We left the beautiful lakeside village of Kara-Kul and made our way to the town of Murgab, our final destination with our current driver and car. When we were in Osh, we only arranged to have our driver from Osh to Murgab and after that, we planned to hire a new car and driver to take us further into the Pamir Mountains and Wakhan Valley.

kara kul lake pamir mountains

Today was the day we had been thinking about for a while, we would be taking the highest pass on the Pamir Highway: The Ak-Baital Pass at 4,655m! The road was actually really good and the views from the pass were spectacular. We truly felt like we were, as the local people would say, On The Roof Of The World.

Ak-Baital Pass pamir

ak baital pass pamir mountains

After the pass, we descended down the mountainside and veered off the main highway to check out Rang-Kul Lake. There are many different side trips to valleys, lakes, cave paintings and more around this area. We couldn’t do everything, but Rang-Kul was recommended and it didn’t disappoint.

rang kul lake pamir

The waters of the lake were like glass, which showcased the incredible reflections of the mountains. We attempted to drive further along the lake towards the town of RangKul where we would have great views of the Shatput mountain range in China. Unfortunately, the Tajik border guards are now patrolling that area and wouldn’t let us through. After a heated discussion with the border guards, our driver gave up and handed us back our passports.

views of rang kul lake

We weren’t too bothered though. We went back to the lake and had a great lunch with gorgeous views of the mountains.

lunch on pamir highway

After a 5 hour day, we arrived in the town of Murgab. This was the hub we were waiting for. Here we found a hotel with hot shower, western toilet, real beds, electricity and amazing food! It was also the place where we would stock up on fresh supplies for the next 9 days of our travels.

murgab town

We eventually found the META office which arranges drivers, guides and homestays in Tajikistan – similar to CBT in Kyrgyzstan. There are a couple of ways to travel through the Pamir Mountains: hitch-hiking, by shared taxi/van, cycling, or hiring a car and driver. The latter is the most ideal way (in our opinion) because you can see any sight you want, you have someone who speaks the local language (and hopefully English) and you have a reliable form of transportation. Shared vans just go from point “a” to point “b”, missing all of the good side-trips in the middle.

The four of us told Gulnara, the helpful woman at META, that we wanted a good driver with a Landcruiser vehicle (not a van) and that we wanted him to speak English, which is rare. Usually the driver is just the driver and you have to hire a separate person to be the guide.

Lucky for us, our new driver, Nurali, spoke English, had a great vehicle and seemed like a really nice guy! We were thrilled. We planned the rest of our journey, figured out where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see along the way.

kids in the pamir

The following morning, Jason was still feeling a bit ill so Jessica, Nick and I did a day trip with our new driver, Nurali. We drove for about 45 minutes before reaching the unbelievable Pshart Valley. The multi-coloured mountains surrounding the valley were outstanding.

pshart valley pamir mountains

The three of us walked for about 3 hours up the valley and enjoyed the views and a very scenic lunch.

pshart valley

From there, we decided it was time for a soak and made our way to the Madiyan natural hot springs. We knew the hot springs would be fantastic after a day of hiking but we weren’t expecting the drive out there to be so awesome. The sun was on its way down, casting a golden glow over the river and valley. We drove for about an hour before reaching some very sketchy dirt roads leading up to the hot springs.


It was Nurali’s first test with dangerous road conditions and he passed with flying colours.

outside of murgab

It felt like we drove up and up forever, but we eventually spotted the elusive buildings down below. We parked the vehicle and hiked/skidded down a couple hundred meters and crossed a make-shift bridge before arriving at the hot springs.

makeshift bridge pamirs

No one was there to collect payment so we got in for free, gotta love that! The hot water was just what we needed after our day of hiking. We relaxed for a while before making our way back uphill to the Landcruiser.

madiyan hot springs

It was the perfect end to the perfect day in the Pamirs. After spending two nights in Murgab, we were ready to continue our trip with our new friend, Nurali.

Check Out The Video Of The Trip So Far!

Travelling The Pamir Highway – Osh To Murgab

Would you prefer to hitch-hike, cycle, go by shared local vehicle or hire a car and driver through the Pamir Highway? Share with us below!

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Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift

Written by

Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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3 thoughts on “Travelling The Pamir Highway: Kara-Kul to Murgab – We’re On The Roof Of The World!

  1. What gorgeous landscapes! It actually reminds me a little of southwest Bolivia, where we were recently; there are parts at similar altitudes, so I guess that’s why…?! I really love how much you guys are digging central Asia!

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