Central Tajikistan Through the Eyes of a Cyclist

We entered the Pamir highway from the north, over a border crossing of 4200m high, to be submerged into what became our most adventurous journey yet…

Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
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Traversing Tajikistan

By Bike

For the longest time, we heard the words ‘Pamir Highway’ float around the touring cyclist’s community and this summer we finally got our chance at riding it. This ‘highway’ (read: dusty bumpy mountainous gravel road) lies in Central Asia and crosses both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We entered the Pamir highway from the north, over a border crossing of 4200m high to be submerged into what became our most adventurous journey yet…

Come take a cycling tour with Tristan!

Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist

Tajikistan’s Views

Ask yourself: to see something that resembles a lunar landscape at 4000 meters height, where could you go in the world? The Andes would be one answer, but ours is the Pamir plateau in Tajikistan. With winds stronger than most of us are used to, burning sunlight and an incredibly arid climate — this certainly isn’t the easiest of places to cycle around; though, it is, without a doubt, one of the most astounding. One simple road with a few gravel detours snakes through a landscape that’ll feed your wildest travel dreams.

Best Time of Year to Visit: The end of June through end of September. Visit the country outside of those dates and you’ll most likely be stranded in thick snow and temperatures down to -40C.

Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist

Tajikistan’s Roads

The Pamir Highway is one of the highest cyclable roads in the world and more or less just one highway — but as I mentioned above, it’s definitely one of the most spectacular paths to traverse. It’s quite strange to be cycling at a height that roars at great distance, often gasping for air while admiring everything around you and struggling up the many slopes of broken asphalt (or simply no road surface at all)… but it all pays off when you see where that road can bring you.

Pro Tip: For the ones who aren’t so eager to cycle up here, it is possible to arrange a jeep tour. You’ll see much less and will have to stop a lot, but it is a worthwhile alternative than the ultimate struggle. If your bike breaks down, the jeep tours are also most likely your only way out. Or maybe you can hitchhike with one of the many truckers that drive between Murghab, the far east of the country, and Dushanbe, the capital in the west.

Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist

Tajikistan’s Camp Spots

Alike Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan offers some spectacular camp spots. Definitely not as comfortable as its neighbour, as camping in Tajikistan usually comes down to a select few patches that require a bit of searching at the end of your day. We often camped out in dust, sand, or mosquito territory, but the landscape makes up for such disturbances. The views are completely out of this world.

Pro Tip: When cycling through here, try to plan your camp spots carefully. We prefer to be close to water, so we use an application called “Maps.Me” to find existing streams to camp next to. This usually works great, but any opportunity you have at getting water should be taken as you never know what lies ahead.

Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist

Tajikistan’s Best

And now for a selection of photos that show off our best moments in Tajikistan. From conquering a 4655 meter high pass to cycling through 45°C heat in the valley towards the capital, an homage to our love / hate relationship with this very special and wondrous country.

Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist
Central Asia Through The Eyes of a Cyclist

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