The first view of the Pamir Mountains
The Pamir Highway is a term now liberally used to describe the Mountain roads between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, but the original Pamir Highway was built by the Soviet around 1935 linking Osh in Kyrgizstan and Mazar e Sharif in Admfghanistan, passing through Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on the way.
The first of very many times that the cars along the way got overheated
Lots of people rent 4*4 cars or cycle this route in the summer months, but I was not willing to spend the money on a car or time to cycle and decided to try to do it by hitchhiking, which proved to be a bit harder than I first thought. Most cars passing by this road are already loaded with people and goods, as hospitals, fresh food and other neccessities are hard to come by in the villages in the Pamir Mountain. I think the way I did it is the cheapest way possible:
The cargo van that took me from Bishkek to Osh
Bishkek to Osh in a Chinese cargo van: 10$/600km/14hours
There are 4*4 jeeps that run this stretch during day time, but as they demanded 40 dollars and seemed very cramped I opted for the night option with a cargo van with Chinese goods. The vans had two matresses that were shared between me, three women, two children and the two drivers, but I spent most the time sitting in the front seat to soak in the sunset over the mountain tops as we drove at altitudes over 4700meters.
Osh to Murghab in a shared 4*4 tsxi: 2000som/30$/400km/15hrs
I showed up at the shared taxi stand early morning, but as the cars had to wait to fill up before leaving, we didnt get going before 4pm. The sunset over the mountains was just as good as the previous ride and we arrived the Tajikistan border right after nightfall and at Murghab early morning. I had a really nice English speaking woman sitting next to me who invited me for breakfast and some sleep as we arrived at our destination, possibly because I helped her by having her sleeping baby on my lap for some hours.
Some people are driving like race car drivers, most likely your taxi driver will too!
Murghab to Khorog in a shared 4*4taxi: 30$/300km/14hours
This is where it started to get interesting. We passed many small villages on the way and had a stop with some delicious fried fish at a local restaurant. Again I met a guy in the taxi who invited me to eat and stay in his home and to show me around his beautiful city when I was there.
One side is Tajikistan and the other Afghanistan
Khorogh to Dushanbe: hitchhiking 22$/600km/2 days
Hitchhiking with some Australians who were driving a crappy 2 wheel drive Daewoo car was by far my favorite part of the Pamir Highway. Most of the road went along the river sepparating Tajikistan and Afghanistan where we could see farmers living in mud huts and narrow dirt roads in the steep mountains on the Afghanistan side. We had two full driving days, being invited for lunch in one of the villages and camping the to the river in the night. It was liberally just a few meters to Afghanistan from our tents and it felt as safe as ever. The 1st, 2nd, 5th gear and reverse had stopped working by the time we reached Dushanbe but that made it feel even greater when we had managed to get out of the mountains and could enjoy Cole beers and cook good food at the Green House Hostel in Dushanbe.
Andy from Australia who I hitchhiked with the last part
People swimming in the river between Afghanistan and Tajikistan
All in all the Pamir Highway was a great experience and had the most scenic roads I have ever driven. I think driving the Pamir Highway is something everyone should have on their bucket list!
A shower and car wash at the same time
People wearing burquas on one side of the border and just underwear on the other
Most cars are stuff ed with people, goods and.. Goats? Dont expect to get a ride