Varzob valley, 7 bridges & Guzgarf falls: instructions

Post your itinerary questions and trip reports here
Christian77
Tajikistan expert
Tajikistan expert
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:14 pm
x 120

Varzob valley, 7 bridges & Guzgarf falls: instructions

Postby Christian77 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:37 pm

I've given these directions to dozens of tourists, so I figure it would be easier to just put the instructions online.

If you are in Dushanbe and you want to go for a leisurely hike (leave after breakfast, return in time for dinner), then I have an easy to arrange itinerary for you. The destination is referred to by some of the expats and the Dushanbe hiking community as the "7 Bridges" hiking trail, but I have no idea what the locals call it (the river is Adzhuk, Ajuk or Ob-i Juk). Anyways, the elevation is higher than Dushanbe and the air temperature will be lower, plus you spend the hike next to a small mountain river. If it is too hot in Dushanbe, then this may be a good option. Also, this trail is open for most of the year. So unless it's snowing in Dushanbe, you should be fine.

The start of the hike is in the town of Varzob. So be careful as "Varzob" more commonly refers to the district that includes the long stretch of river north of Dushanbe that is lined with restaurants and resorts. You can't just say "Take me to Varzob" if you are getting your own driver.

So, you need the MAPS.ME app in your phone, and all the links I give should be opened with that app. If you don't want to do that, each link will open in a browser with coordinates you can copy and paste into another map app.

Each time you open a MAPS.ME location, you should bookmark it so it appears on the map as a red marker for your reference (you can edit these bookmarks and makes notes with these instructions).

This is where your hike starts, in the village of Varzob: https://maps.me/ge0?latlonzoom=wzypdIog8E&name=Varzob

If you leave from the northern part of Dushanbe, the trip is 22km in a marshrutka (shared minivan/minibus).

You catch the marshrutkas next to the Varzob Bazaar in northern Dushanbe. However, most drivers and locals call this place "Vodanasos Bazaar" or just "Vodanasos." Note that that name is often misspelled in English. To get there you can take a taxi (about 20 Somoni in a metered taxi from the Green House Hostel area, for example). If you are close to the main Rudaki Avenue, then you can take a #1 or #3 bus for 1 Somoni (but you now need a bus card, no more cash, and to get a bus card you need a Tajik phone number to buy one form the electronic kiosk machines). Perhaps near your hostel or guesthouse is a marshrutka that goes to the Vodanasos Bazaar (2 Somoni, probably). Ask at your hostel for that.

You need to get off at or near the crossroads of Rudaki Avenue and Omar Khayam Street (heading southeast) or Gagarin Street (heading northwest). Busses and marshrutkas will take different routes to get here.

Here is where you will get off the bus, near this misspelled and off-location (by about 100 meters) marker for the bazaar: https://maps.me/ge0?latlonzoom=8zyj8y2v ... osos_Bazar

Do not talk to the drivers at the main crossroads of Rudaki and Gangarin/Omar Khayam. They claim to be able to take you anywhere. They can be aggressive (by local standards) because this is the spot where tourists show up looking for a driver to take them to Iskanderkul, Sarvoda or Panjakent (for big $$$). Ignore them when they say "Varzob? Varzob?"

Once here, head straight west on Gagarin Street to this parking lot where all the marshrutkas wait: https://maps.me/ge0?latlonzoom=4zyj8y6x3E&name=Parking

They will be Hyundai Starex minivans or the tiny white Chinese "Tangen/Tangem" micro-vans.

However, this is where the authorities always try to make the marshrutkas stay, but often when they are near full, or during quiet times, they sneak out onto Gagarin Street (about 30 meters closer to the main Rudaki Avenue). It's in this spot on the street where you can also find shared cars. A seat in the marshrutka is 3 Somoni per person (as of summer 2018, but prices are in flux) and 5 Somoni in a car. But I expect prices to change as/if the Somoni continues to weaken in value.

These marshrutkas and cars will go 22km to the town of Varzob: https://maps.me/ge0?latlonzoom=wzypdIog8E&name=Varzob This is the end of the line and the marshrutkas will do a u-turn on the road. If you want a view of the river, sit on the left-hand side of the vehicle.

