Road trip along the Panj river

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To reach the village of Vrang in the Wakhan corridor, the start of our first trek, we drove from Dushanbe through the towns of Kulob and Khorog. Between Dushanbe and Kulob, the road is moderately interesting. Soon after Kulog, we crossed a pass and reached the Panj river that separates Tajikistan from Afghanistan. We followed the Panj river until Vrang. Most of the way, the Panj canyon is deep and narrow. On the Tajik side, the road is quite bad, but on the Afghan side there is only a narrow foot path connecting few villages.

 

Map.

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First view of the Panj river after Kulob.

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Bridge along the way and sign posted before it.

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The Afghan side of the river looks most of the time like a fortress protected by steep mountains.

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Along the Panj river.

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Afghan villages on the opposite side of the river.

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In the Panj canyon.

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Narrow trails on the Afghan side.

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A few kilometers before Rushan village, the Panj river widens.

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All along the way international organizations were active removing landmines dating from the civil war that took place in the 90s.

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At the confluence of the Gunt with the Panj river, Khorog (population: ~30,000 people, elevation: 2200m) is the capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) of Tajikistan.

 

Provincial government building, with a statue of Ismoil Somoni (photo taken in 2010).

 

Khorog‛s pedestrian bridge over the Gunt river.

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In the market of Khorog.

 

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Wakhan corridor between the Pamir and the Hindu-Kush.

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1500 years ago, the Wakhan corridor was a busy branch of the Silk Road, not only for trade, but also for the not always peaceful spread of religions, especially Buddhism.

 

Remains of an old Buddhist fortress in Darshai.

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Ruins of a Buddhist stupa above Vrang village.

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View over the village of Vrang from the stupa.

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Buddhist caves in the cliff overlooking Vrang village.

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