Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia

Crossing Dukdon Pass In Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains

Crossing Dukdon Pass In Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains was originally published in July 2020

Tajikistan’s Dukdon Pass is a perfect addition to several routings through the Fann Mountains, melding stark yet beautiful sceneries, and Tajik mountain culture.

I most recently crossed Dukdon Pass on a routing that started at Artuch and continued onto the Kulikalon Bowl, Lake Alovaddin, Mutnyi Lake, Chimtarga PassBolshoi Allo, the Archamaidon River Valley and finally up and over 3,810 meter Dukdon Pass to join the Karakul Valley to Sarymat village near Iskanderkul.

In this guide, I’ll cover the section over Dukdon Pass from the Archamaidon Valley to the Karakul Valley and include how you can make Dukdon an addition to your Fann Mountains routing. If you’re in the planning stages of your trip, I recommend picking up a copy of Trekking in Tajikistan to help you plot out your trekking plans (Jan’s book and previous e-book have proved helpful in my own travels), as well as the Bradt Tajikistan guidebook for general trip planning.

Start planning your Fann Mountains route: The Fann Mountains Trekking Guide

Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
The last few meters below the top of Dukdon Pass

Where Is Dukdon Pass Located?

As you are probably already aware, Dukdon Pass is located in northwestern Tajikistan in the ethereal Fann Mountains. The pass crosses over the Dukdon Range, one of the southern mountain chains that comprise the Fanns.

Those crossing it would approach from either Archamaidon River Valley or the Karakul River Valley.

Crossing Dukdon Pass

  • Distance: 30 kilometers (From the Confluence to Karakul Valley)
  • Highest point: 3,810 meters (at the top of Dukdon Pass)

Confluence Of The Archamaidon River & Sarymat River

The confluence of the Archamaidon River and Sarymat River is a common spot for trekkers to camp and is also the meeting point of several trekking routes that would approach the Dukdon Pass from the west.

Archamaidon Gorge, Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Entering the gorge

The confluence of the Archamaidon River and Sarymat River is a common spot for trekkers to camp and is also the meeting point of several trekking routes that would approach the Dukdon Pass from the west.

You’ll stay on the east side of the river for about two more kilometers, passing a settlement.

Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Coming up on the settlement
Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Beautiful fall colors in the middle of the settlement

You will need to cross a bridge again back to the west side of the river to avoid a steep cliff on the east side. You’ll stay over here for about one kilometer before crossing yet another bridge back to the east side. From here you’ll start to see the ice-capped Dukdon Range in the distance. About a kilometer further you’ll reach another settlement, don’t be surprised if the children of the family spot you and invite you for chai and yogurt with their parents. At this point, the Nagnut River meets the Archamaidon from the other side.

Nagnut, Nagnut River, Nagnut Valley, Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Looking across to the Nagnut River Valley that connects to the Mura Pass trek
Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
The settlement with views of the Dukdon Range in the background

This is where the Archamaidon River begins bending to the southeast with views of Dukdon Range becoming better and better the further along you walk. Beyond the settlement, the track climbs upward a bit before descending down along the shore of the Archamaidon. On the opposite side of the river, you’ll see the stream coming down from Pshtikul Lake meeting the Archamaidon. A little less than a kilometer beyond this, you’ll cross a bridge back to the west shore of the river.

Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Higher up views of the Dukdon Range
Pshtikul, Pshtikul River, Pshtikul Valley, Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Views across the Archamaidon into the valley that leads to Pshtikul Lake

From here you’ll follow a dusty, eroded track the climbs quickly entering a forest of juniper trees. Try to stay on the most beaten path as you continue up. The trail will eventually plateau.

Juniper trees, Archa, Archa trees, Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Hiking in the juniper forest

You’ll continue along the juniper-dotted plateau and eventually cross a small bridge over the Kshtudak River tumbling down the mountain. After the crossing, the trail climbs up a bit again before plateauing off and reaching a shepherding camp. At the beginning of the plateau before the camp, a shepherd who was out with his flock met me on the trail (he appeared to be coming from the hills to the west). We chatted for a while, him telling me to be careful as there are aggressive shepherding dogs in this area. He invited me to stay at the camp, however, I declined as my visa was soon to expire and I needed to get to Sarytag the next evening.

Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
A small pond near the shepherding camp

Beyond the shepherding camp, you’ll pass Sarykhodan peak that will be to your south, you can’t miss this monstrous peak with a massive glacier tumbling down it (it was dusk at this point so the views were gorgeous). The Sarykhodan River comes down off of here, which you will need to cross. The river should be down in a narrow gorge at the area you cross- there is a jam of boulders across the top forming a natural bridge.

