The Pamirs, located principally in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) ineastern Tajikistan, are one of the highest mountain ranges in the world, containing peaks over 7000m. The territory comprises a large high plateau area (Murghab district in the east) and several deep valleys running west into the Panj river (in antiquity known as the Oxus; in local languages “panj” means “five” and the name Panj is said to come from the fact that the five main Pamir valleys feed into it). GBAO shares frontiers with China in the east, Kyrgyzstan in the north and Afghanistan in the west and south.
The region is inaccessible to road traffic for as much as six months in winter, and was considered during the Soviet period as a strategic border area to which special permission was required for travel. It is therefore very much “virgin territory” for tourism, with little relevant infrastructure. As such, it combines extraordinary attractions for adventure and ecotourism with untouched high-altitude landscapes and many opportunities for walking and trekking. The Pamirs were on one of the southern branches of the Silk Road and possess fortresses and other monuments bearing witness to the traffic of goods and ideas (petroglyphs, Buddhist monasteries, shrines and caravanserais). The “Great Game” was played in the Pamirs.