Tadjikistan, Pamir Highway

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    Group Trip Tajikistan: Travel the Pamir Highway

    The Pamir Highway. This road makes any adventurous heart beat faster. The barren landscape of the Pamir is one that can hardly be overestimated. Far away from everywhere and not at all discovered by the mass. Travelling here will make you feel like a modern Marco Polo. The hospitable people of the Pamir are one of a kind. They might not be the richest people on our planet, but they are surely ready to share their food and drinks with you. Be amazed about the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Occasionally, you might have the feeling that you are travelling through a desert, though this is a high-altitude desert, for sure. The Pamir Highway, also known as the M41, starts in Osh (Kyrgyzstan) and ends in Dushanbe.

    You will literally travel along the Chinese border, will see Pakistan somewhere in the distance and will be able to wave at Afghans on the other side of the river. More than 1200 kilometres and nothing but spectacular landscapes. Everywhere and all the time. Along the route, you will be able to make several excursions. Go on a Pamir safari to see the Marco Polo sheep or the exceptionally rare snow leopard. Camp on the banks of turquois blue lakes. Meet and greet the locals. The Pamir, it already has been said, is far from the rest of this world. But if you make an effort to travel here, you body and soul will stay surprised about the beauty of the lands.

    When

    From 30 June to 16 July 2018 (17 days)

    Price

    € 2,100 per person

    This price includes:
    ✓ Flight from Osh to Bishkek
    ✓ Accommodation in hotels / bed & breakfasts / yurts on double sharing basis
    ✓ Breakfast
    ✓ Lunches / Dinners (except in Dushanbe, Khorog and Osh)
    ✓ Jeep (4WD) en drivers from Dushanbe to Osh – maximum four passengers per jeep
    ✓ Entrance to museums
    ✓ Professional guidance by Eastward Travels, before and during the trip
    ✓ Services of an English speaking guide
    ✓ Visa support and Zorkul Permit

    This price does not include:
    ✓ Flight from Europe to Tajikistan (outward journey) and from Kyrgyzstan to Europe (return). Approximate costs € 750
    ✓ All personal expenses like phone bills, insurances, medical costs, extra luggage etcetera.
    ✓ Visa Tajikistan (if required) and possibly Afghanistan + GBAO permit
    ✓ Tips to drivers and hotel staff
    ✓ Excursion to Afghanistan on Day 06 and Day 07 (optional)

    Group size

    Maximum 12 persons

    Flight details

    This trip will start in Dushanbe. It is, therefore, important, to be in Dushanbe on 30 June 2018. It is best to check out Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines, as they normally have the best offers to Central Asia.

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    Tajikistan, Pamir Highway – Day by Day

    Day 01: Departure from Home Day 02: Arrival in Dushanbe, sightseeing Dushanbe
    Day 03: Dushanbe, excursion to Hissar Day 04: Dushanbe to Kalayhumb, via Kulyab
    Day 05: Kalayhumb to Khorog Day 06: Khorog (possibility to visit Afghanistan)
    Day 07: Khorog to Ishkashim, via Garm Chashma Day 08: Ishkashim, visit market in Afghanistan, afternoon to Langar
    Day 09: Langar, trekking around Peak Engels Day 10: Langar to Zorkul-Jarty-Gumbez
    Day 11: Zorkul-Jarty-Gumbez Day 12: Zorkul-Jarty-Gumbez to Murgab, via Alichur
    Day 13: Murgab and surroundings Day 14: Murgab to Rangkul Lake and Karakul Lake
    Dag 1y: Karakul Lake to Osh (Kyrgyzstan) Day 16: Osh
    Day 17: Back Home
     


    Tajikistan Pamir Highway in Detail

    Day 01 – Departure from Europe

    You can depart from anywhere in Europe (or the USA or elsewhere). There are flights to Tajikistan, almost always with a stop on the way, from all over the world.

    Day 02 –  Arrival in Dushanbe, sightseeing

    Dushanbe is the capital and largest city of Tajikistan. Dushanbe means ‘Monday’ in Tajik, and the name reflects the fact that the city grew on the site of a village that originally was a popular Monday marketplace. In the morning after early check in at your hotel (depending on your exact time of arrival), you will visit the bazaars and museums. Anyone with an interest in archaeology will enjoy the Museum of National Antiquities, which opened in 2001. The exhibits in this museum are mostly from Tajikistan’s pre-Islamic civilizations (Greek/ Bactrian / Buddhist / Hindu and Zoroastrian). The centrepiece is a 14 metres reclining Buddha in Nirvana. Since the tragic destruction of the Bamiyan statues in Afghanistan, this is the largest surviving Buddha statue in Central Asia. After lunch in a traditional restaurant in Dushanbe you will visit the Tajik National History Museum.

