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Credit: Frans Hulet

Roads at the Roof of the World

At the roof of the world, political landscapes give way to natural ones. As travellers reach the peaks of Central Asia, the ideological shifts which have shaped the region through the centuries suddenly seem very small — ripples on a vast, rugged and largely uninhabited terrain.

The mountains of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan offer soaring views across jagged peaks, steep-sided valleys and high plateaus. Roads at the Roof of the World grants travellers a rare glimpse of lands largely untouched ideological undulations, and the people who call them home.

Private bespoke tours from USD$9,500 p/p

Duration: 16 days/15 nights

Carbon footprint: 6.5 tonnes CO₂e p/p

or call +44 7397 297470

At the roof of the world, political landscapes give way to natural ones. As travellers reach the peaks of Central Asia, the ideological shifts which have shaped the region through the centuries suddenly seem very small — ripples on a vast, rugged and largely uninhabited terrain.

The mountains of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan offer soaring views across jagged peaks, steep-sided valleys and high plateaus. Roads at the Roof of the World grants travellers a rare glimpse of lands largely untouched ideological undulations, and the people who call them home.

Views from the road between Khorog and Murghab, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
A Kyrgyz family at Karakul Lake, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
Fixing Ladas in Bulunkul, the coldest town in Central Asia, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
At the top of the world, the Pamir plateau, Murghab, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
Highlight

Highlight: Along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway

The Pamir Highway connects the world's most remote outposts. It was built by Soviet military engineers in the 1930s to facilitate troop movement. It’s here where the grip of politics gives way to pure, unconquerable landscape.

Trace the length of the unpaved, potholed, and often flooded road along the hem of Tajikistan. and Afghanistan. Continue on to Kyrgyzstan, passing through barren landscapes incised by deep river canyons with your guide who has spent his life in the region. Read more →

Views from the road between Khorog and Murghab, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
A Kyrgyz family at Karakul Lake, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
Fixing Ladas in Bulunkul, the coldest town in Central Asia, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
At the top of the world, the Pamir plateau, Murghab, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
Boy and his horse on the steppes of Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Frans Hulet
Nomadic horseback games in Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Vera Larina
A Kyrgyz shepherd with his horse on the Ustyurt Plateau. Credit: Alex Pflaum
A traditional Kyrgyz yurt, Son Kul, Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
Highlight

Highlight: Horse Games at Lake Tulpar

‘The wings of the Kyrgyz’, the sturdy Kyrgyz horse is core to the nomadic existence. Life in the mountains and on the steppes of central Asia would be impossible without them. In the rugged highlands of Kyrgyzstan, a small group of nomads preserve centuries-old traditions through horse games. Horse and yak games are a test of reaction, agility, and strength. The most famous of these games is kok boru, where two teams on horseback compete to throw a goat or calf carcass into their opponent’s goal.

Participate in local horseback games, and track wild animals like marmots, golden eagles, and Marco Polo sheep in some of the harshest conditions on earth. Enjoy talks from local conservationists and join their efforts to conserve and protect these ancient traditions.

Boy and his horse on the steppes of Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Frans Hulet
Nomadic horseback games in Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Vera Larina
A Kyrgyz shepherd with his horse on the Ustyurt Plateau. Credit: Alex Pflaum
A traditional Kyrgyz yurt, Son Kul, Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
Looking down over Lake Sarez. Credit: Martin Mergili, License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Lake Sarez. Credit: Nodir Tursunzade
The hut used by local scientists to monitor the lake. Credit: Nodir Tursunzade
Highlight

Highlight: Tajikistan’s Remote Lake Sarez

Shockingly blue and backed by dramatic snow-capped mountains, Lake Sarez is one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. Created by a violent earthquake more than 100 years ago, its name comes from the village that was buried beneath it. Today, the lake is unstable and scientists fear another earthquake could see it flood the narrow valleys below.

Hike with your guide and supply donkeys across swing bridges and up the narrow rocky path to the lake’s edge. Far from city lights, spend a night under the stars with local meteorologists and geologists. Join them the following day on a boat tour of this remote lake and learn about their work to prevent another disaster.

Looking down over Lake Sarez. Credit: Martin Mergili, License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Lake Sarez. Credit: Nodir Tursunzade
The hut used by local scientists to monitor the lake. Credit: Nodir Tursunzade
Dawn at Ishkashim, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
Wahki homes by the Panj River, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
The Murghab river from above, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
Highlight

Highlight: Through the Wakhan Corridor

The Wakhan Corridor was originally created as a barrier between the Soviet and British Empires. As their power faded, so did the significance of the Wakhan Corridor. It’s now largely forgotten, other than by the few who call it home. A remote stretch of rugged terrain with high passes and deep gorges, the Wakhan Corridor is inaccessible for more than half of the year. This narrow, cut-off strip of land is populated only by families of Kyrgyz nomads and Wakhi shepherds, who’ve lived a life unchanged for more than a millenium.

