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A Guide To Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains

Updated April 2021the Fann Mountains Guide was originally written in December 2016 

The Fann Mountains may quite possibly be the best trekking destination you’ve probably never heard of. In Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains you’ll find yourself surrounded by sky-scraping jagged mountains, crystal clear lakes of azure, and the warm heart & legendary hospitality of the local people. Although- This is a remote stretch of Earth where you could go days without seeing another soul and that’s as much of its charm as is the stark sceneries.

And this is where this blog comes in to help. When I visited this area for the first time in 2016 there was almost zero information on it. So after my first trip and several updates after a few trips back I finally decided to share the info I gathered over time here.

But don’t fret, you don’t have to be a hardcore mountaineer to enjoy this beautiful area. There are short and long treks around that will give most anyone a great experience in the Fanns. Of course, there are treks that will keep even the experienced trekkers on their toes.

*This is a somewhat remote area of Tajikistan and with any trekking destination, or you know, just life, in general, there are assumed risks. This area is prone, but not limited to earthquakes, extreme weather conditions, landslides, political upheaval, and bone-crushing roads. Much of the trekking in Tajikistan, in general, is wild and remote.

There are little to no facilities and services outside of cities.  Be prepared, have enough layers and proper gear, food, and water. The likelihood of being rescued in the event of a life-threatening injury or disaster is slim. You’re going at your own risk and remember that there is never any shame in hiring a guide.


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


FANN MOUNTAINS TREKKING ROUTES

Alovaddin & Kulikalon (The Lakes Area)
The Lakes Loop
The Lakes One Way
Kulikalon Lakes From Artuch
Alovaddin From Vertical Alovaddin
Lakes Loop Via Chukurak Lakes

Haft Kul Area
Haft Kul (Walk The Seven Lakes)
Mogiyon To Haft Kul Via Komichura Pass

Haft Kul To The Lakes
Haft Kul To The Lakes Via Tavasang & Zimtut Passes
Fann Mountains Highlights

The Lakes To Haft Kul
Kulikalon To Haft Kul Via Chimtarga Pass
Alovaddin To Haft Kul Via Chimtarga Pass

Haft Kul To Iskanderkul
West-East Traverse Via Munora & Dukdon Pass
West-East Traverse Via Sarymat Pass

The Lakes To Iskanderkul
North-South Traverse Via Kaznok Pass
North-South Traverse Via Chimtarga & Dukdon Pass
North-South Traverse Via Guiton & Dukdon Pass

The Lakes & Chimtarga Pass
Chimtarga Pass & The Lakes Loop

FANN MOUNTAINS TABLE OF CONTENTS

Getting To The Fanns
Accommodations & Camping
Tours & Guides
Packing List
Practical Info & Safety

Fann Mountains Trekking Routes

The Kulikalon & Alovaddin Lakes Area

This stunning area will take you through semi-arid mountains, juniper forests and will find you waking up next to Carib-blue lakes. Alovaddin and Kulikalon Lakes are easily a highlight of most Fann Mountains treks. The “Lakes Loop” is one of the most popular treks in the Fanns.

Both the Kulikalon Lakes area, as well as the Alovaddin Lakes area, are only accessible on foot. If you want to see the beauty of the Fanns and are short on time this is your best option. The Lakes area can be visited as a one way through the trek, or combined to form the popular “Lakes Loop”.

*Note that as of 2019 there is a park ranger who will collect a camping fee from you if he runs across you in the Lakes Loop area (Artuch, Kulikalon Bowl, Lake Alovaddin). We were charged 19 TJS per night (don’t expect to get 1 TJS in change if you pay with a 20 TJS note).

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Sunrise on Alovaddin

The Lakes Loop

Artuch Alplager ➤ Kulikalon Lakes ➤ Alovaddin Pass ➤ Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Lauden Pass ➤ Artuch Alplager

Time
3 days, 2 nights

Distance
32 kilometers

The Lakes Loop Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

The Lakes Loop is an easy favorite in the Fann Mountains as it dazzles with some of the country’s most beautiful lakes, doesn’t require much backtracking, and is easy to get to and from with public transport.

From Artuch you will trek down to Kulikalon Lake about 5 km. The shoreside of Kulikalon is a great place to camp, other good options to set up camp is near the shores of Bibijonat Lake or Kulisiyekh Lake just a little west in the same meadow. There is a nearby settlement of friendly herders on the far side of Kulikalon, they will likely invite you for a meal, or at least bread and tea if they are around.

The next segment of the trek will take you from Kulikalon over 3,630 meter Lauden Pass. From Lauden Pass, you’ll follow the Pasruddaria River then the Chapdara River to Alovaddin Lakes.

Once over the pass you can set up camp and spend the afternoon relaxing at beautiful Alovaddin Lakes. It is possible to grab a warm meal and a beer at the makeshift restaurant tent at the north end of the main lake.

In the morning head for 3,860 meter Alovaddin Pass back toward Kulikalon. The Pass is a little higher and steeper than Lauden to get over and offers stunning views of both lakes from the top.

Once back to Kulikalon you can make the 5 km trek back to Artuch, or alternatively set up camp next to Dushakha Lakes or Bibijonat Lakes and take a 4th day/3rd night out of the trek. This trek can easily be done in reverse.

For those wanting to tack on an extra day from Alovaddin, you can make a day hike to Mutnyi Lake and back to Alovaddin Lakes.

