The Fann mountains are an extremely scenic mountain range in the Western Pamir, roughly halfway between Samarkand and Dushanbe, in Western Tajikistan. Most of the range rises above 4000m, with a few peaks above 5000m. With easy access from Samarkand or Dushanbe to Penjikent, the gateway town, and no extra permissions needed, the Fanns are a dream for hikers and climbers.
Fann mountains map
Peaks, glaciers and lakes
The highest peak of the Fann Mountains is Chimtarga at 5489m. In the same area you will find other 5000m peaks like Bodkhona, Chapdara, Big Hansa, Little Hansa, Zamok, and the powerful Energia.
Lots of beautiful mountain lakes have formed in the valleys. Some of the most beautiful are Iskanderkul lake, Kulikalon lake, Alaudin lake and Allo lake.
Glaciers are above 3500m, usually on northern slopes. Below this height glaciers are covered with rocks and debris.
Hiking, trekking and climbing
Trekking in the Fann mountains is a must if you are in the area and are the kind of person who doesn’t mind hanging out in wild nature for a week or two. Trekking is getting more popular year by year, though, and it’s getting a bit trashy in places because of unexperienced hikers. But still, it’s not the Alps, and you will be by yourself almost always.
Several trekking routes starting at the different trailheads (e.g Artush, Alaudin Camp, Iskander Kul, Marguzor Lakes) are possible. A lot of passes are traversable by packing animals (but not all).
You might be able to hire donkeys with their owners, although it might be difficult on short notice. Don’t expect them to know where to go. It’s also not as cheap as you might think. I believe it’s better to rely on a tour company for this kind of thing.
If you do plan to go hiking by yourself, be very prepared. There is no emergency rescue, and you will soon find yourself very far from “civilization.” You will definitely need a good map.
For climbers, the Fann mountains offer a good mix of hard and easy climbs.
The Fanns are a big place, and with more than a hundred peaks, there is a lot to say that goes beyond the scope of this page. Some helpful reports you should definitely check out: this Russian mountaineer blog and this extensive trip report. Near the Uzbek border there is a danger of landmines. Don’t go there.
Fann mountains tours
Many tour operators in Central Asia and in Europe and the US organize trekking in the Fann mountains. Below is a small list of travel agents that provide tours to the Fann mountains. They provide guides, visa support, transport and sometimes pack animals (donkeys).
Getting there – visa, transport, borders
When coming from Uzbekistan, the most straightforward border crossing between Samarkand and Penjikent is currently closed. If you have a tour operator arranging your travel, ask about this!
Over land, the easiest option from Uzbekistan is now Tashkent – Kojand via the Oybek border, and then onwards to Penjikent.
Another option is to take a flight to Dushanbe, and then a minibus to Penjikent.
Weather: when to go
The season runs roughly from June to September, when the weather is stable, warm and dry. Outside of these times, you will find the Fann mountains very cold and snowy.
Turbaza is the Russian name for mountain camps or alplager. There are bases at Artuch and Alaudin (privately owned) and at Iskanderkul. The accommodation there is relatively comfortable in well-stocked mountain cottages. If you are camping close to locals, ask permission first.
Books and maps
There is 1 publication geared specifically towards trekking in the Fann mountains. The map and guide to the Fann mountains by EWP is indispensable if you are planning to explore by yourself.
There are other guidebooks which cover all of Tajikistan and could also be useful: check our Tajikistan guidebook section (coming soon!).