The Pamir Highway
The Pamir Highway (M41) is the remote high-altitude road from Khorog to Osh whose classic central section crosses Tibetan-style high plateau scenery, occasionally populated by yurts and yaks. It was built by Soviet military engineers between 1931 and 1934 to facilitate troop transport and provisioning. Blue kilometre posts use two systems.
The Wakhan offers up a seemingly endless parade of scenic superlatives. Vivid green villages counterpoint towering valley walls, which open regularly for glimpses of the dazzling white Hindu Kush ('killer of hindus') mountains marking the Afghanistan–Pakistan border. A sprinkling of castle ruins and ibex-horn shrine-walls, even a Buddhist mini ziggurat-stupa, add zest.
Famous for its millenium-old archaeological site and as a springboard for Haft-Kul, Penjikent is crossing its fingers that a big new border road and customs post, due for completion by 2015, will encourage Uzbekistan to re-open the frontier and allow a revival in visitor numbers from Samarkand.