You will need to camp at Kulikalon (you can set up camp near Bibijonat or Dushakha as well). There are homestays in Artuch and Alovaddin, though I recommend camping at the south shore of Alovaddin for epic sunrise views.

For those looking for an alternative route, start from Zimtut Village, head up over Zurmech Pass (3,260 meter) to arrive at the Chukurak Lakes, and then to Artuch to start the journey to Kulikalon.


Looking for more details on the Lakes Loop Trek? Read The Lakes Loop Trekking Guide


Kulikalon, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan
Kulikalon

The Lakes One Way

Artuch Alplager ➤ Kulikalon Lakes ➤ Alovaddin Pass or Lauden Pass ➤ Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Vertical Alovaddin

Time
3 days, 2 nights

Distance
18-25 kilometers

Fann Mountains Lakes One Way Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

If you want to trek the Lakes Loop, but are short on time and would prefer to trim a day off the itinerary it is possible to do the trek as a one-way through-hike. Reversing this itinerary is no problem.

You will need to camp at Kulikalon (you can set up around Dushakha or Bibijonat Lakes as well). There are homestays available in Artuch and Alovaddin, though I do recommend camping on the south side of Lake Alovaddin. Please note that there is no public transport to/from Vertical Alovaddin.

Dushakha Lakes, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan
Dushakha Lakes

Kulikalon Lakes From Artuch

Artuch Alplager ➤ Kulikalon Lakes  ➤ Artuch Alplager

Time
2 days, 1 night

Distance
16 kilometers

Artuch to Kulikalon Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This short trek will take you about 5km from Artuch Alplager to the Kulikalon bowl where there are the lake systems of Kulikalon, Bibijonat, and Dushakha.

You can set up camp in any of these three areas of the bowl. Camping along Kulikalon Lakes has gorgeous sunrise views. Bibijonat has nice grassy shores to set up on with epic views of Mirali, or camp next to Dushakha at the foot of Mirali Peak.

Local shepherds do pass through the bowl and they even have a settlement on the far shore of Kulikalon, so don’t be surprised if they welcome you with bread, almonds, and chai.

For those really short on time, you can make a day trip here returning to Artuch in the evening.

Kulikalon, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan
Kulikalon

Alovaddin Lakes From Vertical Alovaddin Camp

Vertical Alovaddin ➤ Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Vertical Alovaddin

Time
2 days, 1 night (could easily be a day trip as well)

Distance
3 kilometers

Vertical Alovaddin to Alovaddin Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This is a short and sweet trek to the lake from Vertical Alovaddin, the old Russian climbing camp. From the camp, the trail makes a gentle ascent past small lakes and finally up to the main Alovaddin Lake.

In 2017 a couple of pop-up chaikhanas have opened up on the north shore of the lake for those wanting to grab a warm meal and a beer.

The best place to set up camp in on the southern shore of the lake- and set your alarm early to catch the sunrise. You can easily visit Lake Alovaddin as a day trip if you’re not keen on spending the night.

Alovaddin, Alaudden, Alaudden Lake, Alovaddin Lake, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan
Alovaddin

Lakes Loop Via Chukurak Lakes

Artuch Alplager ➤ Kulikalon Lakes ➤ Lauden Pass ➤ Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Alovaddin Pass ➤ Kulikalon Lakes ➤ Govkhona (Chukurak) Pass ➤ Chukurak Lakes ➤ Artuch

Time
4 days, 3 nights

Distance
32 kilometers

Lakes Loop via Chukurak Lakes Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This is a fun alternative to the standard Lakes Loop Circuit. You essentially take the same route as the traditional hike (from Artuch to Kulikalon to Alovaddin and back to Kulikalon), but after Kulikalon you’ll ascend up 3,180 meter Govkhona (also called Chukurak Pass).

Upon descent, you’ll arrive at the beautiful Chukurak Lakes, a great place to set up camp for a night before making the brief trek back to Artuch Alplager. Alternatively, you can end in Zimtut by trekking over Guitan Pass. This trek can easily be done in reverse.

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

Haft Kul Area

The Haft Kul is set in a narrow, craggy mountain valley. The old legend says an old man went missing in the valley. His seven daughters came to search for him but were unable to find him and began to cry along the narrow valley.

The valley filled with tears and drown them. Each of the seven lakes represents one of the man’s daughters.

In reality, it’s a narrow, earthquake-prone valley with the Shing River running through it. Researchers believe that earthquakes over the years created rockslides that dammed off the Shing River resulting in the Haft Kul.

Haft Kul means seven lakes in TajikThe lakes stretch roughly 15km from lake one down to lake seven.

Their names from north to south are Mijgon, Soya, Gusbor, Nofin, Khurdak, Marguzor, and Hazorchazma. Each lake has a unique and different color to it.

The Haft Kul offers a variety of trekking options from day trips from Panjakent to hike between the glimmering lakes to multi-day treks. There are a few homestays along the valley where you could do short treks lake to lake staying at homestays. Perched just above Marguzor Lake (the 6th lake) sits Kiogli village to the east and Soimarguzor Village just above the lake on the west shore.

If you’re really short on time or not wanting to trek there is a road connecting 6 of 7 the lakes making a day trip to the lake possible.


