Trekking Tajikistan’s Seven Lakes: The Haft Kul
Updated April 2020, The Haft Kul Trek: Tajikistan’s Seven Lakes was originally written in May 2018
Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains are often overlooked in the shadow of the Pamir Highway by most paying a short visit to the country. For an alternative trip, these seven beautiful lakes that make up the Haft Kul near the Uzbek border is Tajikistan’s most accessible and easiest to reach trekking opportunity.
The Haft Kul is comprised of seven stunningly beautiful lakes in a narrow rocky valley that ranges in color from black to vibrant turquoise. The name Haft Kul literally translates to Seven Lakes in Tajik. You may also hear the area referred to as Seven Lakes, Marguzor Lakes, or the Seven Lakes of Marguzor. For those short on time and not feeling up for trekking, 6 of the 7 lakes are reachable by vehicle.
Wanna learn more about the Fann Mountains? Check out my Fann Mountains Trekking & Travel Guide
The Legend & Formation Of The Haft Kul
The local legend says that an Old man from the area went missing. After many days without his return, his seven daughters began crying until they each drown in a flood of their own tears. Each lake represents one of the man’s daughters.
In reality, the Fann Mountains region, as well as much of Tajikistan, is earthquake ridden. Each lake was formed by a landslide damming off the Shing River as it meanders through the narrow valley.
Where Are The Seven Lakes, Tajikistan
The Haft Kul is a string of seven lakes running in the north-south direction formed by the damming up of the Shing River, located in the Fann Mountains of Northwestern Tajikistan. They are very near to the city of Panjakent. From Panjakent head to the village of Shing along a dirt track.
Best Time To Visit The Haft Kul
The best time to visit the Haft Kul is between May and October. Mid June to late August are the most popular times when weather is warmest. During winter months, November-April travel in the Fanns can be difficult due to snow cover and roads could be impassible. Thanks to the Haft Kul’s lower elevation in comparison to the rest of the Fann Mountains, winter visits aren’t totally impossible.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Haft Kul Trek
Mijgon (Lake #1) ➤ Soya ➤ Gusbor ➤ Nofin ➤ Khurdak ➤ Marguzor ➤ Hazorchazma (Lake #7) ➤ Homestay ➤ Mijgon
2 days, 1 night
Haft Kul Starting Point
This trek can be started realistically anywhere between the first and sixth lakes as they are connected by a rough dirt road. Most will either be started from Mijgon or further north at the village of Shing just before reaching the first lake. There is a checkpoint near Shing along the road where you will have to show your passport and e-visa to continue further along the road, so make sure to have them both on you. An alternative hike that begins from the village of Mogiyon that connects to the Haft Kul can be done and I will explain a little later.
Panjakent is the nearest city to the Haft Kul, so most will spend a night there before heading to the lakes. Panjakent is easily reached from both Dushanbe and Khujand, as well as Samarkand in Uzbekistan.
Note that you do not have to trek in the Haft Kul, six of the seven lakes can easily be reached by road, making this an easy day trip from Panjakent.
Seven Lakes Hike Length & Elevation
The entire trek between Mijgon Lake and Hazorchazma Lake is 15 kilometers, 30 kilometers return. The lakes gain altitude as you continue south. Mijgon is the lowest at 1598 meters and Hazorchazma is the highest at 2400 meters. If you have not spent any time at higher altitudes yet on your trip in Tajikistan the Haft Kul is a great place to start.
Haft Kul Route
This trek is straightforward and no route-finding skill is necessary at all as you’ll we walking along a dirt road. You’ll likely start at the first (furthest north) lake, Mijgon, and continue onto Soya, Gusbor, Nofin, Khurdak, Marguzor and finally the seventh lake Hazorchazma. The Haft Kul trek can easily be combined with others in the Fann Mountains by going up and over the Tavasang Pass near the village of Kiogli above Marguzor Lake.
