When we first started planning our Shabbatical, we knew we wanted to spend time in Central Asia exploring “The ‘Stans.” We both knew very little about the region except that it’s the road less traveled and offered amazing access to nature.

In our own experiences we have found that is often when we do things that others think are too hard, too much unknown, or too different, that we learn the most about ourself and the world. For Quan this was when she made the decision to take a job in China after graduating business school. For Jesse it was the decision to head west to Colorado when everyone in his circle of family and friends couldn’t understand why he’d leave New York.

As we started our research of the Stans, The Pamir Highway captured our imagination. Formally known as the M41, the highway runs through the Pamir Mountains from Tajikistan to Kyrgystan along the northern border of Afghanistan. The hairpin mountain turns put the drive on the list of world’s most dangerous highways.

A preview of the journey – this photo was taken from our car on the M41 journey. The mountains to the left are the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan

Travelers either travel from Osh, Kyrgystan to Dushanbe, Tajikistan or vice versa. In the middle lay the Wakhan Valley, described as a hidden Shangri-la. Remote villages interspersed with ancient forts and shrines and cross river views of Afghanistan. The region is bordered by the Hindu Kush mountain range and offers a glimpse at pastoral life as well as access to hikes and horse back riding through rugged untouched trails.

This was our hike on Day 3 in Mugrab look out at Pshart Valley

As we read about the highway, it seemed that the road from Dushanbe, Tajikistan to Khorog, Tajikistan was a two day journey without much of the adventure and views that the journey between Khorog and Osh offered so we cut Dushanbe out and opted for the less traveled Osh to Khorog and back to Osh route.

This would allow us to take the adventurous Wakhan Valley route to Khorog and then return to Osh via the Shokh Dara Valley which has more remote and less visited villages in the Pamirs.

We knew that parts of this adventure would be tough, we anticipated unexpected turns to come up, but most of all we knew that this would be once in a lifetime:

Here are our adventures chronicled Day by Day. We our journaling each day and will update onto the blog when there’s connectivity.

Pamir Highway Day 1: Osh to Sary-Mogol

Pamir Highway Day 2: Lake Tolpur to Murgab 

Pamir Highway Day 3: Pshart Valley Hike 

Pamir Highway Day 4: Wakhan Valley– Murgab to Langar

Pamir Highway Day 5: Langar to Ishkashim

Pamir Highway Day 6: Ishkashim to Khorog

Pamir Highway Day 7: Shohk Dara Valley

Pamir Highway Day 8: Murghab Horse Festival

Pamir Highway Day 9 & 10: Lake Karakol and The Return to Osh