prices. M20818 guides are experienced cyclists and tour leaders. Destinations include Laos,...
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