Destinations Magazine

Backpacking in Gorno Badakhshan: Touring Khorog, Capital of the Pamirs

By Jsbdsl @jonnyblair

Don't Stop Living - Jonny Blair - a lifestyle of travel

Backpacking in Gorno Badakhshan: Touring Khorog, Capital of the Pamirs

Backpacking in Gorno Badakhshan: Touring Khorog, Capital of the Pamirs

So I’m still offline for a while especially social media but hopefully this one syncs to Facebook, Twitter etc. automatically like the others. It’s almost a live blog post which I’m copying and pasting from a Word Document in the only internet café in the city of Khorog. They kindly let me plug my laptop into the mains and the ethernet cable. The joys of being the only backpacker in this remote town.

Khorog, Capital of the Pamirs

Khorog, Capital of the Pamirs

Khorog is known as the capital of the Pamirs. It’s is the largest and main city in the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast region of Tajikistan. Despite the remoteness of the Pamirs, I’m spending four days here, doing some offline blogs and writing but mostly out exploring Gorno Badakhshan. This post is a return to my 2010 era posts when I was camping out in Poatina in Tasmania. I used to write articles as blank WordPad documents and then upload when I could. It’s basically a live blog post with a wee update on what I’ve been doing and what I am doing. It is not a backpacking guide article, but don’t worry – plenty of those to come when I get my videos, photos etc. sorted and uploaded.

Backpacking in Gorno Badakhshan: Touring Khorog, Capital of the Pamirs

Backpacking in Gorno Badakhshan: Touring Khorog, Capital of the Pamirs

My journey to Gorno Badakhshan from Tajikistan was a long one, winter time in this region can be cumbersome and when you’re the only backpacker in town, it can get even more harrowing. Hostel to hostel it was a staggering 22 hour trip. Well it is winter and that included awakening for breakfast in Marian’s Guesthouse at 6am in Dushanbe right up until my arrival in the Pamir Lodge Guesthouse at 4am the following day. On the way I had to deal with the lunatic “Land Rover filling policy” of the Avtovagzal in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Backpacking in Tajikistan: A Guided Tour of Dushanbe, on a Monday!

Backpacking in Tajikistan – Dushanbe

Instead of getting a load of people going to the same place, putting them in a shared vehicle and off we go, one at a time, they put one person at a time in different vehicles and have a chat like there’s nothing important to do. It takes them all a while to fill up. This is Tajik culture and I have to respect it. However I waited for four hours in the same seat in the bus station in Dushanbe expecting us to leave any moment and we didn’t. From before 8am until almost 12 noon I waited. It’s rare for me to get a sore bum, but I had a sore bum most of those 22 hours! Eventually we left Dushanbe in a different vehicle and the story of this journey is to come in a World Borders series article. On route to Khorog we broke down 3 times, ran out of petrol once, skidded off the road, hit a rock and almost went off the cliff and it was simply a crazy adventure. We had to push the car a few times through mud roads. Alas, I arrived in Khorog at 4am knackered in deep snow and over-frozen ice.

Touring Hisor

Touring Hisor

Border entrance to Gorno Badakhshan

Border entrance to Gorno Badakhshan

Arrival at the border entrance to Gorno Badakhshan

Arrival at the border entrance to Gorno Badakhshan

Breakdown in Gorno Badakhshan

Breakdown in Gorno Badakhshan

My Tajik and Afghan friends from the border crossing

My Tajik and Afghan friends from the border crossing

Visa for Gorno Badakhshan

Visa for Gorno Badakhshan

My room in Pamir Lodge - brilliantly cosy!!

My room in Pamir Lodge – brilliantly cosy!!

Death ride at night (a good part of the road)

Death ride at night (a good part of the road)

First sighting of Afghanistan across the river

First sighting of Afghanistan across the river

Better roads

Better roads

Mud roads

Mud roads

Stop over in Kulob

Stop over in Kulob

I have a fantastic place to stay in Khorog. Pamir Lodge is excellent. The manager Said stayed awake until 4am waiting for me and he let me in and showed me straight to my cosy room and bed, up in the mountains of the Pamir Region. I slept and then out to explore the city!

My hosts here at Pamir Lodge in Khorog!

My hosts here at Pamir Lodge in Khorog!

What a place this is! The Pamirs are breathtakingly beautiful. I’m surrounded by mountains and Afghanistan and Tajikistan are beautiful in winter.

Touring Hisor Fort

Touring Hisor Fort

Touring Khorog

Touring Khorog

A beer in the best nightclub in Khorog

A beer in the best nightclub in Khorog

The road to Khorog runs completely along the Afghanistan border, to our right was always a river, behind the river every mountains we saw was in Afghanistan. We stopped a few times and my eyes kept feasting themselves on the land opposite. Lots of tourists backpack in Tajikistan, a lot less venture into Afghanistan. I can only blame the media and “Popular Place Only Travel Blogs” for this lack of tourism in Afghanistan. I’ll have more to come on Afghanistan of course…

Border from Tajikistan to Afghanistan

Border from Tajikistan to Afghanistan

Tajikistan to Afghanistan border

Tajikistan to Afghanistan border

Northern Ireland flag, Afghanistan in behind

Northern Ireland flag, Afghanistan

With Said from Pamir Lodge - great guy

With Said from Pamir Lodge – great guy

Afghanistan

Afghanistan in winter – gorgeous

Afghanistan Flag

Afghanistan Flag

Getting an Afghanistan Visa in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Afghanistan Visa

From the Pamir Lodge here, I could see Afghanistan. Only a bridge and a brace of border checkpoints separates Khorog from Sheghnan in Afghanistan. In my backpacking lifestyle you know how much I love border crossings, getting visas, changing banknotes, updating my whereabouts etc. For the last week and for the next 2-3 weeks I may not be doing that as regularly. These towns and villages are more remote, less WiFi, more restrictions on websites and of course for safety and security, it’s not a bad thing to be offline. But rest assured I am enjoying my time in this region. In Khorog I have toured the day life, the night life, the markets, the mountains and I’ve been on the snow covered pitch at the football stadium. It’s a fantastic city.

Football Stadium in Khorog, Gorno Badakhshan

Football Stadium in Khorog, Gorno Badakhshan

Touring Dushanbe

Touring Dushanbe

In the past week I have also toured Dushanbe and Hisor Fort with Pamir Travel and Travel in Tajikistan. I look forward to writing my reports on those exciting journeys too. I can’t wait to get them all written  in fact!

Hat-trick of cars by the Afghanistan to Tajikistan border

Hat-trick of cars by the Afghanistan to Tajikistan border

So bear with the journey, I’ll backdate some of my travel photos to Facebook and Instagram when I can and I’ve a few more borders to cross which you’ll hear a lot more about.

Viewpoint  of Khorog, Pamirs, Gorno Badakhshan

Viewpoint of Khorog, Pamirs, Gorno Badakhshan

Viewpoint of Khorog, Pamirs, Gorno Badakhshan

Viewpoint of Khorog, Pamirs, Gorno Badakhshan

In front of the world's highest flagpole

In front of the world’s highest flagpole

One more step along the world I go…

Original article: Backpacking in Gorno Badakhshan: Touring Khorog, Capital of the Pamirs

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