Trekking Tajikistan: Pamir Mountain Lakes

Dates: TBC 2019

Of all the Greater Ranges on the Asian continent, the Pamir Mountains are probably the least known and the least visited of them all. They boast the world’s largest glacier outside the Polar regions, the 77km long Fedchenko Glacier, and harbour three mountains taller than 7000m.

We will be traversing through the heart of the mountain range. Along the way, we will stay in the homes of the Pamiri natives, camp near centuries old caravanserais and explore the shores of shimmering blue Alpine lakes. To complete the traverse the team will scale a mountain pass that’s taller than Mont Blanc. Be prepared to be spoiled for life!

Highlights

  • Stay in the homes of the hospitable Pamiri people
  • Camp on the shores of shimmering blue alpine lakes
  • Scale a pass taller than any summit in the European Alps

Start point  – Dushanbe
End point   – Dushanbe
Maximum number of people: 10
Number of days: 16

Day 1 – Dushanbe – Kalaikhum
After flying into the capital of Tajikistan Dushanbe we will be heading straight to one of the most spectacular mountain roads in the world: the Pamir Highway. Our four-wheel drive vehicles will scale the first pass over 3000 metres and descend to the valley of the mighty Panj river.

Driving: 9 hours
Altitude: 1600m

Day 2 – Kalaikhum – Khorog
Today we will follow the Panj river, also known as the Oxus in ancient times. The other side of the river is Afghanistan. During the drive, you can see daily life in the mud-brick Afghan villages. At times the Pamir Highway squeezes through dazzling gorges and crosses rickety suspension bridges. We will stay in the capital of the Pamirs, Khorog.

Driving: 6 hours
Altitude: 2150m

Day 3 – Khorogh – Shakhdara Valley
Our drivers will take us up what the Pamiri people call Bam-y-Dunya, or the Roof of the World. As a part of our acclimatisation schedule for the trekking we will ascend 1300 vertical metres and stay in a Pamiri homestay at an altitude of 3470m. The skyline is filled with peaks over 6000m, of which the distinct Pik Karl Marx (6723m) is the tallest.

Driving: 3 hours
Altitude: 3470m

Day 4 Shakhdara Valley – Bulunkul
On our way to the trailhead of the trek from Bulunkul we return to the Pamir Highway, that now crosses one of the highest sections. We will drive through an icy, high altitude landscape with jagged peaks as far as the eyes can see. The highlight of the day is the crossing of the 4271m Koitezek Pass. After a bone-rattling day we will arrive in Bulunkul, officially the coldest inhabited place in Central Asia where the temperature once plummeted to a whopping -63 °C.

Driving: 5 hours
Altitude 3750m

Day 5 – Bulunkul – Peninsula West of Sumantash
After four days on the “road” it’s time to stretch the legs and hit the trail. The first day is literally a warm up. An 18km walk will lead us to our first camp on a peninsula west of Sumantash on the shores of Yashilkul. Along the way you’ll pass next to the remains of an ancient caravanserai, the Mahjura hot springs, and pre-historic stone circles near the mouth of the Marjanay River. The view from your tent is the beautiful mountain lake of Yashilkul.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 3750m

Day 6 – Peninsula West of Sumantash – North West Shore Yashilkul
Today we head in westerly direction along the north shore of Yashilkul. After 18km walk we will pitch our tents at the North West end of Yashilkul.

Trekking: 7 hours
Altitude: 3750m

Day 7 – North West Shore Yashilkul – Langar Valley
We will leave the shores of Yashilkul and enter the classic Pamir valley of Langar. A Pamir is a broad, U-shaped valley carved out by a glacier or icefield. These type of valleys are ideal grazing grounds also known as aylaqs. The shepherds go up to the aylaqs in summer time with their often massive herds of fat-tailed sheep and goats. We will set up camp halfway the valley.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 3890m

Days 8 – Langar Valley – Chapdarkul
The 14km climb to the shores of the dramatic lake of Chapdarkul takes us above the 4000m mark. Depending on the speed of the group there is also the option to proceed further for up to one hour and camp nearby Langar Pass (4630m). The thin air at this altitude make even the easiest tasks an effort.

