25 Day Tajikistan Expedition
June 12-July 6, 2024
This expedition takes in the best of Tajikistan in 25 days combining the mind-blowing Fann Mountains and the world’s most epic road trip along the Pamir Highway.
Starting from the capital city of Dushanbe, we will make our way north to begin our trek through the idyllic Fann Mountains, starting from the gorgeous lake of Iskanderkul to begin our trek into the Tajik wilderness.
From Iskanderkul, we will continue on to cross over four mountain passes and numerous villages getting a taste of Tajik mountain culture, and visit several unbelievably beautiful lakes in the Fanns including Kulikalon, Chukurak, Bolshoi Allo, and finally ending at the stunning Alovaddin Lakes.
After completing the trek, we will head back to Dushanbe for a well-deserved rest before we begin a wild adventure along Tajikistan’s famous Pamir Highway.
The Pamir Highway portion of the Tajikistan expedition will bring us to some truly off-the-beaten-path corners of the Pamir including a lovely trek to the village of Jizeu in the Bartang Valley, a side trip along the Wakhan Valley, and visits to far-flung Zorkul Lake and Great Game hold out Shaimak.
We will finally cross the border into Kyrgyzstan at Kyzyl Art and spend some time exploring the beautiful Tulparkul Lake before continuing onto the Kyrgyz Fergana Valley city of Osh.
Quick Trip Details
Dates: June 12-July 6, 2024
Duration: 25 days | 24 nights
Start: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Finish: Osh, Kyrgyzstan
Max group size: 10 pax
Cost: $4400 USD
Deposit: 30% at time of booking
Ready to reserve your spot?
Tajikistan Fanns+Pamir Expedition Itinerary
Day 1: Dushanbe
After breakfast, you will meet your guide who will take you on a fascinating city tour of Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s leafy capital. Highlights of the city include the Somoni Monument, the world’s second-tallest flag pole, Rudaki Park, the parliament buildings, the historic Hissar Fort, and the Navruz Hall. In the evening, we will have dinner at a luxury Tajik restaurant with live music and a dance show.
Accommodation: 4 * Atlas Hotel
Day 2: Iskanderkul & Sarytag
We start off early in the morning and make our way to the largest lake of the Fann Mountains, Iskanderkul. We should arrive around midday, giving us ample time to explore the shores of this dazzling turquoise lake. Later in the afternoon, we will head to the nearby village of Sarytag, where we will start our trekking adventure into the Fann Mountains.
Distance: 4 hours by car
Altitude: 2200 meters
Day 3: Sarytag Village & the Foot of Dukdon Pass
After breakfast, we officially begin our Fann Mountains trekking expedition. The path begins from Sarytag, following the course of the Sarytag River for a few kilometers before we begin our ascent into Dukdon Pass. We’ll reach our camp in a lush pasture at the foot of Dukdon Pass in the later afternoon.
Distance: 11km, 7 hours, +950m/-30m
Day 4: Dukdon Pass & Sughurkhona Meadows
We gradually begin our first challenge on this Fann Mountains expedition to ascend Dukdon Pass (3800m) today. The paths are fair, leading along a rocky and narrow path up into the pass.
Slowly but surely, we will arrive at the top of Dukdon Pass around midday where we will break for lunch before taking on the descent alongside the glacier covering the pass partially.
By late afternoon, we will arrive at our camp in the Sughurkhona Meadows, In Tajik, sughurkhona means “Marmot house” and you are sure to see many marmots here. There are many other small mammals, birds, and medicinal herbs and plants to be seen along the way.
Distance: 7 km, 7 hours, +520m/-840m
Day 5: Sugarkhona & Archamaidon Valley
After breakfast, we will continue trekking past the spectacular mountains and glaciers surrounding Sarykhodan Gorge and toward Archamaidon Valley, taking a small detour en route to visit the beautifully tucked away Pushtikul Lake (2500m).
Tonight we camp in a lovely spot along the Archamaidon River.
Distance: 13km, 7-8 hours, +140m/-830m
Day 6: Archamaidan Valley & Zindon Gorge
In the morning we continue along the course of the river to eventually reach the narrow Archamaidon Gorge following ancient shepherd’s paths. In the afternoon we will leave the Archamaidon Valley to begin our gradual ascent along the Zindon Valley. We will camp a short distance away from the small Maloye Allo Lake.
