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A Trek Into The Afghan Wakhan

Join us on an epically amazing 21-day journey through northern Afghanistan’s remote Wakhan Corridor to explore the little-visited Little Pamir Mountains.

Starting from the capital of Dushanbe in neighboring Tajikistan, we will first make our way eastward toward Ishkashim before crossing the border into Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province. From Afghan Ishkashim, we’ll continue by jeep down to the end of the Wakhan Valley Road that terminates in Sarhad e Broghil from which we’ll begin our expedition on foot.

The goal is to reach Chaqmaqtin Lake located in the Little Pamir Mountains, inhabited by Kyrgyz and Wakhi semi-nomadic families.

Dates

TBD (summer/fall 2022)

Duration

21 days | 20 nights

Start

Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Finish

Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Maximum Group Size

14

Cost

$4,800 USD

Deposit

30% due at time of sign up

Included In The Costs

  • Accommodations in guesthouses and tents for camping on trek
  • Ground transportation
    All meals and water
  • Local guide and trip leader
  • Visa support doccuments (letter of invitation)
  • Pack animal support

Excluded Costs

  • International airfare to & from
  • Visas fees for Tajikistan (~$50 USD x2) & Afghanistan ($90-200 USD on average)
  • GBAO permit for Tajikistan ($20 USD)
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal spending
  • PCR testing
  • Gear
  • Tips for local staff (discretionary)
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About Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor

Squeezed between the Pamir and Karakoram Mountains, Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor is a political creation, formed during the Great Game in 1893 by the Durand agreement between Afghanistan and the United Kingdom to serve as a buffer between Russian Turkestan (present-day Tajikistan) and British India (present-day Northern Pakistan).

Historically, the Afghan Wakhan Corridor was a trade route along the Silk Road, used by merchants and travelers traversing between the Badakhshan region and Yarkand in what is now Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. Over the years the Wakhan became quite diverse with many people of varying cultures crossing and settling in the area as they traveled through this remote land.

The Wakhan Corridor has remained largely cut off from the remainder of Afghanistan due to its rugged, arduous terrain, making it the only reasonably safe destination within Afghanistan’s borders, dodging the wars that have wracked the country since the 1970s.

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The Afghan Wakhan Corridor Trekking Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Arrivals in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Throughout the day today, we will be welcoming our arrivals into Dushanbe. In the evening join us for a welcome dinner to get to know the other travelers joining us.

Overnight: Hotel or guesthouse in Dushanbe

Day 2: Hit the Pamir Highway | Dushanbe to Khorog

Today begins early with a long drive along Tajikistan’s famed Pamir Highway. The drive will first take us eastward from the city before driving toward the south into the arid Khatlon Province, passing through the city of Danghara before heading back east again en route to Shurubod Pass.

On the descent from Shurubod, you’ll get your first glimpses into the wild Badakhshan Province just across the narrow Panj River that forms the natural border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. From here the highway follows the course of the Panj River all the way to our destination for the night, Khorog.


Driving: 12-14 hours
Altitude: 2,200m

Overnight: Guesthouse in Khorog

Day 3: Into The Wakhan | Khorog to Eshkashim

Today will be another early start, taking us to enter the Tajik Wakhan just outside of Khorog with wild scenes unfolding in every direction.

After about three hours of driving, we will arrive at the Ishkashim Border Crossing. Once we arrive at the bridge we will begin the process of exiting Tajikistan and then will walk across with our luggage to enter Afghanistan.

Once we’ve cleared border formalities we will jump into our new vehicles and continue the short 20-minute ride into Afghan Eshkashim.

Once we arrive in Eshkashim, we will have time to explore the small bazaar area and wander around the village while our organizers collect our permits for our journey into the Wakhan National Park.

Driving: 4 hours
Altitude: 2,600 meters

Overnight: Guesthouse in Eshkashim

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Day 4: Journey to Qala e Panja

In the morning we will begin our 250 km road trip to Sarhad e Broghil, splitting the journey into two days. Keep an eye out as we pass 7,492 meter high Mount Noshak, Afghanistan’s highest peak. This route sits along one of the major thoroughfares of the ancient Silk Road with the likes of Marco Polo and Hsuan Tsang passing through this area in the past.

We will eventually break in the village of Khandood to process more paperwork. We plan to arrive in Qala e Panja in the late afternoon and spend our evening here.

Driving time: 6 hrs
Altitude: 2,800 meters

Overnight: Guesthouse in Qala e Panja

Day 5: Deeper into the Afghan Corridor to Sarhad e Broghil

Today we continue on to the end of the road at Sarhad e Broghil. We’ll spend the afternoon preparing for the departure of our Afghan Wakhan trek tomorrow.

We make our way to the furthest point that we can by vehicle. At Sarhad e Broghil the road ends and any further journey must be made on foot or by horse. We spend the afternoon making our final preparations for our trek into the Afghan Wakhan and Little Pamir.

