Join YPT along the Karakoram Highway from Pakistan to China, then from China through Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan!
This must be one of the ultimate road trips in the world. From Pakistan’s cultural capital Lahore to the ancient Uyghur city of Kashgar in China. During this trip you will travel from the plains of the Punjab countryside to the mountains of the Himalayas. Not a trip for the faint-hearted!
The trip starts in Lahore, after which we will be heading towards Islamabad, via the Khewra Salt Mines. These salt mines are the second biggest in the world, and even include a mosque and a temple! Pakistan’s capital Islamabad isn’t like any other city in the country.
Then we’ll hit the Karakoram Highway (for about 1200kms!). This highway was constructed in the 1960s and 70s and is a symbol of the friendship between China and Pakistan. One of the first stops is Abbottabad, a place which might be familiar to you as the hiding place of Osama Bin Laden!
From the Hunza Valley, it’s a few more hours to the border, where we’ll be entering China. After a night in a yurt at the incredibly beautiful Karakul Lake, we enter the historic city of Kashgar, closer geographically to Tehran and Damascus than to Beijing, a border town between China and the Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
We then head along the Pamir Highway into Tajikistan. In the same style as the Karakoram Highway, we will cross the border from China into Kyrgyzstan before we embark along the Pamir Highway.
We begin in the Chinese city of Kashgar. Closer to Damascus then to Beijing, this city has quite a different charm to it than its bigger counterparts in the East. We’ll have a full day of exploring before we head for the border.
Across the border, we head for the tiny town of Sary Tash, in Kyrgyzstan. Here we’ll explore our favourite named mountain – Lenin Peak.
In the days that follow, we’ll enter Tajikistan and drive for days along the Pamir Highway. Incredible landscapes, old Soviet bus stops, lost Lenin monuments, it’s all there! At night, we will stay in distinctive local towns across the Pamir. The tour will take the Wakhan Corridor route meaning we get the possibility to glance at the other side of the river and experience local life in Afghanistan. A rare opportunity which also shows the stark contrast between both countries.
We will end the trip in Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital, where we see the modern side of the country.
• Meet the group and your guide at 9am at our centrally located hotel in the cultural capital of Pakistan, Lahore
• Visit the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque
• See the famous Pakistani truck painting
• Witness the daily flag ceremony at the Indian border at Wagah. You’ve been to the DMZ separating North and South Korea? Well, we think it hasn’t got anything on this, the tensest border on the planet!
• Dinner at the world-famous Coco Den’s
• Experience the famous Thursday Sufi Night.
• Overnight in Lahore
Friday 5th October – Lahore
• Visit the (in)famous street doctors/dentists/pharmacy/bone setters and experience a haircut by fire, if you date!
• Walking tour of the old city and a visit to the Shalimar Gardens
• In the afternoon, we’ll drive out of Lahore to experience the real Pakistani countryside at a local farm.
• Dinner at the Giwal Mandi Food Street
• Overnight in Lahore
Saturday 6 October – Islamabad
• Today we’ll start our highway road trip! After an early breakfast, we’ll drive from Lahore to the capital Islamabad.
• Short stop at the Khewra Salt Mines, the second biggest in the world
• Arrive in Islamabad and check into our hotel
• Visit the Ketas Raj Hindu temple, one of most famous Hindu temples in Pakistan
• Overnight in Islamabad
Sunday 7 October – Abbottabad, Besham/Chillas
• Up nice and early to start drive along the Karakoram Highway
• Got your Navy Seal T-shirt? Well, it’s time to put on a jumper, we’ll be having a tea break in Abbottabad, the city where Osama Bin Laden was killed.
• Sit back and enjoy the road trip, we will have plenty of stops for photos and rest breaks
• Overnight in Besham or Chillas depending on how far we manage to drive!
Monday 8 October – Besham/Chillas, Nango Parbat, Hunza
• After breakfast, we set off for another day of winding roads along the Karakoram.
• En route you’ll see the stunning Nango Parbat, the 9th highest mountain in the world. This is where three of the world’s greatest mountain ranges (Hindu Kush, Karakorum and the Himalayas) meet
• Finally, you will arrive at the Hunza valley
• Overnight in the Hunza Valley
Tuesday 9 October – Around Hunza
• We will have a full day in Hunza to explore life in the valley
• Visit the ancient forts of Baltit and Altit, the traditional residences of the Mirs of Hunza
• We will walk on the high irrigation channels cut into the rock, giving tremendous views and an insight into how the people of Hunza created their Shangri-La.
• Overnight in Hunza Valley
Wednesday 10 October – Hunza, Passu, Sost
• Continue along the Karakorum Highway crossing the newly formed Attabad Lake to Passu. The 30 km long lake was only formed in 2010 after a massive landslide dammed the mighty Indus river.
• We will make a stop at Passu where you can cross the famous rope bridges near the village of Husseini
• Arrival in the border town of Sost.
• Overnight in Sost
Thursday 11 October – Sost, Tashkurgan (China)
• Once again we wake up nice and early for a long day of driving and border formalities.
• Early morning border crossing into China via the famous Khunjerab Pass. We’re entering the Chinese Uyghur autonomous region of Xinjiang. Here we’re entering one of the most remote areas of China, and the home of its sizable Muslim minority
• Arrival in the Chinese border town Tashkurgan. Night stroll through the city and some well-deserved barbecue and cold beer, or if you’re daring then Chinese baijiu!
• Overnight in Tashkurgan
Friday 12 October – Karakul Lake
• Set off on the scenic drive towards Karakul Lake. As always we’ll stop for photos and rest breaks along the way!
