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Getting There & Away

North of Murgab, this high-altitude section of the Pamir Hwy follows a fenced area of 'neutral zone' between Tajikistan and China and crosses the Ak-Baital Pass (4655m). The road condition is better here than for much of its length – but that's not saying much.

The only feasible way to visit Karakul (130km from Murgab) is by chartered transport. Except during the annual regatta, when shared taxis from Murgab are possible (around 60TJS per seat), most people stop at Karakul en route to the border. There are a couple of vehicles available for hire in Karakul (enquire through Asia Homestay) but this shouldn't be relied upon.

The Tajik border post is 63km north of Karakul, just before the crest of the Kyzyl-Art Pass (4282m) from which there are briefly spectacular views of colourful mountain spires. The Kyrgyz post is 20km further on at Bordöbö, 24km south of Sary Tash. The 20km in between the two posts represents a no-man's land. Taxis can cross this no-man's land but this has to be organised in advance to avoid getting stranded at either border post.

The crossing is simple enough but can be bitter cold even in mid-summer and a warm layer is highly recommended while waiting at the immigration and customs points.