We’ve just returned from our first ever expedition, a lung-busting motorcycle ride along Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan’s Pamir Highway, and boy what a journey it was. We tackled raging rivers, sped through mountain gorges of awesome verticality, shivered in the shadows of the mighty High Pamirs, waved at Afghan farmers across the rushing Pyanj River, bathed in hot springs, swam in aquamarine mountain lakes, rode yaks, danced to Pamiri music and watched a full moon rise over clusters of Kyrgyz yurts.
We were windburned by the blazing high altitude sun, mind-blown by valley after valley of extraordinary scenery, awed at the wilderness of the 4655 metre Ak Baital pass (the highest in the former Soviet Union) and dumbstruck by the lunar landscape of the Murghab plateau. There were red mountains, azure lakes, glistening white peaks, jade valleys and cyan skies.
Fat golden marmots darted in front of our wheels, herds of semi-wild horses flowed across the Kyrgyz steppe, donkeys trotted by the roadside, eagles soared overhead. And everywhere we rode we were greeted with smiles and waves from the humblingly kind and hospitable Tajik, Pamiri and Kyrgyz people. As I wrote after our recce trip last summer, of all the countries we’ve travelled in, nowhere else have we encountered such genuine warmth and hospitality; from the old man who enfolds you in a spontaneous hug at the roadside to the children who wave and screech excitedly as you pass.
We were extremely lucky on this inaugural expedition to have a blimming marvellous group of six brave riders. Thank you to them all for being such a laugh, and for all the ridiculous nights spent talking nonsense and drinking G&Ts (Edge never travel without a coolbox stuffed with gin, you understand), fermented mare’s milk and whatever else we could get our grubby little mitts on.
Thanks also to our wonderful Tajik and Kyrgyz back-up team, who were both fabulously fun and extremely hardworking.
Here’s a bit about our riders and what they said.
Charlotte Armitage * 30-something * Videographer, London
Everyone needs a blonde bombshell on a motorcycle expedition and we had Charlotte! Rarely seen without her nose pressed to the screen of her Sony A7, or legging it across the steppe with her tripod, Charlotte was also ‘Head of Atmosphere’ – ensuring we were never out of gin, olives, whisky and fun.
‘It was the trip of a lifetime – so many highs and wonderful memories had. Ants and Marley and the local team organised everything to perfection and all with a smile and warmth. I can not recommend anyone more to do this trip, or another trip, with them. It gives me so much pleasure remembering all the days of adventure we had. I want to go back!’
Chris Avery Esq. (and Teddy) * 60-ish * Trail Rider’s Federation, Surrey
Chris, an extremely skilled trails rider and former champion audax cyclist, would also be a dead cert for gold at the Talking Olympics. There is nothing this man doesn’t know about….and in great detail. Chris also had the most punctures, once rode so fast his pannier caught fire and won the New Pants Award for the most visits to the thunderbox in a single night. And did we mention Teddy?
“Bloody great. Your organisation was superb, it went seamlessly. I could honestly say it was faultless.”
Sir Charles Blois * Septuagenarian adventurer extraordinaire * Farmer, Suffolk
Charles is a bit of a legend. There is nowhere this man hasn’t been, and no vehicle he hasn’t steered across desert, mountain and steppe. He’s ridden the Paris-Dakar (by accident), motorcycled from London to Beijing, driven his Unimog around the Namibian desert and next week leaves for Alaska, where he’ll spend a few months crossing it by jet-boat, alone, aged 76. We shall long remember the sight of he and Charlotte flinging each other around the dance floor at a nightclub in Dushanbe. Charles, we salute you.
“Thank you both so very much for planning and executing such a wonderful expedition.”
Adam Hills Esq. * 40-something * Reclaiming the World, London
Adam has the energy and enthusiasm of an over-excited spaniel and was always the first to sniff out antiques, culture and mischief. Cheeky, irrepressible, boyish (and occasionally a little competitive), Adam wins the prize for most stylish rider. In his own words ‘It’s all about the style, daahhling.’
‘Where do I start? There was the fantastic camaraderie, the astonishing and ever-changing scenery and topography, the epic sense of journey and of course the wonderful people, who rushed in from the fields to wave and shout ‘Salaam’ as we passed. I loved the fact that every day was so different – that we rode from chilly high altitude desert to searingly hot valleys. I’d never done anything like this before and I can’t wait to do something similar with Edge again.’
Graeme Murray Esq. * 50-ish * Drummer and entrepreneur, Glasgow
Graeme, a sardonic Weegie with a sense of humour drier than the Skeleton Coast, had previously gone on the sort of trips that included soft beds, WiFi and loos you actually sit on. This was a little different. But once he’d recovered from the shock of shitting in a hole and sleeping in homestays he seemed to rather enjoy it.
“Wow, from the first email to our detailed daily itinerary before we arrived Edge Expeditions had all bases covered. It was an extremely well run and enjoyable trip with endless wonderful panoramas and empty trails. The support team were brilliant and we all felt safe in their hands. There were belly laughs galore and new friends made… Marley and Ants have nailed it… 10/10. I’m will definitely be back on another adventure with Edge Expeditions!! “
David Sears QC Esq. * 50-something * QC, London
David, strikingly reminiscent of both Bill Nighy and James Bond, spent the whole two weeks with an enormous grin pasted from ear to ear. A debonair sort of chap, David could charm the pants off Putin and proved as good at yak riding as he was at keeping his DRZ rubber side down. Here he is showing his patriotism beside the Afghan border.
‘Without question, this expedition was one of the best things I have ever done. I knew it was going to be something different but I had no idea that how much better it was going to be than I had ever dared hope. Everything beautifully organised but not so obviously that it ever detracted from the huge sense of adventure. It is almost impossible to describe the thrill of riding a motorcycle on unmade roads in a landscape as achingly beautiful as that. It felt like we were riding at the edge of the world one moment and then on the roof the world the next. I hate to use the word, but ‘awesome’ is exactly what it was! All made even better by riding with such an amazing bunch of people. There is nothing quite like sharing an adventure like this for making what I hope and trust will be friends for life. And none of it would have been possible without the drive and determination of our wonderful expedition leaders, Ants and Marley, not to mention their total unflappability, incredible patience and unfailing good humour. You could not ask for a better crew. I can’t wait for the next adventure.”
In a few days from now Marley will be leading a second group around the Pamir Highway. If you’d like to follow their progress (internet connection allowing) then check out or Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds.
We’ll be running three different Central Asian motorcycle expeditions in 2017 – details of which will be on our website by early August. If you’d like to come and talk to us in person about next year’s expeditions, then we shall be at the Adventure Travel Film Festival and the Overland Event in August.
Love, dust and fermented mare’s milk,