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Trekking Expedition in Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains

Get truly remote in Central Asia on a high-altitude hike through the 'Roof of the World'

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Trip Ref #10543

Trekking Expedition in Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains

Get truly remote in Central Asia on a high-altitude hike through the 'Roof of the World'

DURATION
15 nights
LOCATION
Tajikistan
ANNUAL LEAVE
2 weeks off work
SEASON
Jul-Sep
GROUP SIZE
Up to 14 people
MEETING POINT
Dushanbe Airport
ACCOMMODATION
Classic

Hotel · Guesthouse · Wild camping · Homestay

OVERALL RATING

4.0

Based on 1 reviews
DIFFICULTY
Challenging

High altitude, rough terrain, the weather, the distance, the elevation – make no mistake, this one will test you

Trek spectacular sections of the Pamir Trail, a new long-distance hiking trail that weaves below towering 7000m peaks

Experience a warm Tajik welcome in villages and homestays, on an epic road trip from Dushanbe to the Pamirs

Camp beside azure alpine lakes and rivers in some of the most remote mountain scenery on the planet, and soak in the natural hot springs of Kavk

Day 1

Touchdown in Dushanbe

Welcome to Tajikistan! Your host will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel, where you can rest after your long flight before meeting up with your tour leader and fellow adventurers for lunch and a chat through the expedition ahead. Spend the afternoon exploring the monuments, mosques and bazaars of Tajikistan's capital before dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 2

Hit the road to Qalai Khumb

Driving

6-7hrs · 340km

Hiking

1hr

The expedition gets under way as you head off for a two-day road trip, heading east to reach the Pamir Mountains. Orchards and villages are embedded in the green landscape which lines the route from Dushanbe, through the wide valleys of Vakhsh and Obikhingou. Stop at Tavildara to stretch your legs on a short hike, taking in the views of Navruz mountain, whose colourful rock formations are folded into a unique tulip shape. Roll further along the Pamir Highway, entering the high-altitude region as you cross the Saghirdasht Pass at 3252m. Reaching Qalai Khumb in the late afternoon, get to know Pamir hospitality for the first time at your privately run guesthouse as you chat to your hosts over dinner.

Day 3

Along the Pamir Highway to Khorog

Driving

7hrs · 260km

Hiking

1hr

Today's drive follows the mighty Panj River, which forms the border with Afghanistan. The road squeezes into a huge ravine between the rugged mountain ranges of the West Pamirs, and there are plenty of stops along the route to stretch your legs and take in this unique place. By evening, you'll reach Khorog, the capital of the mountainous region of Badakhshan where you'll be staying in order to acclimatise before the trek. Khorog sits at 2070m on the Pamir Highway, in a narrow valley where the azure rivers Shakhdara and Ghund flow towards the murky Panj. The small town is also an important cultural centre with two universities, a public library, a theatre and the world's second-highest botanical garden (2300m).

Day 4

Acclimatisation day and warm up hikes in Khorog

Hiking

2hrs

Enjoy being off the road and on your feet today, as you enjoy Khorog and acclimatise to the altitude. Stroll around the beautiful city park - the favourite meeting place of the Khorogers - and pay a visit to the lively bazaar, where juraby (typical Pamirian woollen socks) and toki (colourfully embroidered headgear) are sold. In the afternoon you'll hike up to the botanical garden, located high above the city. The garden was created in 1940 and is a small oasis of over 2000 plant species, with fantastic views of Khorog and the Pamir Mountains in the distance. Grab dinner in a restaurant and a final night's sleep in a bed for a while - you'll be heading into the wild tomorrow.

Day 5

The trek begins

Trekking

3hrs · 6km · 335m up · 445m down

Drive to the trailhead through the Ghund Valley, stopping en route at the viewpoint of Alichur to see the hilly permafrost and the salt lakes of Sasyk and Tuzkul. Hit the trail, hiking through Bulunkul village where the temperature drops to -63° C in winter (luckily, this is a summer trek!). Have a picnic lunch by Yashilkul Lake before hiking up over Burghumol Pass (3925m) to reach Langar Dara Valley. Your first overnight camp will be here, at 3760m.