Driving time: 4 hrs
Altitude: 3,250 meters

Overnight: Guesthouse in Sarhad e Broghil

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Day 6: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Sarhad to Shawr

After a big breakfast, we’ll load up supplies onto yaks and donkeys and begin our Wakhan Corridor trek toward the Little Pamir.

Starting with a tough day right out of the gate, trekking between Sarhad e Broghil and Shawr is one of the more arduous. The Wakhan Corridor becomes incredibly steep and narrow here.

This difficult geography will push us up and over 4,260 meter Darliz Pass, forcing us to gain 1,000 meters in vertical altitude. Once over the pass we will descend into Shawr where we will camp for the night, nearly 1,000 meters lower than the top of Darliz.

Trekking: 7 hours
Altitude: 3,450 meters
Overnight: Tent camping

Day 7: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Shawr to Langar

From Shawr we’ll descend back into the Wakhan Valley, meeting the Wakhan River at Boharak, following the course of the river to Langar.

Many places in Tajikistan and Afghanistan are named Langar, which means ‘free buffet’, which can be a bit confusing. The utilitarian name is suiting as this is a classic location for Wakhi shepherds to graze their livestock.

Trekking: 6-7 hours
Altitude: 3,600 meters
Overnight: Tent camping

Day 8: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Langar to Khach Gumbez

The scenery softens today as we exit the narrow and rugged Wakhan Valley into the wider and more open plains that mark the start of the Little Pamir. Our goal is to arrive at the lowest Kyrgyz settlement of Khach Gumbez where we will camp tonight.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 3,800 meters
Overnight: Tent camping

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Day 9: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Khach Gumbez to Bozai Gumbez

Today’s trek is an easier one, taking us a short distance from Khach Gumbez to Bozai Gumbez. In Bozai Gumbez er will have the opportunity to visit Kyrgyz tombs, or relax the remainder of the day.

Trekking: 2-3 hours
Altitude: 3,900 meters
Overnight: Tent camping

Day 10: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Bozai Gumbez to Chaqmaqtin

Another easier trekking day today will bring us to our terminus of the Afghan Wakhan Corridor trek, Chaqmaqtin Lake. At 9 km long, Chaqmaqtin is one of the sources of the Amu Darya River.

Chaqmaqtin Lake where the Kyrgyz nomads graze their sheep and yaks in the summer.

Trekking: 4-5 hours
Altitude: 4,050 meters
Overnight: Tent camping

Day 11: The Little Pamir | Explore Chaqmaqtin

Today we will have the chance to explore the Chaqmaqtin area, meeting local Kyrgyz families, and learning about their culture at what feels like one of the most secluded places in the world.

Trekking: rest day
Altitude: 4,050m
Overnight: Tent camping

Day 12: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Chaqmaqtin to Kurchin

If the weather allows, we will take the challenging but striking high-route back from Chaqmaqtin to Sarhad e Broghil, letting us see more of the Pamir Mountains on the way back. Tonight our goal is to reach Kurchin, a small Kyrgyz camp high above Bozai Gumbez.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 4,100 meters
Overnight: Tent camping

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Day 13: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Kurchin to Ghughumdeh

After about 3 hours of hiking, we will reach the top of the 4,600 meter Aqbelis Pass, giving views of a beautiful small alpine lake. An hour beyond will bring us to our lunch spot where we will break briefly. In the early afternoon, we plan to arrive in Ghughumdeh where we will spend the night.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 4,300 meters
Overnight: Tent camping

Day 14: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Ghughumdeh to Nauabad

Day 14 is the toughest day of the trek, taking us to cross sky-high 4,850 meter Uween Sar Pass, the highest point we will reach on the Wakhan Corridor trek. We plan to get an early start so that we can reach the top of the pass by noon. From then on, it is all downhill to the small camp at Nauabad.

Trekking: 6-8 hours
Altitude: 4,200 meters
Overnight: Tent camping

Day 15: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Nauabad to Sang e Naushdah

A short trek today will allow some recovery from the strenuous day we had before. In only 2-3 hours’ time, we should reach Sang e Nauishdah where we will camp for the night.

Trekking: 2-3 hours
Altitude: 4,100 meters
Overnight: Tent camping

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Day 16: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Sang e Naushdah to Shawr

If the Wakhan River is low, as it can be at this time of year, we may be able to shave an hour off today’s trek by fording the river to reach our overnight camp back at Shawr. If the river is still high, then we will cross the river near Boharak. Tonight we camp in Shawr.

Trekking: 5-7 hours.
Altitude: 3,450m
Overnight: Tent camping

Day 17: Wakhan Corridor Trek | Shawr to Sarhad

This morning we cross Daliz Pass again before making the descent back into Sarhad e Broghil where we will wrap up our Wakhan Corridor trek. We will quickly unpack on arrival in Sarhad e Broghil and load up into our vehicles. Here we bid our horsemen goodbye.

