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Introducing Khorog

Cowering beneath arid, bare-rock peaks, likeable little Khorog is the GBAO's administrative centre and the Pamirs' one real town. It's a fine place to meet fellow travellers and organise exploration into the region's remote mountainscapes and fabulous valleys including the fabled Wakhan. Community tourism organisation PECTA, along with several small tour agencies, make chartering 4WD transport much easier from here than from anywhere else in the region apart, perhaps, from Murgab.

Khorog has one of the best educated populations of any town in Central Asia. English seems much more widely spoken here than in Dushanbe, while the laid-back Ismailli form of Islam means that Muslim strictures are generally less widely observed.

Although at an altitude of over 2000m, Khorog's daytime summer temperatures can sometimes climb into the sweltering 40s. September is the most pleasant time here.

There are few sights per se, though the lovably Soviet-style regional museum has some mildly interesting curiosities and the elegantly designed central park is a delightfully shady place to stroll. There are attractive views from the Botanical Gardens, 5km east of town. Meanwhile 5km west of the centre, Saturday mornings bring a colourful Afghan market as border guards allow folks from both sides of the frontier to trade in a specially penned area.