The 10 Best Hikes In Tajikistan
The 10 Best Hikes In Tajikistan was originally published in July 2020 (written in April 2020)
Tajikistan is a trekker’s paradise. Being over 93% mountainous with snow-capped craggy peaks, turquoise lakes, high altitude passes, unique mountain culture, and the longest non-polar glacier on Earth, there’s bound to be a hike for just about anyone that comes to Tajikistan.
If you want to see a number of options for hiking routes all over Tajikistan I recommend picking up a copy of Trekking in Tajikistan and for general travel info for Tajikistan the newly updated Bradt Tajikistan Guidebook.
The Lakes Loop
Easily one of the most popular treks in all of Tajikistan. The Lakes Loop combines the best of the Fann Mountains while remaining relatively easy to access by shared transport. From the border town of Panjakent, grab a marshrutka to Artuch, and from Artuch Base Camp hike up to the Kulikalon Bowl with your choice of camping spots as the bowl is littered with beautiful glacial lakes. The next day you have two options to reach the gorgeous gemstone colored Lake Alovaddin, by the shorter and steeper Alovaddin Pass, or the longer and lower Lauden Pass. Spend a night or two here at Alovaddin with the optional day hike to Mutnyi and back, before trekking up over either Alovaddin or Lauden Pass to return to Kulikalon and back to Artuch.
Read more details on the Lakes Loop Hike
Jizeu is another crowd favorite for the few that make it out here to hike in Tajikistan. At the beginning of the Bartang Valley, this lovely hike crosses a cable bridge over the Bartang River and follows the Jizeudarya River up to the beautiful upper and lower Jizeu villages. Between the two sections of the villages, the river is dammed up a bit creating a beautiful crystal clear pool with perfect mountain reflections in the morning. Jizeu can be done as a long day trip, but to get the most out of it I’d recommend hiking up in the morning and spending a night there in one of the homestays, and hiking back out the next day.
Plan your Jizeu trek with my Quick Guide to Jizeu
Mogiyon To The Haft Kul
The Haft Kul is another popular spot to visit in Tajikistan, with easy access from Panjakent. Realistically, you can drive to 6 out of the 7 lakes of the Haft Kul, but you can get dropped off near the 1st lake and trek down and back as an overnight trip, staying a homestay along the way. But why not add a bit of a challenge? On the road down to the Haftkul, there’s a for where you can take a dirt road that veers into the valley west of the Haft Kul to start a trek from a village called Mogiyon. From Mogiyon you’ll meander through narrow river-cut canyons and crossing rickety wooden bridges to arrive at the village of Rogich. From Rogich, climb to the east over Komichura Pass and descend down onto Marguzor (Lake #6). From here you can easily walk your way back to find a shared taxi headed back to Panjakent.
Read more about the Haft Kul and the Mogiyon – Haft Kul Trek
The High Altitude Lakes Of Bachor
From the alpine village of Bachor just off the Gunt Valley along the main Pamir Highway route you can trek up to a number of gorgeous high altitude mountain lakes from which you can either return to Bachor, trek up to Lake Sarez (you’ll need to arrange permits and clearance for this), or back down to Yashilkul and Bulunkul. Full disclosure, I didn’t complete this trek as far as I had wanted to go on it, (was planning to go Bachor-Tsaxinkul-Zarojkul-Langar Pass- Yashilkul) but got sick on the trail and didn’t finish) but what I did make it to still lands this trek on the best hikes in Tajikistan list. Not to worry, I still have plans to go back to finish this hike.
Want to take on the Mountain Lakes of Bachor? Pick up a copy of the book Trekking in Tajikistan
Located just off the Karatag Valley, Timus Dara is a beautiful alpine lake in the southern Fann Mountains. Especially if you’ve just arrived in Tajikistan, into the capital of Dushanbe, this is a great day or overnight hike to start getting you acclimatized for the higher altitudes to come later in your trip. You’ll need to get a shared taxi to Shahrinov from Dushanbe and once to Shahrinov negotiate a car to take you to the village of Hakimi in the Karatag Valley to begin the trek. This trek can also be continued up to cross the Mura Pass and finish in Sarytag near Iskanderkul.