Distance: 13km, 8 hours, +1230m/-1140m
Day 7: Zindon Valley & Bolshoi Allo
Today, we will have a radical day hike towards the Bolshoi Alo Lake (3150m) – one of the most beautiful lakes in the Fann Mountains, surrounded by an amphitheater of jagged peaks. On the way, we will see Maloye Allo Lake (2400m) and enjoy the gorgeous natural scenery of the Zindon Gorge. The gorge is surrounded by high mountains on either side and there are two high rockfalls that are safe and simple to trek, while still being challenging.
We will plan to return to our camp in the Zindon Gorge this evening.
Distance: 17km, 9-10 hours, +790m/-790m
Day 8: Zindon Valley & Vin
Early in the morning, we will make our descent from Zindon Gorge to the Amshut River, and back to the Archamaidon River. We’ll follow the course of the river along a rough dirt road for most of the journey today to arrive in the idyllic village of Vin in the early evening where we will have a lovely dinner in a homestay.
Distance: 17km, 6-7 hours, +20/-860m
Day 9: Vin & Chukuruk Lakes to Artuch
After an early breakfast, we will head downhill from Vin and begin our trek that will take us past the village of Zimtut from where we begin our ascent to cross the Guitan Pass (3000m) and onto Chukurak Lakes (2450m). We will reach Artuch village in the afternoon where we will have a night at the lovely Artuch Base Camp.
Distance: 17km, 8 hrs, +1600/-1000m
Accommodation: Artuch Alp Camp
Day 10: Artuch Alplager & Kulikalon Bowl
After breakfast, we will begin our trek up to the Kulikalon Bowl. We should arrive at our camp in the early afternoon and then take time to explore the beautiful Kulikalon Bowl Lakes.
Distance: 12 km, ~4 hrs, +600/- 60 m
Day 11: Kulikalon Bowl & Alovaddin Lake
In the morning, we will start our ascent up the spectacular Alovaddin Pass. From the top of the pass (approximately 3860m), we will be rewarded for our efforts with an extraordinary panorama of the surrounding peaks and lakes spread out below. From there, we will descend to a campsite located beside the jewel-toned Alovaddin Lake for the night.
Distance: 12 km, ~6-7 hrs, +1060/ – 1100 m
Day 12: Alovaddin Lake & Dushanbe
We start off early in the morning to catch a gorgeous sunrise before we pack up our camp, say our goodbyes to the Fann Mountains, and make a short 1.5 km hike down from Alovaddin Lakes to the base camp where our van will be waiting to pick us up.
We will arrive back in Dushanbe in the afternoon, where we’ll have a bit of time to do some sightseeing if you feel up to it or relax at our hotel. Tonight we will have a lovely dinner in the heart of the Tajik capital and say our goodbyes to those who are only joining the Fann Mountains portion of the expedition.
Distance: 1.5 km walk to the lake from the end of the road | 5 hours (by car)
Accommodation: 4 * Atlas Hotel
Day 13: Dushanbe Rest Day
Today is a rest day between our two big adventures in Tajikistan. Relax in and around the hotel today or get in a little sightseeing.
Accommodation: 4 * Atlas Hotel
Day 14: Dushanbe-Qala i Khumb
Hit the ground running on day one of our Pamir Highway adventure, loading up into our 4WD vehicles after an early breakfast in Dushanbe.
Our end goal today will be to reach the beautiful town of Qala i Khumb.
Along the route today we’ll first stop at the gorgeous Nurek Reservoir and a little later visit the 11th-century Hulbuk Fortress before breaking near the city of Kulob to grab lunch at a local chaikhana (tea house).
After lunch, the Pamir Highway begins to climb up into Shurubod Pass where we’ll reach our first GBAO checkpoint. After completing formalities at the checkpoint, we’ll begin the descent out of the pass with mind-blowing views of the Panj River with glimpses across the border and into neighboring Afghanistan.
From Shurubod Pass, we follow the course of the Panj, arriving at Qala i Khumb in the early evening where we’ll have a nice dinner on the river’s edge.
Drive time: ~10 hours
Day 15: Qala i Khumb to Jizeu
Day two of the Pamir Highway expedition will take us on a detour from the Pamir Highway and into the beguiling Bartang Valley.
