Pamir Highway Villages: Khorog, Ishkashim, and Langer

Over the next few days, we passed through several interesting villages and towns. Khorog is one of the largest towns in the Pamir region with a population of about 28,000. We had a fantastic Indian lunch and a quiet night exploring the riverfront.

Khorog Fried Chicken
We passed on Khorog Fried Chicken…
Mac Dolands
… and Mac Doland’s fine dining in Khorog.

The next day, we stayed in Ishkashim, a sleepy town full of cyclists. With all the potholes in the road and the intense sun, it was hard to believe so many people were cycling the route! Ashraf had brought some small board games, including an escape room in a box, and this was the perfect way to spend the evening. Ishkashim has one of the few bridges to Afghanistan along the Pamir route and we noticed advertisements for day tours across the border at the guesthouse. There is also a popular market on the Afghan side that draws Tajik people and tourists on Saturdays. We spoke to a French man who had spent a few days on the Afghan side. His view was that there wasn’t much to do and it felt more like a box-checking activity than a real view into Afghan life. It was very expensive to cross the border, even for a day, so we all decided against it.

The main street of Ishkashim
The main street of Ishkashim
Guesthouse in Ishkashim
Our guesthouse in Ishkashim

The next day, we visited some interesting ruins with great views across the valley and the mountains. Our first stop was the Khakaha Fortress, which is believed to have been built in the 3rd century BC by Zoroastrian followers to protect the trade route.

Fortress sign
Straightforward directions
Khakaha ruins
The path up to the Khakaha ruins
View at the top of the Khakaha ruins
View at the top of the Khakaha ruins

We also visited the Yamchum Fortress ruins, which was apparently known as the Fortress of the Fire Worshippers in reference to the Zoroastrians.

Yamchun Fortress
Yamchun Fortress ruins
Steve enjoying the view
Steve enjoying the view from the Yamchun Fortress ruins

Our last stop for the day were the Ratm Fortress ruins. After making an emergency pit stop at the village toilet/hole in the ground, we climbed about 15 minutes up the side of the hill to reach some more great views of the valley and surrounding mountains.

Looking out towards the direction we came from
Looking out towards the direction we came from
Other villages in the valley
Other villages in the valley


  1. Rae

    Sounds like you had some really peaceful nights to truly appreciate the stars and great human connection the good old fashioned way. I’m curious though, if you guys didn’t eat at the Mac Doland’s in Khorog, what caused the emergency pit stop at the toilet/hole in the ground? Hahaha, you don’t have to answer that. Too funny to see those restaurant signs though.


  2. Janan Saleema Dean

    Hahahahaha possibly the Indian food? Not sure, all I know is I had no shame following the kid to the pit toilet with only half walls at that point!!

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