Trekking in Tajikistan

The northern ranges, Pamirs and Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor

By Jan Bakker, Christine Oriol

Guidebook to trekking in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Contains 21 treks exploring 5 different mountain areas, including the Northern Ranges, Pamir Mountains and Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor. Also includes a handful of shorter day hikes. With advice on trekking, backpacking equipment, permits and visas, and transport.

Seasons

Seasons

Most trekking routes in the northern ranges of Tajikistan are accessible from May to October whereas the best time to trek the Pamirs is from June until mid-October.
Centres

Centres

Penjikent is the jumping-off point in northern Tajikistan, while Sarytag, the village close to Iskanderkul, connects several trekking itineraries. Khorog is the best hub from which to venture into the Pamirs. The guide also includes five day hikes near the capital, Dushanbe.
Difficulty

Difficulty

Routes vary from easy to very hard. While most trails are clear, solitude, river crossings, route finding, high altitude and the wild terrain of the Tajik mountains all pose varying degrees of challenge. Some treks include travel on small glaciers that require the use of crampons.
Must See

Must See

Local hospitality; untamed wilderness; pristine Alpine lakes including Alaudin Lake, Iskanderkul, Leilakul, Zarojkul and Sarez; Dukdon Pass; Ravmeddara Valley; the remote Pamiri villages of Bardara and Vezdara; Shakhdara Valley, with views of Pik Engels and Pik Karl Marx; Afghan Wakhan Corridor
ISBN
9781852849467
Availability
Published
Published
8 Nov 2018
Edition
First
Pages
400
Size
17.2 x 11.6 x 2.2cm
Weight
450g
  • Overview

    Known as 'the Roof of the World', Tajikistan is one of the most mountainous countries on Earth, with 93% of its landmass considered mountainous territory. This is where the mighty Himalaya meet the Tian Shan, Karakoram and Hindu Kush, and a centuries-old network of trails criss-crosses the remote terrain, linking isolated villages and shepherds' camps. Although infrastructure is fragile and tourism in its infancy, this Central Asian nation presents some outstanding opportunities for the adventurous trekker.

    This guide describes twenty high-altitude treks of 2–9 days in the mountains of Tajikistan, covering the Fann Mountains, Pamirs and northwestern ranges, plus five day hikes near the capital, Dushanbe, and a 10-day trek in the Afghan Wakhan Corridor. As well as detailed route description and 1:100,000 mapping for each trek, there is a wealth of practical advice on transport and visas, trekking support, equipment, cultural awareness, safety and security, as well as background notes on history, flora and fauna and a Tajik-Russian-Pamiri-English glossary. The guide can be used either to plan an independent trek or to select, prepare for and enhance an organised expedition.

    The hand-picked routes showcase Tajikistan's breathtaking landscapes of lofty snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes and sweeping high-altitude plateaus. Trekking here is also a rich cultural experience: in addition to wild camping, many of the treks include the opportunity to experience the fascinating local culture and warm hospitality in a traditional homestay, meeting those who call this remote wilderness home. This guide will be your companion to discovering Tajikistan, a country with so much to offer and one of Central Asia's best kept secrets.

  • Contents

    Contents
    Introduction
    Trekking on the Roof of the World
    Preparations and practicalities
    When to go
    Getting there
    Visas, permits and border crossings
    Getting around
    Trekking support
    Accommodation and food
    Cultural awareness
    Language
    Money
    Phones and the internet
    What to take
    Low impact trekking
    Maps
    Trekking in Tajikistan
    Staying healthy
    Safety and security
    Using this guidebook
    About Tajikistan
    Geography
    History
    Plants and wildlife
    Tajik National Park
    Dushanbe day hikes
    Route 1 Leilakul
    Route 2 Gusgarf Waterfall
    Route 3 Begar Waterfall
    Route 4 Shirkent dinosaur tracks
    Route 5 Sioma Valley
    Fann Mountains
    Route 6 Mura Pass
    Route 7 Dukdon Pass
    Route 8 Fann Lakes circuit
    Route 9 Kaznok Pass
    Route 10 Sarymat Pass
    Route 11 Chimtarga Pass and Bolshoi Allo Lake
    Link routes
    Route 12A Sarymat River
    Route 12B Munora Pass
    Zerafshan and Hissar ranges and Yagnob Valley
    Route 13 Darg to Ziddi Valley
    Route 14 Yagnob Valley and Tabaspin Pass
    Western and Central Pamir
    Route 15 Gardan-i-Kaftar Pass
    Route 16 Jizev Valley
    Route 17 Ravmeddara Valley
    Route 18 Pamir mountain lakes 1: Bachor to Sarez Lake
    Route 19 Pamir mountain lakes 2: Yashilkul and Shtik Lazar Pass
    Southern Pamir
    Route 20 Turumtaikul Lake
    Route 21 Oykul Lake
    Route 22 Vrang Pass
    Route 23 Darshaidavan Pass
    Route 24 Vezdara to Tusion
    Route 25 Pik Engels Meadow
    Afghanistan
    Route 26 Afghan Wakhan Corridor: Little Pamir

    Appendix A Route summary table
    Appendix B Useful contacts
    Appendix C Language notes
    Appendix D Further reading

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  • Reviews
    An essential addition to travel guides on Tajikistan

    The two authors are among the very best qualified to give guidance on trekking in this region. (Christine is also directly involved in an ambitious and successful project to train women mountain guides in the Pamirs - "Women Rockin' Pamirs.")