We plan to make it to Qala e Panja tonight, arriving in the early evening.

Trekking: 4-5 hours
Driving: 3-4 hours
Altitude: 2,800 meters

Overnight: Guesthouse in Qala e Panja

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Day 18: Back down the Wakhan | Qala e Panja to Eshkashim

On our last full day in the Afghan Wakhan, we will make the drive back to Eshkashim stopping in villages along the way. On arrival in Eshkashim, we hope to have time to time to wander in the small bazaar before having a large dinner with our Wakhi guides on our last night in the Afghan Wakhan.

Driving: 4-5 hours
Altitude: 2600 meters
Overnight: Guesthouse in Eshkashim

Day 19: Pamir Highway | Eshakshim to Qala i Khumb

We will arrive at the border in the morning and cross back into Tajikistan. Once on the Tajik side, we will load our gear into our vehicles and begin the long journey back to Dushanbe.

Our goal tonight is to make it to the pint-sized border town of Qala i Khumb. We plan to throw back a piva (beer) or a sip of cognac at a small convenience shop that seconds as a makeshift bar in the evenings.

Driving: 7-8 hours
Overnight: Guesthouse in Qala i Khumb

Qala i Khumb, Kala i Khumb, Kalaikhumb, Tajikistan

Day 20: Pamir Highway | Qala i Khumb to Dushanbe

Waving goodbye to the Pamirs, we will leave Qala i Khumb in the early morning and will hopefully be back in Dushanbe by late afternoon. Tonight we will have a final night on the town in the Tajik capital (after much-needed showers, of course).

Driving: 8-12 hours
Overnight: Guesthouse Dushanbe

Day 21: Departures from Dushanbe

Departures throughout the day today from Dushanbe. If you plan to stay longer in Tajikistan we can help arrange further accommodation or transport elsewhere for you.

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Other Important Information

Traveling in the Wakhan Corridor comes with a few unique hurdles.

Sleeping Arrangements & Showering

We will plan to sleep two to a tent while camping on the Wakhan trek. In guesthouses, you can expect the group to be put into large rooms with several beds, some of which may be on the floor. We will have the chance to shower on all nights in Tajikistan, and in Afghan Eshkashim. Otherwise, we will be wild camping (plan to get dirty- it’s quite dusty in these parts).

Meals

3 meals per day are included on the trip (except on arrival and departure days). Meals are very simple in the Wakhan. You can expect a typical meal to consist of chai, non (bread), and either rice or noodles with meat. If you have any allergies or special dietary requirements please let us know in advance so we can try our best to accommodate you.

Electricity, Internet & Communications

Once we begin the trek we will not have access to regular electricity. I highly recommend purchasing a solar charger and external batteries to bring with you to keep your electronics charged out here.

Given the remote nature of this trip, don’t expect to be online much at all. Mobile phone coverage is extremely limited and not the most reliable in the Afghan Wakhan. If you want to keep in contact with those back home, I highly recommend bringing an Inreach Explorer+ with you.

Dress Code

While the Wakhan Corridor is not as conservative as the remainder of Afghanistan it is still a pretty conservative society. Being fully covered for both men and women is important (long sleeves, full-length trousers/trekking pants). While not 100% required at all times it is best for women to wear a head covering in areas where we will encounter people (think villages and settlements). Much of this trip takes place at high altitudes and given the time of year (October) so temperatures will be quite cool, so covering and layering will be more comfortable anyway.

In Tajikistan, there are no special dressing requirements.

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Medications & First Aid

Bring any medication you need or may possibly need from home. I also highly recommend carrying a simple first aid kit with you for any minor injuries.

Altitude

This trip will largely take place at high altitudes. The elevations on the trek between Sarhad e Broghil and Chaqmaqtin and back will range from 3,300 meters | 10,825 feet at the lowerest and 4,905 meters | 16, 093 feet at the highest. We will take precautions to prevent altitude sickness, but it can and will happen. Read up more on altitude sickness here.

Weather

Given the high altitude nature of this trip, you can expect temperatures to be quite cold year-round, and especially in October when this Wakhan trek will take place. I’ve personally seen it snow in the Wakhan in September on my visit in the past, but even in July, this is not unheard of. Temperatures down to -15 C can be possible at night and as high was 25 C at lower altitudes in the daytime.

Physical Level

Trekking in the Wakhan is challenging. You can expect long days of trekking, up to 25 kilometers | 15 miles (10 hours) at the longest and as mentioned previously, we will trek over a number of mountain passes, the highest being at 4,905 meters. We will cross rivers and creeks numerous times. We will have pack animal support for the trek to carry food and tents, but you should still expect to carry a pack with roughly 10-10 kg of weight each day.

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Sign Up

This trip is limited to a maximum of 14 travelers so spots may fill quickly. Fill out the form below if you’re considering joining the expedition.

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