This is one of the ultimate road trips in the world. From Pakistan’s cultural capital Lahore to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, going through 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 Grand Trunk Road with its famous Rohtas Fort. Pakistan’s capital Islamabad isn’t like any other city in the country. It’s relatively new and looks quite well organized.
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. Kashgar 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.
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.
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.
Arrival at your convenience in the city of Lahore, Pakistan’s second-biggest city and the provincial capital of Punjab
Meet the group and your guide at 8pm at our centrally located hotel in the cultural capital of Pakistan, Lahore
Wednesday 7th September – Lahore
Visit the Lahore Fort- this stunning fort has almost 500 hundred years of history and has seen several different eras come and go.
Visit the neary Badshahi Mosque- Perhaps the most emblematic building of Pakistan. The mosque was Completed in 1673 and remained the largest in what is now Pakistan until the completion of Faisal Mosque in 1986.
See a well known local workshop where artists undertake the famous Pakistani truck painting. You’ll see loads of great examples here for photos.
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 this iconic restaurant is legendary for it’s stunning night views over Badshahi mosque.
Overnight in Lahore
Thursday 8th September – Lahore
Visit the (in)famous street doctors/dentists/pharmacy/bone setters, if you dare!
Walking tour of the old city
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
Thursday night used to be Sufi Night, but these days it tends to be a much quieter affair. If there are any events, we’ll try to make it!
Overnight in Lahore
Friday 9th September – Islamabad
Today we’ll start our highway road trip! After an early breakfast, we’ll drive along the Grand Trunk Road from Lahore to the capital Islamabad
Along the way we’ll stop at a truck driver’s favourite restaurant which we believe serves perhaps the best Dal in the world.
Stop at the 16thCentury Rohtas Fort- This Unesco world heritage site is one of the largest Forts in the Subcontinent. It covers 70 hectares of land and is so large that today it is home to a small township.
Arrive in Islamabad and check into our hotel
Overnight in Islamabad
Saturday 10th September – Abbottabad/Naran
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 stopping for a quick look and a photo opp Abbottabad the city where Osama Bin Laden was killed.
We’ll take a detour from the Karakoram Highway, to see an even better part of this specific area. Driving past incredible peaks, right next to Indian Kashmir, we’ll make our way to Naran. So sit back and enjoy the road trip, we will have plenty of stops for photos and rest breaks.
Overnight in Naran- Tonight you’ll need to pack a smaller bag for the 2 night trip to Fairy Meadows as the Jeeps we take up the mountain can’t accommodate much luggage.
Sunday 11th September – Naran/Fairy Meadows/Nanga Parbat.
After breakfast, we set off for another long day of photography opportunities on winding roads along the Kunhar River to Lulusar Lake. After a short break, we’ll resume our journey toward Babusar Pass at 4173m, where await panoramic views of west Himalayas and Hindukush.
Descend down to Chilas and join the Karakoram Highway to Raikot bridge, from where we shift to 4WD Jeeps to experience our hair raising adventure journey up to Jhel village.
Hike to Fairy Meadows, located at the base of majestic Nanga Parbat (8126m). The second highest peak in Pakistan & 9thin the world ranking, this is one of the most beautiful parts in northern Pakistan, and a must-visit place.
We can arrange horses for those who would like to ride instead.
After arrival, we will overnight in our huts where, at night, we’ll get to go stargazing.
Monday 12th September – Fairy Meadows
We have a full day around Fairy Meadows to explore the magnificent sights of west Himalayas & Karakorams. It offers plenty of options, you may want to rest and explore the surroundings with mesmerizing views. For those who would like to go for further hikes, it is possible to go to the view point located next to Raikot glacier or all the way to Base Camp and return to Fairy Meadows in the afternoon.
Overnight in our camp in Fairy Meadows.
Tuesday 13th September – Fairy Meadows – Hunza
We continue our road trip along the Karakoram Highway with several stops along the way.
We’ll stop en route to the point where three of the world’s greatest mountain ranges (Hindu Kush, Karakorum and the Himalayas) meet.
Lunch break at Gilgit, the capital town of Gilgit Baltistan region before heading north to the Hunza valley – making a few stops along the way for photography.
