from pakistan to tajikistan across china’s wild west
Islamabad – Peshawar – Gilgit – Tashkurgan – Kashgar – Pamir – Dushanbe
This tour is offered twice a year in late June and early September. Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the learn-more button below: we will match your preferences with the next relevant scheduled group departure. If you are still unsure about your desired departure date, then simply tell us a period or a season of the year and we will provide you a range of scheduled group departures: just pick up yours!
Our scheduled group departures don't suit your plans? If you are travelling with more than 4 friends, you can set your own departure date: we will arrange a bespoke tour just for you for the same price per person advertised below. If you are travelling solo or with less than four companions, we will then organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical preferences.
DAY 1 - Islamabad
Our tour guide will meet you in the arrival hall of Islamabad International Airport (exact meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email in accordance to your flight schedule).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in Pakistan.
We'll spend the day touring Islamabad, a city where the country's past, present and future bump into each other amid the exotic bazaars and modernist architectures.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Islamabad.
DAY 2 - Peshawar
After an early breakfast we'll transfer to Peshawar, a large Pashtun city close to the border between to Afghanistan.
Peshawar is a fascinating and at the same time intimidating gargantuan frontier town of ancient Islamic architectures, fading colonial grandeur, eternal tribal feuds and smugglers’ markets.
Besides touring the de-rigueur sights of Peshawar (such as the Mahabat Khan Mosque and the Qissa Khawani Bazaar), we’ll also take some time to truly go off the beaten path (as if the mere fact of being a tourist in Peshawar wasn’t odd enough) and visit the notorious Badaber neighbourhood, where an heroic Soviet-led uprising took place during the dark days of the Soviet-Afghan War.
Dinner and overnight in Peshawar.
DAY 3 - Swat
We’ll leave Peshawar in the morning and move north to the legendary Swat Valley.
We'll drive towards the picturesque Malakand Pass and visit the magnificent ancient Buddhist monastery of Takht-i-Bahi en route.
We'll then continue to the enchanting slopes of the Swat Valley and stop at the world-famous Churchill's Picket along the way.
Dinner and overnight in the Swat Valley.
DAY 4/5/6 - Chitral
We'll start early in the morning and drive towards Chitral via the Lowari Pass.
We'll then devote three entire days to the exploration of this almost mythical land of impervious roads, towering mountains and secretive valleys inhabited by infidel and polytheist Indo-European tribes, the Kalash, who are rumoured to be the descendants of four Greek soldiers of Alexander the Great's army.
We'll visit several traditional Kalash villages and enjoy relaxing mystic hours sipping tea, reading books, hearing stories, feasting on mountain staples and admiring the stunning beauty of our surroundings.
Meals and overnights in Chitral.
DAY 7 - Mastuj
In the morning we'll transfer to Mastuj, a picturesque village north of Chitral.
The unpaved track carves its way through a stark and rugged mountainscape: this traditional route has been used for centuries by traders between Chitral and Gilgit and en route we'll have magnificent views of Tirich Mir and Buni Zom, two of the highest peaks in the Hindukush.
Dinner and overnight in Mastuj.
DAY 8 - Gupis
We'll continue our odyssey across Pakistan's untamed borderlands and enter the Karakoram range: wilder sceneries will greet us during the drive as this route is visited by much less people and is completely covered with snow during the wintertime: only nomadic herders inhabit this forgotten land moving around with their flock of goats in constant search for green pastures.
In the afternoon we'll then reach the otherworldly settlement of Gupis on the southern bank of the Gilgit river.
Dinner and overnight in Gupis.
DAY 9 - Hunza Valley
Today we’ll driver further east and head to Karimabad, a glorious settlement of the higher Hunza Valley, set against a backdrop of peaks towering above 7000 metres.
On the way we'll have excellent views of Rakaposhi and Ultar, two of the highest mountains in the entire region.
Once in Karimabad we’ll take a short tour around town and spend the rest of the day in the company of the gentle and proud local dwellers.
Dinner and overnight in Karimabad.
