We all awoke to the sounds of donkeys crying out and cows mooing in the distance. It was about 7:30 and time for some breakfast at our homestay. The smiley grandmother served us milky rice porridge, bread, apples and tea. Crossing our fingers the night before must have worked because the fog had slightly lifted and we could see some views of Pik Lenin.

pik lenin mountain
The skies have cleared! Views of Pik Lenin in the distance

On the road again!

Today was the day we would say goodbye to Kyrgyzstan and hello to our fifth country of the trip, Tajikistan.

pamir highway
Heading up to the Kyzyl Art Pass, great views

We drove for a couple of hours before crossing the 4,282m high Kyzyl-Art Pass. The views from the top were spectacular. Even though our driver was barely legal and there was a mix-up when our vehicle arrived at our guest house, he turned out to be a good driver. We were constantly yelling “stop!” for photos and the car would come to a screeching halt. We took some pictures at the top of the pass and carried on to the border crossing with Tajikistan.

kyzal art pass pamir highway
Stopping for a photo on the Kyzyl-Art Pass at 4,282m

Our entrance into this mountainous country was an interesting one. The border guards must be really bored up there and not get much action…with the ladies. One of the guys in particular was a bit too friendly with Jess and I. He wanted photos with us and had some wandering hands! It was a weird situation because normally we’d yell at him or slap him or something, but we were trying to enter this country and pissing off the guy who would decide whether or not we were allowed in to Tajikistan wasn’t the best idea. Such an abuse of power.

border crossing kyrgyzstan and tajikistan
Us with the pervy border guard at the Kygyzstan/Tajikistan land border

We had another permit check a little further past the border. We were expecting lots of red tape and bureaucratic nightmares with Tajikistan and figured we’d have to show our passports quite a few times along this journey. We showed our visa and GBAO permit and the guard there was saying how beautiful Jess and I were! After about 20 minutes of being in Tajikistan, we were 0-for-2 with the men. They seemed much more aggressive and flirtatious than any guy I came across in Kyrgyzstan.

tajikistan flag
Bye Kyrgyzstan!

From the border, we continued our journey to Lake Kara-Kul, which sits at 3,914m and was created about 10 million years ago by a meteor. Once we rounded the bend in the road and saw the glistening lake, the dodgy border guards left our minds.

lake kara kul
Gorgeous Lake Kara-Kul

We pulled into the teeny-tiny Karakul village and stayed at Sarat Homestay. The family who owned it were so friendly and provided us with a warm bed, food and lots of smiles. We left the family and made our way down to the lakeside shores, which was a picture perfect setting.

homestay in karakul
The friendly family at Sarat Homestay in Karakul
kara kul lake
Jumping for joy at Kara-Kul Lake, Tajikistan

After wandering around the lake, we made our way back to the homestay for some dinner and board games. We were told we were having meat with potatoes and vegetables, which sounded good to us. What came out was basically a massive bowl of potatoes and some risky meat sprinkled on top. It was official, we weren’t in Osh anymore!

homestay in kara kul
Making some lunch at the homestay, notice the Canadian flag on the couch?!

Nick and Jason ate most of theirs, I pushed around some potatoes and managed to eat a couple and Jess gagged and spat hers out.
It turned out Jess and I had the right idea. Later that night, Nick got to experience his meal for a second time and Jason was squatting in the outhouse (long-drop) all night long.

Nice family, bad food.

tajikistan girl
The adorable granddaughter at the homestay

We had planned to make ourselves lunches each day for the next 2 weeks and eat dinner and breakfast at the homestays. After that night, we re-evaluated our plan and decided we would have to stock up on food for of our meals the following day in Murgab.

What do you think about the dodgy border guards in the mountains?! Tell us about it below.

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Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift

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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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10 thoughts on “Travelling on The Pamir Highway: Sary Moghul to Kara-Kul

  1. I have similar recollections of that border. Waiting to get stamped into Kyrgyzstan, the ‘Drug Control’ stop involved maybe two questions to the whole car (“Do you have narcotics? No drugs?”) and then about half an hour of the guard chatting to the Russian-Australian girl riding in front… offering to show her a good time in Osh as we finally started to leave.

  2. I passed through the Tajikistan/ Kyrgyzstan border in June this year, 2015.
    Going in the opposite direction to you.
    Kyrgystan guard tried to charge me an export tax on my bike.
    I just walkled away. He was not a very good con artist
    Then going into Kyrgyzstan we all had to show all of our money.
    No, it wasn’t a con. They were checking for counterfeit notes.
    No one was robbed. And the guy apologised for the delay.

  3. Great story. Informative too. I plan on heading there in July so hopefully the snow will be confined to the upper reaches of the mountains then

  4. I went through the border early July. No snow in the roads but plenty higher up.
    One small short shower if rsin but not cold. Alichur was a good place to stop fir a night.
    Local school teacher runs on of several hostel/ rooms.
    I stayed 2 night.

  5. Hi there. I love your blog, and super jealous of all the travel you guys are doing 🙂 How long did it take you to drive from Sory Mogul to Lake Karakul?

    We are doing the trip in July!

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