If you’ve ever wondered how to travel to the Pamir Mountains — how to get there and what transportation and accommodation options you’ll have once you get there, this is the post for you.
Osh to Murghab: We hired a Russian UAZ jeep through Nemat (email@example.com) for $170 (expect to pay a bit more with the falling US dollar). The jeep fit five travelers plus the driver, snuggly. We stopped overnight in Sary Tash and arrived in Murghab the next afternoon.
Murghab to Khorog via the Wakhan Valley: If you have a lot of time and flexibility, you can conceivably hitchhike this route, but beware that vehicles of any sort are few and far between, particularly outside of summer. We hired a driver with jeep to take us the 400km over three days. The cost was $300. We also paid for his return trip from Khorog to Murghab since he couldn’t find any passengers that needed to return. ACTED in Murghab can set you up with a driver for a slightly higher fee. Hang around the market in Murghab or just walk through town – available drivers will find you since there are not many tourists.
Other transport options: There are more regular marshrutkas (shared vehicles) going from Murghab to Khorog and vice versa on the main Pamir Highway. Cost is around $25/person. Go early to the Murghab or Khorog markets. From Khorog, there are infrequent buses going to Ishkashim and other nearby villages.
Transport to/from Dushanbe: By plane, it’s a quick and terrifying 45 minutes on Tajik Air. By car/jeep, it’s 15 hours if you’re lucky and up to 24 hours if you’re not.
Sary Tash: There are a couple of home-stays/guest houses in town; we just stayed at the place our driver recommended. Simple sleeping arrangements and food (fried potatoes) for around $6-$8. Dress warmly. Temperatures dropped to -15 Celsius when we were there in early October.
Murghab: We stayed with our driver for 10 Tajik somoni ($6), including dinner and breakfast. There are several other guesthouses in town.
Wakhan Valley: ACTED offers a series of home stays that your driver is likely to know about. Or, just ask around at the local store. Expect to pay from 5-30 somoni, depending upon the place and food options. Don’t expect water for bathing and bring toilet paper with you for the outhouses. We bathed, very gratefully, at the hot springs in Bibi Fatima and Garam Chasma.
Khorog: For its lovely hosts, delicious food and hot showers, The Pamir Lodge is a great place to stay in Khorog, especially for $5 per person. The Pamir Lodge is located across the river from the market near a school and friendly bee keeper whose bees produce some of the world’s strappiest honey. Contact info: visit their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Food: You don’t come to the Pamirs to eat. In Murghab, we ate yak meat and yak yogurt, both of which were both surprisingly tasty. After that, we mainly ate fried potatoes, a grain resembling bulghur wheat, bread and tea until we reached saturation…and the town of Khorog. A wider variety of food may be available during the summer months, but pack power bars, nuts and dried fruit and other goodies to get you, your mates, and your driver through sparse eating opportunities.
We highly recommend ordering kurtob, a fresh, light layered dish made with strips of bread, homemade yogurt, onions, tomatoes and coriander, at the Pamir Lodge in Khorog. A welcome treat after a week of bland fried potatoes and uninspired bread.