Sarykhodan, Sarykhodan Peak, Sarykhodan Glacier, Sarykhodan River, Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Continuing past the shepherding camp
Sarykhodan, Sarykhodan Peak, Sarykhodan Glacier, Sarykhodan River, Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Sarykhodan Peak
Sarykhodan, Sarykhodan Peak, Sarykhodan Glacier, Sarykhodan River, Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Views of Sarykhodan Glacier
Sarykhodan, Sarykhodan Peak, Sarykhodan Glacier, Sarykhodan River, Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Sarykhodan River with the peak and glacier

After the bridge, you’ll continue up a hill dotted with trees (there’s a maze of sheep tracks weaving between the trees). You’ll descend downhill to the bank of the Archamaidon in about a kilometer (this part was tricky as it was almost totally dark at this point). A short distance further you’ll notice that the river forks (the fork heading due straight east is the Pushnovat River). Continue along the Archamaidon River and shortly after the fork you’ll want to cross to the north side of the river. You’ll be in a forest at that point so you’ll look for a spot where the river gets small and cross there.

Continue along the north bank of the river to eventually arrive to a lovely green pasture where you can camp at the foot of the pass.

Foot of Dukdon Pass, Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Camp at the foot of Dukdon Pass at sunrise

Foot Of Dukdon Pass To The Top

The golden morning light is absolutely stunning over the Dukdon Range from camp in the morning. You’ll start hiking upwards, with the green pasture giving way to barren rock, with views of glaciers tumbling down the peaks on either side of you. Eventually, you’ll reach a small glacier as you near the top of the pass. I walked on the north side of the glacier, staying on moraine most of the way up (the lower section of the glacier looked a bit unstable with a few crevasses). The last section before reaching the top of 3,810 meter Dukdon Pass I had to cross a snowfield. Make sure and take a minute to soak in the views of either side of the pass before beginning your descent.

Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia, Dukdon Glacier
Midway up the glacier looking back toward camp
Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Just beyond camp
Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Climbing up to the bottom of the glacier
Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia, Dukdon Glacier
On the moraine, nearing the top

Dukdon Pass To Karakul Valley

You’ll stay on a well-beaten path down the other side of the pass. The path will begin going down a little before swinging to the north and staying quite high for some time. You should be able to see a small lake in the valley below. Eventually, the path will begin to drop down, passing the lake before you reach an alpine valley. If not completing The foot of Dukdon Pass all the way to Sarytag in one day, this is a great spot to camp.

Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
From the top of the pass about to head along the wall
Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Views of the small glacial lake just before the alpine pasture valley
Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Walking along the alpine pasture valley

In this valley you’ll find the Dukdon River, which you will follow, staying on the north. The river seems to drop off the edge of a cliff as you continue following it out of the path. This next section you’ll want to be cautious as it is quite steep and the trail pretty eroded with dust and loose rocks. The path drops about 400 meters pretty quickly, meandering between juniper trees until you reach the confluence of the Dukdon and Karakul Rivers.

Karakul River Valley, Sarytag, Tajikistan, Fann Mountains
Karakul River Valley

I’ll stop here at the Karakul Valley. The Karakul Valley is first forested (especially beautiful in fall with yellow leaves) when you first reach it from the bottom of Dukdon Pass. This area is also a great place to set up camp. From here you can either continue east and follow the Karakul River to Sarytag where there are a handful of homestays, or you will cross to the south side of the Karakul River and turn south just before Sarytag and follow the Mura River to go up and over to cross Mura Pass and end in the Karatag Valley near Hakimi.


Looking for more? Check out my 10 best treks in Tajikistan for more ideas


Hikes that Connect To Dukdon Pass

From The West

Archamaidon Valley, Archamaidon River, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan
Shepherds along the Archamaidon Valley

Zimtut

Starting from Zimtat (or ending) is the easiest and most straight forward way to begin or end the Dukdon Pass hike. Zimtut is just south of the village of Panjrud on the Archamaidon River. From Zimtat to the confluence of the Archamaidon and Sarymat Rivers the hike runs along a roadbed.

Chukurak Lakes, Chukurak, Chukurak Lake, Tajikistan
Chukurak Lakes at sunrise

Artuch

Artuch Base Camp is another popular way to begin the trek over Dukdon Pass (or end it). From Artuch Base Camp you can hike up to Chukurak Lakes to camp on your first night before setting off northwest for the village of Guitan over Igrok Pass. From Guitan you’ll continue on to Zimtut were you’ll follow the roadbed to the south along the Archamaidon River down toward the confluence.

Lakes Loop Tajikistan, Lakes Loop trek, Tajikistan, Fann Mountains, Alovaddin, Lake Alovaddin, Lake Alauddin, Alauddin
Sunrise on Alovaddin

Lake Alovaddin

Starting from Vertical Alovaddin Base Camp, continue up to camp at Alovaddin Lake. The following day you can climb over either Alovaddin Pass or Lauden Pass to camp in the Kulikalon Bowl. From there take Govkhona Pass to reach Chukurak Lake to camp and then follow the remaining step from the section above to reach Guitan Pass and then Zimtut.


