Fann & Pamir Mountains Tour

Fann Mountains & Pamir Highway Overland Tour

Explore the travel highlights of Tajikistan: Fann Mountains and Pamir Highway adventure.

Days

20

Price

€2780

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12 persons

Countries: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

Route:

  • Dushanbe
  • Fann Mountains
  • Pamir Highway
  • Osh
  • Bishkek

Themes: Active Adventures

This trip will lead you from Dushanbe to Bishkek. Little-visited Tajikistan is barely on the tourist radar but those that make the effort to visit will be rewarded with some of the most pristine and precious landscapes on the planet.  Not only will you gain an insight into the diversity of Central Asian culture, you’ll explore Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan’s rich heritage. And of course, we must not forget the great outdoors – and this tour includes a plethora of opportunities to be amazed by some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet.

highlights

  • Go for a sightseeing tour in charming Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan
  • Hike in the scenic Fann Mountains
  • Drive through the majestic Pamir Mountains
  • Visit the ancient fortress Yamchun located at the heart of the Pamirs
  • Enjoy the view of Peak Lenin (7’134m) from Tulpar Kul Lake
  • Climb up sacred Suleiman Mountain in Osh
  • Experience the hustle and bustle of oriental bazaars
  • Discover Bishkek, the greenest capital of Central Asia

ITINERARY & MAP

Dushanbe the capital of Tajikistan

Welcome to Central Asia! Arrive at the airport early in the morning. Transfer to the hotel and early check in. You can have a rest after your long flight, take a shower and have breakfast.
We start the city tour with a visit to the National Archaeological Museum of Tajikistan with the famous Buddha statue. Our next stop is the Navruz Palace. Initially this building was supposed to become the largest teahouse in the world. However, during construction, which involved hundreds of artisans from all over the country, the interior became so impressive that it was decided that it was going to become a palace instead of a teahouse. Most of its rooms are now used only for official government meetings with guests from abroad or for international conferences. Just one room is open for public use and usually weddings take place there. You get a chance to have tour inside this unique modern palace. After lunch, we visit the statue of Ismail Samani. The large monument commemorates the 1100th anniversary of the Samanid State, the heyday of the Tajik nation, when science and arts flourished. From there we walk up to Rudaki Park, dedicated to great Persian poet Rudaki, who also lived during Samanid time in the 9th century AD.
We will have welcome dinner in a nice Tajik restaurant. Your guide will outline the tour itinerary and give you plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

Atlas Hotel 4* or similar, incl. early check-in

Tajiksitan trekking in Bibijanat

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.
On the way we stop at a cafe next to the road for lunch. It is very long, but extremely scenic drive into the Fann Mountains. In the late afternoon we arrive at the Russian Alp Camp on 2160m altitude, where we will have dinner and spend the night. You can relax at the “hotel” or go for a short half an hour hike to nearby Chukurak mountain lake.

Artuch Alp Camp (twin/ single rooms with private bathroom and shower)

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 tents

Trekking in Tajikistan Alauddin lake

We depart Bibijanat and climb towards the incredible Alauddin Pass (3860m). 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 tents

Tajikistan Mutnoe lake trekking

Today we are tackling a beautiful day trek from Alauddin Lake to Mutnoy Lake (3500m altitude), from where we can spot the highest peaks of the Fann mountains. From the lake we have a fabulous view of Alauddin gorge and to the South, glaciers and peaks as far as the eye can see. Our guide will point the peaks out to you: Zamok (5070m), Energiya (5120m) and Chimtargha (5489m), the highest peak in the Fan Mountains. After a picnic at the Lake we return to Alauddin Lake, where we will spend the night at the shore of the picturesque lake in a tent (2770m).

 

Tajikistan tour at Iskander Kul lake

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 again via through Anzob tunnel and Varzog gorge.

Atlas Hotel 4* or similar

Tajikistan tour in Dushanbe

Today you can have some free time in Dushanbe. You can visit a bazaar, enjoy your time in a coffee place or traditional teahouse or just relax at the hotel before your Pamir Highway adventure.

Atlas Hotel 4* or similar

Tajikistan Pamir Highway trip starting from Qalai Khum

Gently gaining altitude, we leave Dushanbe and begin our journey towards the Pamir Mountains, with our sights firmly set on Khalai Kum village. The roads are rough enough to shake your bones and it’s going to be a long day, so don’t forget those snacks and charge up the batteries to make sure your chosen soundtrack lasts until evening. Of course, we make plenty of stops to stretch our legs, first of all visiting Norak Reservoir. In the city of Kulob in the southern region of Tajikistan we will have lunch before driving north-east and gaining slowly altitude again. The road will take us up and over the Shuraba Pass at 2267m. This is the border region with Afghanistan and from here onwards we will be surrounded by the mountains that have spawned countless adventurers over the centuries. The wild Panj River forms both the natural and the political boundary between Tajikistan and Afghanistan and we will skirt along its banks. Our accommodation tonight is in a guesthouse in Khalai Kum, the gateway of the Pamir region.

