Along the Pamir Highway of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan


Ruins of a 3rd-century Yamchun Fort; Photo by Daniel Noll

To quote sort of quote Robert Frost, taking the “road not taken” is an adventure in itself. There are probably many such roads, but few (if any) can compare to the Pamir Highway. It is probably the most thrilling road trip that one can take in their lifetime.




Pamir Highway; Photo by Audrey Scott

The Pamir Highway, also known as route M-41, meanders through the Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Tien Shan mountain ranges. Built as a supply road during the time the Soviets ruled Central Asia, the highway runs for some 1250 km (780 miles) from the Tajik Capital of Dushanbe along ancient silk road routes to the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan.

Photographer unknown
Karakul Lake; photo courtesy of backpackingman.com

Practically all of it is remarkably beautiful. Travelers on this road constantly encounter jagged, snow-capped mountain and wide rocky meadows dotted with turquoise-colored lakes carved by glaciers.

Photographer unknown




Photo Credit: Audrey Scott
Photographer unknown
Photographer unknown
Photographer unknown
Photographer unknown

It’s not always the safest road. Though spectacularly beautiful, the highway is not always the best maintained. Over the years it has been constantly subject to erosion, landslides, earthquakes and other forces of nature. Thus, parts of it are in disrepair. Being so remote, most of the people you’ll encounter will be the occasional shepherd with his flocks of sheep or the ruins of old temples, fortresses, crumbling caravanserais and the hulks of abandoned Soviet tanks. This though actually makes the trip more interesting and you contact with several millennia of history.

Photographer unknown
Photographer unknown




Related Reading and Links:

BBC Travel: Driving one of the world’s most remote highways


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