The Pamir Highway has been consecrated as the "holy grail of cycling" - see article by
Alexei Vink, winner of the The Guardian's
"Cycling in central Asia: readers' travel writing competition 2013"
Given the increasing numbers of visitors to the Pamirs on bicycles, I have added this Cycling section to the Pamirs website.
Rather than attempt to make recommendations for itineraries as I do in the Trekking section,
however, I felt it would be most useful for those planning a cycling tour in the Pamirs to
have a listing of blogs and other websites where they can find useful tips from those who "have done it."
Most cyclists concentrate on the Pamir Highway, but - as can be seen from some of the blogs listed below -
there are also other challenging and interesting routes. Some brave local people also ride bicycles in Khorog today - see
here. When I first arrived in Khorog in 1993 a) there were no bicycles and b)
no woman would have dared to ride one - congratulations to Safina and her friends for their independent spirit.
This listing is by no means complete nor is it in any particular order. If your blog/website
is not here, or if you know of another useful site, please contact me at the e-mail address on the
Home Page. N.B. Many thanks to Edwige
Derain and Carlotta, Claude Marthaler, Tracey Maund, Nicholas Saunier, Armand de Lhoneux and Colin Champion
for help with this section.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON CYCLING FROM THE NORTH TO DUSHANBE
Cyclists coming from the North (Khujand or Penjikent) to Dushanbe will have to ride either over the Anzob pass
(3,372m) or through the Anzob tunnel: according to Andrew Peat, who was there in summer 2017, the tunnel
is now safe for cyclists, (see
but I repeat below my earlier text and a 2010 report by some intrepid cyclists:
"5km of badly lit, heavily potholed road down which large trucks
boom day and (especially) night. Do not attempt the pass unless you know that it is free
of snow and ice - in 2010 the pass was still closed end-May. Some cyclists may prefer to
try to load their bikes on a passing truck. Others may be encouraged by the following report by Roman Kallweit (end-May 2010).
"We passed the tunnel on Saturday, cycling, and the conditions were much better than we had
hoped: - just a small river to cross in front of the tunnel (we had to take
off our shoes, but another couple found less water and was even able to
cycle through) - a little light installed for 3/4 of the tunnel, which does a good
job combined with your own headlamp - no water at all (apart from all the filled potholes, which are easy
to avoid if you have some good light) - the worst thing was the incredible noise caused by 2 huge
ventilators in the middle of the tunnel, but thanks to this:
- the air was not too bad (just don't go directly behind a truck)
- it was pretty cold inside - around 15 degrees Celsius, combined with
wind..- worthwhile to put on a pullover and some gloves if you have them.
One cyclist couple we met last night had
gone for the old pass route, but had to turn around 300 meters (in
altitude) before reaching the top, because of huge snow and ice
fields. They said that it was worth a try anyway, because of the route
being very scenic, and Anzob being a very quite and peaceful village."
See also the report
Bon Voyage! - Take care.
Claude Marthaler's 10th book, Voyages sellestes, just came out (éditions Glénat, 2020 - first link above).
Its central theme is mountain cycling and comprises 3 chapters: the Pamirs
(Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan, Afghanistan, pp.23-116), Eastern Tibet and the Rocky Mountains.
The chapter on the Pamirs describes Claude's 3 months journey by bike in the summer of 2015.
The Swiss TV filmmaker Alexandre Lachavanne shot 9-10 days of it (second link above).
This site is at the top of my list because it concerns the Bartang, my favourite valley
(and for the beautiful photos)
I have put these last two websites in a prominent position on the list because the first provides very detailed
information on daily altitude profiles from Dushanbe to Osh along the Pamir Highway and
the second gives useful answers to practical questions.
I put this one next because of the comment below:
"But perhaps the single biggest reason I didn’t quit was because for every hurdle there was salvation:
a home opened up to rest our tired bones, a family offering a bottomless kettle of tea, a home-cooked
meal to fill our ravenous stomachs, shepherds whistling at us from mountaintops and seemingly every
child in every village running to greet us as if we were celebrities."
The Pamirs on a Folding Bike
[These accounts by Christian Stenshorne, Bill Weir, Peter Gostelow,
Peter Quaife, Jonas Honegger and Stefan Koehler - some of the "crazy guys on a bike" on Neil Gunton's remarkable website -
are probably the most comprehensive review of cycling opportunities (and adventures) in the Pamirs and
contain good description and some great photos of their routes.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-QPDuXye4g (video of the above)
[This site gives very useful information on altitude, distance and, especially important,
condition of the road surface of the Pamir Highway. N.B. in German!]
Superb photos of the Great Pamir, Zorkul area and Wakhan by a cyclist/photographer who shows
great respect for the local people and their way of life
[The following seven are in German.]
[The following three are in Spanish and/or Catalan.]
A cycle trip from Osh to Khorog, with some nice video footage.
2010 itinerary up the Shokhdara valley (Roshtkala). See his July 2009 page for itinerary Dushanbe to Kala-i-Khumb.
http://www.strassenkreuzer.org/ - from Osh through the Pamirs to Dushanbe and Pendjikent.
Tom Bruce has put some excellent photos on his blog, as well as much practical information - there are four parts,
More practical information on
Helen Lloyd is a courageous cyclist and takes good photos too - end-October is not
the best time to tackle the Pamir Highway on a bike, although 19th century explorers
preferred travelling in winter because they avoided having to ford rivers - see her blogs beginning with
For 19th century winter dangers see my summary from Lord Dunmore's memoir of his Pamir travels in 1892
Two Australians, Het and Tim, also chose October for their trip to the Wakhan - see
And finally, although this is a page for pedal cyclists, a motor cycle blog (in German),
included because of his superb photos.
All text and
photographs (c) Robert Middleton 2002
Web master Romanyuk