Read more about the Timur Dara Hike and start planning
The Meadows Of Pik Engles
Truth be told, I haven’t made it to the Pik Engles Meadows myself, but at the insistence of two good friends of mine who have done it, it’s landed on here. Pik Engles is a pretty mellow hike that starts from the village of Zong in the Wakhan Valley. The trek continues to bring you into gorgeous meadows with Pik Engles looming over. It’s on my 2020 Tajikistan to-do list (if it’s even possible to travel this coming fall). Want to see more? Check out this post by Here Comes The Sea.
Pick up a copy of the book Trekking in Tajikistan written by my friend Jan for Pik Engles Trek details
The Yagnob Traverse
The Yagnob Valley is one of the most culturally fascinating areas in Tajikistan. The Yagnobi people settled this valley in the 8th century, escaping from their original homes in the ancient Sogdian city of Panjakent during the Umayyad Conquests of Central Asia. Unfortunately, many Yagnobi families left the valley to live in exile during the Stalinist Purge, and later more were forcibly removed from the valley and taken to Zafarobad to work the cotton fields where many of them died. Slowly but surely some Yagnobis have returned to their home valley and have retained their language that is directly descended from ancient Sogdian and their religious and cultural traditions. There are numerous routes you can make in the Yagnob Valley, including one that takes you from the Zaravshan Valley to the north and over Tabaspin Pass to the Yagnob Valley.
Plan your route: The Yagnob Valley Trekking Guide
Khafrazdara Valley & Grum Grijmailo Glacier
The trek to Khafrazadara Valley that continues on to Grum Grijmailo Glacier is easily my favorite hike in the Bartang Valley. You’ll need to get a shared taxi from Khorog to the village of Pasor that is pretty far up the Bartang Valley, which at times may take a couple of days or so to get enough people to fill a car (or you can hire a private car, but it is quite expensive because of the distance). From Pasor the trek winds along a narrow valley that eventually opens up to stunning high pastures, glacially carved and mineral-laden peaks, and continues on to the toe of Grum Grijmailo Glacier.
Read more about the Khafrazdara Valley Trek
The Fann Mountain Circuit
Want to do a huge circuit taking in the best of what the Fanns have to offer? This trek pieces together several legs of different hikes in the Fann Mountains. Starting off from Artuch Base Camp, make the short trek to Chukurak Lakes and from there cross Govkhona Pass to reach the Kulikalon Bowl. From there take either the Alovaddin or Lauden Pass to reach Lake Alovaddin. The next stop will take you to Mutnyi Lake from which you’ll begin your ascent up Chimtarga Pass, the highest pass in the Fann Mountains, and then drop down the other side to the gorgeous Bolshoi Allo Lake. From Bolshoi Allo you can continue southeast along a treacherously narrow trail that will bring you around the northeast side of Bolshoi Allo to Vierkhnyi Allo and then up and over Dvainoi Pass to Lake Biriuzovoe. From the lovely alpine lakes around Biriuzovoe, you’ll cross Kishinevskii Pass to tie onto the Kaznok trail and continue south toward Maslokhateppe and then onwards to Sarytag Village near Iskanderkul. After you’ve restocked up on food and had a rest, you’ll follow the Karakul River west from Sarytag and turn north to cross the Dukdon Pass and then continue along the Archamaidon Valley, then turning onto the Sarymat Valley at the confluence to cross Tavasang Pass and end in the Haft Kul.
If this routing sounds appealing, go to my Fann Mountains Guide to start planning
And finally the Pshart-Madiyan Traverse in the lunar-like Eastern Pamir. From the mineral-laden colorful valley of Pshart you’ll trek up and over 4,370 meter Gumbezkul Pass to end up in the more stark and craggy Madiyan Valley just to the south. This trek can be done in either direction, with most people taking two days to complete. This is probably the most popular trek to do from the wild-wild-east town of Murghab.
See more info in my Eastern Pamir Travel Guide
Have Any Questions About Any Of These Tajikistan Hikes?
Ask in the comments section below.