Trekking in Tajikistan by Jan Bakker is the first guidebook dedicated to trekking in Tajikistan. Seeing the increased interest in the immense hiking and trekking possibilities Tajikistan offers, it comes in due time.
Tajikistan remains a pioneering destination and anyone considering trekking here should be hardy, fit, and well-prepared.
If you are, the low-priced (6€, pdf) Trekking in Tajikistan guidebook will help you pick routes and guide you through the Pamir, Fann mountains and Afghan Wakhan.
The book is divided into 2 parts: Northern Tajikistan and the Pamirs. Each half starts off with a general introduction to trekking in the region and an overview map. Useful information includes tips and prices for trek support, accommodation and transport to starting points, safety precautions, when best to go and what to take with you.
Trekking in Tajikistan covers 9 treks:
Northern Tajikistan (Fann Mountains)
- Yagnob Valley trek (hard, 9 days)
- Mura Pass trek (moderate, 4 days)
- Lakes loop: Kulikalon and Alaudin lake (easy, 3 days)
- Dukdon Pass trek (moderate, 4 days)
- Kaznok Pass trek (moderate/hard, 3 days)
- 7 Lakes trek (hard/extreme, 3 days)
- Bachor Mountain lakes trek (hard, 9 days)
- Pik Engels Meadows trek (easy, 2 days)
- Little Pamir trek (Afghan Wakhan Corridor, moderate, 10 days)
Every trek starts with a brief overview describing the route and the landscape and an overview map of the area with the trajectory drawn onto it. A table with figures for distance, altitude meters (both up and down), highest point, highest camp, number of days, difficulty level and a few succinct notes allow you to gauge what’s waiting. Every trek is illustrated with 3 to 5 pictures.
Descriptions of the routes are brief: 1 to 2 paragraphs cover a whole day of trekking. Luckily, GPS tracks for some treks can be downloaded for free through the Garmin connect website, while others are available on request via an e-mail to the author. With or without gps, a topographic map is a must. The author also recommends unexperienced trekkers to hire a guide.
The book ends with recommendations for further reading and map resources.
Since this is the first and only book dedicated to trekking in Tajikistan, it is also the best. The author is a seasoned trekking veteran, and has spent considerable effort to make a first selection of interesting tracks to explore the mountains of Tajikistan. Seeing it only costs 6 €, I would say anyone considering trekking in Tajikistan will find a useful companion in this book.
Having said this, much could still be done to improve on the text. First off, having used similar, more exhaustive guides elsewhere in the past, I doubt if the route descriptions suffice. (I can’t say for sure as I haven’t tested this out in the field yet). Good map-reading skills and/or a reliable gps will remain necessary.
Secondly, a page or 2 comparing the different treks would make it easier for hikers to decide where to go. Why take this trail, not that one? Thirdly, chapters on fauna and flora one might see in the region are sorely missing.
Lastly, Tony Nelson correctly remarks that the lack of any routes in the Eastern Pamirs make for a very unbalanced book, leaving out some fantastic trekking country (see here for instance).
All in all, Trekking in Tajikistan is a brave first attempt at charting an area that will see more and more hikers in the years to come, if the political situation allows it. You can order it here.