At the village of Rushon, we’ll turn off the M41 and continue 30 kilometers up the Bartang Valley stopping at a bridge to begin our trek to the picturesque village of Jizeu.
The hike to Jizeu will take us about 2-3 hours gaining about 500 meters in elevation over nearly 7 kilometers.
Once we reach Jizeu we’ll have lunch at our homestay and spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring around the village.
Note: Our vehicles will be waiting for us back on the main road so you can leave your large luggage in them overnight. You’ll only need a small daypack with water, layering clothing, and any other personal item you’d like to bring.
Drive time: ~4 hours
Trekking distance | time: 6 kilometers | 2 hours
Day 16: Jizeu to Khorog
After catching the sunrise over Jizeu Lakes we’ll have breakfast and begin our trek back to our vehicles waiting for us on the Bartang Highway. Entirely downhill, the trek should take about 1 hour 30 minutes.
Once back in the Bartang Valley, we’ll drive back to Rushon and back on to the Pamir Highway and onto the Pamiri city of Khorog.
The entire drive today is spectacular with amazing views of both the Tajik and Afghan sides of the Panj River.
In Khorog we will have time to stroll around the city and visit the Central Park and Bazaar. In the evening we can arrange for a visit to a local banya.
Drive time: ~3 hours
Trekking distance | time: 6 kilometers | 1 hour 30 minutes
Accommodation: Hostel-style inn
Day 17: Khorog to Yamchun
After an early start, we’ll depart Khorog bound for one of the highlights of Tajikistan- the Wakhan Valley.
The Wakhan has a fascinating history, bisected by the Tajik-Afghan border along a stunning narrow valley. The Wakhan Valley is home to the Wakhi people who mostly follow a unique sect of Islam called Ismailism and who have their own dialect.
We will reach the entrance to the Wakhan Valley in the small town of Ishkashim about three hours after departing Khorog.
From Ishkashim the valley is strewn with ancient caravanserais, fortresses, and bygone solar calendars.
About 15 km beyond Ishkashim we’ll reach the village of Namadgut, home to the Kushan-era Khaakha Fortress that we’ll have the chance to explore.
A little further down the Wakhan Valley, we will come to the village of Darshai where we’ll grab a simple lunch and take a little time to visit the Shrine of Oston i Bobo Khokhi in the nearby village of Shitkharv.
In the afternoon, we reach Tughoz, where we will turn off the main road and head up a winding mountain road to reach the remarkable ruins of Yamchun with stunning views of the Hindu Kush Range that forms the natural border between Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor and Pakistan.
Tonight we will stay in a charming homestay in the Yamchun area that is operated by a lovely family who cooks up some fantastic meals.
We will also have the opportunity to take a dip in Bibi Fatima Hot Springs which sits at the top of the mountain road. Bibi Fatima is famous in Tajikistan because many women go there in hopes of boosting their fertility.
Note that the hot spring does have separate hours for men and women- bathing is to be done completely in the nude here.
Drive time: ~6 hours
Day 18: Bibi Fatima to Pik Engles Meadows
After saying our goodbyes to Yamchun, our first stop for the day is just a short distance away at the village of Vrang where we will make a brief yet steep walk up to the Vrang Buddhist Stupa.
Continuing along the Wakhan Valley, we stop in Zong for views of the Vishmqala Silk Fortress that would have served as a lookout to protect this stretch of the route from would-be Chinese and Afghan invaders.
Around midday, we will reach the village of Zong from where we’ll start our overnight hike to the spectacular Pik Engles Meadows.
From Zong, we follow a path that eventually meets with an irrigation canal. Along the canal be rewarded with amazing views of the Wakhan Corridor to the south before turning into a narrow valley above Langar village that leads to the meadows beneath the distinctly shaped mountain of Pik Engles.
We’ll reach the meadows in the late afternoon where we’ll have time to relax and explore the surrounding area.
Note that the trek does gain nearly 1,000 meters in elevation over the course of 12 kilometers with us camping at an elevation of 3,950 meters.
Trekking distance | time: 12 kilometers | 5 hours
Drive time: ~2 hours
Day 19: Pik Engles Meadows to Hisor
After breakfast, we’ll begin our descent from Pik Engles Meadows only this time to the village of Langar. On the way down as we near Langar, keep your eyes peeled for petroglyphs that can be found scattered all around- there are over 6,000 of them!
