Motorcyclist on the Pamir Highway, Tajikistan

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The Pamir Highway

If there is one road in Central Asia that captures the imagination above all others it’s the M41, better known as the Pamir Highway (Памирское шоссе). Technically, the M41 and the Pamir Hwy are not identical thoroughfares: the M41 starts from Dushanbe and extends to the Kyrgyzstan border. The Pamir Hwy, by contrast, refers to a section of the M41 that runs only between Khorog and Osh. But who cares about the technicalities! The route, by whatever name it’s given, is famous for a reason. Whether bending along the hem of Tajikistan, following the Pyanj River, or winding across remote high-altitude pastures, this highway is one of the most spectacular in the world. Built by Soviet military engineers between 1931 and 1934 to facilitate troop transport and provisioning, it’s the world’s second highest road and, in all its potholed, yak-used glory, is a major highlight of visits to the region.


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