DAY 8 - Tashkurgan
We will leave Karimabad early in the morning and travel along the mythical Karakoram Highway to the border with China, crossing the notorious Khunjerab Pass, which at 4700 metres is the world's highest border crossing between two countries.
After completing the usual border crossing formalities, we'll head straight to Tashkurgan, the end-of-the-world capital of the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, one of the many ethnic provinces of Xinjiang, aka Chinese Turkestan, an autonomous region of China home to a vast number of non-Chinese indigenous ethnicities, including Uyghur (the titular nationality), Kazakhs, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Mongols and even Russians.
In Tashkurgan we'll pay a visit to the local museum and tour the imposing fort overlooking the town, before feasting on a traditional Chinese-Tajik dinner in a local teahouse.
Overnight in Tashkurgan.
DAY 9/10/11 - Kashgar
We'll leave Tashkurgan and head to the Silk Road town of Kashgar, a place full of ancient culture and modern contrasts.
On our way to Kashgar we'll stop at the quintessentially Uyghur market town of Upal for a traditional Turkestani lunch.
Once in Kashgar, we'll devote two-and-half days touring both the main historical sights and the off-the-beaten-path attractions in and around this mesmerisingly chaotic and splendidly diverse Central Asian town.
In addition to our exploration of Kashgar's narrow alleys, bustling markets and historic mosques, we'll also make an excursion out of town and visit the elegant sand dunes of the Taklamakan Desert near the crumbling village of Yarkand.
Meals and overnights in Kashgar.
DAY 12/13 - Sary Tash
Today we'll move west and enter the territory of the mighty former Soviet Union, in the shape of the tiny but gorgeous Kyrgyz Republic, a mountainous independent state squeezed among China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
The road trip from Kashgar to the 3000-metre high Irkeshtam Pass, marking the border between China and Kyrgyzstan, is an attraction for itself, as you will travel through stunning and diverse landscapes of red mountains, desert plateaus and remote settlements built along the unruly course of the Kirzlesu River.
Once in Kyrgyzstan (expect long but friendly border formalities), we'll head to Sary Tash, a rather otherworldly Mad-Max-style hamlet along the road and the last major Kyrgyz outpost on the Pamir Highway, arguably the most epic road in the entire former USSR.
Coming from China we'll arrive in Sary Tash quite late in the evening, just in time for a shashlik dinner and some astronomic observations of the sublime night sky over the Pamir.
On our second day we'll explore the area surrounding the hamlet: from Sary Tash you'll enjoy stunning views of the Trans-Alai and in clear-weather days you'll get a glimpse of the mighty Lenin Peak and Communism Peak, the two highest mountains in the USSR.
The more athletic among us will be able to undertake short hikes across the lunar landscapes around Sary Tash, whereas the lazier ones will enjoy the company of the local villagers, who will share with us their homes, their food and their stories.
Meals and overnights in Sary Tash.
DAY 14 - Tajikistan: Pamir Highway
After having crossed the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (a pretty straightforward process), we'll reach Karakul, a tiny Soviet-era concrete village built along the dusty shores of the namesake lake.
We'll then continue our epic journey along the Pamir Highway heading towards Rangkul, yet another remote hamlet surrounded by unreal natural beauty and crumbling Soviet ruins.
After lunch we'll drive south to Murghab, the main urban settlement in Northern Pamir.
After a quick tour around the rather dull downtown (Soviet nostalgia, deserted bazaars and empty mosques), we'll visit the local headquarter of the National Mountaineering Association to learn more about the history and the explorations of this extremely remote corner of Central Asia.
Dinner and overnight in Murghab.
DAY 15 - Tajikistan: Pamir Highway
Another full day driving down the legendary Pamir Highway.
We'll first head to the tiny village Alichur where we'll enjoy a traditional Pamiri lunch.
We'll then reach the extremely isolated Bulun-Kul Lake and the nearby fishing hamlet.
Dinner and overnight in Bulun-Kul.
DAY 16 - Tajikistan: Wakhan Valley
Today we'll finally reach the Wakhan Valley, arguably the most beautiful dale in the whole Pamir region.
