Trekking in Tajikistan by Jan Bakker and Christine Oriol is the first, and for now, only guidebook dedicated to trekking in Tajikistan (or elsewhere in Central Asia for that matter). Seeing the boom in tourism in Tajikistan, it comes just in time.
In 2014, this page reviewed the trekking e-book Jan Bakker self-published. With the help of Christine, who also runs the girl-guide NGO Women Rockin’ Pamirs, the original solo effort got a serious upgrade in 2018: 3 times more treks, better route descriptions, and more background info. A specialised trekking guide publisher has been found in Cicerone.
Destinations and routes
The book consists of
- 5 day hikes near Dushanbe (5 hiking days)
- 6 routes + 2 link routes through the Fann mountains (28 hiking days)
- 2 routes in the Zerafshan and Hissar ranges and Yagnob valley (14 hiking days)
- 5 routes in the Western and Central Pamir (24 hiking days)
- 6 routes in the Southern Pamir (21 hiking days)
- 1 route in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor (10 hiking days)
All in total 25 + 2 routes worth 102 days of trekking. There is a good mix of routes: some are full-on wilderness treks with high-altitude steep climbs, while others center more around village life and alpine lakes. Each regional chapter includes both difficult and easier treks.
The subtitle of the book reads “The northern ranges, Pamirs and Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor”. Which means that, the Eastern Pamirs are not included. I asked Jan about this, and the 2 main reasons for not including the Murghab plateau are:
a) the monotonous landscape and lack of variation in the treks there versus the rest of the Pamirs (it is indeed, a high desert), and
b) the more difficult logistics around Murghab: you cannot trek for a few weeks straight without having to drive around a lot.
The background information on transport, accommodation, cultural awareness, fauna and flora and safety and security is concise and informative.
The route descriptions have been overhauled. The top addition to the previous version are the short descriptions of the treks and of each stage, which makes it very easy to decide which trek to embark on.
Beyond the trek summary, each route comes with a height profile, an overview map, some pictures and advice on transport, accommodation and trek support. Each stage of a route has a summary, a topographic map and a short description of the actual route to be taken.
In our previous review of 2014, we had some reservations about the book: it was not very extensive, and the route descriptions were basic. It was difficult to decide which trek was best suited to your needs. It gave some ideas and directions, but you still had a lot of figuring out to do for yourself.
With the Cicerone edition, these misgivings have disappeared.
There are now plenty of routes to get inspired by. It’s clear a lot of thought has gone into route selection, picking routes that are diverse in difficulty, landscape and culture, with route intersections built in for extended hiking holidays.
The route descriptions have vastly improved and the summaries make it easy to see which trek is right for you.
In short, Trekking in Tajikistan has set the standard for future trekking guidebooks to Central Asia. For everyone who is serious about discovering Tajikistan on foot, this is the guide to have.