Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
96, Boulevard Erkindik, Bishkek,
720040, Kyrgyz Republic
Tel.: +996 (312) 30-46-17, 90-12-95
Fax: +996 (312) 90-12-95

Irkeshtam Pass

Irkeshtam Pass


Irkeshtam is approached from Osh, the second city of Kyrgyzstan, in the South of the country. The road travels south along the valley of the Taldyk and Gulcho river gorges to the village of Sary Tash (Yellow Stone in Kyrgyz), which sits on a cross roads. To the West lies the road to Dushanbe in Tajikistan through the Kyzyl-Suu valley; to the South lies the road over the Kyzyl Art pass into the Gorno Badakshan region of Tajikistan and Murgab; to the east heading into the mountains lies the road to Irkeshtam and the Chinese border.

This stretch of road is infamous for road accidents. On the Chinese side, the road down to Kashgar is better, but still difficult.

As the shortest route to China from the Ferghana valley in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan there has been a lot of interest in repairing the road which would take about 6 years to complete including a TACIS funded project. The work came to a stop after armed insurgents threatened the stability of the region in 1999.

In Soviet times, China was seen as a real threat and this was reflected on the border. Now the two countries are allies and relationships between the respective border troops are friendly.

The border post is named in honour of a frontier border guard, Andrei Bescennov, who was killed in a clash with the Basmachi rebels in 1931. Until the end of 1999 it was manned by Russian troops who, apparently took all their equipment when they left. The post is now manned by border guards from the Osh oblast. It is not an easy posting. By all accounts, the guards are not fed well but no-one has died of hunger(!). However, a years service here is counted as equal to two years military service elsewhere.

In this mountainous region, as in Kyrgyzstan generally, horses play an important role in daily life. The lack of roads means that soldiers who patrol the border ride the local breed of Kyrgyz pony which are renowned for being sturdy and well suited to this sort of terrain. The post also boasts a number of dogs, including German shepherds and a number of mongrels.

For a long time the Irkeshtam pass was open only for commercial goods traffic for a limited period each month, although for several years there were plans to open it for passenger traffic and thesefinally came to fruition in the summer of 2002. Technically, no permissions are needed to cross the border here but it is still a sensitive border zone. Also its remoteness means that transport has to be arranged on both sides of the border which means that, once again, it is not a cheap border crossing. There is talk of a bus service but it is not in operation yet.

The Chinese immigration post is housed in a large, new, purpose built building, three kilometers from the border and it is another three kilometers to the Kyrgyz post. As with Torugart, you are not allowed to walk across this no-man"s land.

The hours of operation are restricted and there is a long luchbreak (three and a half hours).

Inspiro Group - Travel & Logistics

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