Pamir to Karakoram: Cycling the World’s Highest Roads (Film)
Pamir to Karakoram is a new hour-long film from Antoine and Clare Cottet that documents the couple’s ride across Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Western China, and Pakistan on some of the most beautiful roads in the world. Watch it here, along with an introduction to the trip and some photos shot along the way…
Let us take you on a journey across two of the wildest highways in the world: the Pamir and Karakoram Highways. Travel by bicycle across breathtaking landscapes, encounter some of the world’s most isolated populations and experience their cultures, cycle over passes above 4,650m, and descend on broken, muddy roads, all without leaving the comfort of your own home.
We will take you through Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Western China, and Pakistan, along the two highest international roads on the planet. Follow our journey along the old Silk Road as we push our limits both physically and mentally. You will meet the local people who help us, offer us a bed for the night, and most likely think we’re mad. Watch as the landscape, the people, and especially the food transform along the length of these two magnificent roads. This film will make you laugh, it may make you cry, and it will definitely make you want to travel!
We are a Scottish/French couple who are always on the lookout for our next adventure. This trip combined our love of cycling, mountains, remote places, and interacting with people. We knew this was a once in a lifetime journey (or so we thought…), and so Antoine, a passionate photographer already, decided it was time to take on the challenge of making his first film. All of the footage was shot by Antoine (or by me under his direction) and he was also heavily involved in the post-production process. This was our first trip by bicycle and it changed everything for us. Now, we can’t imagine travelling any other way and are passionate about sharing our adventures with as many people as possible to inspire them to get out and travel.
The idea for the route came from a long-held desire to travel in Central Asia, combined with a dream to trek amongst the high peaks of Pakistan’s mountain ranges. When we started to think about travelling by bike, we suddenly realised we could combine the two destinations. We discovered they were connected by two sections of the old Silk Road network.
We knew there would be challenges. However, I don’t think we were prepared for how physically and mentally challenging the Pamir Highway would be. The altitude was really tough until we got acclimatised, but the actual road was the worst part. The surfaces were totally destroyed by a combination of landslides and rockfalls, the harsh weather conditions, and the weight of the trucks that still drive up and down them. This slowed us down a lot and it also meant we had to focus more on the terrain we were riding. On the other hand, these broken roads meant we often found ourselves alone on the Highway for hours at a time. This let us really connect with the incredible landscapes and it added to the sense of remoteness of the journey.
The real highlight of the whole trip has to be the people we met, though. We spent the greatest amount of time in Tajikistan and Pakistan, and the people there were so friendly and hospitable. They were very interested in us and so willing to help us and welcome us into their homes. Even in Tajikistan, where there was a real language barrier, we still had the feeling of true exchange with the people we met.
The trip isn’t an easy one, as you will see from the film. But the highs were almost enough for us to forget the lows. We share more of our adventure along with advice on how to complete a similar trip yourself over on our blog, DocGoneWild.com, and we are always really happy to answer questions from fellow adventurers. Stay safe, and we hope you enjoy the film!
About Antoine and Clare Cottet
Clare is a doctor who specialises in expedition medicine and a lover of wilderness who is never afraid of new challenges. Antoine is a ski, snowboard, and mountain bike instructor. When they’re not travelling, they spend their time between Fort William in the Scottish Highlands and Chamonix Valley in the French Alps. You can follow their latest adventures on Instagram @docgonewild and @cottisch.