Want more trekking ideas? Check out the 10 best treks in Tajikistan
Mogiyon Village To Haft Kul
Mogiyon ➤ Rogich ➤ Komichura Pass ➤ Soimarguzor Village ➤ Marguzor Lake (#6) ➤ Hazorchazma Lake (#7) ➤ Nofin ➤ Padrud Village
3 days, 2 nights
Mogiyon To The Seven Lakes Starting Point
To start this trek you’ll need to head to the village of Mogiyon, just slightly west from the Haft Kul. You’ll need to get a shared taxi here from Panjakent (shared taxis depart in a small lot just a street south from the bazaar in the mornings). Alternatively, you could start this trek from the Seven Lakes as well.
Mogiyon To Haft Kul Length & Elevation
The entire trek between Mogiyon and Padrud Village in the middle of the Haft Kul is 38 kilometers. Your lower point will be around 1600 meters in the Haft Kul and at the highest in Komichura Pass at 3050 meters.
Mogiyon To The Seven Lakes Route
This trek is a little more involved than simply walking along the seven lakes, but it’s still straightforward nonetheless. Once dropped off in Mogiyon you’ll follow the path that meanders along the river bending southeast and winding through narrow canyons before heading straight south to arrive at the village of Rogich. You can pitch your tent just outside of town or stay in a family run homestay in the village. The following morning you’ll start the trek up, heading east into Komichura Pass. After reaching the top of the pass you’ll descend down into a village named Soimarguzor that overlooks the 6th lake of Marguzor. Once down into the Haft Kul Valley you can make the short trek to Hazorchazma (if planning to camp this is really the most optimal spot as there is some grass to pitch a tent on), or continue to trek along the Haft Kul road north to either Marguzor, Nofin or Padrud to sleep in a homestay for the evening.
Alternative Routes From The Haft Kul
It is possible to tie in trekking the Seven Lakes with other treks in the Fann Mountains.
From the Village of Kiogli above the eastern shore of Marguzor Lake you can continue along the trail to cross over Tavasang Pass to either head northeast toward Bolshoi Allo, The Lakes Loop, or Artuch. Head southeast from Tavasang Pass to connect to Dukdon Pass and continue onto Iskanderkul Lake and Sarytag. These treks can easily be done in reverse to end at the Haft Kul.
How To Get To The Haft Kul
The jumping-off point into Tajikistan’s Seven Lakes is from the city of Panjakent in the northwest of the country. Panjakent is easily reached from Dushanbe, Khujand, and the newly reopened Samarkand-Panjakent border post with Uzbekistan.
You can reach the Haft Kul fairly easily by shared taxi, UAZ minibus, private car hire, and bicycle. Hitchhiking is possible as well, however, finding a free ride between Panjakent and the Seven Lakes may prove difficult as many drivers will expect some small payment.
An important thing to note: There is a post near the village of Shing where your passport and visa will be checked (if you have an e-visa they will want to see your paper visa as well along with the passport). Make sure you have these with you.
Getting Mogiyon is also pretty simple. You’ll need to go to a small lot on the corner just a street south of the Panjakent Bazaar in the morning to grab a shared taxi to the village.
- Dushanbe-Panjakent: $15/140 TJS
- Khujand-Panjakent: $13/120 TJS
- Panjakent-Haft Kul: $6/55 TJS
- Panjakent-Mogiyon: $7/65 TJS
- Dushanbe-Panjakent: 70 TJS
- Khujand-Panjakent: 90 TJS
- Panjakent-Haft Kul ~15 TJS
Private Car Hire
- Dushanbe-Panjakent: $200/1888 TJS
- Khujand-Panjakent: $220/2077 TJS
- Panjakent-Haft Kul $30/283 TJS
- Dushanbe-Haft Kul: $210/1982 TJS
Accommodations & Camping At The Seven Lakes, Tajikistan
There is a network of homestays all over Tajikistan. The homestay in the Haft Kul I have stayed at was Najmidden Homestay, near Nofin Lake and Padrud. Najmaddin Homestay and is run by the friendly Jumaboy and family. At the northern shore of Marguzor, there is the Marguzor Turbaza. To arrange homestays, contact ZTDA. There are also homestays available at Marguzor Lake and Padrud Village along the Seven Lakes. For those taking on the alternate Mogiyon to Haft Kul trek, there is a homestay in the village of Mogiyon as well as one in the village of Rogich.