Read more about the Lakes Loop Hike in the Fann Mountains


Fann Mountains, Fann Mountains Guide, Tajikistan, Tajikistan travel, Tajikistan travel guide, Tajikistan guide, Haft Kul, Tajikistan, Seven Lakes, 7 lakes, 7 lakes of Marguzor, Fann Mountains, Marguzor Lakes
Marguzor Lake in the Haft Kul

Haft Kul

The Haft Kul is Tajikistan’s famed Seven Lakes on the western fringes of the Fann Mountains. At Lake #6 (Marguzor) you will begin ascending up to the village of Kiogli that hangs over the lake at the foot of Tavasang Pass (don’t be surprised if children in Kiogli entice you to come over and meet their families and have chai and bread with them!). From here you will go up and over Tavasang Pass to descend into the stunning Sarymat Valley where you can find a good grassy spot down by the river to camp at. Once down at the Sarymat River, you actually have two choices for joining the Dukdon Pass route. The easier route is to head northeast along the Sarymat River up to the confluence of the Sarymat and Archamaidon and continue on from there. The more challenging is via Munora Pass.

Munora Pass

The other, more challenging option is to follow the Abusafedsoi River to the southeast to cross Munora Pass. On the other side of Munora Pass you will continue along the Nagnut River to the northeast to join the Dukdon Pass trek at the confluence of Archamaidon and Nagnut. Alternatively, those starting from Zimtut or Artuch could follow the Sarymat rather than the Archamaidon at the confluence to include Munora Pass on their trek for an added challenge.


Wanna start or end in the Haft Kul? Check out my Haft Kul Guide


From The East

Iskanderkul, Chulboi, Tajikistan, Fann Mountains
Iskanderkul

Iskanderkul/Sarytag

From the village of Sarytag, near Iskanderkul you’ll follow the Sarytag River to the west from the village. Continuing due east where the river changes names to Karakul where the Sarytag and Mura Rivers meet. When you reach the meeting point of the Karakul and Dukdon Rivers you would turn north and begin trekking uphill into Dukdon Pass. (This is the reverse of what I did as I came from the north along the Archamaidon Valley and ended in Sarytag)


Read my quick Iskanderkul & Sarymat Guide

From The South

Karatag Valley, Karatag, Tajikistan, Timur Dara, Timur Dara Lake, Fann Mountains, Shimkent
Timur Dara

Karatag Valley

From the village of Hakimi, the jumping-off point to Shirkent Historical Nature Park, and to Timur Dara Lake you can gain access to the Mura Pass trek that connects to the Dukdon Pass trek. Hakimi is located in the Karatag Valley that runs in the north-south direction. From Hakimi, you’ll begin hiking northward following the Karatag River Valley. Just shy of 3 kilometers north of Hakimi you’ll pass an old military checkpoint, and just beyond you can optionally follow a trail due east to make a side trip to visit Timur Dara Lake. About 4 kilometers beyond the offshoot trail to Timur Dara, you’ll reach the tributary where the Karatag and Payron Rivers meet. Optionally, you can follow the Payron to the northeast to visit Payron Lake. Back on the Karatag River, you’ll continue following it, crossing the Zambar River and arriving at an open area called Khojohasan where you can camp. From Khojohasan you’ll continue north then northwest where most would camp at the foot of Mura Pass before crossing Mura Pass. After Mura Pass you’ll follow the Zambar River north and then eventually you’ll need to make a small jaunt to the east to reach the Mura River and then follow it north to meet the Karatag River just west of Sarytag Village. Follow the Karatag west to reach the Dukdon River and the start of the trek to Dukdon Pass. (This route is also easily done in reverse).


Check out my post on the Karatag Valley & Timur Dara Lake


What To Pack

You’ll want the obvious trekking gear with you before crossing the Dukdon Pass. For a full trekking packing list, click here.

Dukdon Glacier, Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
A cave forming in the glacier on the east side of Dukdon Pass

Safety

The Dukdon Pass trek is pretty straightforward without any looming dangers aside from the remoteness of where it is located, and the potential of falling or tripping and injuring oneself. As I mentioned earlier, a shepherd had warned me of aggressive shepherding dogs on or near the trail.

Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia, Dukdon Range

Have Any Questions About The Dukdon Pass Trek?

Ask in the comments section below.

Need Travel Insurance?

Start shopping plans over at battleface, my go-to travel insurance choice, or over at World Nomads.

More Posts from Tajikistan:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top