ITINERARY & MAP
Most people choose to fly to Dushanbe with Turkish Airlines, arriving very early in the morning. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel where you can check in right away. You will have time for a rest, breakfast, and shower after your long flight before meeting your guide and fellow travelers in the hotel lobby at 11:00 AM.
After introduction and lunch we visit ancient fortress at Hisor, just outside Dushanbe, dating back to the 7th century. It was once the residence of the Emir of Bukhara’s deputy and reflects his status. Returning to Dushanbe, we take a city tour which encompasses the city’s main sights: Rudaki Park, the National Library, the White House and the National State Seal. Just as impressive is what is currently the second tallest freestanding flagpole in the world – after Jeddah – a whopping 165 meters high with a flag measuring thirty by sixty meters.
Hotel Atlas or similar
Heading out of the Tajik capital this morning, we drive through the Varzob gorge – weekend getaway for locals from Dushanbe. Moving on, we climb steadily from the foothills into the Fann Mountains. These picturesque peaks form part of the lofty Zarafshan ridge. As passengers, you will be able to gaze uninterrupted at their beauty while someone else takes care of the driving, allowing your mind to wander and the stress of your regular life to fall away like the valley slopes by the side of the road.
Around 1 or 2 PM we plan to reach Penjakent, just in time for lunch. You get the chance to taste a famous Central Asian dish – Plov (rice with meat and carrots). In Tajikistan, it is said that the best Plov (or Pilaf) is made in Penjikent. After delicious lunch, we will check in at the hotel before exploring the town.
Penjikent translates as “the city of five villages” and is located on the verdant Zeravshan river valley. Dating from 5th century, Penjikent was a thriving regional hub on the Great Silk Road. We visit the local market of the town, the Mosque and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sarazm (ruins from 4th – 2nd millenia BC).
Hotel Umariyon or similar.
We will be back on the road again today following a route which takes us through the Shing Gorge, with its famous seven pearls of Tajikistan – seven mountain lakes each with its own distinctive color, microclimate, and flora. We are in no hurry today and can take photo stops at many beautiful spots along the way. Near the fourth lake we stop at the village of Noffin for lunch in a family guesthouse.
After lunch we drive further up to the sixth lake with a short walk in Podrud village along the way. From sixth lake we hike in less than one hour up to the 7th and last lake – Hazorchashma. The crew of donkeys, cook and support staff will meet us at the lake. You may relax at the lake, go for a swim, or have a walk around the lake if you like.
Overnight in tent, 2400m altitude.
Start the day with a nutritious breakfast. You will be trekking today around 6 hours, mostly uphill, so you will need the sustenance. We trek westwards from Hazorchashma lake towards Tovassang Pass, climbing steadily as the pass is at an altitude of 3350m. The exertion is well worth the effort, though, as we will be treated to an incredible view over the stunning Sarmat Gorge. We continue on, through the breathtaking Danisher Gorge, camping along the way.
Overnight in tent, ca. 2800m altitude
Fortunately, what goes up must come down and it’s downhill all the way today. We’ll stroll down the trail that leads through dense forest to the small village of Khomori Goitan before crossing the Archamaidon and Sarmat rivers. We’ll be glad of our crew and their pack mules who’ll take the hard work out of carrying our gear, leaving us free to focus our attention solely on the unmissable scenery that unfolds before us. Our goal today is to reach the Duoba campsite, located at 1870 metres above sea level at the confluence of the Archamaidon and Sarmat rivers.
Another day’s trekking begins this morning, and a very pleasant walk it is too. Our route hugs the banks of the Archamaidon River. In comparison to the rocky slopes, the meadows which surround the river are lush from the water used to irrigate them. We follow the main road past the villages of Voru and Gaza. Having broken for lunch somewhere along the way we will hike until we reach the village of Zimtut, where we are welcomed by a friendly family in their house, where we will have dinner and overnight. There will be some time to discover the charming village of Zimtut and get acquainted with the villagers.
Overnight in simple guesthouse, ca. 1900m altitude (multi-share with mattresses on the floor, pit toilets outside)
Today it is time to hike uphill again as we will cross Ghuytan pass (3000m) to reach Chukurak lake (2450m). After a short rest at the lake we hike half an hour down to Artuch Alpinist camp, where you will be able to sleep in twin rooms with private bathroom and shower.
Overnight in Artuch Camp (twin/ single rooms, with private bathroom and shower), 2160m altitude
Feeling refreshed after a good night’s rest, we are ready for the delightful ascent to the Kulikalon Lakes. The Kulikalon area is a plateau at an altitude of around 2800m full of rivers and beautiful lakes – some smaller and some larger. Many consider these lakes to be the most beautiful ones of the entire Fann Mountains. We will arrive early enough at the lakes, so you can go for a swim or explore the area on your own. Overnight at lake Bibijanat, a particularly picturesque lake in the Kulikalon area and suitable for swimming.
Overnight in tent, ca. 2800m altitude.
We depart Bibijanat and climb towards the incredible Alauddin Pass (3860m). This is the highest point of our tour. The ascent to the Pass is quite steep, so we make sure to stop sometimes to catch a breath, drink water and eat some snacks. On the pass you will be rewarded with clear view of Chapdara Glacier, the peak with the same name, as well as Mount Odamsang and Mount Marriya. Looking down from the Pass you can already spot the two Alauddin Lakes. The descent is quite steep and it takes longer than it seems until we finally reach the shore of Alauddin Lake and can jump into the refreshingly cold water.
We set up our tents next to the lake.
Overnight in tent, ca. 2700m altitude.
Today morning we walk down half an hour from Alauddin Lake to Alauddin Alpinist Camp, where the driver will wait for us to take us to Lake Iskander Kul. Named after Alexander the Great, this tranquil lake offers a serene location to mull over the sights and experiences we have had since arriving in Tajikistan. Triangular in shape, it is considered one of the most exquisite lakes in all of the former Soviet Union nations. We will take a short hike to nearby waterfall, also known as the Niagara Falls of the Fann Mountains. After lunch at the shore of the lake we drive to a mountain village, about 10km from the lake, where we spend the next two nights in a guesthouse.
Overnight in guesthouse, ca. 2400m altitude
After having seen so many passes and lakes, today for a change we will hike to the top of a mountain. We chose not just random mountain, but the peak with the legendary name “Alexander’s Hat” that you could see yesterday already from lake Iskander Kul and is named after Alexander the Great. The altitude on top is 3340m and will enjoy a breathtaking view on Iskander Kul Lake. Depending on how much we will do by car the hike will take about 4-6 hours, so we will have enough time to go for a walk in Saratog village afterwards and enjoy a “Banya”, the Russian type of a sauna.
Overnight in guesthouse, ca. 2400m altitude
Today it is time say farewell to the Fann mountains and transfer back to Dushanbe. We drive again via through Anzob tunnel and Varzog gorge the same way as we came. We arrive in Dushanbe in time for lunch. In the afternoon we can visit a market, or you can choose to spend your time freely in the city. Farewell dinner.
Overnight in Hotel Atlas or similar
Today it is time to say a fond farewell to Tajikistan. Early morning transfer to Dushanbe International airport. We sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed your trip and will return soon to trek in the Pamir mountains or as they call them here, the “Roof of the World”.