Trekking: 6 hours
Altitude: 4530m

Day 9 – Chapdarkul – Uchkul
We will descend from Langar Pass towards the Uchkul area and camp in the Zaurbek area which is a series of three beautiful turquoise lakes surrounded by pastures grazed by yaks and sheep. The landscape is again very different from the previous days, with Mount Kulin dominating the skyline in the distance. We’ll be staying close to a shepherd’s camp at 4100m just after the Uchkul area.

Trekking: 4-5 hours
Altitude: 4100m

Day 10 – Uchkul – Zarojkul
From Uchkul you’ll venture through more ever more wild terrain to reach what is arguably the most beautiful mountain lake in the Pamirs: Zarojkul, which is fringed by snow-capped mountain giants.

Trekking: 6-7 hours
Altitude: 4510m

Day 11 – Zarojkul – Top Bardara Valley
Tuesday 14th August 2018
In this section the team will reach the highest point of the trek, the 4840m high Shtik Lazar Pass. Although it’s just over 300 vertical meters of climbing to the top of the pass, it will be a tough day. From the top you can see one of the biggest mountains in the Tajik Pamirs, Peak Revolution (6940m). The 1100m descent takes us to our camping spot at 3720m.

Trekking: 7 hours
Altitude: 3720m

Day 12 – Top Bardara Valley – Bardara Village
The final day is a long one. For 20km we will follow the crystal clear Bardara river before we arrive in one of the remotest settlements in the Pamirs, Bardara. Here we will sleep inside underneath a Pamiri roof again.

Trekking: 8 hours
Altitude: 2830m

Day 13 – Bardara Village
A rest day. This day it will be all about eating, sleeping and exploring village life in the Pamirs at a very slow pace.

Altitude: 2830m

Day 14 – Bardara Village – Kalaikhum
Our drivers will pick us up and drive us through the wonderful Bartang Valley, back to the Panj river where we make a right turn towards Kalaikhum.

Day 15 – Kalaikhum – Dushanbe
This is the last full day drive back to Dushanbe. We will leave early which will enable us to explore the capital of Dushanbe a little bit.

Day 16 – Dushanbe – End
You will be dropped at the airport in the early hours of Sunday morning.
You will be accompanied by an international (trekking) guide from Untamed Borders for the entire length of this trip.

The trip includes:
All accommodation, including tents during the trek
All meals except in Khorog and Dushanbe
Transport
Experienced international trekking guide
Local trekking crew
Pack animals

The trip does not include:
Any necessary visas and permits
Insurance
Flights to Tajikistan
Entrance fees
Drinks
Tips

Cost – US$TBC
To reserve a place on this trip we need a deposit of US$400

Flights:
We do not directly arrange international flights to Tajikistan. However, we can suggest routes and operators.
You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for suggested routes.
Mail: untamedborders@rtwexperts.co.uk
Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966

Visas:
You will require a Tajikistan visa for this trip as well as a GBAO permit for the Badakhshan region where we will be travelling in. We will provide visa support and advice on how best to obtain this visa. If you are based in the UK or Australia then we can recommend using The Visa Machine as a visa agent.
Visit the Untamed Borders page at their website – untamedborders.thevisamachine.com

Food:
In Tajikistan, meals are sometimes included with the accommodation, and these are included in the price. This also applies to the tasty meals produced by our high altitude chef while we are trekking in the mountains. The food in Khorog and Dushanbe is not included in the price as we want people to have the freedom to choose their preferred restaurant.

Accommodation:
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. Even if we wanted to, the reality is that standards in Dushanbe cannot be compared to a homestay in an isolated valley in the Pamirs. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.

The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing a room when that is available. When we are in the Pamirs we will be staying in tents and in local homestays that sometimes only offer central communal areas to sleep in.

Transport:
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. We will only be travelling by four-wheel drive vehicles because the majority of the road is essentially a dirt track (despite that “Pamir Highway” suggests smooth tarmac). Your comfort, enjoyment, and safety of the journey is the first priority.

Guides:
On this trip, you will be accompanied by an experienced international trekking guide plus an English speaking local guide from Untamed Borders. This allows for greater flexibility and means that there will always be someone on hand to help or assist you even if the other team leader is busy making arrangements.

Security:
Tajikistan including the Autonomous Region of Badakhshan is currently a stable area. However, we monitor the situation closely and we listen very carefully to advice from the foreign office and from our friends in the areas we visit. Our client’s safety is our primary concern. We must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas which we consider to be stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.

Contact us for further information at info@untamedborders.com