Overnight in the Hunza Valley
Wednesday 14th September – 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. Baltit dates back 700 years, while Altit is the oldest surviving building in the Gilgit-Baltistan region dating back 1000 years.
We will walk on the high irrigation channels carved into the rock for tremendous views and an insight into how the people of Hunza created their Shangri-La.
Overnight in Hunza Valley
Thursday 15th September – Hunza, Passu, Sost
Today, we’ll continue along the Karakoram 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 to see the famous rope bridges near the village of Husseini.
We will visit the Passu glacier while passing by Borit Lake on our way out of the Karakoram Highway.
Lunch break at the famous Glacier breeze restaurant before making our way to Sost. Sost is the last town if Pakistan before we move on to China.
Overnight in Sost
Friday 16th September – 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. This is one of the most remote areas of China, and home to many 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
Saturday 17th September – Karakul Lake, Kashgar
Short sightseeing around Tashkurgan
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.
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.
Overnight in Kashgar
Sunday 18th September – Kashgar
We head out to the famous livestock moment where the local Uygurs trade goats, camels, horses and anything else with four legs they can get their hands on!
Head out of town to the beautiful tomb of the famous Khwaja Afaq Khoja, a 17th-century mausoleum for this important Uyghur figure. This is considered as the holiest Muslim site in all of Xinjiang.
Once we’re back in the city, we’ll stop by People’s Square and the largest statue of Chairman Mao in China!
Lunch of Xinjiang noodles
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.
Walking tour through the windy lanes of the center and the Id Kah Mosque.
Browse the bustling Grand Bazaar, which depending on how you measure it, is the biggest in Asia.
Dinner of local Street food, including the option of Uyghur fried rice and mutton, and for the daring a good variety of insects and other culinary oddities.
Overnight in Kashgar
Monday 19th September – 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- a town that feels left behind in time and a great precursor to many of the small towns we’ll be staying in along the Pamir Highway.
If time permits, we’ll go for a walk around the town.
Overnight in Sary-Tash
Tuesday 20th September – Sary-Tash – Karakul Lake – Murghab
Rise and shine for the border crossing into Tajikistan. The true YPT mountain is, of course, Lenin Peak- standing at 7134m, it was the highest peak in the former USSR. Providing the weather is as expected, we can see it along the way!
After the border 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. Most of the shops here are converted shipping containers giving it a very unique vibe. It’s also a good place to get a sim card if you’d like to have internet access a long the highway. (Many of our village stays will not have wifi). The sims are cheap and packages start at around 5 USD
Overnight in Murghab
Wednesday 21st September – 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 result of “The Great Game to provide a buffer zone between the Russian and British empires 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 22nd September – 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 and famous figure of the Wakhan region.
Check out Kakhala Kala Fortress and Abrashim Fortress before taking a bath at the Bibi Fatima Hot Springs
Arrival in Ishkashim. This is the centre of the Wakhan Valley, where the 19th-century Great Game ended with a peace treaty being signed between the Russian and the British Empires.
A small detour to the local village of Namadguti for the Khahkha Fortress.
Overnight in Ishkashim
Friday 23rd September – Ishkashim – Khorog
Another day of driving along the Wakhan Corridor.
Arrival in Khorog. A city that 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 24th September – 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 25th September – 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
Along the way, we stop at the monument of the terrorist attack against cyclists in Tajikistan, in the summer of 2018.
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 26th September – Dushanbe
We head out after breakfast for a city tour of Dushanbe by bike!
Taking in the Victory Tank Monument, the local life in the Botanical Gardens and Victory Park
Head to Rudaki Street, Central Park and Somoni Monument.
Dinner and tea in the world’s largest tea house and one of the cities landmark buildings. (This dinner is extra charge)
Overnight in Dushanbe.
Tuesday 27th September – Dushanbe
End of tour. YPT can help you arrange connections by flight or bus to your next destination!
– International flights
– Visas (YPT offer full visa support)
– GBAO permit (can be bought with Tajik e-visa)
– Single Supplement (€300 per tour)
– From Lahore to Sary Tash: lunch and dinner
– Tips for the local guides
– Any additional flights needed in case of emergency
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.