Our vehicles will meet us in Langar and shuttle us the short distance to the nearby Hisor village where we will be spending the night tonight.
Hisor is home to the ruins of Zangibar Fortress and the Shrine of Oston i Nuri Muhammed which we will have time to visit for those interested.
Otherwise, we will spend the afternoon relaxing in Hisor.
Tonight we will be staying in a great homestay run by a loving family who cooks up some delicious traditional food.
Trekking distance | time: 7.5 kilometers | 3 hours
Drive time: ~2 hours
Day 20: Hisor to Jarty Gumbez
Back on the road today, we’ll begin our journey toward the Eastern Pamir. Beyond Hisor and Langar, the road climbs up and past the village of Ratm and onto Khargush Pass.
At Khargush Pass we’ll reach a checkpoint, from which we will show our permits for Zorkul and veer off the main Wakhan Valley Road and to the east to travel along bumpy jeep tracks into the truly off-the-beaten-path corner of Tajikistan’s Eastern Pamir.
We will eventually reach the famous Zorkul Lake that straddles the Tajik-Afghan border, one of Tajikistan’s most remote locations.
After exploring around Zorkul, we will continue toward Jarty Gumbez for the night, a popular sheep hunter’s camp in the winter months. Here we will have access to hot springs and if we’re lucky we’ll see some Marco Polo sheep in the area.
Drive time: ~10 hours
Day 21: Jarty Gumbez to Shaimak
Today we head for Tajikistan’s most strategic point of Shaimak, a grand holdout of the Great Game.
From Shaimak it is possible to see into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China all at the same time, making it a key strategic point for spies gathering intel when the British and Russians were vying for power in Central Asia.
Keep an eye out for yurt camps belonging to semi-nomadic families who graze their livestock in these mountains on our way to Shaimak.
Driving time: ~6 hours
Day 22: Shaimak to Karakul
From Shaimak we’ll travel north along the Ak Suu Valley to the village of Toktymush and on to the tombs of Konye Kurgan before we meet again with the main Pamir Highway after a multi-day detour from it.
Beyond Konye Kurgan, we’ll reach the town of Murghab in the afternoon where we will grab lunch and visit the bazaar before continuing another 3 hours north and over 4,655 meter Ak Baital Pass.
As we cross Ak Baital, keep an eye out for Marco Polo sheep as they frequent this area.
In the late afternoon, we will descend into Karakul village, perched along the shore of Karakul Lake.
Driving time: ~10 hours
Day 23: Karakul to Tuparkul, Kyrgyzstan
We’ll get an early start toward Kyzyl Art Pass, which forms the natural border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
We’ll bid a final ‘khair’ to Tajikistan at the top of the pass where we’ll go through immigration and customs formalities before we descend into the stunning no-man’s-land between the two countries. At the bottom of the pass, we will reach Bordobo and officially enter Kyrgyzstan.
Once we have cleared immigration and customs at Bordobo we will continue onto Sary Tash where we’ll grab some lunch and then continue another hour to reach dazzling Tulparkul Lake where we’ll be staying in a yurt camp for the night.
Driving time: ~4 hours
Accommodation: Yurt camp
Day 24: Tuparkul
Today we’ll spend exploring the area around Tulparkul. Some of us can opt to trek toward Peak Lenin Basecamp or you can spend the day relaxing near the lake.
Accommodation: Yurt camp
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 25: Tuparkul to Osh
We start our final day of the Tajikistan expedition by packing up everything and departing Tulparkul back toward Sary Mogul and Sary Tash, eventually reaching Osh in the early afternoon.
We’ll take some time to explore a bit of the city today before having our final farewell dinner in a hip restaurant in Osh.
Drive time: ~3 hours
Included in the cost
- English-speaking tour leader
- Porter with donkeys for the Fann Mountains
- Transportation (4×4)
- Accommodation on twin room sharing basis and tents on trekking days
- Full board meal
- Eco tax
- OVIR registration
- Visa fee (if applicable)
- GBAO permit
- Personal kit and equipment
- Alcoholic beverage
- Travel Insurance
- Gratuities to the local staff