Guesthouse with shared toilet and shower

Pamir Highway trekking in Jisev, Tajikistan

Today morning we enjoy a shaky but very scenic ride along the bank of the Panj river. It is easy to spot the Afghan villages clinging to the hillsides and the pathways that snake between the rocks. We will keep within the Tajik territory, learning about the unique culture of the Pamirian people from our guide – their traditions, language and religion are all very different from the Tajik in other parts of the country.
Near the village of Rushan we take a turn and drive into the valley of Bartang, a tributary to the Panj river. Bartang Valley is one of the wildest and most memorable valleys in the western Pamirs. After just about one hour driving into the valley we will stop and start a gentle uphill 2-3 hours hike to Jisev valley. We will spend one night in a very simple family homestay amidst an idyllic landscape at about 2500m altitude.

Very simple family homestay, multi-share, pit toilet outside

Tajikistan Pamir Highway landscape

After breakfast we hike back down to Bartang river, where the car is waiting for us. We drive for about 3 hours further along the Panj river to reach Khorog, the biggest city and administrative capital of the Pamir Region of Tajikistan (GBAO). We will have lunch and a short city tour in Khorog. We will visit the bazaar and the botanical garden with a nice view of the city. You will notice the characteristic features that distinguish the Pamir people; unlike many Tajiks, a high percentage of those who live up here have blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes. After the rustic overnight at Jisev you will appreciate the nice hotel tonight.

Simple 3* Hotel with private bathroom and WiFi

Pamir Highway goes through Khorog

Our first stop today is the Garmchashma hot springs for an (optional) dip in the waters. From here starts the Wakhan Valley. This remote region is shared by Tajikistan and Afghanistan. It became famous in the 19th Century when it was used as a buffer zone between the Russian and British Empires during a period known as the “Great Game”. But it has been an important region for thousands of years already. Ishkashim is the regional administrative center, but it feels more like a large village. We check in at the guesthouse and have some time to explore the village before dinner. In the evening we can enjoy a folklore show of a group of local Wakhi dancers and musicians.

“Hanis” Guesthouse(shared western toilet and shower)

From Ishkashim this morning we will continue to Langar via Yamg. There are several places of interest where it is worth making a stop (in addition to photo stops). We take a small detour to the village of Namadguti where we will find the Khahkha Fortress. Dating from the 3rd century, it is one of several fortresses that remain in the area. The most impressive of these is Yamchun Fort and we will visit this too.
Lunch will be a picnic at the Bibi Fatima Hot Springs, named after the Prophet Mohammed’s sister. Local women believe that taking the waters here will increase their fertility. We then stop to see the Sufi Muborakqadam Museum and also the solar calendar. Further on, at Vrang, the 4th century Buddhist stupa reminds us that this was once a monastery. Locals will tell you that there is a stone on top of the stupa which has an imprint of Buddha’s footprint. No surprise, therefore, to learn that ancient pilgrims made a stop here as they passed through.

Family Guesthouse (shared western toilet and shower)

Pamir Highway view in Tajikistan

Today we go on a beautiful trek up the hill from Langar to the area of Engels Peak (6,510m). On the way uphill we will also see some old petroglyphs. The hike offers not only a beautiful view of some of the tallest mountains of the Pamir, but also of the Wakhan valley with the Panj river and the Hindukush mountain range in Afghanistan and Pakistan on the other side. After a picnic in stunning nature we walk down to Langar village again for another night in the guesthouse.

Family Guesthouse (shared western toilet and shower)

Today we leave behind the lush valleys and enter via Kargushi Pass (4300m) a landscape that is rocky, mostly barren, but very dramatic. Now we are on the famous Pamir Highway or simply M-41. The route between Khorog and Osh was completed in 1931 on a high-altitude plateau on almost 4000m above sea.
On the way to the village of Alichur we will visit two beautiful high-altitude mountain lakes – Yashilkul and Bulunkul. We will also make a short stop at a geyser. The village of Bulunkul where we stay overnight is famous for being the coldest place in Tajikistan.