Join a family of Wakhi shepherds as they herd their sheep, and turn the milk from their yaks into cheese and butter. Dine on fresh goat cooked over an open fire, sleep in a traditional timber home, and learn about the ancient traditions of these isolated people.

Dawn at Ishkashim, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
Wahki homes by the Panj River, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
The Murghab river from above, Tajikistan. Credit: Alex Pflaum
The 3rd century B.C Yamchun fortress, Tajikistan. Credit: Alisher Primkulov
Ancient petroglyphs in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Chubykin Arkady
The National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex Sulayman was built into the side of a mountain in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Borkowska Trippin
Highlight

Highlight: Ruins & Reminders in Tajikistan

Tajikistan’s deep valleys were once the arteries of the modern world. Caravans of traders bringing silk to Europe and Buddisim to China favoured its routes, which were framed by mountain ridges and offered protection from bandits. Some stayed, creating art and architecture which stretches back thousands of years.

Follow their footsteps to discover intricate cave paintings, crumbling forts and abandoned observatories. Learn about their significance in the spread of art, architecture and ideas between East and West.

The 3rd century B.C Yamchun fortress, Tajikistan. Credit: Alisher Primkulov
Ancient petroglyphs in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Chubykin Arkady
The National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex Sulayman was built into the side of a mountain in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Credit: Borkowska Trippin

Safety & Security

While we love adventure, we don’t like unnecessary risk. The safety and security of our travellers comes first. We will not hesitate to alter or cancel travel due to changing security dynamics. Working with local guides, we receive real-time security updates, and plan our tours to minimise risks, mitigate consequences and put travellers’ minds at rest.

Our partners, Joro Experiences, are experts when it comes to travelling to remote parts of the world. Both founders have lived or worked in conflict-affected regions. They ensure that travellers are always in the very safest of hands.

You can choose to do this exact tour or personalise it. All trips are 100% bespoke, and we will work with you to build an adventure that fits your budget, timeline and interests.

Our Commitment to Freedom & Equality

Human rights: We’re respectful of being guests in other countries with different cultures, but won’t stand silent when human rights are violated. In some of the countries we visit, the authorities regularly crack down on the media, harass peaceful protesters, engage in smear campaigns against political rivals, and ban independent foreign organisations.

Our commitment to freedom and equality is unwavering. We donate 1.5% of the price of each tour to Human Rights Watch, an independent, non-profit NGO that exists to give voice to the oppressed and hold those responsible accountable. Read more about our commitment to freedom and equality for all here.

Supporting Local Communities: We work with the communities we travel through to ensure that our tours have a positive impact. We select local hotels where available, and pay local guides and fixers a living wage.

Comrade Kiev donates a further 1.5% of the price of each tour to the Aga Kahn Foundation, an agency dedicated to providing education, food security and providing economic opportunity to the people of Tajikistan. Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 30% of the population living below the national poverty line. Read more about their work here.

Our Commitment to the Environment

There is no better way to understand other cultures than to visit them. But ultimately, all travel has an impact on the environment. We’re working with values-led businesses like Joro Experiences to find the least carbon-intensive options for every stage of each tour. Here’s our journey so far.

Where we started: To reduce the carbon footprint of this tour, we first measured it. That number was estimated at 7002 kg of CO2e per person. This included return flights from New York, internal transport, food, hotels and all activities.

Our progress so far: We’ve reduced the original carbon footprint of this tour by approximately 7% (482 kg) already through the following actions.

Reducing power consumption: We request that hotels and homestays do not wash sheets or towels for stays less than 3 nights.

Eating Local: Our guides will also recommend local restaurants which use regionally sourced produce to reduce the food miles of each meal.

Eliminating plastic waste: The average traveller drinks two bottles of water per day. With an average working life of less than 15 minutes, single use plastics like bottled water take 450 years to completely degrade. We will provide a reusable water bottle if you don’t have one.

Offsetting emissions: All remaining unavoidable carbon emissions are offset through our partners at Chooose. Chooose uses that money to capture the equivalent carbon emissions from the atmosphere and store it in stable ways.

Our future plans: We’ve set a goal to reduce the average footprint of each tour by a further 50% by 2026. In order to meet that target, we’ll work to find new ways to reduce impact, but we’ll also be reliant on local infrastructure improvements like the electrification of railways and installation of electric car charging stations. We’ll also be watching for technological advancements like zero-emission commercial aircrafts. We’ll advocate for them, and will be the first to adopt them as they become available.

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