Khorugh

WARNING: In July 2012, violence erupted in the autonomous Gorno-Badakhshan region when the government sent troops to round up local opposition strongman & drug trafficking kingpin Tolib Ayombekov, who is accused of being behind the July 23 murder of a top regional security official. Official reports indicated 42 dead (there are unofficial reports of 200 or more dead) during gun battles near Khorugh. For a short time, the Tajik government cut off mobile phone, internet, & TV service; blocked the roads leading in/out of Khorugh; & closed the Khorugh airport. The nearby border with Afghanistan was also closed. All that is open again now. International travelers planning to visit the region should follow news of the security situation in the region and seek the advice of their embassy. BBC article (Updated April 2013)

Khorugh (also spelled Khorogh, Khorog, Xoroq, Tajik Cyrillic: Хоруғ) is a city in the Pamirs of Tajikistan.

Understand

Khorugh, the capital city (town) of Gorno Badakhshan Oblast (Province), is situated in a steep river valley surrounded by the Pamir mountains. The nearby river Panj (aka Oxus) is the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The town has enough bustle to be interesting but certainly isn't overwhelming. There are a plethora of NGO's working in the area.

The Pamir Eco-Culture Tourism Association (PECTA) has an office at the edge of the city park (37.49N x 71.548E) where you can get a map of the Pamir mountain region of Tajikistan, as well as books about the local culture, advice about home-stays, etc.

Get in

From Dushanbe: Airplane usually flies 1 flight a day, when the weather is good during the summer. Spectacular flight, for about USD 85.

Vehicles run constantly to Khorugh. Best to get there is very early in the morning, maybe 6-7AM. Vehicles leave from a lot tucked away near the airport. Most people in the capital are unaware of its location. When heading to the airport from the north you go into a dip going under a big road. Just before that there will be a dead end road on your right. Get out of the car and walk through a big gate (lots of people heading that way.) Just repeat "Khorogh" to everyone, and sooner or later someone will know what you're talking about. Price is anywhere from USD 40-60, depending on the vehicle.

Get a good vehicle. A good vehicle usually means a good driver. The trip takes between 15hours to two days.

Get around

There are a series of parking lots, each with vehicles heading to somewhere in the Pamirs. Vehicles arrive in town around 8-9AM and begin departing 10-12ish, whenever they get a full load. Most villages go for 1-3 TJS a seat.

In town you can just walk or catch a local marshrutka for 1 TJS.

See

Do

Jusuf speaks very good English and can arrange any kind of trips in Wakhan and Afghanistan. He also has an (unsigned) Homestay at his village „Khaskhorugh“ 35km on the way from Khorog to Iskhashim. Mobile: 935451852

Buy

Eat

Hit the bazaar around noon for osh (pilaf), eggs, and potatoes, or all variety of fried pastries. Head up the place where they sell bread in stacks on the main road.

Drink

Be careful with the water as always but the water here is not nearly as bad as in Dushanbe. Most water sources in the villages are contaminated by cattle and people upstream.

Sleep

Stay safe

If you need treatment, you need to evacuate. There are some expat docs in Dushanbe, who know what they are doing.

Broken bones can be dealt with in Khorugh. The hospital (a huge compound) is near the lowest walking bridge, on the non-bazaar side.

The Aga Khan Foundation has access to a helicopter for emergencies. Flag down a vehicle with one of the logos.

Go next

AIR - Go to the airport. Try to give your passport to someone. If they take it, that means you might get on the list. Ask... there might be some English speakers there, but all speak Russian. ("Samaliot" = airplane). Once the airplane takes off from Dushanbe, they will begin selling tickets in the BACK of the building... walk around. Tiny hole in the wall... listen for your name. 1hr flight.

LAND - Arrive at the bazaar no later than 8AM. The place will be mostly deserted, except for a few men standing around cars. They are going to Dushanbe. Pick a very good car. Once their vehicle filled, they will leave. 14-24hrs, provided no problems. ASK IF 1 DAY OR 2-DAY TRIP! 1 day trip is brutal... 2 days is much more relaxing. Your food may very well be covered in the fee. Be careful at the roadside diners. Often the soup or food has been sitting out for days. Eggs and hotdogs are safest because they cook them then. Your driver probably avoids the worst health code offenders for his own sake -- unless his relative owns a shop...

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