    Day 03 – Dushanbe, with excursion to Hissar

    About 30 kilometres from Dushanbe, on a wide mountain-fringed plain are the remains of an 18th century fortress. Until 1924 the fortress was occupied by the local henchman of the Emir of Bukhara. But the Red Army decided it was good for nothing, and destroyed it. Still, nowadays, it is a pleasant and interesting excursion. The views from the hills around, a minor struggle, are superb. Returning in Dushanbe you will have time to discover the city at your own pace. Perhaps a moment to buy some Western sweets and foods to make your life in the Pamir a bit more comfortable.

    Day 04 – Dushanbe to Kalaihumb (195 km, 4-5 hours), altitude: 1,295 m

    You will leave Dushanbe eastwards in the direction of the Pamir Mountains. The beginning of your trip into the Pamir and into the ‘Wild East’ of Tajikistan. You will quickly be distracted by the beautiful scenery and interesting villages en route. One of them is the hydropower station at Nurek, another the Hulbuk fort near the city of Kulyab. You will continue driving along mountain roads along the Afghan border and the Pianj river, until you will arrive at Kalaihumb. Dinner and overnight at your homestay.

    Day 05 – Kalaihumb to Khorog (240 km, 7-8 hours) , altitude: 2,070 m

    From Kalaihumb you will continue to Khorog, still along the river Pianj and the border with Afghanistan. You will make a short stop in some villages, so you can indulge yourself in the culture, traditions, lifestyle and spontaneous hospitality of the people of the Tajik Pamir. You can also experience the spectacular scenery and natural beauty of this part of the world, famed as ‘The Roof of the World’. Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Khorog.

    Day 06 – Khorog

    Khorog is the capital of the autonomous Gorno-Badakhshan Region (GBAO). Until the 19th century Khorog was a tiny settlement that loosely belonged to the Emir of Bukhara, but in reality was under control of local chieftains. The Russians constructed a garrison here and since then Khorog slowly grew bigger. Do not expect a big city though, as also today Khorog is nothing more than a bigger village. But it has several interesting sights to keep you pleasantly occupied for a whole day. The botanical gardens are the world’s second highest botanical gardens in the world, reaching an altitude of 3,900 meters. And the local museum is of a high standard.

    Day 07 – Khorog to Ishkashim (115 km, 5-6 hours), altitude: 2,300 m

    Drive from Khorog to Ishkashim. On your way you will stop in Garm-Chashma for an (optional) dip in the natural hot springs, situated at an altitude of 2,325 m above sea level. The natural basins are filled with hot water, which contains iron, aluminium, magnesium, strontium(!), fluorine and other elements. The water also contains a large amount of hydrogen sulphide, silicic acid, and carbonic acid. The water temperature in the basins ranges from plus 38 to plus 50 degrees Celsius. From here, you will enter the Tajik half of the Wakhan Valley (also known as the Wakhan Corridor), which Tajikistan shares with Afghanistan. You will pass the regional gem mines, which were mentioned by Marco Polo in his descriptions of what he called the ‘Mount Shugnon region’. The most famous mine is Koh-i-Lal ruby mine which is visible from the road. Soon after you will reach the Ishkashim region. Dinner and overnight at the guest house.

    Day 08 – Ishkashim to Langar (130 km, 5-6 hours), altitude: 2,700 m

    Ishkashim itself may be the regional centre, but it is essentially nothing more than a village. There is little to see or do in Ishkashim itself. Except on Saturday. The day that you happen to be here! Every Saturday morning, from 9 onwards, there is an Afghan bazaar in Ishkashim. Afghan salesmen, who literally live a stone throw away, cross the river to sell their Afghan stuff. It is a perfect place to stroll around for a couple of hours. It is also a perfect moment to get a completely different impression about Afghans and Afghanistan. Indeed, it really is a perfect way to start the day. After the market you will depart for the nearby village of Namadguti. Here you can visit the Khahkha Fortress, an impressive structure rising from a naturally formed platform. It dates back to the Kushan era of the 3rd Century. Please note, the fort is sometimes still used by local Tajik military forces so the excursion will depend on the permission from the local authorities. You will also visit Yamchun fort, perhaps the most impressive of all the forts in this area. Then you will take a break at the Bibi Fatima hot springs, named after the sister of Prophet Mohammed. After lunch you will visit the 4th century Buddhist stupas at Vrang; reminders of the ancient pilgrim caravans that passed through the region. Here are traces to be found of the Buddhist history of Central Asia. Overnight and dinner in Langar.

