Travel Tajikistan
Adventure on the Roof of the World [Atlas Silk]

Permit to visit Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO)

Contents

Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast starts at Kalaikhum and ends at the Kirgyz border at Kizyl-Art Pass. This region of Tajikistan is a special border zone and an additional permit is required to travel there. This is a great pity, as it is a bureaucratic obstacle to visiting one of the most stunningly beautiful, remote and fascinating parts of the world.

What the GBAO Permit looks like

From 2004, the GBAO permit is issued on a slip of paper issued by OVIR (the office for registering foreign citizens). Previously, the permit was stamped into your passport.

The GBAO permit will list the regions in Gorno-Badakhshan that you are allowed to visit, which will be some or all of: Khorog, Murghab, Ishkashim, Vanj, Rushan and Darvaz. Sometimes it may say "all regions". Make sure that all the regions you plan to visit are listed. In particular, if you plan to travel in the Wakhan river valley the GBAO permit must have "Ishkashim" listed, or the Russian border guards will not permit you to pass.

Even with the permit, you do not have unrestricted access to travel in Gorno-Badakhshan. Specifically, you need additional permission to visit Lake Sarez, Lake Zorkul, and some regions near to the Chinese or Afghan borders.

Travel from Dushanbe

The normal procedure is to request the permit at the same time as your letter of invitation. In this case the permission is processed in advance, so that when you arrive in Dushanbe, you should be able to obtain the permit in one day. You must present evidence that you have a valid passport and have registered with OVIR (or, you can register with OVIR at the same time as obtaining the permit).

If you did not have your GBAO permit authorised in advance, you should allow two weeks to get it after your arrival in Dushanbe.

Travelling east from Dushanbe along the M41, the first place where the GBAO permit will be checked is the army checkpoint just before Kalaikhum. You will be required to register with the KGB in Kalaikhum (and show the permit). The permit will be checked again at checkpoints on the road and by the KGB in Khorog and Murghab.

Travel from Sary-Tash

Now that the permit is issued as a separate slip of paper, it is possible to have it authorised in advance and sent by post before entry to Tajikistan.



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