Pilgrim Journey – the sacred wonders of Pamirs

Trip description

Central Asia has been considered as a land of mingled cultures and religions. Before the advent of Islam, the territory of modern Tajikistan was practicing many religions and cultures. Due to the Great Silk Road, passing through Central Asia and connecting Asia and Europe, many merchants, travelers, missionaries and pilgrims brought new aspects of religions, cultures and traditions. This contributed to the exchange of cultural and religious values between ethnic groups.

In this tour, we focus on exploring the historical and cultural heritage of one of the largest branches of the Islamic religion - the Ismailis. The Ismailis have been wrapped up with many secrets and legends at all times, they preferred to live in remotest areas like Alamut Fortress and the High Pamirs. Pursuing their religious and political goals, the Ismailis encouraged intellectual, scientific, creative, and entrepreneurial activities. Thus, joining to the tour we will get an opportunity to travel to the world of ancient cultures and traditions, we will visit many sacred places, ancient fortresses, thermal and living springs surrounded by magnificent landscapes and high mountains.

Our trip takes us to long abandoned Silk Road fortresses and Buddhist remains, a legacy of the region’s position on strategic trade routes, and we meet local people along the way. A challenging journey through an enigmatic region – exciting is an understatement.


  • Visit of two Ismaili Centers Jama’atkhana in Dushanbe and Khorog – a unique architectural complex, that embodies the cultural, religious and traditional values of the eastern Ismaili communities
  • Museum of Antiquities – rich with wonderful collection of Buddhist art from the lost cities of ancient Kushan empire, the Greco-Bactrian periods’ with biggest in the world statue of Buddha in Nirvana.
  • Travelling along enchanting Pamir Highway with epic landscapes surrounded by snowcapped peaks.
  • The cultural heritage of ancient Silk Road: ruins of ancient fortifications of Yamchun IV-I B.C and Kaahka III-I B.C, Buddhist ziggurats, petroglyphs and paintings of different ages
  • Philosophy of Pamiri house, more than 8000 ancient petroglyphs dated back to Bronze era, remote areas with unspoiled nature, memorable views and lifestyle of locals in Langar solar calendar and scientific museum of Sufi Mubarak Wakhani – a famous XVII-XIX century famous theologian, poet, philosopher and inventor
  • Visit of the main branches of activity of Aga Khan Development Network center in Pamirs: University of Central Asia, Diagnostic and Healthcare Center, Central Park, Serena Teahouse & Hotels etc.
  • Visit of Ismaili communities in one the remotest areas of Eastern Pamirs – Bulunkul 3740m, exploration of nomads culture and lifestyle and sightseeing of the yurts


Upon arrival at the airport, your guides will meet you and organize your transfer to Serena Hotel, where you can have rest, breakfast and take a closer look at the facilities and architecture of Serena - the first 5 star Aga Khan hotel in Dushanbe. Later, around 10:00 a.m. the guides will meet you at hotel and start city tour of Dushanbe. We start with visit of the main important building of local Ismaili community – Jama’atkhana, the first Ismaili Center in Central Asia. The volunteers and guides of Jama’atkhana introduce the guests with the rules and show all the sections to the guests. Lunch in traditional restaurant. After lunch, we visit Museum of Musical Instruments of Gurminj Zavqibekov – a famous musician from Ismaili community. Short music performance. Dinner and overnight in Serena Hotel.

Drive: 60km,
Sightseeing: 4-5 h.
Altitude: 800m↑

Today we make a deeper glance in local history and continue our city tour with visit of Museum of Antiquities – rich with wonderful collection of Buddhist art from the lost cities of ancient Kushan Empire. The Greco-Bactrian periods’ arts school from various sites along the Oxus river and elsewhere, with great statue of Buddha in Nirvana (After destroying of Bamyans’ standing Buddha statues in Afghanistan, this is the biggest in Central Asia).  After, we head out of the city to the nearby town of Hissar, famous for its ancient fortification and interesting madrasahs dating back to the VII – XVI centuries. Lunch in open-air National restaurant. Drive back to Dushanbe. The guests have free time to explore the city: second highest flag stock (165m), Rudaki park, Souvenirs and Jewelries shops.  Overnight in hotel.