Very simple family Guesthouse (pit latrine)

Tajikistan trekking in the Pamirs

The Eastern Pamirs are part of Tajikistan but inhabited primarily by ethnic Kyrgyz. Kyrgyz used to be nomads and many still today live a semi-nomadic life, living permanently in a village and during summer in a yurt on the summer pasture, where their cattle can graze. You will start to notice Kyrgyz yurts and herds of sheep, horses and yaks as we drive through this amazing lunar landscape towards Murghab, the center of Eastern Pamirs.
They have a saying in the Pamirs: “To arrive here and not see Murghab is akin to not visiting the Pamirs at all”. After all, by the Roof of the World, we mean Murghab. Desolate Murghab lies at the center of a flat plateau surrounded by dozens of peaks with summits that top out at over 6000 meters above sea level. Life here is rough, with short, cool summers followed by severe winters characterized by sub-zero temperatures and biting winds.
We will have a short tour in the small town (4000 inhabitants), including visit to a handicrafts center and the local bazaar and white Lenin statue.
After lunch in Murghab we drive further and ascend to the highest pass of the entire area of the former Soviet Union – Ak Baital Pass (4655m). After a descent we reach Karakul Lake (3800m altitude). The name of the lake translates as “Black Lake”, as it appears darker when the sun is not directly shining on it. Karakol is one of the highest navigable mountain lakes in the world. Right next to the lake we stay for overnight in the village with the same name as the lake.

Family Guesthouse (shared western toilet and shower)

After the lake we start the ascend to Kyzyl Art Pass (4280m), which forms the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It is time to say farewell to Tajikistan. After a hassle-free but perhaps time-consuming border crossing we drive to the picturesque Tulpar Kol Lake at the foot of majestic Peak Lenin (7139m). Tonight we stay in a yurt next to the lake. Feel free to relax with the shepherds or go for a hike towards Peak Lenin and try how high/ far you can get.

Yurt (4 people in one yurt, pit latrine, no shower)

Peak Lenin Kyrgyzstan

In the morning spend more time in this beautiful area and go for a light hike. After lunch with the local family depart towards Osh. Until Sary Tash we take the same road as we came from. After Sary Tash village we leave the Pamir-Alay mountain range behind us and drive through a totally different landscape once again. We encounter lush farmlands, and small villages along the way and cross scenic Taldyk Pass (3500m). The road is in quite good condition for most part until Osh so we are planning to arrive in Kyrgyzstan’s second largest and 3000-year-old city around early afternoon. Check-in at the hotel and relax.

Sunrise Hotel 3* or similar

In the morning when it is not so hot anymore, we will have a short city tour in Osh. The most important sight in Osh is the sacred Suleiman mountain. Nicknamed Kichik-Mecca (Little Mecca) this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a major place of Muslim and pre-Muslim pilgrimage. On top of the mountain is a stone shelter known as Babur’s House, named after the 15-16th century Muslim leader who founded the Mughal Dynasty in India and performed his 40 days fast for meditation here. See some other sights and local market of Osh. In the evening we take a short domestic flight to Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital. Check in at the hotel and explore Bishkek by night if you like.

Asia Mountains Hotel 3* or similar

Kyrgyzstan Tour at the central square in Bishkek

Transfer to Ala Archa National Park in the mountains, just 30km outside of Bishkek. We will have a walk in the park, enjoying the nice views and fresh air. Transfer back to Bishkek for lunch in the city center. In the afternoon we will have a city tour in Bishkek. The tour includes Osh Bazaar, Panfilov Park, Ala-Too Square with the National History Museum, and monuments to national hero Manas, writer Chingiz Aitmatov and another Kyrgyz hero Kozhomkul Baatyr. Dinner in a nice local restaurant.

Asia Mountains Hotel 3* or similar

Transfer to airport for departure flight back home. We hope you enjoyed your trip to Central Asia and will return soon to discover more places in this beautiful part of the world!

Inclusions

Transport
Foot, Minivan
Meals
21 Breakfasts, 20 Lunches, 20 Dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (5 nights, incl. early check in on day 1), Guesthouse/ Homestay (12 nights), Yurt (1 night), Tents (3 nights)
Included Activities
  • Dushanbe – City Tour
  • Hike to Jisev Valley
  • Visit oriental bazaars
  • Folklore Show at Ishkashim
  • Climb Suleiman Mountain in Osh
  • Sleeping in yurts
  • Bishkek – City Tour & Ala Archa National Park

dates & price

You can choose to join a small group on a guaranteed departure or book a private tour on the date of your choice
*
*
*
Total trip price

€2780

Euro

20

Days

Single supplement available for €460

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
10 Jun 2019
29 Jun 2019
+ Available
8 Jul 2019
27 Jul 2019
+ Available
11 Aug 2019
30 Aug 2019
+ Available
8 Jun 2020
28 Jun 2020
+ Available
6 Jul 2020
25 Jul 2020
+ Available
9 Aug 2020
29 Aug 2020
+ Available
Price includes
  • Three meals per day on every day of the journey
  • Flights Osh-Bishkek
  • Accommodation based on double/ twin share
  • One English speaking guide/ interpreter
  • Transport in comfortable 4WD mini-van with A/C, windows seats for everybody or Jeep type 4WD car (Mitsubishi Pajero or Toyota Landcruiser)
  • 1.5l bottled water per day and person
  • Food & accommodation of guide & driver
  • Entrance fees to all museums and hot springs as per itinerary
  • All airport transfers
Price does not include
  • Medical & Travel insurance
  • Fees for Tajik (50 USD) e-Visa and GBAO permit (20 USD)
  • Personal expenses
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Flights to Dushanbe and back home from Bishkek
  • Tips to guide and driver