Day 6

Hiking beneath giants

Trekking

4-5hrs · 14.5km · 690m up · 90m down

Have breakfast at camp before lacing the boots back up, to hike the trail up through the Langar Dara Valley. The landscape here is spectacular, with 6000m peaks looming above. The trails climbs slowly but steadily towards the next camping spot. Along the trail, you might stop at a shepherd's summer house for a cup of tea. Reach camp and enjoy dinner and a spot of stargazing tonight as the twilight fades.

Day 7

Movin' on up

Trekking

5-6hrs · 16.5km · 400m up · 360m down

Heading higher into the peaks there are two route options available today. The first is via the Lagar Pass (4630m) which is a longer trek but easier-going for the donkeys carrying the gear. The second option goes via Chapdarkul Lake (4530m), which has a breathtaking view but rougher terrain of rocks and gravel to traverse. Your mountain guide will make the call, but either way the route descends to Uchkul Lake at 4300m for tonight's camp.

Day 8

Lake Kulen

Trekking

4-5hrs · 13.5km · 435m up · 275m down

With a couple of full trekking days behind you, the rhythm of life on the trail is settling in now. Zip open the tent, grab coffee and breakfast and spend another few hours hiking in one of the world's most majestic mountain ranges. You have just under 14km to get through today, to reach the beautiful Lake Kulen at 4445m for tonight's camp out.

Day 9

Zaroshkul and Tshakhin Lakes

Trekking

4-5hrs · 13km · 350m up · 440m down

The trek reaches two more stunning high-altitude lakes today, starting with Zaroshkul Lake at 4520m as you set foot on a section of the newly created Pamir Trail – a 1000km route across the Fann and Pamir mountains of Tajikistan. This section of the trail meanders through a spectacular valley where you'll likely see yaks en route. Tuck into a lakeside picnic lunch before continuing the hike, until an easy descent to Tshakhin Lake (4340m) where you'll set up camp.

Day 10

A big descent to reach the hot springs

Hiking

5hrs · 10km · 70m up · 750m down

Rise early today, fuelling up with a big breakfast ready for a tough day on the legs. Today's distance is shorter, but the descent can be hard going on this part of the Pamir Trail as your altitude drops 750m until you reach Kavk. The reward for your efforts is a big one - a short walk from your riverside camp spot are the Kavk natural hot springs, where you can soak away any aches after multiple days of trekking.

Day 11

The final push

Trekking

6hrs · 18km · 135m up · 500m down

Enjoy your last epic day of trekking today, packing down the riverside camp and setting off along the trail. The finish line is in sight as you descend to the village of Batchor on the upper reaches of the River Ghund. This small Pamiri village makes for a perfect place to toast your trekking exploits as you are welcomed into a homestay with a local family. Spend a leisurely evening enjoying the excellent hospitality of the Pamiris, and bid farewell to your expedition team who are returning to their families today.

Day 12

Begin the journey back to civilisation

Driving

4hrs · 140km

Bidding the incredible Pamir Mountains farewell, you'll hit the road again for the journey back to Dushanbe, setting off through a deeply cut valley of the roaring River Ghund. The alpine backdrop either side of the road changes noticeably and the air gets milder and warmer as you travel along the Pamir Highway. Stop off in villages along the route for a glimpse into life in this part of Central Asia, and visit the stone ruins of a temple of fire worshipers. Grab a hot shower and a good night's sleep at your hotel in Khorog.

Day 13

Khorog to Qalai Khumb

Driving

7hrs · 260km

The road trip continues along the Panj River. Along the way, you'll pass through stunning terrain, with a rocky ravine deeply cut between the mountains and surreal-looking white sand dunes by the river. Looking over to the Afghan side, you'll spot 'ovrings' - perilous-looking paths cut into the steep rock walls, which are the only connections between villages. If you are lucky, you'll see locals walking light-footed with remarkable speed on these stunning constructions. In the evening you'll reach the already familiar guesthouse in Qalai Khumb, where you stayed earlier in the trip.

Day 14

Back to Dushanbe

Driving

8hrs · 380km

Return to Dushanbe today via the deep blue Nurek Lake, formed by the highest dam in the world. Check into your hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy the comforts of civilisation again. Head out for a celebratory dinner to toast your success, having completed an expedition like no other.

Day 15

So long, Tajikistan

Bid Tajikistan and its people farewell today, as your epic adventure comes to an end. Your host will transfer you to the airport in time for your onward flight.

Included

Guides

English-speaking tour leader, specialist local mountain guide and an expedition chef

Accommodation

7 nights in guesthouses and hotels, 6 nights camping, 1 night in a Tajik homestay

Meals

All breakfasts, 12 lunches, 9 dinners

Transfers

Airport transfers and everything in between

Porterage

Donkeys and porters will transport your luggage during the trek, plus a support horse will be available

Equipment

Expedition tents and sleeping mats

Permits

Tajik National Park entry permit, GBAO permit for travel in the Pamir region

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

Visas where required

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5 – Day 10

Wild camping · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 11

Homestay · Multi share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 12

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 13

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 14

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 15

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

When travelling in Tajikistan, be ready for the meat-heavy cuisine of Central Asia, influenced over the centuries by Persian, Afghan, and Russian foods. Beef and lamb are commonly used and in the Pamirs, and you might try yak meat at the homestays. Different types of beans, grains and vegetables are also used, along with a dairy products, all served with non – a flatbread which is a staple of Tajik food. The king of all meals in Tajikistan is plov (also known as osh) - meat with rice, shredded carrots, chickpeas, garlic and sometimes raisins. In Dushanbe, there are many cafes and restaurants serving local and European meals with diverse menus.

The meals on your journey to and from the Pamirs will be plov, qurutob (a good vegetarian option of cheese balls served with vegetables on flatbread), manti (steamed meat or pumpkin dumplings), different soups, sambusa (puff pastry with meat), laghman (noodle soup with meat), rice, french fries, shish kabab, fresh salads, fruits, and mouthwatering fresh melon.

During the trekking expedition, breakfasts will consist of scrambled eggs, whole grain cereals, cheese, sausages, jam, honey, coffee, tea, cookies and bread. Picnic lunches will include fruit for the first 3-4 days, energy bars, chocolate bars, a sandwich or a salad, canned tuna with rice or potatoes, cookies, and dry fruits. Dinners will be two courses of hearty mountain food, such as the dishes mentioned above, along with various types of salads, herbal tea, dried fruits and cookies.

Vegetarians and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request this on your passenger info form. Please note due to the nature of the food available in Tajikistan, it is not possible to cater to strict vegan diets.

What is the accommodation like?

Dushanbe

In Tajikistan's capital, you will stay at the Atlas B&B Hotel in the heart of the city. The hotel has traditional decor with large courtyards, lounges and a restaurant for you to relax in after long journeys at either end of your adventure. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Qalai Khumb

In Qalai Khumb you'll stay at Zing Guesthouse, a classic Tajik guesthouse on the banks of the river Obikhumbou. You'll stay in simple twin-share rooms with a shared bathroom.

Khorog

In Khorog you'll stay at the Lal Inn Hotel - a picturesque and cosy retreat - before you head into the Pamir Mountains for a week of camping. The hotel has a restaurant, bar, a shared lounge and a quaint garden. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

Camping in the Pamirs

Camping in the heart of the Pamir Mountains is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The expedition setup includes a kitchen tent, dining tent and toilet tent. You'll be sleeping in twin-share expedition tents (unless you request a private tent and room upgrade – see Optional Extras for details). Sleeping mats are provided, but if you have your own Thermarest or other lightweight sleeping mat, we recommend bringing your own.

Homestay

After your final day of trekking you'll experience traditional Pamir hospitality in a homestay, in the village of Batchor, at an altitude of 3400m.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked for an extra charge - see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability). Please note, this does not cover the nights in Qalai Khumb nor the homestay in Batchor.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Dushanbe International Airport

Any time on Day 1

Ends

Dushanbe International Airport

Any time on Day 15

Transfers

Airport transfers are included if you arrive any time on Day 1 and depart anytime on Day 15. If you decide to extend your stay or arrive early, airport transfers can be arranged by your host at an additional cost. You can make a request with your host for additional information on transfers from within your booking.

Travel options

There are regular flights to Tajikistan from major airports across the UK and Europe, usually with a stopover in Istanbul.

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What do I need to bring?

Bags

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack (this will be carried by donkeys on the trek)
  • Trekking daypack (25+ litres)
  • Waterproof liner for daypack and rucksack

Please note, there is a 15kg limit for the luggage carried by the porters and donkeys. You can bring more to carry with you on the trek if you wish.

Clothes

  • Down jacket
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Thermals (merino is best)
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves
  • Buff or neck scarf
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts/t-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Waterproof hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Sandals or trainers for around camp

Sleeping

  • Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner
  • Sleeping bag (4-season, rated down to -10°C)
  • Travel pillow or pillowcase
  • Thermarest or sleeping mat (optional - foam ones are provided, but pack yours if you have a preference)

Other

  • Trekking poles (optional but recommended)
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre and/or hydration bladder/pouch
  • Quickdry towel
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks (optional, local snacks provided)
  • Water purification tablets or treatment system
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Single room in Dushanbe

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Dushanbe

Twin/Double room in Dushanbe

Payable Before Departure

Twin/Double room in Dushanbe

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Airport Transfer (Max three people per car)

Payable Before Departure

Airport Transfer (Max three people per car)

- Georges(July 2023)

In this day and age, genuine adventures off the beaten track are hard to come by but Tajikistan offers precisely that - with stunning mountain views, incredibly turquoise glacier-fed lakes and amazing hospitality to round things off.

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 384kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2023 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

A good level of fitness and some previous trekking experience is required for this trip - although no technical mountaineering experience is needed. You should feel comfortable walking for up to 6 hours and 18km a day. There are some challenging passes involved, reaching altitudes as high as 4630m. The trek has been designed to avoid any bruising 9-10 hour days - you are in a seldom-visited part of the world, so the remoteness off the area adds to the challenge and adventure of this trip on top of any distance and elevation involved. There are plenty of rest stops, scenic lunches and time at camp in the evening to soak up being in the heart of the Pamirs. You will also have donkeys carrying your overnight kit, so you will only need to trek with a smaller rucksack of essentials.

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

$5 USD per day

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Your expedition guides will be providing boiled and treated water throughout the trek. If you would like to bring your own water filter to safely fill up from the rivers and streams deep in the mountains then please refer to our guide on the best water filters for adventurers.

The climate in Tajikistan is generally very dry, with hot summers and cold winters, fluctuating depending on the elevation of each region. Tajikistan has around 280 days a year of clear skies, so chances are decent that you'll be trekking in fine conditions. The climate in the Pamirs is drier than the ret of Tajikistan. The best time to visit is the end of May to end of October, and for the trekking the ideal months are between June and September. The average daytime temperatures in May-September range from 20°C/68°F to 25°C/77°F, and at night temperatures can drop to 0°C/32°F. Please note that in the Pamirs, after a long sunny day, you can have a light snowfall at higher elevations, and night time temperatures in July-August can range from 15°C/59°F to 5°C/59°F. In Dushanbe and on the lower elevations parts of the trip as you journey to and from the Pamirs, the temperature can range between 25°C/77°F and 40°C/104°F.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

This depends on your nationality, however some travellers will need a visa, for example UK travellers will need a visa arranged in advance. You should contact the Tajikistan embassy in advance for options, including E-visa services which tend to be the easiest option.

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you by the support animals, and then a smaller trekking pack to carry personal items during each day of trekking.

Homestays in Tajikistan are very basic, especially in the Pamirs. Your host has chosen the best possible homestay with friendly hosts, good traditional food, a shower, a European toilet, and enough space for the group. You'll share a room with between 2-4 people depending on the group size, and you'll sleep on traditional mats filled with cotton. Pamiri houses are called chid and are steeped in philosophical and religious relevance. The main room is divided into a few sections: a cooking and sleeping area, a place to study or keep clothes and it has only one window called a ravzana. The ceiling symbolises four elements of the universe: fire, earth, air, and water. The homestay in Batchor is run by a lovely lady called Gulsimo and has a nice view of the valley. Meals are taken sitting cross-legged on the floor. Electricity and hot water are in short supply, so guests will be asked to be mindful of the length of showers. Anytime you are invited as a guest to a local home, it’s expected that you take off your shoes before entering the house. Also during mealtimes which are taken sitting down on the floor, do not step on the tablecloth during the meal, as it might show disrespect to the local host. Expect to be told to have more food and tea, but feel free to gently decline.

Owing to the nature of this trip, it is essential that your personal travel insurance policy provides cover to the maximum altitude visited on this trip (4630m).

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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