Sightseeing: 4-5 h.
Altitude: 800m↑

After breakfast, the drivers load the luggage to the vehicles and start of journey towards Kalaikhumb the middle town between Dushanbe and Khorog. En route, we visit the mausoleum of Mir Said Ali Hamadoni – poet, philosopher and scientist of XIV century. The mausoleum is richly decorated with woodcarving. Lunch in Kulyab traditional restaurant. After we continue driving to Pamir Mountains along along Panj River, very close to Afghanistan. You can observe the lifestyle of Afghan people and spectacular views of Pamir highway. Dinner and overnight in guesthouse in Kalaikhumb.

380 km, 6-7 h,
Altitude: 1200m↑

Today, we enjoy about 6-7 hours shaky, but very scenic ride along the bank of the Panj River up to reach Khorog, the biggest city and administrative capital of the Pamir Region of Tajikistan (GBAO). It is easy to spot the Afghan villages clinging to the hillsides and the pathways that snake between the rocks we will have lunch and a short city tour in Khorog. Upon arrival, we transfer to Serena guesthouse, decorated as Pamiri house. Lunch in Teahouse of Serena in Central Park – reconstructed by sponsorship of Aga Khan Foundation. Tonight we stay in nice hotel in the bank of Panj River.
P.S. If our visit happens on Saturday, we can visit Saturday’s Tajik-Afghan cross-border market between the Ismaili communities in 10km from Khorog.

270km, 4-5 h,
Altitude: 2200m↑

Today we have a special day: we visit the main sites of Aga Khan Development Network realized in Khorog. We start with Jama’atkhana – The second Ismaili Center of Tajikistan. The guests can see the unique architecture, and listen to the story of building and efforts of Aga Khan in construction of this Center. Lunch in restaurant. After lunch we drive uphill to visit University of Central Asia – the main branch of three Universities, the two similar campuses were built in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The University of Central Asia was founded in 2000 as a private, not for profit, secular university through an International Treaty signed by the Presidents of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan; ratified by their respective parliaments, and registered with the United Nations. The Presidents are the Patrons of the University, and His Highness is the Chancellor. UCA’s mission is to promote the social and economic development of Central Asia, particularly its mountain communities, by offering an internationally recognized standard of higher education, and enabling the peoples of the region to preserve their rich cultural heritage as assets for the future. UCA brings with it the broader commitment and partnership of the Aga Khan Development Network. The guides will introduce the guests with the sections of the Campus. Overnight in Hotel.

Drive: 50 km – 1 - 2 h,
Sightseeing 4-5 h.
Altitude: 2000m↑

After breakfast, we visit Botanical Garden – the second highest in the world, with variety of plants, flowers, fruit trees and decoration trees in 2200 altitude. After we have lunch in Khorog and start sightseeing of mystic Wakhan valley. Wakhan corridor become famous after the Great Game in XIX century, which divided this valley between Russian and British Empires, using Panj River as a border. Wakhan is famous as a mystic place, where Nosir Khusraw – famous scientist, philosopher and missioner, spread Ismaili doctrines. We visit Garmchashma hot spring about 14km deep to the gorge from main road. Possible to have an optional bath in open-air pool, surrounded by interesting colored minerals. We stay overnight in sanatoria.

Drive 60km 3 h.
Altitude: 2600m↑

This morning we drive down and continue exploration of the mysterious Wakhan. We stop to observe the canyon and ancient shrine in Darshay, and then we drive uphill to relax in sacred hot springs of Bibi Fatima and visit the fort of Yamchun III-I B. C - one of the most important fortifications belonged to Zoroastrian worshippers. Scenic view to all Wakhan valley and Hindu Kush range of Afghanistan. En route we visit several sacred places belong to Ismailis, with interesting legends
We visit House museum and solar calendar of Sufi Muborak – an Ismaili philosopher, poet, theologian, astronomer and musician of XIX century. A calendar created by him was popular in East. We hike 200 m to explore the hill with topped ziggurat of Buddhist Stupa IV A.D. one of reminders of the ancient pilgrim caravans that passed through this region following the Silk Road. Lunch we have traditional Pamiri House in Vrang.  After lunch optional hike to 1000m up to hill to observe the ancient petroglyphs of Langar – the message left by Scythians, Arians, Zoroastrians and other habitants of these area, for next generation. Over 10000 pictograms and rock paintings dated back to bronze and different eras (3200m). Traditionally the owner of the guesthouse prepare an evening music performance for the guests. You can try to dance together with locals and enjoy your stay in this remote corner of the world. Overnight in guesthouse in Langar.