    Day 09 – Hiking around Peak Engels

    In the immediate surroundings of Langar are several high Pamir peaks, among them is Peak Engels (indeed named after Friedrich Engels) with an altitude of 6,510 meters. Naturally, it is too much and too high to make it all the way to the summit. For such a trip you will need more than a day. That is logical. But there are great hiking opportunities in the area, and many of them will lead to places from where you have fantastic views over the Pamir and Peak Engels. Depending on your fitness you will be able to reach an altitude of approximately 4,100 meters. On the way back to Langar you can visit the famous (at least locally famous) Langar Petroglyphs.

    Day 10 – Langar to Zorkul-Jarty-Gumbez (250 km, 8-10 hours), altitude: 4,100 m

    After breakfast you will leave Langar. You will cross the Khargushi Pass (4,333m). On your way you will see a drastic change of landscape. From the lush areas of the Wakhan Valley to the rocky, more barren, but nevertheless dramatic scenery of the East Pamir. Continuing, you will cross a second high-altitude pass, Naziatash Pass (4,137 metres). The colours are superb, the mountains hostile and barren, the rivers cold from the melting glaciers. You will reach Zorkul-Jarty-Gumbez (how promising a name can be?) after one of the most fantastic trips you ever experienced in your life. It has to be, as this is one of the best trips in the world. Overnight in Zorkul-Jarty-Gumbez.

    Day 11 – Zorkul-Jarty-Gumbez

    Tajikistan receives very few foreign tourists every year. So by being here, you are already quite exceptional. And most of the tourists who do visit Tajikistan simply skip Zorkul-Jarty-Gumbez. Because they do not know about it? Because they consider it to be too far? Because they are in a rush to reach Osh? Because of all three reasons? Fact is, they do make a massive mistake. As ZorkulJarty-Gumbez is an excellent place to make a Marco Polo sheep safari. To add a bit of African flavour to your Tajikistan trip. The Marco Polo sheep is the largest sheep in the world (it can weigh up to around 350 kilo) and is highly endangered. The sheep lives mainly in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and parts of western China (Xinjiang). It is an impressive animal, not only because it is so large but also because of the size of the horns. They are huge. Today you will have the chance to encounter one (or more) of these animals. However, keep in mind, it is a safari. And safaris in Tajikistan are different from the ones in Africa. In other words, it cannot be guaranteed that you will see the Marco Polo sheep. What can be guaranteed is that your guides will do their utmost to spot them.

    Day 12 – Zorkul-Jarty-Gumbez to Murgab (220 km, 7-8 hours), altitude: 3,600 m

    The Eastern Pamir has been populated by nomadic ethnic Kyrgyz since the 17th century. The traditional architecture is beautifully represented by yurts, mobile habitations made of felt on an ingenious wooden frame, with the interior decoration bearing witness to the wealth and skills of the owners. Felt and wool serve as the basis for handicrafts. On the way to Murgab, you will visit the village of Alichur. Murgab is the main town of the Eastern Pamir and the centre of the district also known as Murgab. The majority of the population is ethnic Kyrgyz and until the 1950s they were living an essentially nomadic way of life. Due to a decrease in numbers of livestock at the end of the Soviet period, the population has become sedentary and fewer migrate to yurt encampments with their livestock in the summer. Murgab is a town (though actually it is nothing more than a village) with a ‘wild-east’ ambiance. It is a great place to serve as your base for a couple of nights and to explore the surrounding area. The 7,546 m high Chinese peak of Mustag Ata is visible to the northeast of town.

    Day 13 – Murgab

    In the immediate surroundings of Murgab are fantastic high altitude trekking opportunities. It is a great thing to do today. Perhaps even better is to go horse riding with the nomads. The decrease of livestock might have led to lower migration, it does not mean there are no nomads around Murgab. On the contrary, there are plenty. And you are happily invited to ride their horses today. Can you imagine? To ride a horse here? With a nomad? You might even have the possibility to keep an eye on their yaks, cows, goats and sheep. Lunch with yak milk, yak butter and butter tea will give you theultimate-nomad-for-a-day-feeling.