For more detailed information on the Haft Kul area, read my Haft Kul Trekking Guide


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

The Haft Kul

Mijgon (Lake #1) ➤ Soya ➤ Gusbor ➤ Nofin ➤ Khurdak ➤ Marguzor ➤ Hazorchazma (Lake #7) ➤ Homestay ➤ Mijgon

Time
2 days, 1 night

Distance
15 kilometers one way (30 kilometers return)

Haft Kul Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

Welcome to the Haft Kul, also called the Seven Pearls of Shing and Marguzor Lakes. This area is easily reached from Panjakent. 6 of the 7 lakes are reachable by road, so you can trek the dirt path or drive it. The 7th lake- Hazorchazma is about 30 minutes on foot beyond Marguzor (#6).

Most will take two days to explore the valley, but others may opt to spend several days slowly making their way from lake to lake. This area is not ideal for camping, but if you’re determined the shores of Hazorchazma are grassy making it the only place worth setting up camp.

There is a turbaza at the north end of Marguzor, Namjmidden Homestay near Nofin (I personally recommend staying there), as well as homestays in the village of Padrud.

For those short on time, it’s possible to visit on a day trip from Panjakent.

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Mijgon Lake, Haft Kul

Mogiyon Village To Haft Kul

Mogiyon ➤ Rogich ➤ Komichura Pass ➤ Soimarguzor Village ➤ Marguzor Lake (#6) ➤ Hazorchazma Lake (#7) ➤ Nofin ➤ Padrud Village

Time
3 days, 2 nights

Distance
38 kilometers

Mogiyon to Haft Kul Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This is so unknown it’s almost a secret. This route is rarely visited by foreigners and it’s hard to understand why not after having completed it in 2017.

From Panjakent grab a shared taxi in the morning bound for Mogiyon and brace yourself- after the road splits from the Haft Kul road it gets windy and narrow with steep drops on either side into an unforgiving valley. Once in Mogiyon, you’ll follow a shepherd’s trail that follows the Subashi River through narrow canyons and across rickety bridges.

Eventually, you’ll arrive at the village of Rogich where you can sleep at a homestay or set up camp just outside the village (though don’t be surprised if friendly locals invite you in).

The next morning make your way up 3,050 meter Komichura Pass following shepherd trails that will lead you down to Soimarguzor Village with gorgeous views of Marguzor Lake. Once down to Marguzor you can make the short detour to Hazorchasma or continue to Marguzor, Najmidden Homestay, or Padrud for the night.

You can do this trek without camping equipment if you want to stay at homestays both nights. It is advisable to contact ZTDA prior to your trek set up homestays. This trek can easily be done in reverse.

Tajikistan, Fann Mountains, Mogiyon to Rogich, Mogiyon Rogich, Mogiyon Rogich trek, Subashi, Subashi River
One of the narrow canyons cut by the Subashi River between Mogiyon and Rogich

Haft Kul To The Lakes Area

The Haft Kul and the Lakes Area are two of the Fann Mountain’s most gorgeous destinations and this trek combines the tow areas. These trekking options are great for those that are just arriving at higher altitudes as the Haft Kul does sit lower in altitude than the lakes making acclimatization easier.

Tavasang, Tavasang Pass, Tajikistan
Tavasang Pass

Haft Kul To The Lakes

Marguzor Lake (#6) ➤ Kiogli Village ➤ Tavasang Pass ➤ Sarymat & Archamaidan River Confluence ➤ Zimtut Village ➤ Guitan Pass ➤ Chukurak Lakes ➤ Kulikalon ➤ Alovaddin or Lauden Pass ➤Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Vertical Alovaddin

Time
6 days, 5 nights

Distance
57-64 kilometers

Haft Kul to the Lakes Loop Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This trek combines the beauty of two of the best and easiest to access places in the Fann Mountains to visit. Start from Marguzor Lake in the Haft Kul towards the village of Kiogli before making it up and over 3,300 meter Tavasang Pass. At the bottom of the pass near the shore of the Sarymat River, there is a great spot to set up camp for the night.

The next two days are pretty mellow, but long following the Sarymat beyond its confluence with the Archamaidan River and finally into Zimtut Village where you can camp nearby or sleep in a homestay for the night.

The next day you’ll continue up and over 2,600 meter Guitan Pass and descend down to Chukurak Lakes to set up camp for the night.

The following morning you’ll head up and over 3,180 Govkhona Pass into the Kulikalon Bowl where you’ll camp for the night.

Your final day will take you up and over either Alovaddin or Lauden Pass to end at Alovaddin Lake. This trek can be done in reverse however it is recommended to go from Haft Kul to the Lakes if you haven’t yet adjusted to the altitudes in Tajikistan.

As an alternative, you can head east from the Archamaidan River along a shepherd trail about 2 kilometers north of Gazza Village. From here you’ll go over 3,260 Zurmech Pass to arrive at Chukurak Lakes.

Tavasang, Tavasang Pass, Haft Kul
Descending Tavasang Pass towards the Sarymat River

Highlights Of The Fann Mountains From Haft Kul To The Lakes

Marguzor Lake (#6) ➤ Kiogli Village ➤ Tavasang Pass ➤ Sarymat & Archamaidan River Confluence ➤ Zimtut Village ➤ Guitan Pass ➤ Chukurak Lakes ➤ Kulikalon ➤ Alovaddin or Lauden Pass ➤Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Mutnyi Lake ➤ Foot Of Chimtarga Pass ➤ Chimtarga Pass ➤ Bolshoi Allo ➤ Maloye Allo ➤ Zimtut Village

Time
11 days, 10 nights

Distance
95-102 kilometers

Fann Mountains Highlights Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This is a big trek that will take you from the Haft Kul to Zimtut and Chukurak Lakes and onto Kulikalon and Alovaddin Lakes. The trek continues to pass the murky Mutnyi Lake before taking on the massive 4,740 meter Chimtarga Pass. Take a much-needed rest day exploring the area around Bolshoi Allo Lake before you descend down the Zindon Valley to meet the Archamaidan River once again and turn back north to end the trek at Zimtut.

