Hitchhiking the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan is a real adventure. It’s a super remote and high place. How to hitchhike the Pamir Highway? Read our tips.
How to hitchhike the Pamir Highway?
Is it possible to hitchhike the Pamir Highway? Many people will tell you it’s not.
“There are no cars.”
That’s not true. Hitchhiking the Pamir Highway is possible. First of all you need to be lucky. Second you need patience.
Just prepare well and it will be okay.
How to prepare for hitchhiking the Pamir Highway
Do you want to hitchhike the Pamir Highway? Good choice! I am sure you’ll enjoy the area. But prepare well.
The following things are a good choice to take or download on your phone.
- Take enough food for a couple of days
- Take enough water. I always had 2 bottles of 1.5 liter with me. When possible I filled them up with my water filter. The water from the tap and the mountains is not very clean in the Pamirs.
- Take some money
- Personally I would suggest to take a tent, you never know where you end up.
- Warm clothes and sleeping bag are needed. In August the wind was pretty cold, I wore long trousers for a couple of days. At night the temperature dropped to 3°C.
- Make sure to have a good map (maybe on your phone).
- The application iOverlander is useful to find wildcamping spots, restaurants, hostels and homestays.
- Download the Russian language in Google Translate, this can be useful to communicate.
Last but not least; be patience and enjoy the views. Don’t forget your camera.
Pay for hitchhiking in Tajikistan
Sometimes locals expect you to pay. Before you get in the car, you can ask ‘Skolka?’, which means ‘How much?’. Or ask ‘Bez platna?’, which means ‘For free?’.
But remember that people in the Pamirs are mostly very poor. Locals pay for a seat in a car. If you take a seat for free they lose money. In my opinion it’s okay to pay a bit.
Amount of cars on the Pamir Highway
Hereby an estimation of amount of cars that drive the Pamir Highway. This is based on my experience in August 2019.
- Dushanbe <> Khorog (South road, don’t take North road): 5 cars per hour
- Khorog to Murghab (M41 – Pamir Highway): 2 cars per hour
- Murghab to Khorog (M41 – Pamir Highway): 4 cars per hour
- Khorog to Langar (Waghan valley): 1 to 2 cars per hour
- Langar to Khorog (Waghan valley): 2 to 3 cars per hour
- Langar to Alichur (Waghan valley): 2 to 4 cars per day
- Alichur to Langar (Waghan valley): 3 to 8 cars per day
- Murghab to Sary Tash: 1 car per hour
- Sary Tash to Murghab: 2 cars per hour
- Sary Tash <> Osh: 10 cars per hour
Remember that August is high season, therefore I guess there are more tourist cars.
From Dushanbe to Murghab you’ll find some trucks, which might take you. In the Waghan valley you don’t find trucks. Furthermore between Murghab and Sary Tash are no trucks.
My Experience: hitchhiking the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan
I hitchhiked the Pamir Highway in August 2019. Hereby my personal experience.
My longest waiting time was 1 hour and 45 minutes.
I know that I’ve been very lucky with that. When you go, expect to have longer waiting times. I met another hitchhiker who waited 8 hours.
My trip (day 1 to 7):
- Dushanbe to Kostav
- Kostav to Vamd
- Vamd to Khorog
- Khorog to Zugvand
- Zugvand to Lake Yashilkul
- Lake Yashilkul to Murghab
- Murghab to Osh
The first 3 days I was lucky to be with a car who participates in the Mongol Rally.
Day 1 to 3: Mongol Rally and Afghan Market
The Mongol Rally is an annual event. Mainly European cars drive to Mongolia.
Many of them drive over the Pamir Highway. Some have space to pick up hitchhikers.
The cars should be cheap and engines should be less than 1.0 liter. So don’t expect quick cars, but it’s fun.
The first night we made it to Kostav. We stayed for €1 in a dorm of a truckers restaurant.
The second day the road was so bad that our average speed was 20 km per hour. We only made it to Vamd.
We asked to locals if we could camp their village. Next to the volleybal field.
On day 3 we departed early in the morning to reach the Afghan Market near Khorog at 9am. This is a market in no-mans-land. Afghans come there to sell their stuff.
This is definitely worth a visit as it is interesting to see the Afghan people. The market is only on Saturdays from 9am to 12am.
Day 4 and 5 : Hitchhiking the Waghan valley
From Khorog you can choose to take met main Pamir Highway to Murghab. But you can also decide to take the more remote Waghan valley.
The Waghan valley is stunning. There is less traffic, so the hitchhiking will be more difficult, but it’s beautiful.
Many say the Waghan Valley is the most beautiful part of the Pamir Highway.
Hitchhiking the Waghan Valley is possible, but you need to be lucky.
Between Khorog and Langar
Between Khorog and Langar there is some local traffic. Maybe 1 to 2 cars an hour.
It took me a day to get to Zugvand (close to Langar). I started a 9am and stopped at 5pm. Five cars took me. From that four locals and one tourist car.
In Zugvand I was invited to stay at a local house. We had a nice dinner and I got to know the local culture a bit.
After Zugvand three local cars took me to Langar.
Difficult pass between Langar and Alichur
Between Langar and Alichur there’s almost no local traffic. You need to be lucky with tourist cars.
I waited 1 hour and 45 minutes in Langar, the last village before the pass to Alichur. One local car passed who gave me a middle finger. The second car was a German couple who luckily took me.
Due to problems with our car we stopped for around 5 hours. But only one car to Alichur passed by. From Alichur to Langar seems to be more cars. Maybe seven cars that whole day.
In case you get stuck: around 5am there is a shared taxi from Langar to Murghab.
Day 6 and 7: Lake Yashilkul and Murghab
The German couple went to Lake Yashilkul to camp. I was lucky to go with them. But hitchhiking there on your own doesn’t sound like a good idea. There’s nothing.
From Alichur to Murghab there are some cars. This is the main Pamir Highway again, so there will be more traffic. Expect around 3 cars an hour.
From Murghab to Alichur there were a lot of Tajikistani trucks. Probably coming from China.
In Murghab you can stay for 5 dollar in a Yurt at Pamir Hotel. There’s hot showers and good food.
Take a rest and stroll around the Bazar in Murghab. Don’t expect much of this Bazar. It’s just a couple of containers together. But interesting to see.
Day 8: Murghab to Osh
The German couple picked me up for the 3th day in a row. Lucky me.
We picked up another German hitchhiker a lake Karakul. He was waiting there for 2 hours. There’s not much traffic from Murghab to the border, as there is just nothing.
Until Sary Tash (Kyrgystan) you need to be lucky in both directions. There are some tourists who might pick you up.
From Sary Tash to Osh it will be ok. A truck picked me up after 40 minutes. As on the whole Pamir Highway, trucks are extremely slow. Expect average speed of 5 to 20 km/h.
I covered a distance of 180 kilometer in 8 hours with the truck. And the road was of high quality!