Fan/Zerafshan Mountains hiking and Pamir Highway (May-June)

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Fan/Zerafshan Mountains hiking and Pamir Highway (May-June)

Post by Nicolas_j »

Hello all,

I'm planning my upcoming trip to Tajikistan from approx. May 20-June 15 so the following will be a mishmash of some questions I came up with. My apologies if some have already been answered elsewhere! My plan at this point is to enter Tajikistan from Batken and hike a few days in the Fan mountains before heading from to Dushanbe (approx. May 25-28), then to the Pamirs and complete the loop by reentering Kyrgyzstan at Sary-Tash.

1. Fan Mountains: I don't have a tent and my sleeping bag is quite thin, so my options are to stay in villages or take a tour that provides what's needed (I'm generally more into independent hikes but it's not a religion). Arriving from Khujand, is it necessary for me to go to Penjikent to talk with some travel agencies for potential itineraries or groups, or could I figure this out in Ayni or Sarvoda?. Also, is it feasible for me to simply travel independently to a village and go on day hikes from there, or cross a pass and end up in another village with road access? Any suggestions of places or itineraries?

2. The Pamirs: I've read in the LP that transport is easier to arrange from Murgab to Osh than in the other direction - any feedback on this? (I could do the whole Tajikistan trip in the clockwise direction, starting in the Pamirs, if it's easier). Things might change, but my idea so far is to try my luck and find transportation as I go, although renting a car with other travellers could be a great option. Are the much talked about "Chinese trucks" really a transport option; and generally, can I reasonably expect some transportation from one village to another along the Pamir Highway? (provided I don't mind waiting hours or until the next day or so)

Thanks for any info on this! Nicolas
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Re: Fan/Zerafshan Mountains hiking and Pamir Highway (May-June)

Post by bwv812 »

1. You don't need to book a tour, as it is possible to go from village to village and stay in homestays. It is also possible to hike over some mountain passes and hop from one valley to the next, but you'll probably want to have a decent map/GPS trail loaded and lots of time if you do this. It's probably also much more difficult to do this if you don't go to Penjikent and the Zerafshan Tourism Board and ZTDA offices first (the Zerafshan Tourism Board was more helpful in my experience, but their website seems defunct so I don't know if they are still operational). ... logue.html ... ikent.html

It's probably easier to arrange transport from Penjikent, as there is daily traffic from mountain valleys down to the market in the early morning, and transport back up in the afternoon. It's convenient to use Penjikent as a staging base and place to leave your bags while you go into the mountains. I went from Penjikent up to the seven lakes/haftkul area, and considered hiking over a pass into the neighbouring valley and Zimtud; if had had gone in the summer and had more time (and daylight), I would have done it. The number of vilages and settlements in the area is really surprising, given the lack of resources, so there's never a real chance of being stranded without a place to stay as people are hospitable and you could definitely find someone to put you up (and make a little money) even if there is no official homestay. Hikes to some of the more remote mountain lakes are probably more challenging, but you can rent camping equipment from ZTDA. ... ann-06.htm ... alley.html

2. It's easy to find the share-taxi rank in Murghab, but much less convenient in Osh. On the other hand, there are more agencies in Osh who can arrange transport, and probably more travelers staying in Osh waiting to find travel partners (Murghab really isn't a place to sit around and wait for partners, and Khorog isn't much better). There are few or no Chinese trucks running between Murghab and Sary Tash, and little local traffic on that stretch of M41. It is possible to hitch (though not for free) if you have lots of time, and speaking a bit of Russian undoubtedly makes this easier. Between Sary Tash and Murghab the only real village is Karakol, while between Murghab and Khorog you have Alichur (Bulungkol is a bit off the road), and then some small villages in the valley closer to Khorog as you begin to drop down from the Pamir. There's not a lot of local transport strictly between these places—it's mainly Murghb-Osh and Murghab-Khorog. ... 58366.html
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