You will definitely need camping gear on this trip and make sure you bring plenty of food with you. Due to how high Chimtarga Pass is it would be wise to take a rest day at Alovaddin the day before your trek to Mutnyi and make the following day a short one camping below Chimtarga Pass.

In 2016 I took on Chimtarga Pass (and backward from most at that- which I don’t recommend). In 2019 I returned and went over Chimtarga Pass in the usual direction (Mutnyi to Bolshoi Allo and it went much better). Read more about my experiences crossing Chimtarga Pass here.

Another tidbit worth being aware of– pack animals cannot go over Chimtarga Pass, so you’ll need to plan to carry your own gear over it.

Maloye Allo, Zindon River, Zindon Valley, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan
Maloye Allo

The Lakes To Haft Kul Area

Combining the two famous Fann Mountains alpine lake areas from the previous section, however thanks to steep scree conditions on the Bolshoi Allo side of Chimtarga Pass it is recommended to take on these treks in this direction.

Chimtarga, Chimtarga Pass, Fann Mountains, Fanski Gory, Tajikistan
Looking west from Chimtarga Pass in the late afternoon

Kulikalon To Haft Kul Via Chimtarga Pass

Artuch Alplager ➤ Kulikalon Lakes ➤ Alovaddin or Laudden Pass ➤ Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Mutnyi Lake ➤ Foot Of Chimtarga Pass ➤ Chimtarga Pass ➤ Bolshoi Allo ➤ Maloye Allo ➤Sarymat & Archamaidan River Confluence ➤ Tavasang Pass ➤ Kiogli Village ➤ Marguzor (Lake #6)

Time
9 days, 8 nights

Distance
63-70 kilometers

Artuch to Haft Kul via Chimtarga Pass Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

Much like the treks covered in the previous section, this one will take you from Artuch Alplager to the Haft Kul via Chimtarga Pass. It is best to only attempt this trek if you’ve already adjusted well to higher altitudes in Tajikistan. It is smart to take at least 4 days making it to camp at the foot of Chimtarga Pass to help prevent altitude sickness getting over the pass.

I don’t recommend doing this trek in reverse due to the steep scree conditions on the Bolshoi Allo side of Chimtarga Pass. I unwittingly did the trek this way in 2016 and it was a challenge, to say the least. After returning in 2019 and doing it in the opposite direction I can attest to it being much easier in the direction laid out in this section.


Read more about beautiful Bolshoi Allo here


Fann Mountains, Fann Mountains Guide, Lakes Loop Tajikistan, Lakes Loop Trek, Tajikistan, Fann Mountains, Kulikalon
Looking over Kulikalon from Alovaddin Pass

Alovaddin To Haft Kul Via Chimtarga Pass

Vertical Alovaddin ➤ Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Mutnyi Lake ➤ Foot Of Chimtarga Pass ➤ Chimtarga Pass ➤ Bolshoi Allo ➤ Maloye Allo ➤ Sarymat & Archamaidan Confluence ➤ Tavasang Pass ➤ Kiogli Village ➤ Marguzor (Lake #6)

Time
8 days, 7 nights

Distance
50 kilometers

Alovaddin to Haft Kul via Chimtarga Pass Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This is the same trek as from Kulikalon, just a day less trekking. I do recommend spending at least an extra day at Alovaddin or Mutnyi if you’re not yet acclimatized to the altitudes.

Lake Alovaddin, Lake Alauddin, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan, Central Asia, Sughd, Pamir Altai,
Lake Alovaddin

Haft Kul To Iskanderkul

Iskanderkul is the most well known of the Fann Mountains lakes. The massive lake sits in the southeast corner of the Fanns. These are more cultural treks that pass through high summer pastures and little mountain villages where you’re guaranteed to experience Tajik mountain hospitality.


Read the Iskanderkul & Sarytag Travel Guide to plan your time at the end (or beginning) of your Haft Kul-Iskanderkul trek


Marguzor, Tajikistan, Haft Kul
Looking back at Marguzor Lake and Soimarguzor Village from Kiogli

West-East Traverse From Haft Kul Via Dukdon Pass

Marguzor (Lake #6) ➤ Kiogli Village ➤ Tavasang Pass ➤ Munora Pass Or Sarymat/Archamaidan Confluence ➤ Foot Of Dukdon Pass ➤ Dukdon Pass ➤ Sarytag/Iskanderkul

Time
4 days, 3 nights

Distance
58-66 kilometers

West-East Traverse from Haft Kul via Dukdon Pass Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This is a somewhat long, and in some areas challenging trek that connects the Haft Kul to Sarytag/Iskanderkul.

From the village of Kiogli mentioned above in the Haft Kul trek, continue up Tavasang Pass and then proceed down the pass and cross the Abusafedsol River. After crossing the river you have two options: Either take 3,520 meter Munora Pass slightly toward the northeast and eventually link up to the Dukdon Pass that will lead you to Iskanderkul.

Alternatively, veer to the northeast and trek along the Sarymat River to its confluence with the Archamaidan and follow the Archmaidan back to the southeast to finally link up with 3,810 meter Dukdon Pass.

Once down Dukdon Pass follow the Akhbashir (which turns into) Karakul (which eventually turns into the) Sarytag River and on down to Sarytag Village and Iskanfderkul.

This trek can be done in reverse. Plan to camp outside of the Haft Kul and Sarytag, however, you may be invited in by shepherds along the journey.


Wanna take on the Dukdon? Check out this guide to Dukdon Pass


Dukdon Pass, Fann Mountains, Sughd, Tajikistan, Central Asia
Views of the Dukdon Range in the distance

West-East Traverse From Haft Kul Via Sarymat Pass

Marguzor (Lake #6) ➤ Kiogli Village ➤ Tavasang Pass ➤ Foot Of Sarymat Pass ➤ Sarymat Pass ➤ Sarytag/Iskanderkul

Time
4 days, 3 nights

Distance
58 kilometers

West-East Traverse from Haft Kul via Sarymat Pass Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This trek starts out the same as the previously covered trek. After a night of camping at the Sarymat River banks, you’ll continue east-southeast and eventually tackle the aggressively steep 4,160 meter Sarymat Pass.

After descending out of the Sarymat plan to split the remainder of the trek into two days before you arrive at Sarytag Village and Iskanderkul.

Fann Mountains Guide, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan, Sarymat River, Central Asia
Sunset at camp near Sarymat River

The Lakes Area To Iskanderkul

These North-South Traverse treks combine the beauty of the Lakes Area and Iskanderkul.

Iskanderkul, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan, Chulboi
Iskanderkul

North-South Traverse: Artuch to Iskanderkul Via Kaznok Pass

Artuch Alplager ➤ Kulikalon Lakes ➤ Alovaddin or Lauden Pass ➤ Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Mutnyi Lake ➤ Kaznok Pass ➤ Sarytag/Iskanderkul

Time
5 days, 4 nights

Distance
40-47 kilometers

North-South Traverse Artuch to Iskanderkul Via Kaznok Pass Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This trek will start out as many others in this post going from Artuch to Kulikalon, Alovaddin onto Mutnyi.

From Mutinyi you’ll ascend up into 4,040 meter Kaznok Pass and descend down into Sarytag Village. Some reports claim that crampons are necessary to cross the Kaznok. From my experience, I found that it was possible without, though at least a set of cleats is useful.

Take care heading up the Kaznok as there are other trails that lead up to passes that you cannot get down without proper climbing gear, so do pay attention to your GPS.

This trek can be shortened by starting from Vertical Alovaddin rather than Artuch, saving you 13-20 kilometers and shaving a day off your travel time.

Kaznok Pass, Gora Chimtarga, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan
Looking back toward Gora Chimtarga on the way up toward Kaznok Pass

North-South Traverse: Artuch to Iskanderkul Via Chimtarga & Dukdon Passes

Artuch Alplager ➤ Kulikalon lakes ➤ Alovaddin or Lauden Pass ➤ Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Mutnyi Lake ➤ Chimtarga Pass ➤ Bolshoi Allo ➤ Maloye Allo ➤ Sarymat/Archamaidan River Confluence ➤ Dukdon Pass ➤ Sarytag/Iskanderkul

Time
9 days, 8 nights

Distance
80-87 kilometers

North-South Traverse- Artuch to Iskanderkul Via Chimtarga & Dukdon Passes Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

Making a backward ‘s’, this trek takes a turn once to Mutnyi Lake. This trek is a stunner, but it’s a long one. I completed this exact through-hike in fall 2019.

Rather than continuing due south to cross Kaznok Pass, you’ll instead head west to cross Chimtarga Pass and down to Bolshoi Allo. From here continue down the Zindon Valley until meeting up with the Archmaidan River and following it to the southeast to cross Dukdon Pass and continue on to Sarytag and Iskanderkul.

Bolshoi Allo, Zindon Valley, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan
Bolshoi Allo

North-South Traverse: Alovaddin to Iskanderkul Via Guitan & Dukdon Passes

Vertical Alovaddin ➤ Alovaddin Lakes➤ Alovaddin or Lauden Pass ➤ Kulikalon Lakes ➤ Chukurak Lakes ➤Guitan Pass ➤ Zimtut ➤ Sarymat/Archamaidan River Confluence ➤ Dukdon Pass ➤ Sarytag/Iskanderkul

Time
7 days, 6 nights

Distance
81-88 kilometers

North-South Traverse- Alovaddin to Iskanderkul Via Guitan & Dukdon Passes Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This trek connects beauty and culture departing from Alovaddin Lake to Kulikalon and continuing over Govkhona Pass to Chukurak Lakes nestled perfectly between mountains before taking on Guitan Pass to Zimtut Village.

From Zimtut meander along the Archamaidan River for a mellow stretch of the trek before heading up into Dukdon Pass, a place where you’ll definitely experience the culture of the area. Once up and past the Dukdon it’s a straightforward descent down to Iskanderkul and the village of Sarytag.

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Iskanderkul

Combining Chimtarga Pass & The Lakes

Pair challenge with beauty. Chimtarga Pass is rugged and challenging but damn, those views from the top are worth it. The Lakes Loop sweetens the deal and getting to visit Bolshoi Allo is the cherry on top (or the side since Chimtarga Pass is the top, but now we’re getting too literal).

Fann Mountains, Tajikistan
Wildflower field between Alovaddin and Mutnyi on the way up to Chimtarga Pass

Up for a challenge? Read about crossing Chimtarga Pass


Chimtarga-Lakes Circuit

Artuch Alplager ➤ Kulikalon Lakes ➤ Alovaddin or Lauden Pass ➤ Alovaddin Lakes ➤ Mutnyi Lake ➤ Chimtarga Pass ➤Bolshoi Allo ➤ Maloye Allo ➤ Zimtut ➤ Guitan Pass ➤ Chukurak Lakes ➤ Artuch Alplager

Time
9 days 8 nights

Distance
69 kilometers

Chimtarga-Lakes Circuit Map
Click the map above to view in Google Maps

This trek combines the lakes loop with Chimtarga Pass and Bolshoi Allo Lake. Alternatively, you can opt to end the trek in Zimtut rather than looping back to Artuch.

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The view from the top of Chimtarga Pass

How To Get To The Fann Mountains

The Fann Mountains are part of the Western Pamir-Alay Mountain System, located in Tajikistan’s Sughd Province. The Fanns are bound by the Zeravshan range to the North, the Gissar range to the South, The Haft-Kul (Seven Lakes) to the West of the Archamaidon River, and the Fann Darya River to the East. This whole swath of land is situated in the northwest of Tajikistan. Cities & towns near and around the Fanns include Panjakent, Ayni, Shing, Sarvoda, and Sarytag.

Panjakent is the main jumping-off point into the Fann Mountains and is connected to Artuch Alplager, the Haft Kul, and Mogiyon by shared taxis. Most travelers will arrive here from Dushanbe, Khujand, or Samarkand in Uzbekistan.


Want to visit both Uzbekistan & Tajikistan? Check out my two week Uzbekistan + Tajikistan itinerary


If coming from Dushanbe you will have the great thrill of driving through the 5 km long famed Anzob tunnel. If arriving from Khujand or other cities in the Tajik Fergana Valley be ready for a winding cliff-side road with amazing views.

Another popular option is to combine the Fann Mountains with a trip to Uzbekistan’s Silk Road cities of Samarkand & Bukhara. In fact, the city of Penjikent sits only 73 kilometers from Samarkand. With the re-opening of the Panjakent border in 2018, you can combine the two places with ease. 

The town of Sarvoda (sometimes marked as Zeravshan- 1 on maps) is typically where those traveling by shared transport to Vertical Alovaddin Base Camp and to Sarytag will need to go. This is an estimated price-list of transportation, (updated April 2012). The current exchange rate is $1 USD = 11.41 TJS. Contact ZTDA for the most up to date information on these costs.

Please note that Artuch, the Haft Kul, Sarytag, Zimtut, and Mogiyon Village are the only places serviced by (typically) shared taxis or minibusses on most days. Vertical Alovaddin is not and you should arrange a car beforehand.

Chimtarga, Energia, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan, Bolshoi Allo, Zindon Valley

Shared Taxi

  • Dushanbe-Panjakent: $15/145 TJS
  • Khujand-Panjakent: $13/130 TJS
  • Dushanbe-Sarvoda: $7/65 TJS
  • Panjakent-Artuch: $7/65 TJS
  • Sarvoda-Iskanderkul $5/50 TJS
  • Sarvoda-Alovaddin $5/50 TJS
  • Samarkand-Panjakent $4/40,000 UZS + 10 TJS (you must take a shared taxi from Samarkand to the border and then take another shared taxi from the border to Panjakent)

Marshrutka/Minibus

  • Dushanbe-Panjakent: 70 TJS
  • Khujand-Panjakent: 90 TJS
  • Panjakent-Haft Kul: 25 TJS
  • Panjakent-Artuch: 50 TJS

Private Car Hire

  • Dushanbe-Panjakent: $200/1940 TJS
  • Dushanbe-Sarytag: $180/1745 TJS
  • Dushanbe-Alovaddin: $180/1745 TJS
  • Dushanbe-Nofin (Haft Kul): $210/2035 TJS
  • Panjakent-Artuch: $20/195 TJS
  • Panjakent-Haft Kul: $40/390 TJS
  • Panjakent-Alovaddin: $160/1550 TJS
  • Sarvoda-Alovaddin: $20/200 TJS
  • Sarvoda-Iskanderkul $20/200 TJS
  • Khujand-Panjakent: $220/2130 TJS

          *Note that private car prices are per car and therefore can be divided up amongst a group of you.

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Jumaboy at Najmiddin Homestay in Nofin

Accommodations & Camping

Plan to camp if trekking in the Fann Mountains, especially outside the Haft Kul area.

In general, most accommodation in the Fann Mountains area will be in basic homestays. Community-Based Tourism (CBT) is fairly common throughout Tajikistan and greater Central Asia.

In Panjakent there are a handful of hotels and guesthouses in addition to homestays. You can expect to pay between $10-20USD (90-180 TJS) per person per night at most homestays and guesthouses, including dinner and breakfast. Contact ZTDA to arrange a homestay if you are planning ahead.

Many families that live in the area will likely offer to take you in and subsequently show you legendary Tajik hospitality. Typically they will refuse payment, but do try to hide some Somoni in the home or try giving to the eldest child.