If you are getting in a car, make sure you are clear on the price and that you are going to the town of Varzob. Just say Varzob "tsentr" (the Russian word for "center"), or say "to the end" in Russian. If the driver gives you a higher price, then just start walking to the marshrutkas and the price will come back down. No need to negotiate with marshrutka guys as the price is set. If you don't speak a word of Russian or Tajik, just hand 5 Somoni to the driver as soon as you get in the van and see what happens.

Your start to the hike is obvious: it is the only village street heading east up through the village. You follow the road until it's a dirt road and then it eventually turns to a trail. You will be regularly crisscrossing the small river. If you are in MAPS.ME, then you will now easily see the road and the trail and the river.

You can go as far up the gorge as you want, but I'm usually headed to the Gusgarf waterfall (which is not on the main river, but up a very small tributary creek). Count bridges as you go up and take a left (north) up the small creek next to the 3rd bridge (counting the car bridge, but if counting only foot bridges it's the 2nd). Here is where you turn off the main trail on the map: https://maps.me/ge0?latlonzoom=0zypdNzk ... nown_Place

It takes about 15 minutes of rough scrambling on what can barely be called a trail until you will arrive in a shady nook with a very nice waterfall. You can then hang out at the waterfall or go back and continue further up the main river...

For the return trip, just do everything in reverse. When you get back to the main highway, the marshrutkas will be waiting on the opposite side of the road. If it is about 5 or 6pm, then this means most marshrutka riders are returning home from the city (meaning that drivers are quite happy to see you as they often have to return mostly empty to the city at the end of the day).

As for food, the Vodanasos bazaar has everything (bread, fruit, bottled water, junk food). But the mini market where you get off in the town of Varzob also has all of that (in smaller amounts). Should you drink out of the river? Only if you are desperate. Donkeys and sheep may have taken a bath upstream, but nothing worse than that.

There are not many locals on the trail, but they may yell out "Ot kuda?" (where are you from?). Don't worry, they like everybody from everywhere.

Is it really a $2 trip? Well, on my last trip I paid 1 Somoni for a bus to the Vodanasos bazaar, 3 Somoni for a marshrutka to the town of Varzob, and then the same on the return trip. The rest of my $2 budget was for bread, water and a banana. But prices are going up...

Worried about distances on the trail? Check out the scale on the map. The hike to the Guzgarf waterfall is about 3km one-way. You'll return the same way at about the same speed. If you are really fast then you can go as far up the valley as you like. Eventually there will only be sheep trails.

Looking for photos? Check out this blog (a late fall hike): https://latitudewattitude.com/2016/11/02/seven-bridges/

These are my photos...

The waterfall:

Image

The first foot bridge:

Image

The traffic:

Image

The view up the slopes:

Image

The view down the gorge:

Image
3 x

Christian77
Tajikistan expert
Tajikistan expert
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:14 pm
x 120

Re: $2 day trip river hike near Dushanbe

Postby Christian77 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:45 am

Transportation updates:

The marshrutkas that line up next to the Vodanasos bazaar have evicted the Varzob marshrutkas. Where are they now? I don't know, and the few people I asked don't know. But there should still be shared cars parked outside the bazaar or across the street that are heading to Varzob. Some of them are actually going further on, to: Pugus, Safed Dara, Takob, etc... 10 Somoni will get you a seat and they will drop you off in Varzob.

Getting back is the same as it was before. There are marshrutkas and cars waiting to go back to Dushanbe.
3 x


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post
  • Fergana Valley
    by Donhesse » Thu Dec 17, 2015 7:16 am » in Uzbekistan
    5
    5288
    by maximminga View the latest post
    Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:00 am
  • Women in the Wakhan Valley!
    by Johanna Higgs » Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:26 am » in Afghanistan
    14
    5718
    by FlorVallejo View the latest post
    Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:04 pm
  • New homestay in Bartang Valley
    by trolik » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:13 pm » in Tajikistan
    4
    843
    by Nazrulo View the latest post
    Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:34 am
  • Registration in the Ferghana Valley
    by manny » Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:18 pm » in Uzbekistan
    5
    2171
    by steven View the latest post
    Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:37 am
  • Trekking Rasht Valley
    by hskhu » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:57 am » in Outdoor adventures
    1
    1368
    by steven View the latest post
    Mon Jul 31, 2017 1:17 am

Return to “Itineraries & trip reports”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests