Mountainbike Tour Tajikistan

Fann Mountains & Yagnob Valley Expedition

Hike the rugged and beautiful Fann Mountains and have the ride of your life mountain biking through one of the most isolated and pristine mountain valleys in Tajikistan, the Yagnob Valley.

Days

15

Price

€1290

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12 persons

Countries: Tajikistan

Route:

  • Dushanbe
  • Fann Mountains
  • Yagnob Valley
  • Dushanbe

Themes: Active Adventures

Little-visited Tajikistan is barely on the tourist radar but those that make the effort will be rewarded with some of the most pristine and precious landscapes on the planet. On this tour you’ll have the opportunity to hike through the magical scenery of the Fann Mountains, characterised by remote mountain passes, serene glacial lakes and craggy snow-capped peaks.  Using well-maintained and comfortable mountain bikes, you’ll explore the villages and unspoilt landscapes of the Yagnob Valley, relishing the chance to meet the descendants of the ancient Sogdians who will welcome you into their homes. The biking and trekking route combines the Alaodin, Mutnoe and Iskanderkul Lakes of Fann Mountains with Yagnob Valley, and reaches an altitude of approximately 4,000m.

It’s a unique combination of active adventure and cultural immersion, giving you an insight into an authentic Tajik rural way of life that has remained unchanged for centuries. 

highlights

  • Go for a sightseeing tour in charming Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan
  • Go trekking among wild and unspoilt mountains dotted with turquoise lakes
  • Meet local people, their carts piled high with hay, just as it’s been for centuries
  • Experience the hustle and bustle of oriental bazaars
  • Hear fascinating legends about the conquest and life of Alexander the Great in Central Asia and visit the lake named after him, “Iskander Kul”
  • Meet the Yagnobis – direct descendants of the ancient Sogdians who still speak Sogdian language today

ITINERARY & MAP

Presidential palace in Dushanbe, tajikistan capital

Our introduction to wonderful Tajikistan begins just outside its capital, Dushanbe with a visit of ancient fortress at Hisor 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, the National State Seal, Parliament and the Jomi theatre.  Just as impressive is what is currently the second tallest freestanding flagpole in the world – after Jeddah – a whopping 165 metres high with a flag measuring thirty by sixty metres.  A visit to the Central Museum takes us to lunch and afterwards, we’ll make a visit to the Gurminj Museum with its fascinating collection of traditional musical instruments.  But we can’t really say we’ve shown you Dushanbe unless you’ve been to the bazaar so we’ll end our excursion with a trip to this most Oriental of markets, vendors’ stalls piled high with fruit and vegetables from the everyday to the exotic. Over dinner, you’ll try more of this fresh produce as you dine Tajik-style in a typical restaurant.

Transport: Minivan with A/C for transfer/city tour

Accommodation: Hotel – 4* by Western standards, altitude 706 m

Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours

Alp camp bike tour in Tajikistan, fann mountains adventure travel

Heading out of the Tajik capital this morning, we’ll drive through the Anzob tunnel, pausing for lunch at a chaikhana, or local tea room, en route.  It’s a stark landscape, but dramatic.  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’ll 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.  By mid-afternoon, we’ll pull in at Alp Camp Vertical, our base for the night in cosy mountain cottages.

Transport: Jeep with A/C, 6 hours

Accommodation: Alpine cottage, altitude 2600m

enjoy nature during the bike tour in tajikistan

Today, our sights are firmly set on the cerulean waters of the Alaodin Lake.  To reach it, we’ll need to lace up our boots and trek through some of Tajikistan’s prettiest scenery.  The gnarled rock faces of the Fann Mountains create the perfect backdrop to this magnificent high altitude body of water, which is so clear you’ll be able to see the boulders that have tumbled beneath its surface to a watery grave.  From there, we’ll hike to Lake Piala, translating as Bowl Lake.  Dwarfed by its surroundings yet hypnotically beautiful such is its depth of colour, it appears almost as if a gemstone has dissolved into the landscape.  Finally, we’ll reach Mutnoe Lake, pitching our tents at an altitude of 3500m.  Like the others, it has a serene beauty.  As we pull off our boots, we’ll only have covered a distance of 7km, but who would want to rush through a landscape such as this?

Trekking: 7km, +1000m

Accommodation: Tent, altitude 3500m

Mutnoe lake in Tajikistan

Tomorrow, we’re tackling a trekking route at an even higher altitude, where the air is thin and breaths are measured.  To acclimatize we recommend spending the day hiking around Mutnoe Lake.  There are plenty of trails from which to choose, whether easy or challenging.  Of course, easiest of all would be to stay in camp and enjoy the solitude.  However you spend the day, you’ll appreciate those mountain views. Once again we’ll camp here overnight.

Trekking: Optional, up and down around the lake to get used to altitude

Accommodation: Tent, altitude 3500m

Trekkingf in the fann moutains with snow

We’ll get an early start today to make our way over the Kaznok Pass which lies at an altitude of 4020m.  It’s a tough climb, even in summer passing over snow covered trails, but any discomfort and difficulty will be forgiven when we reach the top.  From your vantage point at Kaznok Pass, glaciers and peaks stretch as far as the eye can see.  Our guides will point them out to you: Zamok (5070m), Energiya (5120m) and Chimtargha (5489m), the highest peak in the Fann Mountains.   It’s an extraordinary view, and not one you’ll forget in a hurry.  From the pass, we’ll descend to the Kaznok River where camp will be set up.

Trekking: 10km, +800m, -150m

Accommodation: Tent, altitude 2700m

Tajikistan has amazing nature for outdoor adventures

The trek gets easier again today as we lose altitude and enter a verdant valley.  Its lush meadows form rich grazing pastures and as we descend, we’ll greet many a local shepherd out tending their flocks.  The lower slopes are covered with juniper trees and the dark green of those forests contrasts with the light blue of the sky overhead.  Our destination is Saratog, a typically Tajik village nestled in the valley.  There’ll be plenty of opportunity to wander and chat to the local residents to find out more about their way of life here.  Tonight, we’ll sleep at a homestay where a tasty dinner will also be provided.

Trekking: 12km, +350m, -700m

Accommodation: Simple village homestay, altitude 2400m

boat in front of iskanderkul lake in tajikistan adventure trip

Today marks the start of our mountain bike adventure.  We’ll enjoy a lazy morning in Saratog and a filling lunch before setting out to Iskander Kul.  Named after Alexander the Great, this tranquil glacial lake offers a serene location to mull over the sights and experiences we’ve had so far since arriving in Tajikistan.  Triangular in shape, many consider it to be one of the most exquisite lakes in all of the former Soviet Union nations.  It has great bird-spotting potential and if there’s even the tiniest bit of twitcher in you then you’ll be keen to see if you can catch a glimpse of numerous avian species including finches, warblers, falcons and vultures.  We’ll ride along the shore path, stopping at the inlet to set up camp.  Those wishing to stretch their legs will no doubt be tempted by the nearby waterfall, nicknamed the “Niagara Falls of Tajikistan”.  It’s also possible to take a dip in the cooling waters of the lake.  However, with the surrounding hills and forested banks perfectly reflected in the still water, we know how hard it will be to drag yourself away.  If you want to just sit and drink it all in, well, that’s fine by us.

Biking: 12km, +275m, -450m

Accommodation: Tent, altitude 2200m

tajik village with mud houses on mountain slopes in traveling central asia

Today we’ll get the bikes out again and cycle on paved roads down to the village of Takfon.  It occupies a position at the crossroads of the Fann Mountains and the Yagnob Valley.  Tonight’s dinner and accommodation will be provided in a family homestay in Takfon.

Biking: 30km, +700m, -1150m

Accommodation: Simple village homestay, altitude 1700m

Marghib Village in Tajikistan, Central Asia

Prepare yourselves: this will be possibly the toughest day of the trip, though one of the most rewarding.  From Takfon, we’ll take the road through a small market town called Anzob, hemmed in on all sides by steep mountain peaks.  You’ll see stables constructed from precariously stacked old stones and local housing.  From Anzob, we begin the interminable climb to Marghib, but when we arrive, the prize is obvious: uninterrupted views of the sheer rock face of Zamin Karor.  This place, lost in time, is one of the most photogenic villages in Tajikistan.

Biking: 30km, +1100m, -550m

Accommodation: Simple village homestay, altitude 2300m

Yagnob valley in Tajikistan, central asia tour

Today we ride into the Yagnob Valley, the gentle gradient of the path alongside the Yagnob River making light work of the pedal power needed to cover the distance.  This is fertile farmland.  The Yagnobi people who live here, though subsistence farmers, grow more than enough to meet their families’ needs.  Livestock graze on the thick grass of the meadows that line the banks of the river, which is turbulent enough here to be compared to milk.  From those meadows rise hills littered with rocky outcrops and hardy vegetation which clings to impossibly steep slopes.  You’ll keep to the valley floor, riding alongside petrified forests whose trunks and branches have stood as landmarks for millions of years.   Once, this place had a warm, temperate climate, in contrast to today’s harsher conditions.  Winters are especially difficult here, and the slopes home to alpine fauna like mountain goats, bears, foxes, wolves, snow leopards, marmots and ferrets.  Time and the modern world pass unnoticed in these parts.  The region’s women cling to the ancient Sogdian language, teaching their children to speak the language of ancestors going back to times long before Alexander the Great.  You’ll cycle through traditional villages unchanged for centuries, the likes of Bedef, Kashi and Petif.  Along the way, you’ll meet the villagers, enjoying their food and their company, before fetching up in Pskan where we’ll dine before spending the night in a simple family homestay.

Biking: 31km, +1000m, -750m

Accommodation: Simple village homestay, altitude 2550m

yagnobi family in front of their house in tajikistan

Pskan is worth more than a cursory glance.  Leaving the bikes behind, we’ll go hiking to explore its environs.  In this isolated place, the Yagnobis are unaccustomed to meeting strangers.  At Kalpak Travel, our guides have worked hard at building their trust.  You’ll benefit from that experience and patience; in their company you will be welcomed warmly into Yagnobi homes, a rare privilege.  Once again, we’ll overnight at the homestay.

Trekking: Short hike

Accommodation: Simple village homestay, altitude 2550m

mountain bike tour in Yagnob, Tajikistan

Making the most of the area’s unspoilt countryside, a rarity in today’s heavily developed world, we’ll cycle along the river banks for another 17km.  Along the way, a highlight will be passing the spectacular Yagnob Gorge, where the river has eroded a path deep in a canyon.  Camp tonight will be at an altitude of 2900m in the shadow of the pass.

Biking: 17km, +1200m, -850m

Accommodation: Tent, altitude 2900m

mountaiin biking in Central Asia travel

Today is the last active day on our tour. With the breeze in our faces, we’ll cross the high altitude Pskan Pass (3400m) and say goodbye to the Yagnob Valley.  Our descent towards Rufigar takes along a disused highway which hasn’t been used by vehicular traffic since the Soviet era.  Unmaintained and in a poor state of repair, it’s unsuitable for cars but not for our mountain bikes.  We’ll enjoy a traffic free ride as far as Rufigar village.  There, in a simple family homestay, we’ll enjoy a local supper and rest our heads for the night.

Biking: 17km, +760m, -1450m

Accommodation: Simple family homestay

old men playing music instrument in Dushanbe, Tajikistan music

Sadly, it’s time to make our way back to the city, so a car will be waiting for us in Rufigar to carry us back to Dushanbe.  There’ll be a scenic stop midway through the day where we’ll enjoy lunch and then it’s back on the road to reach the capital by afternoon.  There’ll be time in Dushanbe to visit a market where you’ll be able to purchase some souvenirs of your trip.  We will have farewell dinner at a nice restaurant and stay overnight at the conveniently located Atlas Hotel.

Transport: Jeep with A/C, 4 hours

Accommodation: Hotel – 4* by Western standards, altitude 706 m

Pamiri boy in Tajikistan

Today marks the end of your tour.  We’ll drive you to the airport in time for your flight home. We hope you have enjoyed this tour and will return soon to discover the other fascinating destinations that Central Asia has to offer.

Inclusions

Transport
Foot, Minivan
Meals
15 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 14 dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nights), Family Homestay (7 nights), Tent (5 nights)
Included Activities
  • City Tour of Dushanbe
  • Trekking in the Fann Mountains
  • Mountain biking in the Yagnob Valley

dates & price

Total trip price

€1290

Euro

15

Days

There is no single supplement available

Deposit: €250

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
14 Aug 2017
28 Aug 2017
+ Available
Price includes
  • All accommodation, including 4* hotel in Dushanbe and camping gear
  • MTB and Trekking guide servicesPorters with donkeys during mountain bike part of the tour
  • Porters with donkeys during mountain bike part of the tour
  • Cook’s services while camping
  • All transportation during the trip
  • All specialist and safety equipment
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks)
  • All permits and taxes
  • Airport pick up/drop off
Price does not include
  • International air fares
  • Mountain bike rental (180 USD)
  • eVisa fee (50 USD)
  • Personal kit and equipment (e.g. sleeping bag)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities to porters, guides and drivers

Important notes

  • You are required to obtain travel insurance for this tour. Upon arrival, please provide your insurance details to the tour guide. Which insurance you choose is up to you. We recommend WorldNomads.
  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the end of the tour
  • Trail riding and trekking experience is recommended
  • Departure for this tour is guaranteed
  • Please book your electronic visa here: https://www.evisa.tj – for address you can enter Atlas Hotel, 32, Nisor Muhammad Street 3/4, Dushanbe
  • After your booking enquiry we will send you a packing list, further information about the tour and an invoice for the deposit payment confirming your seat on the tour

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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