Important notes

  • Travel insurance is required for this tour. Upon arrival, please provide your insurance details to the tour guide. Which insurance you choose is up to you. We recommend for example WorldNomads.
  • Be aware this trip includes long driving days on bad roads without real toilets along the way, high altitudes of up to 4655m, a few accommodations with pit toilets outside, mostly local food only, unreliable electricity supply and wifi is only available in larger cities. You are traveling in some areas which have, relatively speaking, seen few travelers and the infrastructure is basic at best.
  • Departure for this tour is guaranteed

KYRGYZSTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Kyrgyz currency is called the Som (KGS). In the capital Bishkek there are many ATMs that you can find in shopping centers, supermarkets or on the main streets. All of them accept Visa cards and some, like Kyrgyz Kommerts Bank, Demir Bank and Uni Credit accept other cards such as MasterCard or Maestro card. Outside of Bishkek, we don’t recommend relying on ATMs as there are so few of them. We also recommend that you bring some cash in new USD banknotes of denominations of at least 20 USD. There are many exchange offices, some working 24/7. Small and old-looking bank notes are harder to exchange. Paying directly with a credit card is still not possible at most places, except for high-end restaurants, hotels and a small number of international stores. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Kyrgyzstan is the most liberal and democratic country in the Central Asian region. For the last seven years, the political situation in the country has been calm and there is nothing to suggest that this situation might change. Guests and locals are treated with respect and the whole country can be regarded as very safe destination for travelers. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, avoid dark streets at night and only use official taxis. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Kyrgyz partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of most Western countries do not need a visa for a stay of up to 60 days in Kyrgyzstan. To be sure whether you need a visa or not you can check on www.thevisamachine.com. Any special permits that you might need for access to places that will be visited during your tour, we will provide to you free of charge.
As soon as we receive your deposit payment, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Kyrgyzstan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Kyrgyzstan is continental and dry in the majority of the country, including the largest cities. In the Ferghana Valley in the south and in capital Bishkek, summers are very hot with day temperatures between 30° and 40° Celsius. However, most of the country is situated more than 1500 meters above the sea level, where temperatures are in the mid-20s during summer. At high altitudes of 3000 meters or more it may even snow overnight during the summer, so make sure you bring some warm clothes. The best season to visit for activity or jeep tours would be in summer and winter for skiing tours. Please note, weather in some mountain areas may be very changeable.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Kyrgyzstan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Kyrgyzstan are basic at best.

TAJIKISTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Tajik currency is called the Somoni (TJS). In the capital Dushanbe there are a few ATMs that you’ll find in shopping centres, supermarkets or on the main streets, but most of them accept only Visa cards. Outside of Dushanbe we don’t recommend relying on ATMs as there are only a few of them and they may run out of money.
We recommend bringing cash in new USD bank notes of denominations of at least 20 USD. There are many exchange offices, some working 24/7. Small and old-looking bank notes are harder to exchange. Paying directly with credit card is still not possible at most places, except for few high-end restaurants and hotels. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

The political situation in the country has been calm in recent years and there are no indications of upcoming tensions. The border area with Afghanistan is safe as well, but we do not recommend crossing the border for a trip into Afghanistan. Guests and locals are treated with respect and Tajikistan can be regarded as safe destination for travelers. That being said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, avoid dark streets at night and only take official taxi rides. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Tajik partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of almost every country can obtain an e-Visa online for stays of up to 45 days in Tajikistan. All you need to do is enter the requested information then pay a fee of 50 USD by credit card and you will receive almost immediately the eVisa by email. You can print it out and use it just like an ordinary visa to enter the country. Please note, if you are planning to visit Pamir region, you need a GBAO permit, which you can purchase online, together with the eVisa, for an additional fee of USD 20.
As soon as we receive the deposit payment for your tour, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Tajikistan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Tajikistan is continental and dry across most of the country, including the largest cities. In regions situated at relatively low altitude, such as the capital Dushanbe, the south of Tajikistan around Kulob and the Khujand region, summers are very hot with day temperatures between 30° and 40° Celsius. However, most of the country is situated at high altitudes, where temperatures are in the mid 20s or less during the summer. If you visit the Fann or Pamir Mountains, make sure to bring some warm clothes, as it can get very cold at night at elevations of more than 3000 metres. The best season to visit is during summer.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Tajikistan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Tajikistan are basic at best. Please note: there is a small risk of malaria in the south of Tajikistan by the borders with Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. None of our tours visit this region.

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