• Stroll around the lake, relax, take in the incredible surroundings. The lake is famous for its colourful ranges from a dark green to azure and light blue. There’s optional horse riding or we can hike around the hills surrounding the lake
• Go local with an overnight in at a Kyrgyz yurt.
Saturday 13 October – Kashgar
Morning walk by the lake after breakfast
Then it’s time for the final stretch of our amazing Karakoram Highway Tour. We’re ending in Kashgar, modern China’s most western city. An ancient city which was a major hub along the Silk Road.
Stop by People’s Square and the largest statue of Chairman Mao in China!
Walking tour through the windy lanes of the old town and the Id Kah Mosque. See what Kashgar used to look like.
Dinner of Uyghur fried rice and mutton.
Sunday 14 October – Kashgar
We head out to the famous livestock moment where the local Uygurs are trading goats, camels, horses and anything else with four legs they can get their hands on!
Lunch of Xinjiang noodles.
Browse the bustling Grand Bazaar, which depending on how you measure it, is the biggest in Asia.
Check out Kashgar’s old town, or what’s left of it, to get a glimpse into what life in the area used to be like before heading out to the very lively night markets with a great array of street food.
Overnight in Kashgar
Monday 15 October – Kashgar – Irkeshtam Pass – Sary-Tash
Early rise to leave for the China / Kyrgyzstan border at Irkeshtam. Like any border in this part of the world, it’s always going to be memorable! Very few foreign tourists cross this border but your YPT guide is experienced in dealing with the border formalities!
After the border, we meet our guide and driver for the Pamir Highway. Welcome to Kyrgyzstan! Since we never know how long border formalities take, we take it easy on the first day but we will be in stunning surroundings with great photo opportunities
Drive to Sary-Tash
The true YPT mountain is, of course, Lenin Peak (7134m). We’ll explore the surroundings (depending on the weather) of Lenin Peak before we head back to the small town of Sary-Tash.
Overnight in Sary-Tash
Tuesday 16 October – Sary-Tash – Karakul Lake – Murghab
Rise and shine for the border crossing into Tajikistan.
After the formalities, we will pass by Karakul Lake through the most dramatic scenery of the trip.
Pass by Ak-Baital Pass (4644m), the highest section of road in the former Soviet-Union.
Arrival in Murghab
Go for a walking tour of the town before taking a photo at the Lenin statue and checking out the local bazar
Overnight in Murghab
Wednesday 17 October – Murghab – Langar
We’ll continue our drive along the Pamir Highway on a section of the road completed in 1931.
Along the way to Langar, we’ll stop at Yashil Kul (green lake) and Bulung Kul
Continue through the Khargush Pass (4344m)
Enter the Wakhan area. To the left, you’ll see the Hindu Kush, to the right the Pamirs. The Wakhan area was created as a buffer between the Russian and British empire in the 19th Century. These days it’s still part of Afghanistan and one of the most isolated regions in the world.
Overnight in a homestay in Langar.
Thursday 18 October – Langar – Ishkashim
Drive to Vrang and see caves dug by Buddhists who used to live here
Continue our drive along to Yang through more stunning scenery
Visit the quirky museum of Sufi Muborak-Kadam, a local Sufi teacher
Check out Kakhala Kala Fortress and Abrashim Fortress before taking a bath at the Bibi Fatima Hot Springs (extra charge)
Arrival in Ishkashim. This is the centre of the Wakhan Valley, where the 19th-century Great Game ended and a peace treaty was signed between the Russian and the British Empires.
Small detour to the local village of Namadguti for the Khahkha Fortress.
Overnight in Ishkashim
Friday 19 October – Ishkashim – Khorog
Another day of driving along the Wakhan Corridor.
Stop at the Garmasma Hot Springs for an (optional) dip of hot water
Arrival in Khorog where we’ll go to see the Soviet era fort. Khorog used to be of very strategic importance to the USSR and today it’s one of the poorest areas of Tajikistan. The town is famous for the world’s second highest botanical gardens at 3900m.
Overnight in Khorog
Saturday 20 October – Khorog – Kalaikhumb
Drive to Kalaikhumb, a very conservative area where we’ll see traditional small villages.
Watch local life in Afghanistan across the Pianj river, where we’ll see the stark contrast between life in the two countries
Overnight in Kalaikhumb
Sunday 21 October – Kalaikhumb – Dushanbe
As we near the end of the Pamir Highway we pay a quick visit to the Hulbuk Fortress before we head down to Dushanbe
To celebrate our arrival we will have an end of tour dinner and celebratory drinks as we see what makes for a night out in Dushanbe
Overnight in Dushanbe
Monday 22 October – Dushanbe
We head out after breakfast for a city tour of Dushanbe taking in the National Museum and Victory Tank Monument
Check out local life in the Botanical Gardens and Victory Park
Head to Rudaki Street, Central Park and Somoni Monument before we go for tea at the world’s largest tea house!
– International flights
– Pakistan and China visas (YPT can offer visa support)
– Single Supplement (€300)
– Entrance fees, lunches and dinners,drinks and other personal expenses
– Tips for the local guides
– Any additional flights needed in Pakistan because of security concerns
– Transport to Kashgbar and out from Dushanbe
– Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Chinese visas if needed (YPT can offer visa support)
– Single Supplement (€300)
– Food & drinks not mentioned in the inclusions
– Tips for the local guides
– Personal expenses
– Pamir Highway Permit (GBAO – around $20)
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.