Photo Feature: Trekking in Tajikistan
To mark the publication of the first English language guide to trekking in Tajikistan, its co-author Jan Bakker shares some photos of this spectacular country. Looks like we have a new entry on the bucket list...
Tajikistan is the best trekking destination you've never heard of. Tucked between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and China, 93% of the country is considered mountainous terrain. Endless trails carved out by shepherds and merchants connect the valleys, making it a paradise for trekkers.
The Fann Mountains in the northern part of Tajikistan are a walker's gem. Impressive steep mountains that rise up to elevations of 5000 metres dominate the skyline while down below you can pitch your tent on the shores of a different bluer than blue alpine lake every day. The Pamir Mountains, in the southeastern corner, are remote and still hardly visited by foreign trekkers. You can roam among huge glaciated peaks for weeks on end, and the only human encounters will be with local shepherds who are happy to share a cup of tea with you.
This magnificent view of the 6507 metre high Pik Engels was the inspiration for author Jan Bakker to write a guide to Tajikistan. Nine years later Cicerone Press published the first trekking guide to this fascinating mountainous country.
Alaudin Lake is a turquoise blue alpine lake, serenely tucked between the jagged, vertical walls of Chapdara and Chimtarga. It's a popular camping spot for trekkers and climbers.
A high-altitude camp spot next to Langarkul in the Central Pamirs at 4530 metres. It's not an exception that you can pitch your tent at such extreme altitudes.
It is highly rewarding making it up a high mountain pass, like here on the 4750 metre high Vezdara Pass. Many trekking routes in the Pamirs involve crossing a pass close to 5000 metres in altitude.
Views of the highest mountain in the Ishkashim Range, Pik Mayakovski (6092m). In valleys like these wildlife like Ibex and even snow leopard thrive. Local communities have started protecting wildlife against illegal hunting, with success.
Shepherds roam the Fann Mountains with their livestock in the summer months. You're likely to pass their temporary summer settlements as shepherds use the same trails as trekkers. More than once you'll be invited for a cup of tea and a bowl of yoghurt.
View of the rugged, sunlit mountains of the Central Pamirs. In summer most days are sunny and even at altitudes of over 4000 metres daytime temperatures are pleasant. However, at night the mercury can drop well below freezing level.
A group of hikers cross a wobbly suspension bridge across the Bartang River to enter the wonderful Jizev Valley. Access to the remote Pamir valleys often requires crossing sketchy bridges or wading a river.
Freedom to roam: Apart from restricted areas you can roam the Pamirs without a limit and pitch your tent at a different stunning lake every day.
The small pools around the Kulikalon Lakes warm up in summer time and are perfect for a refreshing swim.
Trekkers look up the 1500 metre north face of Mirali Peak in awe. The Fann Mountains attract many alpinists, trying to scale hard routes up peaks with altitudes of over 5000 metres.
- To see more images of this stunning region follow Jan on Instagram @jb37north or visit his blog www.trekkinginthepamirs.com
Trekking in Tajikistan
The northern ranges, Pamirs and Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor
by Jan Bakker, Christine Oriol
Step into another world, a land of soaring peaks and wild valleys, crisscrossed by a network of centuries-old trails linking remote villages and shepherd camps. This is Tajikistan, 'the Roof of the World', where the mighty Himalaya meet the Tian Shan, Karakoram and Hindu Kush.
The fact that Tajikistan is far-removed from the tourist trail is part of its appeal. Although infrastructure is fragile and tourism is in its infancy, this Central Asian nation - one of the most mountainous countries in the world - presents some outstanding opportunities for the adventurous trekker.
This is the first English-language guide specifically dedicated to trekking in Tajikistan. It describes twenty high-altitude treks of 2-9 days, covering the Fann Mountains, Pamirs and northwestern ranges, plus five day hikes near the capital, Dushanbe, and a 10-day trek in the Afghan Wakhan Corridor.
As well as detailed route description and 1:100,000 mapping for each trek, you'll find a wealth of practical information on transport and visas, trekking support, equipment, cultural awareness, safety and security, as well as background notes on history, flora and fauna and a Tajik-Russian-Pamiri-English glossary.
For more info see cicerone.co.uk