Bicycle touring the Pamir Highway
Asia From the road

Cycling the Pamir Highway (Part 1): Along the M41

Cycling the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan was a dream of mine since 2015, when I read about the first stories from other travelers who cycled the Pamir Highway and as I decided that I’m going to do a world trip by bicycle. Now, 4 years later, I was right before crossing to Tajikistan and finally cycling and experiencing the adventurous Pamir Highway on my own.

After a few days of rest and historical culture in Samarkand, we left the city on the morning of the 5th October 2019 as a group of four. Andrew already had to leave us in Bukhara as his Tajikistan Visa so as GBAO-Permit was about to start and also end earlier than ours. So we have agreed that we will hopefully meet again in Dushanbe about a week later. As we left Samarkand, we could already see the first mountains on the horizon, which felt great and super exciting after all these weeks through deserts and flatlands. The border to Tajikistan was only a 40km ride away. Around midday, after the last stop for some more delicious Uzbek Somsa’s, we reached the border checkpoint.

What we expected was a long, time-consuming inspection on the Tadjik side, but it was nothing like that. First, on the Uzbek side of the border, we changed our last few Som’s for Tadjik Somoni to a rather bad exchange rate and bought a few more Snickers for the road. Then the Uzbek border police stamped us out and we were able to directly cross into Tajikistan without any waiting. On the Tadjik side, there was a small customs container where we had to show and stamp our Visas and a few minutes later it was all done.

The first few kilometers in Tajikistan felt great. There was this adventurous feeling in the air, the anticipation for cycling the Pamir Highway, and the upcoming climbs and adventures. As soon as we crossed the border, the mountains started to rise on both sides of the road.

Tajikistan, a country where more than 90% of its territory is mountainous and half of it lies 3000m or more above sea level, is an absolute dream for every adventurer and especially, landscape photographer. I couldn’t wait to see more of it!

The mountains haven’t been the only thing that changed after the border crossing. In every little village we cycled through, there were dozens of kids shouting “HELLLOOOOO” and running towards us to get a high-five as soon as they saw us. This was also something I previously heard and read about from other cyclists who have been in Tajikistan, but I couldn’t really imagine what extent it would be. There was a hello from everywhere, and not only all these hundreds of kids were happy to see us, but also the older ones were quite welcoming and friendly.

On this first day, we cycled around 40 more kilometers in Tajikistan and finally found a perfect camp spot just a few meters next to the main road, next to an empty hut with a huge and wide view over the Serafschan river and the valley below. We did not only get a magical sunset and sunrise but were also able to start the next day with a downhill instead of a climb.

gate to Tadjikistan
Tadjikistan mountain scenery
locals in Tadjikistan
Tadjikistan village
sparse mountains in Tadjikistan
mountain village scenery Pamir
Kata and Andres Tadjikistan
Pamir mountain valley
Campspot over valley in Tadjkistan
Tadjikistan river valley
first camp in Tadjikistan
Favio in Tadjkikistan
lunch break in Tadjikistan
Tadjik kids
two little Tadjik boys
Tadjik landscapes
cycling Tadjikistan roads
Tadjikistan mountain village
small mountain houses in Tadjikistan
stony houses of Tadjikistan
Tadjikistan fridge
Mountain oasis Tadjikistan
Andres climbing in Tadjikistan
cycle touring Tadjikistan
Pamir highway mountain roads
crashed car Tadjikistan
Pamir Highway alongtheearth
photo by @andreiaenbicicleta
cycling up to Anzob tunnel
Anzob tunnel Tadjkistan
before Anzob tunnel Pamir Highway
photo by @andreiaenbicicleta
after Anzob tunnel Pamir Highway
after the tunnel photo by @andreiaenbicicleta
sewing a sleeping bag Tadjikistan
Dushanbe green house Hostel
GBAO permit Pamirs
Greenhouse Hostel Dushanbe
repairing a hub in Tadjikistan
10'000km cycled in Tadjikistan
Cycle touring campspot Tadjikistan
cycling crew Tadjikistan
Victor cycling the Pamirs
stunning mountain nature Tadjikistan
cycle touring Tadjikistan
cycling pamir highway
livestock flocks Pamir Highway
Pamir highway livestock
flocks in Tadjikistan
Victor and Favio in Tadjikistan
flock in the Pamirs
after cycling stretch Pamirs
Tadjik livestock
Tadjikistan goats
Pamir camping kitchen
Pamir highway wildcamping
The abbreviation Pamir Highway
The long detour Pamir Highway
Tadjikistan morning views
mountain reflection Pamir
cycling in the Pamirs
Pamir roads
Camping in Tadjikistan
along the Pamir mountains
Bicycle touring along the Pamir Highway
steep pamir highway roads
Volleyball in Tadjikistan
nice Tadjik people
Camping next to a volley field Tadjkistan
Pamir Highway camp
Afghan mountain village
Afghan mountains
Afghanistan mountains
M41 Pamir roads
M41 Pamir highway
fully loaded touring bicycles
Pamir Highway
Busy M41 Pamirs
Pamir mountain reflections
Pamir mountain colors
cows at Panj river Tadjkistan
Pamir highway Panj river
Fabian cycling the Pamir Highway
photo by @andreiaenbicicleta
Colorful Pamir Highway
autumn at the Pamir Highway

2 comments

Stephen 8. November 2020 at 1:02

Absoltely marvelous! I’ve been looking forward to this post for a while. Rather amusing about the old road which no longer exists! But it will be memorable, for all the right reasons – a new challenge overcome! Looking forward to othe next parts!

Reply
Alissa 10. November 2020 at 20:07

Amazing! A Silk Road trip was in my plans for next year but now, who knows. I really enjoyed reading about yours. I just sent you an email about a project I’m working on to collect and share bike travel blogs. I would love to have yours be part of it!

Reply

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