Is there a safe(ish) way overland from Central Asia to India?

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Is there a safe(ish) way overland from Central Asia to India?

Postby cycleourworlddotcom » Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:26 am

Hey guys

My partner and I are heading towards central Asia this summer on a round-the-world trip, I haven't used a plane so far and really wanted to do all I could to avoid it. We're going to cross Uzbekistan and will either go to Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan - haven't decided yet. We'd consider going through Afghanistan to cross into Pakistan but the only official way I see over is the Khyber pass, has anyone ever crossed here? I only hear that it's far too risky on the Afghan side. Any relevant info anyone has would be great. Crossing into China would theoretically be possible but the land borders are closed now because of the virus (or so I hear) and Chinese tourist visas are incredibly hit or miss depending on the mood of who handles the application. We're in Tbilisi right now so we could try this if we were to attempt Xinjiang/Khunjerab pass.

I've sent an email to the Pakistani government asking if an exception could be made as to whether we could use Dorah pass / Baroghil passes to cross (locals only) but my hopes aren't high. Any stories of recent travel in these areas would be great or advice on what to do. For further info I have a British passport (no Iran) and my partner has a Dutch one. ANY way overland would be preferable to me than flying - even if anyone knows of a boat that would go from somewhere in the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent.

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Re: Is there a safe(ish) way overland from Central Asia to India?

Postby Christian77 » Sat Feb 08, 2020 5:51 pm

Overland through Afghanistan on the main routes includes the occasional Taliban checkpoint. And then there are people far worse than the Taliban. Non-Taliban will gang rape you both endlessly, doesn't matter your gender. Really, the Taliban is the best case scenario these days. But even then they just give you to the Haqqanis and you live in a dirt dungeon in Pakistan for 5 years. Trump gave them everything they wanted in exchange for the two professors recently, so western powers have nobody special in Guantanamo to trade for you... Expect a long stay.

Dorah Pass goes through areas controlled by the Taliban and others (again, far worse people - imagine drugged up criminals with mental illnesses pretending they're Taliban). Anyways, the ANP/ANA forces won't let you leave Eshkashem in that direction. The last foreigner that I know of who tried was force marched back to the Tajik border and expelled for their own good. Going through Zebak district requires a force of about 500 soldiers with armor and air support. A decade ago 10 westerners were executed here. Now imagine how bad this place is 10 years later.

The other pass does not involve Taliban country, but you descend into a part of Pakistan that requires a special permit that you can not get outside of the country. And the pass is not for foreigners. Same for the pass the national Geographic guy went through (Irshad). He thought he had special permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But he didn't have permission from the military (the real authorities in Pakistan). He was arrested. The Hungarian guy was given the same treatment recently. He disappeared and everyone thought he was dead until he turned up in some sort of ISI prison a month later.

Basically, the secure areas in Afghanistan where there is no war do have reasonably low passes to cross into Pakistan, but you can't get permission to do so. You will be arrested and detained and it may involve a month in prison.

Try China once the corona virus thing blows over. Trust me. There are 235 routes across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and only two of them are legal for you. But they involve overland travel with a risk that is not worth it - and with drivers who want nothing to do with a dangerous target sitting in their car. It is far worse than is known, as most attacks on foreigners and kidnappings are not reported.
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Re: Is there a safe(ish) way overland from Central Asia to India?

Postby bwv812 » Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:01 pm

Why not enter Pakistan via Iran?
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My 2012 overland trip from Tokyo to Istanbul:

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