    Day 14 – Murgab to Rangkul Lake and Karakul Lake (200 km, 6-7 hours), altitude: 3,923 m

    You will travel like the nomads (used to) do: towards the Karakul area. On your way you will visit Rangkul Lake, a remote lake approximately 60 km from Murgab. Like in the whole of the Eastern Pamirs it hardly ever rains here. And the wind is nearly constant. Call it a high-altitude desert and you might be able to somehow imagine what you can expect.  Karakul Lake is the highest lake in Central Asia, at an altitude of 3,923 metres. Too high to support any aquatic life. It is a spectacularly beautiful lake. Despite its name (‘Black Lake’), for most of the year the cloudless skies and pure air give it a translucent azure colour. Hike around it in a day in the footsteps of the great Russian scientist, naturalist and explorer Nicolai Severtsov, who was here in 1878 and brought back 20,000 plant specimens, 60 mammals, 350 birds and 20 different fish. Overnight at a home stay in Karakul.

    Day 15 – Karakul Lake to Osh, Kyrgyzstan (300 km, 7 hours), altitude: 875 m

    Today you will leave Tajikistan and reach Osh in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.  You will cross the Kyzyl Art pass and after approximately two hours you will reach the border. Expect happiness from the border guards as they do not receive a lot of ‘clients’ on a daily basis. And surely not a lot of tourists. Lunch you will have in Sary Tash, an hour drive from the border. Then you will continue to Osh, on the way you will cross the Taldyk pass and many beautiful villages. It is very well possible that, before you started your preparation for this trip, you never heard of Osh before. After all, even the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, is hardly known in the world. Osh might be a relatively small city, but upon arrival here you will most probably have completely different ideas on this. It is a bustling town full of cars, people, restaurants, bars, markets, bazaars, shops, noise, smells, busses and so on. Like you entered the centre of the world after having been nowhere for a week or so.

    Day 16 – Osh

    Osh is the second biggest city in Kyrgyzstan, and as already written above, a place that could as well belong to another planet. You have plenty of time to visit the city on your own. A visit to the lively bazaar is highly recommended. Or perhaps you prefer a cold beer on a sunny terrace? A good steak in a fancy restaurant? Everything is possible, you are back!

    Day 17 – Osh and Back Home

    Today you will leave by plane from Osh and fly back home.

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    Tourism along the Pamir Highway is really something that is only just starting. Except for the three big cities Dushanbe, Khorog and Osh there are hardly hotels. Instead you will find yourself back in guest houses and homestays. Perhaps the biggest plus of this is that you will almost automatically get to know the locals and be integrated into their life. Especially because the families are all very hospitable and they all know how to cook well. Naturally, all the places where you will stay are clean and comfortable.

    Below you will find an overview of the hotels that we are offering during this trip. All these hotels are subject to availability. In case they are full you will be offered a similar alternative. 

    Dushanbe: Asia Grand Hotel
    Khorog: Zafar Hotel  Osh: Hotel Sunrise
    Groepsreis Tadzjikistan Pamir Highway  Groepsreis Tadzjikistan Pamir Highway    Groepsreis Tadzjikistan Pamir Highway

     

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    Visa

    A useful new regulation in 2006 entitles tourists from most countries (including the EU, Australia and the USA) to obtain a 30-day visa on arrival at the airport without the need for a letter of invitation (LOI).

    Health & Safety

    Tajikistan is a safe country, though some factional fighting spilling over from nearby Afghanistan (as well as local warlordism) still occurs in Tajikistan. Visitors should keep abreast of the security situation and not take any unnecessary risks. After sunset, it is not advisable to walk around outside alone; and generally do not travel unaccompanied to rural areas. Of significant concern is the inability of Tajikistan’s law enforcement entities to provide adequate and immediate assistance. Lack of manpower, low salaries, and inadequate training all contribute to a lack of professionalism among law enforcement entities. If you are the victim of a crime, consult to your embassy. Your embassy may be able to help you locate stolen items or to renew your passport.

    Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal, but you may be breaking local law too. In some places it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Tajikistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

    The number of items that can be exported may be limited. It is illegal to export or possess unprocessed stones and metals and jewellery without a hallmark (mark of authenticity). Even if travellers have a receipt confirming legal purchase of such items at a store in Tajikistan, the items must be declared upon departure.

    The health care system in Tajikistan is significantly underdeveloped, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anaesthetics, and antibiotics. Elderly people are at great risk. Most medical personnel are not qualified, adding on a significant concern. Do not drink tap water. There is no working purification system, and outbreaks of typhoid and cholera (rarely) are common. Other preventable endemic illnesses are hepatitis A, rabies, poliomyelitis and tick-borne encephalitis. There are, during the hot season, a few pockets where malaria can occur. In the Pamir mountains, the risk of altitude sickness is substantial. Health insurance and medical evacuation insurance are recommended.

    Climate

    Northern, central and southern Tajikistan sizzle in summer (June to September), with temperatures over 40°C. Unfortunately this is the best time to visit the mountains. Spring (March to May) brings mild temperatures but frequent heavy showers. April is the best time to visit southern Tajikistan in bloom. In winter (November to February) temperatures in Dushanbe hover near freezing, while temperatures in the Pamirs plummet to between -20°C and -45°C. The Anzob and Shakhristan passes between Khojand and Dushanbe are generally closed from late November to late May, though the new tunnel under the Anzob pass should keep the road to Penjikent open year-round. March, April, September and October are probably the best times to visit. The best time of year for trekking is September. The Pamir region is best visited in July to late September, though the Pamir Highway technically remains open year-round. During early summer (June and July), melt water can make river crossings dangerous in mountainous areas.

    Costs & Money

    The Tajik currency is called somani (TJS). Make sure you have plenty of new US dollar notes, as there are no ATMs in the country (except in Dushanbe). Credit cards along the Pamir Highway are not very useful either. 

    Books about Central Asia

    There is a wealth of writing on Central Asia and the Silk Road. The list below is far from complete, but on the other hand, if you would read all of them before travelling to Central Asia, you can consider yourself to be well prepared.

    The Great Game – Peter Hopkirk
    Probably the most popular book on Central Asia, and rightly so, this is the ultimate Great Game book. Reads like a spy novel, only that it actually all happened. A similar, equally gripping book by the same author is Setting the East Ablaze, about the Bolsheviks plot to bring communism to India through Central Asia. Be aware though that the author is British, and he does a good job of painting the Brits as heroes, while other nations get to fill the role of villains.

    The Turks in World History – Carter Vaughn Findley
    Factual history that manages to excite? In 230 pages, Findley manages to present the complete history of the Turkic people from their appearance in the Central Asian steppes up to the victory of Erdogan in Turkey. Essential reading that ties together the whole area in a way no other history has managed, through the prism of the Turkic people who now rule Central Asia and Asia Minor.

    Religions of the Silk Road – Richard Foltz
    Concise and very well-written, this books takes you on a journey through time, explaining why Central Asia was (and is) one of the most multicultural places on Earth. Fascinating all the way, from Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism to Buddhism and Islam.

    Central Asia in World History – Peter Golden
    The best general introduction to the area’s history. Not an exhaustive, all-you-need-to-know-and-more history, but a readable broad overview that will explain a lot without confusing.

    Eastern Approaches – Fitzroy MacLean
    If you like your history more exciting, try Eastern Approaches. One of the best action books ever written, MacLean relates his adventures as a spy in Central Asia, complete with incredible Rambo-behind-enemy-lines style commando raids and high-level political negotiations.

    The Silk Road in World History – Xinru Liu
    Everything you always wanted to know about the Silk Road, this is the benchmark book on this chapter of the history of the region. For a different take on the same material, two other books you can check out are The Silk Road: a New History, and Life along the Silk Road.

    The Empire of the Steppes – Ren Grousset
    Pretty dry (it’s from the 30′s) but it remains the classic work on the steppe empires of old and its nomadic rulers. Contains what is probably still the best portrait of Ghenghis Khan.

    Journeys on the Silk Road – Joyce Morgan & Conrad Walters
    The story of Aurel Stein and the archaeological treasures buried in the desert of Xinjiang. Peter Hopkirk’s Foreign Devils on the Silk Road covers similar terrain, but focuses more on the race for treasure and the devious tricks Western nations played to get their hands on the spoils, while Journeys looks more at Stein in particular and the historical treasures themselves. Both are good books, depends whose style you prefer.