    The book begins with comprehensive and concise general advice on travel to Tajikistan, visas and permits, accommodation, health, weather, history, culture, maps, equipment, safety, plants, wildlife, and some good cautionary messages about "low impact trekking."

    The authors then explain their system of grading treks by degree of difficulty - one of the first considerations in ensuring personal safety, as altitude and terrain can be unforgiving and human settlements are few and far between, especially in the Pamirs and the Wakhan.

    The guide then subdivides treks by region, not forgetting day hikes from Dushanbe, the capital. Each route is carefully described, with landmarks, excellent detail maps and information about length, estimated duration, altitude differences and degree of difficulty.

    A final set of appendices provides a summary of each route, useful contacts, language notes and further reading.

    Attractively produced, with many superb colour photos and a protective plastic cover, the book is just small and light enough to fit in the pocket of your anorak, and certainly belongs in your backpack.

    Congratulations and best wishes to the authors and Cicerone!

    Robert Middleton

    Co-author "Tajikistan and the High Pamirs"

    Crans-près-Céligny, January 2019

    http://www.pamirs.org/Cicerone...


    For everyone who is serious about discovering Tajikistan on foot, this is the guide to have.

    Trekking in Tajikistan by Jan Bakker and Christine Oriol is the first, and for now, only guidebook dedicated to trekking in Tajikistan (or elsewhere in Central Asia for that matter). Seeing the boom in tourism in Tajikistan, it comes just in time.

    In 2014, this page reviewed the trekking e-book Jan Bakker self-published. With the help of Christine, who also runs the girl-guide NGO Women Rockin’ Pamirs, the original solo effort got a serious upgrade in 2018: 3 times more treks, better route descriptions, and more background info. A specialised trekking guide publisher has been found in Cicerone.

    Destinations and routes

    The book consists of:

    5 day hikes near Dushanbe (5 hiking days)

    6 routes + 2 link routes through the Fann mountains (28 hiking days)

    2 routes in the Zerafshan and Hissar ranges and Yagnob valley (14 hiking days)

    5 routes in the Western and Central Pamir (24 hiking days)

    6 routes in the Southern Pamir (21 hiking days)

    1 route in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor (10 hiking days)

    All in total 25 + 2 routes worth 102 days of trekking. There is a good mix of routes: some are full-on wilderness treks with high-altitude steep climbs, while others center more around village life and alpine lakes. Each regional chapter includes both difficult and easier treks.

    The subtitle of the book reads “The northern ranges, Pamirs and Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor”. Which means that, the Eastern Pamirs are not included. I asked Jan about this, and the 2 main reasons for not including the Murghab plateau are:

    a) the monotonous landscape and lack of variation in the treks there versus the rest of the Pamirs (it is indeed, a high desert), and

    b) the more difficult logistics around Murghab: you cannot trek for a few weeks straight without having to drive around a lot.

    Looking up the huge north face of Mirali Peak (via Cicerone)

    Formats

    Trekking in Tajikistan is available as an e-book and a printed version. Gpx files of all hikes are available for download after registering. The printed book comes in a handy small format (17.2 x 11.6 x 2.2cm) with plastic cover, weighing in at 450g.

    The guide

    The background information on transport, accommodation, cultural awareness, fauna and flora and safety and security is concise and informative.

    The route descriptions have been overhauled. The top addition to the previous version are the short descriptions of the treks and of each stage, which makes it very easy to decide which trek to embark on.

    Beyond the trek summary, each route comes with a height profile, an overview map, some pictures and advice on transport, accommodation and trek support. Each stage of a route has a summary, a topographic map and a short description of the actual route to be taken.

    Final judgement

    In our previous review of 2014, we had some reservations about the book: it was not very extensive, and the route descriptions were basic. It was difficult to decide which trek was best suited to your needs. It gave some ideas and directions, but you still had a lot of figuring out to do for yourself.

    With the Cicerone edition, these misgivings have disappeared.

    There are now plenty of routes to get inspired by. It’s clear a lot of thought has gone into route selection, picking routes that are diverse in difficulty, landscape and culture, with route intersections built in for extended hiking holidays.

    The route descriptions have vastly improved and the summaries make it easy to see which trek is right for you.

    In short, Trekking in Tajikistan has set the standard for future trekking guidebooks to Central Asia. For everyone who is serious about discovering Tajikistan on foot, this is the guide to have.

    Last updated on November 28, 2018

    By Steven Hermans https://caravanistan.com/revie...

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