It is that time of year again when the intrepid few venture into Central Asia. If you haven’t got your GBAO permit for Tajikistan sorted yet, fear not. It can be had in the capital for the cost of a beer.
We had picked up our Tajikistan Visas in Ankara, Turkey back in March but still needed to get the GBAO (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province) permit for the Pamirs. Some consulates will not issue these whilst others and some tour agency’s can charge up to $150 just for the permit!
I got wind that it was possible to obtain this permit, direct, in Dushanbe for next to nothing.
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How we spent a lot of time in Khorog, Got very wet in the Pamirs and hatched a plan to re-new our 15 day import permit.
Prior to leaving, the Pamirs was big on my list for exploring. Alongside Georgia, for me, it was to be one of the highlights. Big mountain scenery, alpine landscapes, dirt roads and isolation. I managed to track down a full catalogue of old Soviet maps scanned in detail and saved as JPG’s thanks to the guys at Berkley University (US) and Google. Lots of things in the region have changed but the old maps gave the sites of ruined forts and numerous roads constructed for military use. I would spend hours on the laptop at home looking at potential roads and piecing together our plan for the Pamirs.
You have driven hundreds of kilometres all day on dirt tracks, corrugated and potholed tarmac roads, been stopped five times by the police for ‘documents’, then an unfamiliar noise emanates from the engine bay. Your still 10 km outside of an unfamiliar town looking for somewhere to stay that has secure parking and won’t blow your daily budget. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t need that damn (delete as appropriate) Visa/Registration Document/Permit/Customs Form/Flight Ticket/Spare Part. It’s the usual battle.