It was time for the final leg of our Pamir Highway journey. To get to Khorog from Murghab, we had chosen the quick and cheap way along the actual highway as opposed to the route going through the Wakhan Valley on the border to Afghanistan that tourists usually take. We walked down to the bazaar in the center of Murghab at 7.30 and were immediately called over by a driver going to Khorog. He originally asked 180 somoni per person, but we got him down to 130. I expected to be on the road within half an hour, but just like with any other share taxi in Central Asia, the driver would not leave until it was full. Now, this would normally not be a problem, but when you’re in a small, remote village in the middle of the Pamir Mountains, you aren’t going to find many people wanting to go the same way as you.
We spent the waiting time playing with a local dog, who was very interested in our bread and water.
We waited for over two hours before the car was finally full and we were able to go. Before we left Murghab, the driver stopped to pick up a USB, which I wish he had never done. He decided to play crappy music the entire way and in the beginning, it was really loud in the back, so we had to constantly ask him to turn it down. In the end, I just put my earplugs in. I couldn’t be bothered fighting with him and I most certainly didn’t want to be dropped off on a deserted highway in the Pamirs.
The drive was very possibly the worst I’ve ever been on. It was bumpy as anything and sitting on top of the wheel on the back seat definitely didn’t help that issue. In my opinion, the driver was going way too fast and not even trying to avoid pot holes, so it was a very uncomfortable 8-hour drive. It was a beautiful drive with stunning scenery throughout, but it wasn’t enjoyable at all because of the constant bumps.
The time spent in the car felt like forever. Steve and I were both getting annoyed with the constant bumping and loud music, and what really got to me, was the fact that the driver stopped every 5 minutes to do a delivery, talk to a friend on the street or visit someone… I couldn’t believe that he actually thought he could do that with 5 people in the car. The drive could’ve easily taken 6 hours instead of 8, especially with his crazy driving, but nope.
We were thrilled when we finally arrived in Khorog. Khorog looked much more modern than Murghab and it seemed like a city that would have what we needed: cheap-ish accommodation with decent beds and wifi connection. But finding this was harder than we had ever imagined. We asked around at a few hotels, but they all asked ridiculous prices and only one of them had wifi. We had been told that it would be easy to find wifi in Khorog, but that was far from the case.
We hoped that the tourist information could help us, and they recommended Pamir Lodge, which would have wifi and beds for 9 USD per person. That was within our budgets, but what awaited us there, was far from what we had hoped for and expected. The room was dirty and full of bugs, and the beds were just thin mattresses on hard wooden floor. And the wifi was not even worth mentioning. All of the planning, researching and blogging that we needed to get done would have to wait, as they had the slowest connection ever – and it only worked outside when it did work. The family that owns the place is really nice, but that’s about it.
We decided to book it though, as we had nowhere else to go and it was getting late. After getting settled among the bugs, we went out to find a restaurant in the center of Khorog. Again, easier said than done. Everywhere we went was closed and we were about to give up, when we came across the Delhi Darbar Restaurant, which actually looked really nice and was open! And this wasn’t even in the middle of the night, it was 8 PM, which is a normal time for eating, or so we thought. But at least one restaurant with decent food was open.
We were both really disappointed with Khorog and it was not the relaxing place that we had hoped for after several days on the road.
The next day, we moved to a homestay located just 100 metres from the Pamir Lodge, which was a lot nicer and was the perfect base for our time spent in Khorog and the surrounding areas. We arrived in Khorog during the weekend, so we had to wait a few days to apply for our Afghan visas. Therefore, we had a lot of time to check out the town and its people. There’s not an awful lot to see there, so we spent the most of our time feeding animals and people watching, which is always enjoyable!
After spending some time in the town, I actually started liking it more. Especially the mountainous backdrop was beautiful and the people there were really nice. But by the end of the weekend, we were both itching to continue our journey to somewhere else, somewhere more exciting than you could ever imagine. Stay tuned!
How to travel the Pamir Highway – Murghab to Khorog:
- It’s easy to find a share taxi going to Khorog from the bazaar in Murghab, but get there early, as the cars leave when they are full. This could also leave you waiting for several hours, but that’s better than missing it completely. The ride takes about 8 hours and should cost 120-150 somoni.
- You can also arrange a private taxi to take you to Khorog via the Wakhan Valley, which will take a few days with stops in places of your choice. It’s very expensive though, unless you are able to fill the car with other travellers to share the costs.
- Once in Khorog, there are limited options for accommodation with wifi. There are some expensive hotels in the center, but your best and cheapest bet is to walk 2 kilometres out of the center to the area near the Pamir Lodge, where we found a really nice homestay. The Pamir Lodge is okay, but the internet hardly ever works, the beds are a thin mattress on hard wooden floor and you’ll have bugs as roommates. The homestay is located 100 metres east of the lodge and is easily found by following the big “Homestay –>” writing on the wall. It costs 10 USD per person per night and includes proper beds in a private room, wifi (sometimes slow, but don’t expect fast wifi anywhere in the GBAO), a hot shower, breakfast and a cute cat. The owners there are also very nice and speak English!
- The tourist information center in Khorog City Park is a great place to plan your further travels. The staff there is very helpful and can help you find accommodation, book tours or find public transport.