We'll drive on remote mountain roads and catch stunning glimpses of Afghan villages located a few metres away on the opposite bank of the Panj, the narrow whitewater river marking the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the journey in semi-abandoned Soviet outposts, perfect locations for photographic discoveries.
In the afternoon we'll reach Vrang, a pretty rural village mostly inhabited by the Wakhi people, an Iranic ethnic group predominantly living in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor and in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region.
Dinner and overnight in Vrang.
DAY 17 - Tajikistan: Wakhan Valley
We'll continue our adventure across the Wakhan Valley visiting hot springs and ancient pagan temples along the way.
We'll stop in several traditional Wakhi hamlets along the way and after lunch we'll reach Ishkashim, a relatively large village functioning as crossing point into Afghanistan.
Dinner and overnight in Ishkashim.
5-DAY AFGHANISTAN EXTENSION ACROSS THE WAKHAN CORRIDOR
We'll leave Ishkashim early in the morning and enter the mighty land called Afghanistan.
The border formalities here are usually a straightforward process and we'll be able to reach Afghan Eshkashim (not to be confused with its Tajik counterpart) before lunch.
We'll visit the local bazaar, your last chance to buy packaged food supplies and basic camping gear before entering the remote Wakhan Corridor.
We'll then continue our journey towards Langar, a tiny mountain hamlet, where we'll meet local shepherds and taste traditional delicacies.
Before dinner we'll eventually reach Khandud, a larger village inhabited by the Wakhi people and the centre of one of the four administrative districts of the Wakhan Corridor.
We'll spend the followings days hiking along the many shepherds trails crisscrossing the valley and/or driving (where possible) to the secluded hamlets dotting the Wakhan Corridor.
Major settlements and attractions will include: Qala-e-Panja (domed tombs and rickety old mosques), Ab Garch (mud houses) and Sarhad (last hamlet accessible by road); a further extension to the remote Kyrgyz nomad camps of the Little Pamir is available upon request for experienced trekkers only.
DAY 18 - Tajikistan: Khorog
Lazy morning in Ishkashim and transfer to Khorog, the capital of the Autonomous Badakhshan.
Khorog Soviet Tour: House of the Soviet, Aga Khan Botanical Gardens, Pamir University, Central Bazaar, Lenin Statue.
Meals and overnight in Khorog.
DAY 19/20 - Tajikistan: Dushanbe
Early morning start for an epic 10-to-12-hour drive to Dushanbe, the capital of the country.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the long haul in Rushan, Kalaikhum, Tavildara and other fascinating traditional villages along the way as well as in the Soviet resort town of Obigarm, home to a colossal modernist sanatorium nestled in an awe-inspiring setting of high mountains and forested slopes.
Please note: theoretically there is a daily flight from Khorog to Dushanbe; in practice, however, the flight schedule is absolutely unreliable, as it largely depends on 1) weather conditions 2) number of booked passengers 3) the unforeseeable whim of pilots, flight attendants and airport authorities. If lucky enough, then we might be able to skip the bumpy odyssey to Dushanbe gloriously flying over an epic landscape of high peaks and narrow gorges. The flight is included in the tour price.
After a well-deserved good night’s sleep and a sumptuous breakfast at our hotel in Dushanbe, we will spend our last day thoroughly touring both the main Soviet wonders and the pre-Soviet sights of the country’s capital.
Highlights will include: Concert Palace, State Circus, Old Chaikhana, Mevlana Mosque, National Theatre, City Library, Green Bazaar, Ministry of Economic Development, Cable Car Station and a surprisingly vast amount of well-preserved Soviet mosaics and modernist architectures.
Overnight in Dushanbe.
DAY 21 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Tajik breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.
For those flying out: transfer to Dushanbe International Airport for your flight back home.
For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: transfer to the train/bus station.
End of the tour.
3 to 6 participants: 4600 € per person
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 25 euro/night), private transport in the region, entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights, meals, drinks and tips, visas if required, entrance fees to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.
Please note: entry to Pakistan will be refused to Israeli passport holders and travellers with any evidence (stamp, visa, permits) of visiting Israel.