Homestays in the Fann Mountains region I recommend:

  • Haft Kul: Najmidden Homestay (near Nofin Lake, ran by the friendly Jumaboy and family)
  • Haft Kul: Rogich Homestay (for those doing the Mogiyon to Haft Kul trek)
  • Sarytag: Dilovar’s Homestay (In the heart of Sarytag, Dilovar speaks excellent English)
  • Iskanderkul: Shezok Guesthouse (right on the lakeshore)
  • Yakkakhona: Hazratsho Homestay (nearby to Artuch, Hazratsho speaks English and can help arrange cars and pack animals for trekking)

Accommodations in cities and towns I recommend from personal experience:

  • Dushanbe: Hello Hostel Super clean with a friendly and helpful staff. Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood in Dushanbe. Green House Hostel is another popular option nearby.
  • Khujand: Shark 21 Hostel Shark 21 Hostel is run by a friendly family and is located near the Panjshanbe Bazaar. The daughter Masha speaks English fluently and is very helpful. Armon Apartment Hotel also comes recommended by other travelers.
  • Panjakent: Hotel Umariyon Clean and located smack near the middle of Panjakent. The staff speaks Tajik and Russian only but are still helpful and friendly nonetheless. Another great option is Salom Hostel, with a friendly and helpful owner named Safar.
  • Samarkand (Uzbekistan): Samarkand Center Hotel is a great option located very close to the Registan. The Konstantin Hotel is fairly spendy, but sometimes on a long trip down the Silk Road, you gotta treat yourself. Other cheaper options that came highly recommended by other travelers were Amir HostelTimur the GreatSamarkand Travel Inn, and Orient Star Hotel.
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Tours & Guides

It is possible to arrange guides in the area and even join tours. Contact ZTDA for information on guides and guided treks. 

Kalpak Travel arranges trips into the Fann Mountains, and if you mention the promo code Nicki-Kalpak2017 you will receive 5% off your booking. Paramount Journey also does tours into the Fanns and Haft Kul, and if you mention the code PJ2017AN and this blog you will receive 5% off your tour booking with them.

Several tour operators can arrange organized tours and treks in the Fann Mountains, as well as in the Zaravshan, Yagnob Valleys, and more!

  • Kalpak Travel Offering Fann Mountains trekking tours and even a trip the includes trekking the Fanns and cycling in Tajikistan. Mention the promo code Nicki-Kalpak2017 to receive a 5% discount off your bookings. They also offer tours in other regions of Tajikistan as well as the greater Central Asian region!
  • Paramount Journey Offering 5% off tours if you mention the promo code PJ2017AN and this post!
  • Pamir Highway Adventure
  • Pamir Horse Adventure
  • Pamir Guides
  • Pamir Silk Tours
  • You can also contact ZTDA to arrange guides and tours.
  • Shop for tours in Tajikistan as well as the greater Central Asia region at Indy Guide.
Lake Alovaddin, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan

Packing List

Clothing

Recommended Gear

Toiletries

Electronics

Maps

Guide Books

  • Trekking in Tajikistan by Jan Bakker & Christine Oriol. You’ll find detailed descriptions of these hikes as well as those in the Pamirs in this book.
  • Tajikistan and the High Pamirs by Robert Middleton & Hue Thomas. This is a huge book, but it has so much good info on Tajikistan from history, great-game stories, travel information, and more.
  • Bradt Tajikistan by Sophie Ibbotson & Max Lovell-Hoare. The most comprehensive guide to  Tajikistan in print.
  • Central Asia by Lonely Planet. Handy to have with you, although don’t necessarily treat it as a bible. Things rapidly change and the currency can fluctuate so it’s not always dead on. A new edition published in 2018 and I heavily question whether the writer in charge of the Tajikistan section had ever stepped foot in the country, you’ve been warned.
  • The Central Asia Phrasebook by Lonely Planet I found this to be a handy item for Tajik, Russian and Kyrgyz phrases, not so much for the Wakhi phrase section.

Food

  • Dehydrated meals such as Mountain House (you’ll need to stock up before leaving home)
  • Trail mix
  • Jerky
  • Dried fruit and nuts (easily purchased at a bazaar)
  • Peanut butter
  • Spice packets
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Hot sauce (bring from home to jazz up bland food)
  • Instant mashed potatoes (so unhealthy, but I love them after a long trekking day)
  • Fresh veggies, noodles, bread, rice, and more can be purchased at a bazaar prior to setting out for your trek)
Fann Mountains, Kulikalon, Tajikistan

