Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan’s Pamir Highway (Motorcycle Self Ride)

Code: TAJ/KYRG/MOTO/F&R/19
1 Day
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Flexible Departure: May – October.

The Pamir Highway really is one of the world’s greatest road trips, and a motorbike is the perfect means of travelling it.

If you’d like to explore the Pamir Highway by motorbike but you’d like to do it on your own rather than in a group, we can organise motorcycle rental for you. In fact we have access to the only motorbikes for rental in Tajikistan.

The bikes are well-maintained Suzuki DRz400 dual-sport machines but you should be aware that the roads in Tajikistan in particular are rough, distances can be large and mechanical support can be some way away from where you may end up. In the event that you have any mechanical issues, it’ll be up to you to make repairs (including punctures, which are a regular occurrence here) so make sure you are aware of this before setting out.

There is a reason why many of those who come here to travel by bike join a small group tour (like our own…) which minimizes the risks associated with unsupported travel in remote areas.

But, travelling by motorcycle here is a unique and wonderful experience. As soon as you break the bonds of the capital city, Dushanbe, you are instantly away from 90% of the traffic and quickly into low, rolling hills to that just get bigger and bigger the further south into the Pamirs you go.

The best time to ride here is between June and the end of September and the hire price quoted here is for a single day’s hire. If you want the bikes for two weeks or more, we offer a discount – email us to find out more.

You collect and drop off the bikes in the capital city of Tajikistan, Dushanbe.

Note that these little bikes are perfect for the terrain, but they are not suitable for two-up pillion travel.

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION Dushanbe International Airport
DEPARTURE TIME Any time that suits you!
INCLUDED
  • Rental of a Suzuki Drz400E motorcycle, insured and prepared for your use in both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
  • Bike comes with Pannier rack to take panniers or a tailpack that you bring with you.
NOT INCLUDED
  • Fuel
  • Meals
  • Your riding equipment
  • Accommodation – we can book this for you for arrival in Dushanbe, so just ask us for details.
  • Bike passport to allow you to travel in Kyrgyzstan too
  • Visas and other permits as required

Please note that to hire a motorcycle we will need to see your proof of holding a motorcycle licence.

This rental allows you to use the bike anywhere in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (as long as you have the GBAO permit)  see here for visa information.

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Day 1: It’s all yours, see you on your return…

Where sort of accommodation is available?
There are good hotels in Dushanbe, Khorog and Osh, guest houses or basic hotels in other towns, and more often homestays with local people and their families. The homestay concept is widely accepted throughout Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan – particularly the former – so these nights are often highly enjoyable glimpses into local customs and lifestyles. You also stay in yurts in a couple of locations.

Where do I pick up and drop off the bike?

The bikes are kept in central Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. We will give you the exact details of where to collect the bikes from when you book.

Can I take spares with me?

Yes, it is possible to carry a few spares – talk to us about this once you book.

Haven’t you got any bigger bikes?
In the words of our guide “the Pamir highway kills bikes”. And he should know! Our local guides have huge experience of working in these often hostile terrains, and after trying – and in most cases still owning – almost every type of bike imaginable (including the usual GS, KTM etc) have opted for the lightweight, mechanically simple and hugely robust Suzuki DRZ400. The bikes cope very well with the bumps and lumps and are comfortable both on and off the pegs. If your drop a bike, it likely won’t break and you’ll be able to pick it and yourself back up without needing a support team and a crane. We are huge fans. Oh, and we have access to the only bikes in Tajikistan so choice isn’t a luxury.

What might the weather be like?
A very difficult question to answer when traversing the fourth highest mountain range on earth. But, you can expect some hot days lower in the valleys and off the high plateaus – temperatures could be in 20-30C range or higher. At altitude, we have experienced every season in the course of a single day – warm sunshine followed by winds and rain, hail or snow on the passes and perhaps down to 0 degrees for a short period of time. In general, the rule of thumb is to expect warm days and cooler nights when we are out of the lowland areas.

How do I choose what to wear on the bike?
This is really a matter of personal choice, as all riders have their own modus operandi. However, our experience says that good expedition boots are very useful. We don’t tend to ride using metal-toed dirt boots, but some do. We use an adventure-style boot that allows good ankle protection and is stiff with protection on the shins. In terms of lid; we tend to favour flip-front helmets that can be lowered when cold and raised quickly to meet and greet people along the way. Although we are there during the least-rainy season we tend to use a pull-on overcoat and trousers that are kept to hand for quick access. Under these we ride in a well-ventilated and elbow/shoulder/back/knee armoured bike jacket and trousers – the better ventilated the happier you will be! As already highlighted, most riders have their own tried and tested methods. Our simplest motto would be to layer for multiple weather types.

Where do I fly to and how much are flights?
You fly to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The price depends on where you are travelling from and how you want to get there. From London, the cheapest flights to Dushanbe might be via Moscow. We use Turkish Airlines via Istanbul because they are good, cost-effective connections. Costs are usually around the £450 mark, return.

We can book your flights for you through our trade ATOL partners – please just ask us for details.

What will the food be like?
Varied; the Pamir area is not particularly agriculturally inclined, mostly due to the precipitous nature of the topography, and often poor soils. But many of our homestay hosts pride themselves on making good meals for their guests, so we will be well looked-after. If you are a vegetarian, food can be a little dull (lots of bread, potatoes and eggs with salads) but perfectly acceptable. For meat-eaters, pilaf is the main dish. Usually rice and meat in one dish and often very tasty. Freshly made non (bread) is available almost everywhere and can be delicious.

Will I be affected by altitude?
Altitude can affect different people in different ways. It can also affect the same person in different ways from trip to trip. Much of Tajikistan in particular is above 3000 metres, and up on the Alichur and Murghab plateaus, often above 4000 metres. There are some high passes, with the Ak Baital being 4700m (over 15,000 ft). If you feel that you might suffer from altitude sickness, or have history of it, you should consider discussing this with your doctor prior to travel. Diamox and other similar prescription drugs are available to ease symptoms, but the key way to address any onset of altitude sickness is to descend.  Simple precautions and awareness go a long way.

Are there decent maps of the region?

Yes, we can advise you on the best maps and routes once you book with us.

Are the Bikes Insured?
The motorcycles are insured as per local law but in reality this doesn’t mean much. Insurance is effectively non-existent here and disputes are normally settled on the spot to mutual satisfaction.  We take a $500 deposit against any wanton or destructive damage to the bike, but we accept that broken mirrors or indicators and minor bumps and scrapes are just part of the experience.

Price:£110.00