The historical Pamir Highway, officially called M41, is an excellent challenge for a 4x4 adventure travelers. Most of the road is paved, except for the mountain passes, and the length of the road is 1,252 kilometers between Osh and Dushanbe, going through the Pamir Mountains. The road is heavily damaged in places by erosion, earthquakes, landslides, and avalanches.
Most of the Pamir Highway is located in Tajikistan, a country situated in the middle of Central Asia with India to the south and China to the east, but the highway also goes through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. The Pamir highway leads from the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan, through Tajikistan (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province, Khorug, Dushanbe), via the eastern part of Uzbekistan, to Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan. It’s one of the world’s most famous routes for the adventurous travelers and lies mostly in Tajikistan, the highland country of Central Asia.
The condition of the asphalt depends; sometimes it is really bad. Construction and maintenance levels vary substantially along the highway. The roadway is paved is some areas, but is mostly unpaved. The road is heavily damaged in places by erosion, earthquakes, landslides, and avalanches.The Pamir highway is mostly one-lane. Driving mistake can have deadly consequences, because the road is small and goes along deep valleys. No barrier stands between the road and the cliffs.
The surface of the road is gravel and sand. The highway is known as the second-highest altitude international highway in the world (at an elevation of 4.655 m above the sea level). The section between Dushanbe and Murghab has the European route number E 008. Pamir Highway is usually open all year, but it can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. The decaying roads make traveling difficult and dangerous with lack of any rest stop plastic sheds. The high elevation of the highway is no stranger to high winds, another gruelling danger while driving on weathered cliffs. Road closures can be frequent, so check conditions before traveling to this area.
A Pamir Highway traveler must be experienced and completely devoted to safe, slow and obstacle-conscious driving to deter danger. The route of the Pamir Highway has been in use for millennia, as there are a limited number of viable routes through the high Pamir Mountains; the road formed one link of the ancient Silk Road trade route. Throughout the area, the land is typically rugged and dry. This road is sometimes referred to as “The Road from Hell”.
Portions of this roadway may be temporarily closed due to road work or inclement weather. The road was built during Soviet times, to connect parts of their imperium in this region. Since the breakdown and Central Asia’s independence, not much coherent maintanance has been done to the road, only in spots, where damage has been caused by flash floods or scree. Heavy or prolonged rain can cause local flash floods that cover the road with water or wash out culverts or bridges.