• Central Asia

    tajikistan
    hiking stories

    By Pravin Dhake

    mountain range

    pamirs

    base

    khorugh

    av. daily distance

    25 km

    av. daily elevation

    5000 - 7000 ft

    Days

    7-14

    difficulty

    With thousands of miles of trails to hike, hundreds of mountains to climb, and dozens of alpine lakes, the Pamirs of Tajikistan are an adventurer’s paradise.With so much to offer, narrowing down a list of things to do can be a daunting task. This guide will help you make the most out of your stay in Tajikistan

    Tajikistan, which is roughly half the size of Maharastra, has a population of just under Nine million people, 13 times less than population of Maharshtra. Do the math and that’s a pretty small amount of people living in an enormous country, especially for someone coming from Mumbai..

    While the entire span of Tajikistan is fascinating, the real reason why backpackers make it to the country is the Pamir Highway. Simply put, it is one of the world’s most stunning hiking and road trips along the second highest highway ever built by man. One of the best bases for hiking the Pamirs is Khorugh, a small town accessible either by a 15 seater plane ride for an hour or a 14 hour shard taxi ride from Dushanbe.

    From Dushanbe: Airplane usually flies 1 flight a day, when the weather is good during the summer. Spectacular flight, for about USD 85.

    Vehicles run constantly to Khorugh. Best to get there is very early in the morning, maybe 6-7AM. Vehicles leave from near the airport. Most people in the capital are unaware of its location. However, just ask around in your Dushanbe hostel and they will point it out to you. Price is anywhere from USD 40-60, depending on the vehicle.
    Get a good vehicle. A good vehicle usually means a good driver. The trip takes between 15hours to two days.

    Hikes around Khorugh:

    Wakhan Corridor - Engels Meadows

    Picture yourself on a giant windswept plateau dotted with barren mountains. Looking south giant you would see icy pinnacles up to heights of over 6000m. They would be Engels peak and Karl Marx peaks. In the north more gentle rolling mountains look slightly more inviting. From here began the views of the spectacular Hindu Kush (Killer of Hindus Mountains) on the border with Pakistan.You're facing the Wakhan Corridor, in the northeastern panhandle of Afghanistan where the Pamirs meet the Hindu Kush. The hike is flooded with several high mountain passes, though it never gets technical.

    Accessible either through a shared cab or a rented car from Khorugh, Langar is the base town for hike to Engels meadows which serves as the basecamp for expedition to Engels peak. Langar is located at the end of the Wakhan Valley and is the point where the Wakhan and Pamir rivers combine to make the Pyanj. The village is set deep within the gorge, where steep, rocky slopes surround the verdant green valley. Although it's a secluded village, the locals are pretty welcoming of hikers; houses are immaculately kept and serve as great homestays before and after your hikes. Read, a place for a hot shower.

    Start point

    langar

    end point

    engels meadows

    av. daily distance

    25 km

    av. daily elevation

    5000 - 7000 ft

    Days

    1-3

    difficulty

    There are home stays all around Langar. Although it's a secluded village, the locals are pretty welcoming of hikers; houses are immaculately kept and serve as great homestays before and after your hikes.

    Bartang Valley:

    The valley of the river Bartang is one of the most scenic routes in the Pamirs region of eastern Tajikistan. Accessible either through a shared cab or a bus (Marshrutka) from Khorugh, Rushon is the base town for Bartang. The valley starts at the city of Rushon, some 60 km west of Khorugh on the M41 highway. A road leads from Rushon all the way to lake Karakul. The people who live in the valley are primarily Pamiris and speak the Bartang language. They are famous for their hospitality and kindness, although most live in poor conditions, especially in the upper Bartang valley.

    Probably the most popular trip is the walk to the village of Jisev, which is some 25 km from Rushon. Jisev begins on the river Bartang, across a wooden suspension bridge. Being a gentle uphill for the most part, the hike isn't tiring for about 8km to the upper of three lakes. The first houses in Jisev are reached after about 5km. The abundant vegetation, lakes, the valley woods, and the ever-changing river - create a very special peaceful atmosphere, ideal for a short break without too much physical effort. You will be invited to stay in people's houses in almost every village and if you are short of camping gear it is recommended to stay with the villagers. The villagers won't ask you for direct payment however, anything between 50 and 70 somoni is a good amount to give to your host for the night and for the food you have inevitably been offered.

    Start point

    rushon

    end point

    jisev

    av. daily distance

    20 km

    av. daily elevation

    2000 - 3000 ft

    Days

    1-3

    difficulty

    Probably the most popular trip is the walk to the village of Jisev, which is some 25 km from Rushon. Jisev begins on the river Bartang, across a wooden suspension bridge.

    Bartang Valley

    The people who live in the valley are primarily pamiris and speak the bartang language. They are famous for their hospitality and kindness, although most live in poor conditions.

    Tajikistan is a great learning place for the cultural and lifestyle tinder box of Central Asia. No matter where you explore in Tajikistan, you’re sure to have the adventure of a lifetime.

    BLOG BY

    PRAVIN DHAKE

    Pravin loves the outdoors, desserts, and taking selfies with animals. When not getting his shoes dirty on hikes, Pravin calls Bombay home. He is the founder and one of the editors at Athlos. You can follow him on Twitter.

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