260 km 6 h with stops,
Altitude: 3000m↑

Today our journey take us over Kargush pass 4344m to Military Camp in Kargush (rabbit)  and after registration formalities, we drive along Pamir river to Bulunkul one of the most remoted areas inhabited by Ismaili community in Eastern Pamirs. We will make a short stop in viewpoint on the top of Langar serpentines, to observe all Wakhan valley from birds fly altitude. We pass by two beautiful alpine lakes, summer camps of shepherds. We make several stops for pictures. Here, we begin to understand why people choose these grandiose latitudes as a place for life .We reach M42 Pamir Highway, than turn right to visit the coldest place of Tajikistan – Bulunkul Lake 3737m with breathtaking landscapes. In winter, the weather temperature here can drop down to - 60°C. The guests can talk to locals and make a deeper glance at their lifestyle. We visit a small local school, talk to the kids and understand how do they survive in this altitude. After lunch, we drive over the hill to visit the most beautiful alpine lake of Pamirs – Yashilkul Lake 3719m. The guests can do fishing and observe the life style of nomad Kyrgyz living around. Good chance of trying the delicious fish of the lakes for dinner with cold beer. Overnight in family homestay (multi-share, no beds, no shower, and pit toilet) At night, the clear view of the Milky Way is unparalleled.

150 km 4-5 h,
Altitude: 3740m↑

After breakfast, we drive to M-41 Pamir Highway, and follow the breathtaking views of Pamir Plato drive to Gunt Valley. Today we drive back to M-41 Pamir Highway, than to Pamir Plato. We drive over Kuytezak pass 4271m down to picturesque Gund valley. Lunch and optional bath in thermal springs of Jelondy.  The guests can have relax in pools of sanatoria after dusty journey. After drive to Khorog. En route, we visit a sacred place of Sumbi Duldul and holy shrine and cave in Imam Village. By the legends, Imam visited these people and disappeared inside the cave. Reaching Khorog we have dinner and stay for overnight in Hotel.

Drive: 235km,
Altitude: 2000

We continue our journey along Pamir Highway back to Dushanbe. This time we take the upper road through Porshnev village and visit the Holy Spring of Nosir Khusraw. After, we visit the garden and mausoleum of Pir Said Yusuf Alishah a local spiritual leader of Ismaili Mazhab. For overnight, we go to Yoged – a small village inhabited by Ismaili community surrounded by followers of Sunni branch. How do the people keep their faith living among the Sunni community, we understand after talking to locals. Hazrat Mawla – Aga Khan IV visited this place in 1995. Overnight in local homestay.

280 km 6-7 h,
Altitude: 1200m↑

Start of journey back to Dushanbe. After 6 hours of driving in good road, we reach Dushanbe. Lunch en route. After arrival transfer to hotel. Farewell dinner in restaurant together with support team – guides and drivers. Overnight in hotel.

370 km 6-7 h,
Altitude: 800m↑

After breakfast transfer to airport and departure. End of the tour.

Altitude: 800m↑


Number of vehicles Number of pax Price (per person in USD) Single suplement
1 4WD Vehicle 3 people US $2,200 US $400
2 4WD Vehicles 6 people US $1,835 US $400
3 4WD Vehicles 9 people US $1,895 US $400
4 4WD Vehicles 12 people US $1,820 US $400
5 4WD Vehicles 15 people US $1,780 US $400
6 4WD Vehicles 18 people US $1,600 US $400

What’s included

  • 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 11 dinners
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure days
  • All transportation during the tour. 4WD vehicles type of Toyota Land cruiser (3-4 people in one car)
  • Accommodation in 5* Hotel single/twin share rooms in big cities
  • Guesthouse, Homestays & Yurt stays accommodations en route
  • English speaking guide service
  • All park entrance fees and trekking permits
  • All entrance fee per sites
  • Bottled water provided during the tour (about 2 liter per person per day)
  • All snacks and non-alcoholic drinks

What’s not included

  • GBAO permit and Tajik visa.
  • Items of personal use, alcohol, tip


We always appreciate your time, mood, and we grateful to you for choosing our service.
The detailed itinerary is given for your guidance only; it may be altered on the ground and in accordance to the prevailing conditions by our organizing team. Pamir Trips does not give any refunds for unused hotel rooms, meals, sightseeing trips or trek arrangements. Trip price quoted as a package; credits are not given for services not used. We reserve the right to make reasonable changes in the itinerary where deemed necessary or advisable for the comfort and well-being of trip members.

Trip Length
12 Days
Group size
3-30 people
April - October
Physical rating
Departure / Return
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Pilgrim Journey – the sacred wonders of Pamirs