The Wakhan Corridor with Bill Colegrave

Bill Colegrave

The Amu Darya River forms a natural barrier between the lands of Central Asia to the north and the Afghan and Indian worlds to the south.

Ancient writers called it the Oxus.

It was the nucleus of Bactrian civilizations, the target of conquerors like Alexander the Great, and the destination of intrepid 19th and 20th century travelers.

The exact location of the river’s source became a topic of dispute when the Great Game between Imperial Britain and Tsarist Russia turned this territory into the distant border of empires.

Part of that buffer zone included a mysterious valley that runs between the Pamir, Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountains.

Though the Wakhan Corridor was used as a trading route by early travelers including Marco Polo, its extreme ruggedness and remoteness couldn’t have made it a popular option.

Today it’s a bizarre geographical dead end, closed to traffic for more than a century. And it remains one of the world’s least-visited corners.

I first got interested in the Wakhan when I read The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk. I’ve wanted to go there ever since, and today I’m speaking with someone who did.

Bill Colegrave is the author of Halfway House to Heaven, an account of his journey to find the source of the Oxus River, and the compiler of Scraps of Wool, an anthology of some of the world’s greatest travel writing. He was also owner and publisher of Cadogan Guides.

You can follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

We spoke about the Great Game, the Wakhan Corridor, and the challenges of traveling to such a remote place.

These are the books we mentioned in the podcast:

We also mentioned:

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About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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