Tajikistan attracts visitors from all over the world willing to follow the traces of the ancient merchants and pilgrims who roamed the Silk Route roads in the past. The mountain paths may be demanding, but it’s the best way to explore the region thoroughly. As a mountainous country, Tajikistan is mainly famous for its two mountain ranges, Pamir and Fann Mountains. It’s here where most adventure seekers come for trekking!
About 93% of the total area of Tajikistan is the mountain area. More than half of the country is situated over 3000 m above sea level of altitude, while only 7% below 1000 m asl. The lowest point has 300 m asl and is located in Syr-Darya valley. In the southern-eastern part, one can see high peaks of Pamir, separated by deep narrow valleys and the highest peak of Ismail Samani. In turn, mountain lovers can reach Turkestan, Zarafshan, Hissor, and Alay Range, exploring the northwest and middle parts of the country. Going to the southwest, broad valleys of right tributaries of Amu-Darya separate the mountain ranges of Baisun-tau, Babatag, Aktau, Kara-tau, and katorkūhi Vahš.
The most powerful ‘roof of the world’ in which different mountain ranges over 7000 m asl converge. Namely, Tienszan, Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindukush. Pamir is also a land of thousands of lakes, including the longest mountain world glacier, the Fedchenko Glacier. These glaciers were the causative factors of creating turquoise and green lakes. In Pamir, local people eke out their meager living in shepherd villages far away from civilization.
Most parts of Pamir are situated in Tajikistan (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region) and Kyrgyzstan. Some outer parts are located in China and Afghanistan.
The highest country peak, Ismail Samani (7495 m asl), is located in Pamir. The mount is technically easy to reach, even by an experienced high mountain climber. You don’t have to be a professional mountaineer to give it a shot. However, such a huge mountain cannot be underestimated! Those who suffer from altitude sickness should abandon plans of reaching it.
Pamir, and generally speaking Tajikistan, have a particular spot: the second-world highest situated international road called Pamir Highway. The highway links a few countries: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. Here, it’s possible to see the breathtaking Wakhan Corridor panorama from Yamchun Fort. It’s undoubtedly one of the most exciting and worth-seeing parts of Pamir.
The Wakhan Corridor is a narrow strip of land that separates Tajikistan from Afghanistan. One of the routes of the Silk Road used to pass through this corridor! The highway is so much desired that all the people in the region want to have its part, and many neighboring countries dispute over the issue where it starts and ends. Afghans claim that it ends in Mazari Sharif; Uzbeks say that in Termiz, Tajiks in Dushanbe. Fortunately, the second end of the road is officially and unanimously agreed to be in Oz, Kyrgyzstan.
The road isn’t well-maintained and is nothing like the European international motorways. When driving the Pamir Highway, you will see that asphalt appears more rarely than holes in it. Nevertheless, 1335 kilometers of spectacular views make up for the horrible road conditions, and all those who have driven this route can say that it’s really worth it!
Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region is an autonomous district situated in eastern Tajikistan. The Pamir Mountains cover the majority of its total area. Tajiks, Kyrgyz, and Russians inhabit the region. Valleys located at the latitude of 3000-4000 meters cover its west part, while the east part comprises considerably lower extensive wilderness areas situated at the level of 1200-1800 meters.
To fully enjoy the stunning views of Pamir Highway, you will need to obtain a special GBAO permit. This document is regularly checked at police stations spread over the road. You can get the permit applying for your e-Visa to Tajikistan. To apply, you need just 15 minutes. The cost for a Tajikistan electronic visa and a GBAO permit is 99 Euro for single-entry and 129 Euro for a multiple-entry permit. Don’t forget to print it out and keep it at hand throughout the whole Tajikistan trip!
Fann Mountains are located near the Uzbek-Tajik border and are part of the Zarafshan Range. Even though noticeably lower than the Pamir Mountains, they are a place that you cannot skip when visiting Tajikistan. Despite not being so popular among foreign visitors, the Fann Mountains are the perfect trekking spot to experience the authentic Tajik culture and wild nature.
Maybe because they are not destroyed by tourism, they are so unique and captivating. Exploring this region may be an ideal ‘starter’ for setting out for the higher peaks of the Pamir Range. Fann Mountains are located around 60 km from the capital of Tajikistan in a straight line to the north. It’s about 2 hours by car from the city. When traveling from Dushanbe, you can use a private or official taxi. Unfortunately, you cannot use public transport to get there as no courses on this route are available.
When exploring the Fann Mountains, the must-see spot is Seven Lakes. This mountain lake system is linked with a river and picturesque mountain walls. The route may be narrow at times. However, you can go there by car without any problems. The valley of Seven Lakes is situated far away from tourist routes. If you’re a fan of exploring real Tajik life, here you can experience it par excellence.
Tajikistan is a real treat for mountain and nature enthusiasts. This land full of lakes and rivers also has plenty of exciting mountain trails. Experience a wild adventure reaching all these incredible Tajik peaks that are a perfect climbing spot for beginners and mountain experts. All of these with exceptional Tajik hospitality can make you feel like home.
Don’t forget to obtain your Tajikistan e-Visa together with a GBAO permit to explore the Pamir Mountains. You will never forget these magnificent views!