WHAT TO SEE

 

 

 

 

The Pamir region of Tajikistan (Gorno-Badakhshan) is in the far Eastern part of the country. It borders Afghanistan in the South and West, China in the East and Kyrgyzstan in the North. The Southern and Western boundaries are determined by the Pamir and Pyanj rivers. The Pyanj is better known by its ancient name of Oxus, and becomes the Amu Darya after being joined by the river Kunduz from Afghanistan, before continuing along the Uzbek border on the way to the Aral Sea.

Gorno-Badakhshan offers:

Spectacular landscapes and
the warm hospitality and vitality of its people, with their love of dancing and music, both religious and secular.

Of particular interest are:

For most travellers, a visit to the Pamirs is likely to be different from any previous travel experience. This is in itself one of the attractions of the region, but a few words of warning may be necessary, since the experience is both physically and mentally challenging.

Travellers should be aware that the distances involved in just getting to Gorno-Badakhshan are enormous (over 7 hours flying time to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, then some 14 hours by road to the regional capital, Khorog). The alternative route from Osh in Kyrgyzstan to Khorog takes 16 hours by road and distances between destinations within Gorno-Badakhshan are significant. A visit to the Pamirs can not be hurried and travellers must be prepared for much driving over difficult roads at high altitudes. A former US Ambassador to Tajikistan described it as follows: “Gorno-Badakhshan is not the end of the world – but you can see it from there”.

 

The road from Dushanbe travels a considerable distance along the Afghan border and offers views of life in Afghan villages. The road from Osh in Kyrgyzstan is uninhabited between the last Kyrgyz town of Sary Tash and Murghab.



A short excursion West from Sary Tash to the Tajik enclave Saryk Mongol on Kyrgyz territory (inhabited by very hospitable people from Murghab)



 

offers spectacular views of Pik Lenin (7,134m).

The road from Sary Tash to Ali Chur follows the Chinese border for about 200km and goes over some very high passes (e.g. Akbaital 4,655m) and offers views of a multi-coloured desert landscape that looks more like the moon than planet earth: this region used to be at the bottom of the sea and was pushed up by the geological phenomenon of continental drift and the clash of tectonic plates.

 

“Death Valley” near the frontier of Gorno-Badakhshan at Kizylart Pass The Murghab River



The archaeology of the region is barely explored and most of the work that has been done has not been reported in Western languages. This means that there are no comprehensive guidebooks on what to see and do – the Lonely Planet book is good but only scratches the surface. Gorno-Badakhshan is almost “virgin territory” for tourism. Do not expect an organised programme of cultural visits and events: the culture is readily apparent in the eyes and hearts of the people and in their singing and dancing.

Sanitation in most private houses is relatively primitive and corresponding elementary precautions should be taken.


 House in Tusyan
 

Travellers to Murghab district may be able to stay in a yurt.

 


There are therapeutic hot springs in:

The Botanical garden in Khorog is the second highest in the world. Khorog has an interesting museum, located close to the MSDSP guesthouse on the main road.

The rewards for the unhurried and open-minded traveller are:

Have your fortune told.