One of my goals for this trip was to travel the Pamir Highway, the route the traders of old (ie. Marco and his pals) used to get from Europe to China. You can take a shared taxi, they are all beat up old Toyota Landcruisers heavily loaded with passengers and luggage but I decide to pay the extra and get a Private taxi which gave me control of the journey.
Invaluable sources of information for this area are Caravanistan and Indy Guide, various tour agents and independent operators advertise on these sites and you can see reviews of them and ask questions, very good.
The Tour Operator I chose was Roof of the World . Khudoguy is reliable and honest and you can depend on him to deliver on his commitments.
I received cheaper quotes from drivers on Indy Guide but there is no guarantee with these guys and if they disappear or give you trouble, you will be left high and dry in the middle of nowhere.
Mob/Cell/WhatsApp: +992 93 563 7141
Tel: +992 900 500 499
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The route I opted for was (for more information see Caravanistan and Indy Guide).
Day 1. Dushanbe – Qalai Khumb or Kalai Khum (370 km via Kulob)
Day 2. Kalai Khum – Khorog (240 km)
Day 3. Khorog – Murghab (325 km)
Day 4. Murghab – Osh (420 km)
Cost of this tour which included the Car (Toyota 4Runner 4wd) and driver was US$900. Food and accommodation is extra. I was offered a homestay for $20/night which includes breakfast and dinner. The Homestays are really Guesthouses of varying quality and you should check to see if there is running hot water with good pressure, a Western style toilet, a comfortable bed and the number of guests staying the night. There is only one toilet and bathroom so the number of guests is important and sometimes these are outdoors. If you are not satisfied you should ask to see alternative Guest houses. You can also look on Booking.com which is what I did in Khorog and I stayed at Zarya Hotel and I would stay there again, cost $30. Orz was my driver, he is friendly, an excellent driver, speaks some English and did his best to please, ask for Orz he is a good guy. Before you leave make 6 copies of your Passport photo page and your eVisa which should have the GBAO stamp on it.
Dushanbe to Qalai Khumb
We left the hotel at 0845, stopped at a supermarket to buy 10 x 1.5lt bottles of water, I only used half of them on the trip, finally departed at 0910. Two accidents on the way, one pass about 1300m otherwise the altitude was around 600m. Mainly cotton and fruit farms, lots of Police checks a bit like Turkmenistan and apparently a 2-3 Somoni tip was normal. Arrived at Kulob for lunch at 1230, Plov cost 22 S, all the shared taxi’s stop here so there was quite a crowd. Left at 1310, hot in the car now, two Police check points where I had to give them copies of my passport and visa, a few spots of rain along the way, big trucks with 2 trailers coming and going from China, crawling along the rough bits of road. Followed the Afghan border which is the river for quite a while, no fences, a few soldiers patrolling the road on foot, one place the road was completely washed away, another pass at 1975m arrived in Qalai Khumb at 1645, altitude here is 1245m. Went for a walk to the end of the town to see the WWII memorial. The Guest house was not good, trickle of hot water in the bathroom and the toilet was not very clean, shared by 5 people at least, the noise from the torrent running alongside was deafening and made sleep difficult but the food was good.