Many families that live in the area will likely offer to take you in and show you some 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.
Camping isn’t feasible in most the Haft Kul as it is very rocky, however, there is a grassy meadow along the shore of Hazorchazma, the seventh lake.
In nearby towns and cities, here are a few accommodations I personally recommend:
| Booking.com |
| Booking.com |
Samarkand Center Hotel
| Booking.com |
Tours & Guides In The Haft Kul
Trekking in the Haft Kul is pretty simple and a guide or being on a tour isn’t totally necessary, but if you prefer it you can do it. It is possible to arrange guides in the area and even join tours. Contact ZTDA for information on guides. Kalpak Travel arranges trips into the Fann Mountains with trips into the Haft Kul, 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.
- Inreach Explorer+
- Backpack (I personally recommend the Osprey Ariel 65 for women)
- Hiking boots (My favorite is the La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX)
- Katadyn water purifier
- Fann Mountains Map
Recommended Maps For The Haft Kul
- Fann Mountains Map by EWP (can be ordered direct from EWP as well)
- Southern Tajikistan Map by Gecko Maps
For Those Planning To Camp At Hazorchazma Or Trek Beyond The Haft Kul…
For a full list of what to pack especially if planning on trekking beyond the Haft Kul click here to see a full packing list for the Fann Mountains.
- No special gear or equipment is necessary for trekking in the Seven Lakes area.
- Make sure that you do have your passport with you (and a paper copy of your visa if you have the e-visa!). They will be checked at the post near Shing.
- If planning to trek beyond the Haft Kul up to Tavasang Pass and beyond it is possible to arrange donkeys and a donkeyman to porter gear from Jumaboy in Nofin Lake, or from the village of Kiogli. Most porters will expect $20-25 USD per day.
- If you are unsure about your skill level, hire an experienced guide.
- The Haft Kul isn’t the most remote part of the Fann Mountains, but it is still fairly remote. 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.
- Dress in the Fann Mountains is a little more conservative than the rest of Tajikistan. Typically women will wear long sleeves and full-length loose-fitting trousers. Men tend to wear slacks and t-shirts or longsleeves.
- Wine and cognac are made locally just outside of Panjakent.
- Intricate beaded crafts are possible to purchase in the Haft Kul, including coin purses, necklaces, keychains, and more.
- The ZTDA office in Khujand sells locally made crafts from around northwestern Tajikistan. Works by women in the Haft Kul and Fann mountains can be purchased there as well.
Safety At The Seven Lakes
- The Haft Kul, as well as the vast majority of Tajikistan, is prone to earthquakes. Being caught in a landslide in the mountains, buried or your route being cut off is a possibility.
- Temperatures can range drastically day to night out here in summer. The Seven Lakes are at lower elevations so it tends to stay comfortably warm in the summer, but if planning to trek beyond Tavasang Pass plan for near or below-freezing nighttime temps at altitudes over 3000 meters.
- There are snow leopards, Marco Polo sheep, and wolves living in Tajikistan’s mountains. Although you’ll be highly unlikely to cross any of them, they are something to be aware of.
- The Haft Kul is one of the lower in elevations treks you can do in Tajikistan. With that said you should still take time to acclimatize to the altitudes out here. Altitude sickness can be dangerous and even deadly. Read up on acclimatization here.
Have More Questions About Trekking In The Haft Kul?
Ask all your Haft Kul questions in the comments section below!