Central Asia is fast becoming one of the ‘go to’ destinations for many overlanders, more specifically overlanders are heading east to drive the infamous Pamir Highway and it’s slightly bigger brother the Karakoram Highway in China.
For us the holy grail of Central Asia was the notorious Pamir Highway. The M41, as it is officially known, is the world’s second highest international highway and travels through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan reaching an altitude of 4,655 metres. Just to put that into context the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis ‘peaks’ at a mere 1,344 metres.
The area is notorious for landslides, rock-falls, earthquakes, floods, high winds and frequent political unrest; all these factors rate it quite highly on the ‘World’s Most Dangerous Roads’ list. Traditionally the road formed part of the ancient Silk Road route linking trade routes from China to Europe.
The area is stunning and remote, so remote in fact that buying and carrying enough diesel for the entire route can be problematic. The beautiful Wakhan Corridor offers 220-miles of spectacular driving along the bank of the Pamir River, literally a stones throw across the water is Afghanistan.
During our 2 weeks on the Pamir Highway we heard machine gun fire, experienced an earthquake and narrowly missed mudslides and flash flooding. Just two days after leaving the M41 behind us the Tajikistan government declared the whole area a natural disaster zone after glacial snow melt had flooded 3 villages, many valleys and destroyed large sections of the road leaving the local population without electricity. A truly wild place.