Located approximately in the heart of the Pamir Highway: 600-kilometres to Dushanbe and 730-kilometres to Osh in Kyrgyzstan, Khorog is the largest town in Pamirs with a population of around 30,000 people. It is a touristic center of Pamir that you can’t miss no matter which way you go: the northern road goes along a deep mountain gorge straight to Murgab, and the southern one leads to the scenic Wakhan Corridor. Khorog is also an intellectual center with two universities, one is Khorog State University and the other is the University of Central Asia.
Getting out of Khorog
There are different places around Khorog to take shared taxi depending which way you’re going. No matter what, try to arrive at the designated place before 8 am as it will be easier to have other locals to share a car with you. The later you are, the longer you will have to wait for a vehicle to fill up.
- Ishkashim – There is shared taxi place behind the central bazaar for going to and called Ishkashim Stoyanka. Price is about 50 TJS (US$5) per person.
- Murghab – Shared taxis that depart toward Murghab and other destinations en route along the Gunt Valley can be found on the West side of the Khorog Bazaar. It should not cost more than 200 TJS (US$20) one-way.
- Dushanbe – Shared taxis leave opposite a petrol station 4-kilometres after the Main Bazaar. You may take Bus number 3 to go there. It is a long 14-16 hours journey from Khorog to Dushanbe. You can choose to do it one shot or split into 2-days with a stopover at Qal’ai Khum. Either way, the price should range about 250-300 TJS (US$25-US$30) per seat.
Sleep in Khorog
We stayed at Welcome Inn for 100 TJS per bed with delicious breakfast. If you need help to do side tracks, continue your journey along Pamirs, or getting to Afghanistan, I highly recommend our helpful host, Zhandiya. She speaks good English, very knowledgeable on travelling around Tajikistan. She encouraged our idea of DIY trip and gave us tips on haggling with local drivers. You may contact her through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Khorog City Park
The Khorog City Park is a nice place to spend an afternoon in the shade of the trees. There is a small carnival and a swimming pool during Summer. Every July the Roof of the World Festival is held at Khorog Central Park, which showcases music, dance, food, handicrafts and other cultural traditions unique to the Tajik Pamirs as well as other Central Asian countries.
Pamir Botanical Garden
At an altitude of 2,320-meters above sea level, the Pamir Botanical Garden is the second highest mountain park in the world after the botanical garden of Nepal. Up on a hill and has great views over the town, the garden is unfortunately a bit neglected. You may either take Marshrutka #3 (2 TJS) to the lower gate and walk 30-minutes more to arrive; or grab a taxi in town for about 12 TJS to take you all the way to the entrance. Admission to the botanical garden is free.
Most active in the mornings, this bustling market by the river overflows into stalls shaded by colourful umbrellas. If you’re continuing your journey towards Murghab on the Pamir Highway, you’ll want to head to the Khorog Bazaar to grab any provisions, as shops and bazaars further along toward the Kyrgyz border will have limited variety and likely to be more pricey.
Afghan Border Market
On the Tajik side of the border at the Tem-Demogan Friendship Bridge between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, there is a market held on Saturdays where Afghan merchants are allowed to cross the bridge and sell food, clothing, handicrafts, and more. Alas, this border bazaar is subject to frequent closures due to security issues on the Afghan side. I would recommend you to check with your host if they have any info on whether it will be open or not. You may take Marshrutka #1 or #3 to get you there for 2 TJS, or grab a taxi for about 10 TJS.
Local fast food
After a detour back to Khorog, we were seriously craving for something different. And we found places like Mac Doland’s and KFC (Khorog Fried Chicken). Not sure if it’s because we had not been eating comfort food for too long, they actually tasted so heavenly awesome!
Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!