    Turkestan Solo – Ella Maillart
    One of the most adventurous women of all time, Swiss Olympian Ella Maillart’s escapades put many of today’s adventurers to shame. Turkestan Solo, her equestrian adventure through Soviet Central Asia in the 1930′s, lets you travel back in time while keeping the adrenaline pumping.

    The Way of the World – Nicholas Bouvier
    One of the best books to come out of the travel writing genre of ‘young Westerner goes to far off land looking for adventure, finds himself instead’. Insightful, and just beautifully written. Recommended to every 18-year old looking to get inspired.

    Shadow of the Silk road – Colin Thubron
    Colin Thubron uses beautiful, poetic prose to sketch his overland journey from China to Turkey. He records some interesting meetings and generally interweaves the narrative with a lot of history. He gets very poetic and pondering at times, though. More focused on Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan is his 1994 book The Lost Heart of Asia.

    The Road to Oxiana – Robert Byron
    The classic. Byron, eccentric British scholar with a ridiculous knowledge of architecture, visits the Middle East, Persia and Afghanistan and remarks on its people and buildings.

    Silk road to Ruin – Ted Rall
    A different kind of travelogue, contemporary and heavily drenched in acrid sarcasm. Cartoonist Ted Rall travels Central Asia and mocks everything that comes his way.

    Great Games, Local Rules – Alexander Cooley
    The most recent and up to date overview of Central Asia’s regimes and their stance towards each other and the bigger powers surrounding them: China, Russia, and the USA. Written by a recognized expert on the matter, this is the one to get for an informed view of present-day politics in the region.

    The new Central Asia: Geopolitics and the Birth of Nations – Olivier Roy
    This one is quite a heavy read, tracking the political history and the birth of the Central Asian nations after the Communist collapse. In a similar vein is Eric McClinchey’s Chaos, Violence, Dynasty: Politics and Islam in Central Asia.

    The Oil and the Glory – Steve LeVine
    The number one book on the nasty business of oil politics around the Caspian Sea. Great read by a seasoned journalist who knows the players and was there when it all took place. Another good book on the same topic is Lutz Klevemann’s The New Great Game: Blood and Oil in Central Asia.

    Everyday Life in Central Asia – Jeff Sahadeo
    A series of essays grouped around topics such as community, gender, the nation state and religion, giving a good insight into contemporary life in the region. This all has little to do with politics, but at the same time, the book is really revealing in showing what people are thinking, making it a unique read all the same.

    Music

    The musical links with neighbouring Uzbekistan are strong and they share their musical shashmaqam repertoire. The Tajiks use Persian-derived texts, but the instrumental music is just the same as in Uzbekistan. While the music of the plains and river valleys is closely related to that of the Uzbeks, in the mountainous south of Tajikistan there’s another more popular style known as falak, which literally means ‘celestial dome’, performed at weddings and other ceremonies and at the nowruz spring festival.  The leading performer is conservatoire trained Davlatmand Kholov. He is a fine singer and particularly a good instrumentalist on the gudjat and the sutar and setar. In the Pamir mountain region of Badakshan there is also a rich variety of music including folk poetry and Persian influenced ghazals (poetry form) and praise songs.

    Food & Drinks

    Yak yogurt
    Tangy, strappy and surprisingly tasty; you’ll find it in select homes in the Pamir region.

    Yak meat
    Anything aside from bread and potatoes in the Pamir region is reason for celebration. Yak is surprisingly edible and is the meat of choice served to honored guests.

    Kurtob (or Kurtab)
    Refreshing rustic dish composed of alternating layers of strips of bread and yogurt mixed with onions, tomatoes and coriander or parsley. Ask the women at the Pamir Lodge in Khorog to whip up a batch. It’s a godsend after eating only potatoes and bread for days on the Pamir Highway.

    Nahud sambusa
    Good luck finding these chick pea samosas called out in the Central Asia Lonely Planet. Ask all the old ladies at each of the major markets in Khorog and Dushanbe, and perhaps you will succeed in finding one. But, be warned, they are somehow difficult to find.

    Gandush kuga
    The search for the elusive nahud sambusa at the Shah Mansur Green Bazaar in Dushanbe yielded this murky bean porridge-like soup topped with fresh herbs. Not quite what we asked for, but good enough for those going meatless.

     
     
     
     


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