Practical Info & Safety

Practical Info & Other Things Worth Noting

  • The best time for trekking is late June through mid-September when the weather is clearest, high passes the least snowy, and temperatures the most pleasant.
  • Tajik and Russian are both widely spoken in the Fann Mountains as well as the rest of Tajikistan. Learn a few phrases (bonus points for Tajik).
  • Special gear and equipment are not necessary for most of the popular treks in the Fann Mountains. For those wanting to summit some of these high altitude peaks, mountaineering and climbing gear will be necessary.
  • Make sure that you do have your passport with you (and a paper copy of your visa if you have the e-visa!). There is a checkpoint near the village of Shing before the start of the Haft Kul and documents will be checked. Note that this is the only checkpoint like this in the Fann Mountains area.
  • As of 2019, there is a park ranger that will charge you 19 TJS per night for camping if he comes across you. He usually is only in the Lakes Loop Area (Artuch, Kulikalon Bowl, and Lake Alovaddin). Since I hadn’t run across him in prior years I did ask to see his documents to make sure he was legit and he presented his ID cards.
  • Solo female travelers may run into overly-friendly male locals, guides, etc. Usually more of an annoyance than anything else, but worth being aware of. A firm ‘no’ usually will halt the behavior.
  • You can arrange porters from ZTDA, or hire them in Yakkakhona, Artuch, Alovaddin, Zimtut, Sarytag, Kiogli, and Mogiyon. Most porters will expect $20-25 USD per day.
  • If you are unsure about your skill level, hire an experienced guide.
  • The Fann Mountains are pretty remote in some areas. Take proper precautions.
  • You cannot fly in propane/butane tanks for cooking. You can pick one up in Dushanbe at Green House Hostel, sometimes you can get one in Khujand although it’s not always possible. If arriving from Kyrgyzstan it’s best to purchase one before leaving Osh.
  • Most Tajiks living in this part of the country follow Sunni Islam, so dress in the Fann Mountains can be a little more conservative than the rest of Tajikistan. Typically women will wear long sleeves and full-length loose-fitting trousers or skirts. Men typically wear t-shirts or long sleeve button-downs with trousers.
  • Wine and cognac are locally made just outside Panjakent, definitely worth a try especially after a long successful trek.
  • Locally handcrafted beadwork can be purchased in the Haft Kul from homestays.

Pass, Peak & Lake Elevations

  • Guitan Pass 2,600 meters
  • Komichura Pass 3,050 meters
  • Govkhona Pass 3,180 meters
  • Zurmech Pass 3,260 meters
  • Tavasang Pass 3,300 meters
  • Munora Pass 3,520 meters
  • Laudden Pass 3,630 meters
  • Dukdon Pass 3,810 meters
  • Alovaddin Pass 3,860 meters
  • Kaznok Pass 4,040 meters
  • Sarymat Pass 4,160 meters
  • Chimtarga Pass 4,740 meters
  • Kulikalon Lake 2,850 meters
  • Alovaddin Lake 2,800 meters
  • Mutnyi Lake 3,510 meters
  • Bolshoi Allo 3,180 meters
  • Iskanderkul 2,200 meters
  • Gora Chimtarga 5,489 meters
  • Gora Energia 5,120 meters
  • Gora Mirali 5,120 meters
  • Pik Moskva 5,046 meters
  • Gora Chapdara 5,050 meters

Safety

  • The Fann Mountains, as well as the vast majority of Tajikistan, is prone to earthquakes. Being caught in a landslide in the mountains with your route being cut off is a possibility.
  • Temperatures can range drastically from day to night even in summer. Temperatures can dip below freezing at altitudes over 3,000 meters in the dead of summer.
  • There are snow leopards, Marco Polo sheep, bears, and wolves living in Tajikistan’s mountains. Although you’d be highly unlikely to cross any of them, they are something to be aware of.
  • Take time to acclimatize to the altitudes here in the Fanns. Altitude sickness can be dangerous and even deadly. Read up on acclimatization here.
  • I highly recommend getting travel insurance in the event of injury or illness. Shop plans at battleface or at World Nomads.

Have Any Questions About Trekking In The Fann Mountains?

Ask your Fann Mountains questions in the comments below!

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Need Travel Insurance?

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

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11 thoughts on “A Guide To Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains”

  1. Thanks for this great guide!! My brother and me want to head to the Fann mountains end of October, but we cannot find any informations about how snowy it may be. We would like to camp, but not if it is very snowy. Have you any advice

    1. You could have a bit of snow in the passes in late October, and possibly some even down at the lower elevations too around the lakes. Hard to say exactly how deep it could be since that can vary so much year to year. In late September/early October 2019 when I was there last the passes were all snow free except Chimtarga, but there wasn’t much snow atop Chimtarga yet.

  2. Hi Nicole,

    Great pictures and information on the Fann Mountains, it has really inspired my trip to Tajikistan.

    Could you offer some advice in booking a private taxi from the Penjakent border to Artuch, and after our 4 day trek a taxi from Artuch to Dushanbe. Also where can we hire good camping equipment from? What rating of sleeping bag is need for a trek beginning of September?

    Thanks,
    Nichola

    1. Hi Nichola,
      For setting up taxis from the border to Artuch and from Artuch to Dushanbe I recommend contacting ZTDA at [email protected], they will be able to help arrange that for you. They should ask one able to arrange for you to pick up rented gear in Artuch or Panjakent as well. They do rent out tents, sleeping bags and cook stoves. For this time of year I typically travel with a bag cold rates to -5°C and find it to be sufficient enough for me, though if you’re more sensitive to temperature you may want one for colder temps (maybe -10° or -15°C).

      Anyways hope this helps answer questions. I may bump into you in Tajikistan, I’m headed there tonight ?

  3. Hi Nicole,
    Am I glad to have stumbled across your blog! I am very excited to be taking off to Tajikistan very soon, especially after seeing your gorgeous photos. This particular post has helped me immensely in my planning stages. I will probably follow up later with some more questions as I get more of the upcoming trip planned. Thank you!!

  4. Thank you for this handy guide Nicki, I’m heading to Tajikistan this summer and the tramping in the Fann Mountains is on my to-do list. I think I have it whittled down to either the Artuch to the 7 Lakes or the 7 Lakes to Iskanderkul. Is it possible to print this guide up to bring with me for reference?
    Thank you heaps,
    Rhonda

    1. Hi Rhonda,
      I hope you enjoy your time in the Fanns! You should be able to click print from the Safari/IE/Chrome tab up top on your window 🙂

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