Despite being the poorest of the former Soviet states, Tajikistan is one of the highlights of the increasingly popular Pamir Highway for travelers heading east.
The team from GlobeBusters have passed through Tajikistan on many occasions, most recently on last year’s Ace to Ace expedition, which took them from London to Tokyo.
In the previous issue of RiDE Magazine, Kevin and Julia had some very useful information for intrepid riders thinking of visiting this amazing country.
- Why Should You Go?
Tajikistan is 93% mountainous, so it has seemingly endless numbers of twisty roads and breathtaking views. This is definitely a place for riders who liked rugged, remote and wild places.
- What’s It Like To Ride?
The vast majority of roads outside of towns are very poorly maintained, so you will need good off-road skills. Many roads are only open in the summer months, due to the risk of avalanches and land slides outside of this period. Standards of driving are basic, and you will find regular military checkpoints, but the Tajik people are extremely hospitable, so keep some small gifts handy as a token of appreciation. A good first aid kit and satellite phone are essential items, especially where it’s remote.
- Where Should You Ride?
We’ve already mentioned the 400 mile long Pamir Highway, which is the second highest altitude international highway in the world. The Wakhan Valley, which borders Afghanistan, is also incredibly picturesque, and the nearby Yamchun Fortress offers superb views of the Hindu Kush. If you want to enjoy the Tajik shopping experience, head for the Panchshanbe Bazaar in the northern city of Khujand.
- How Do You Get There?
For cost effective air freight, at present your best option is Almaty in neighbouring Kazakhstan. The price is still quite high, so it would be a great idea to include Tajikistan as part of a longer tour of Central Asia if possible. Bike rental is also available from Dushanbe, the country’s capital. Given the types of terrain you’ll encounter, most companies offer smaller off-road machines. For example, a DRZ400S works out at around $90 – $120 per day.
- When Should You Go?
The snow in the Pamir Mountains is at it’s lowest levels between June and September, so this is the best time to visit as it means the passes are more likely to be open.
- What Will You Need To Take?
Your passport will need to be valid for six months from date of entry, and you will also need a Tajik Visa. You need a special permit to travel the Pamir Highway, which you can get in Dushanbe from the Migration Police, or when applying for your visa. Also take your UK licence, an international driving permit, and, if taking your own bike, the original V5C document. You’ll need local 3rd party bike insurance, which can be obtained at the border, and a policy which covers medical treatment and repatriation.
You can check out the full range here.
Check out the latest issue of RiDE for another great GlobeBusters guide!