Mapping the Afghan Pamir Project

Mapping the Afghan Pamirs  map, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Studio D has run a number of expeditions to Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, as part of an ongoing project to map trekking and bike-packing routes with a long term view to support socio-economic development through adventure tourism.

It is nestled between Tajikistan, China and Pakistan and includes some of the Big Pamir, Little Pamir, Hindu Kush, and the Karakoram mountain ranges. It some ways it's a quirk of geo-politics, set up as a buffer zone between Russian and British empires. When there, most of the time is spent between 4,000 and 5,000 meters, surrounded by peaks peaks rising to 7,492m (for Mount Norshaq).

As part of this multi-year project Studio D worked with Gyula Simonyi (cartographer), Sam Kellogg (research) and other partners to produce an interim map of the area, shown above. Ground data was collected during expedition season—late June through September—by our expedition cartographer and other team members. For a copy of the physical map shown above, contact us.

Travel to the Afghan Wakhan

Whilst adventure tourism in the Corridor is nascent, there is an established network of tour operators, trekking guides, and support staff that can arrange permits and advise on optimal routes. Infrastructure includes comfortable, welcoming, if rudimentary guest houses, plus the option of yurt stays in Wakhi and Kyrgyz settlements en route. 

Basic food and medical supplies can be purchased in Sultan Ishkashim, although travellers are advised to carry in their preferred sustenance, and supplement this with local offerings—primarily flat bread and live goat (to be slaughtered) that can be purchased on the trek. The nearest supply of camping fuel is in Dushanbe. However, propane tanks and the fabled Iranian pressure cooker can both be bought locally—and require a pack animal to carry. 

If you are considering a solo expedition in the Afghan Wakhan, bear in mind that income from tourism—including the hire of pack animals, guides and translators, yurt stays and supplies—provides meaningful income to locals. We are guests in Afghanistan and our continued presence relies on maintaining equitable relationships with local communities, particularly the remote herder settlements through which we pass.