Of all the Greater Ranges on the Asian continent, the Pamir Mountains are probably the least known and the least visited of them all. They boast the world’s largest glacier outside the Polar regions, the 77km long Fedchenko Glacier, and harbour three mountains taller than 7000m.
We will be traversing through the heart of the mountain range. Along the way we will stay in the homes of the Pamiri natives, camp near centuries old caravanserais and explore the shores of shimmering blue Alpine lakes.
Day 1 – Dushanbe
Arrive in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore.
Overnight Hotel Lotus or similar.
Meals (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner )
Dushanbe is a relatively modern town that rose to prominence during the Soviet era, when it was made the capital of the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and named Stalinabad. Its name means ‘Monday in the Tajik language, arising from the fact that this was the day that the market was held when Dushanbe was still a small and fairly insignificant village. The ousted Emir of Bukhara, fleeing from the Bolsheviks, stayed in Dushanbe and cooperated with Enver Pasha’s Basmachis until he had to leave the region. From Dushanbe, he fled to Afghanistan in 1921, the year the town was freed from the Basmachis as well.
Day 2 – Dushanbe- Kalaikhumb (360 km 8/9 hours) altitude 1345 mh.)
We set off east towards the Pamirs and Kalaikhumb, driving through beautiful scenery and interesting villages en route. This area is a little more conservative, and we see many men with beards, and women wearing traditional dress. We cross the Shurabad Pass (2200 metres), arriving in Kalaikhumb in the early evening.
Overnight local guesthouse.
Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch,1 Dinner)
The Pamir Mountains
Spreading across Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and China the Pamirs are situated at the junction of some of the world’s highest mountain ranges – the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush and the Tian Shan among others, and with peaks exceeding 7000m are known locally as ‘the Roof of the World’. With numerous glaciers and covered in snow throughout the year, the climate here is unforgiving with only a short summer season. Nevertheless the Pamirs are home to both people and wildlife – of the latter notable species include the Marco Polo sheep and snow leopard. Communities and villages in the Pamirs are isolated, separated from each other in valleys and with different villages often speaking different dialects, even though they may not be far from each other as the crow flies. It was in this region that the last stages of the ‘Great Game’ – the territorial rivalry between the empires of Russia and Britain – were played out in the late 19th century, with intrepid adventurers mapping the high passes and staking claims for king and country. The Pamir Highway, running from Dushanbe to Osh, is the second highest in the world (after the Khardung La Pass in the Ladakh region of India).
Day 3- Kalaikhumb to Poi Mazar (180 km 4/5 hours)
From Kalaikhumb we leave for Poi Mazar through Vanj valley with some 185 kms of terrain ahead of us, and the promise of some spectacular scenery along the way. The road joins the river Pianj, which in turn forms the border with Afghanistan. The contrast across the river valley is telling, Tajikistan is undoubtedly a poor country, but in general the roads are sealed and buildings are connected with electricity. The situation barely 100m away is even starker, and it is as if the river represents not just a physical divide, but also a step back in time.
Overnight in Home stay in Poi Mazar remote village.
Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch,1 Dinner)
Day 4 – Poi Mazar to Rushan (175 km, 5/6 hours) altitude 2412mh)
From Poi Mazar we leave for Rushan the administrative center of Rushan district with some 175 kms of terrain ahead of us, and the promise of some spectacular scenery along the way. The road joins the river Pianj, which in turn forms the border with Afghanistan. The contrast across the river valley is telling, Tajikistan is undoubtedly a poor country, but in general the roads are sealed and buildings are connected with electricity. The situation barely 100m away is even starker, and it is as if the river represents not just a physical divide, but also a step back in time.
Overnight in Home stay.
Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 5 – Rushan to Gisev valley and trekking, after the trekking transfer to Khorog. (9/10km trekking 120km Drive) altitude 2780 mh)
From Rushan we leave for Geisev through Bartang valley with some 30 km of terrain ahead of us, and again the promise of some spectacular scenery along the way. Arrival in Emtz village in Bartang valley. We will cross the river small bridge. Our trek begins on the river Bartang just beyond Bhagoo village. The hike is mostly gently uphill, for about 8km to the upper of three lakes. The first houses in Geisev are reached after about 5km. The abundant vegetation, the gnarled trees, the lakes and the ever-changing river – sometimes frothing with energy, sometimes limpid and blue – create a very special peaceful atmosphere, ideal for a short break without too much physical effort. This rout passing lakes, and the rivers traversing some of the most magnificent scenery in the Pamirs. We will again cross the river and drive to Khorog for overnight.
From Gizev we leave for Khorog along river Pianj, border of Afghanistan.
We stay in hotel tonight, having reached the capital of the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO).
Overnight in Hotel Lal In.
Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch and Dinner)
The capital of Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast, Khorog is a small town that at various times has been under the control of the Russia, the Emirate of Bukhara and Afghanistan. The Russians built a fort here in the Soviet era, with Khorog being in a highly strategic location on the border with Afghanistan, but today it languishes and is one of the least developed parts of the country, with the Aga Khan Foundation contributing to the bulk of the local economy. It holds the distinction of being home the second highest botanical garden in the world, at 3900m.
Day 6 – Khorog – Ishkashim (130 km 4/5 hours) altitude 2665 mh)
We have a little time to explore Khorog including the bazaar and the lovely Botanical Gardens which are perched high above the town, affording some great panoramic view. About 50kms along the road to our next stop, Ishkashim, we will stop at Garmchasma hot springs for an (optional) dip in the waters. Visit detour to the nearby village of Namadguti to visit the Khahkha Fortress. From here, we enter the Tajik half of the Wakhan Valley (shared with Afghanistan) and pass regional gem mines mentioned by Marco Polo. The most famous mine is Koh-i-Lal ruby mine which is visible from the road. Ishkashim itself the regional centre, but it is essentially still a large village and we stay in a traditional style guesthouse in Ishkashim.
Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
The Wakhan Valley (also pronounced Vakhan) is a majestic alpine valley in the Badakhshan region of Afghanistan and Tajikistan (the “Wakhan Corridor” refers to the part of the valley in Afghanistan). It is located in the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia. Its upper reaches consist of two wide, hilly plains surrounded by alpine peaks, beginning near the Chinese border in one of the most remote regions of the world. Further down, where the Pamir and Wakhan rivers join to form the Pyanj River, the valley narrows, finally becoming a severe canyon with roaring river rapids at its end in Ishkashem. Its muddy rivers are fed by water from huge glaciers on some of the highest mountains on the planet, fantastic views of which are visible throughout the area.
Day 7 – Ishkashim to Langar (110 km 6/7 hours) altitude 2882mh
Driving along wakhan valley and visit detour to the nearby village of Namadguti to visit the Khahkha Fortress. This impressive structure rises from a naturally formed platform of rock and dates back to the Kushan era of the 3rd Century. There are a number of these ancient fortresses in the area, and we also visit Yamchun fort, perhaps the most impressive of them. We take a break at the Bibi Fatima hot springs, named for the Prophet Mohammed’s sister and where local women believe they can increase their fertility. Continuing on we then stop at the 4th Century Buddhist stupas at Vrang, reminders of the ancient pilgrim caravans that passed through the region. Overnight homestay.
Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 8 – Langar to Jawshangoz
After crossing Koitezek pass (4271 km) a mountain track leads to Jawshangoz . A few kilometers further on Maisara pass there is a turn off for a detour to the beautiful Turumtaikul Lake. Arrival to Jawshangoz. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Jawshangoz was the scene of clashes between nomadic Kyrgyz and the settled Tajik population. Caves above the village were used for refuge and mass Kyrgyz graves have been found. Just beyond Jawshangoz there are breathtaking views of Karl Marx and Engels Peaks. At the plain in Deruj there is an imposing ruined fortress, dating originally from the 2nd -3rd century AD (late Kushan empire); the remaining towers were probably built in the early middle ages. Very close to the fortress in an area known as Yuzhbokh there are ancient graves from the bronze age and later. Overnight homestay. Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 9 – Jawshangoz to Bulung kul
Today we get a chance to explore the amazing landscape of this area. We drive up to Bulung kul via the Koi Tezek Pass (4271 meters). On this journey we leave behind the lush valleys of the Gunt Valley and enter a landscape that is rocky, mostly barren but nevertheless dramatic. This is the Pamir Highway we have anticipated, with the route between Khorog and Osh completed in 1931 across a Tibetan-plateau style high altitude terrain. Overnight in home stay Bulung kul early evening for Overnight homestay. Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 10- Bulung kul – Bachor Trekking
Drive from Bulunkul to the dam of Yashilkul (1 hour) and meet there the team of horse guides with horses. After packing your luggage walking towards Batchor . You will cross a small and very impressive pass above Yashilkul, called Bughurmal and have a great view of the lake. Night in a camp before the first moraines Overnight in tent camp. Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 11 – Batchor to Kawa Trekking
You will start traveling in the morning from Bachor. After 5 km you will turn left and walk along Andaravj river. Andaravj valley is very impressive with its sceneries. You will have to cross the river after passing the house of shepherds hut. Short walk and set up of the first camp, dinner and night in a camp.
Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 12 – Trekking to Zaroshkul Trekking
After breakfast, crossing of torrents and come to a nice open valley. Trekking slowly up to the beautiful Zaroshkul Lake. Snack and lunch on the way. Dinner and overnight in a camp on the northern entry of the fantastic lake (4400m). Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 13 – Trekking Zaroshkul to Uchkul Trekking
From Zaroshkul you will walk up to Uchkul. There are three beautiful lakes. The hospitable local shepherds will definitely invite you for some yogurt and bread. Snack and Lunch on the way. Dinner and overnight in a camp on the lakeshore near by a shepherd’s camp. Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 14 – Trekking Uchkul to Chapdara Trekking
From Uchkul you ride towards Chapdara lake. Arrive there by the end of the afternoon or evening. Crossing of the Chapdara pass ( about 4600m) to discover the amazing Chapdara kul in its nest. Preparation for the night. Dinner and overnight in a camp overnight in tents close to Chapdara Lake. Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 15- Trekking Chapdara to Kyrgyzshiber Trekking
Trekking down from Chapdara to Kirgizshiber pasture then up to Langar, where Langar river joins the Ghund river. You are already close to the pass of Bughurmol near Yashilkul. Dinner and overnight in a camp after the Toshiboi pasture. Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 16- Trekking Kyrgyzshiber to Marjanay Trekking
After crossing the pass continue your trekking along the right shore of the lake towards Marjanay. When you rich Marjanay, you cross the river and stay to night. There is a option if the level of water of Sumantash river is not high (in autumn) your car can reach this place and pick you up. Dinner and overnight in a camp in the wide open Marjinai valley. Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 17- Kyrgyzshiber to Bulung kul Trekking
Breakfast, visit of the mysterious stone circles set up on a huge plateau above the lake. Walking along the shore of the Jashy kul lake in a moon like landscape, until the Bekbulat Mausoleum in Sumantash. Snack and Lunch on the way. Bath in a hot spring. The car came from Murghab to meet you. Short drive to Bulunkul. Dinner and night in a yurt or home stay. The porters and pack animals go back home through a short cut. Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 18 – Bulung kul to Keng Shiber jailoo (herders summer camp in yurts – traditional Central Asian Kyrgyz felt tents)
Moving on, we cross a second high-altitude pass, Naziatash Pass (4137 metres), and arrival to Keng Shiber jailoo (herders summer camp in yurts). The inhabitants have rarely seen Europeans and are friendly and hospitable. Overnight in yurt. Meals:1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Days 19-20-21-22 – Keng Shiber jailoo to Kok Jigit Trekking
An excellent and adventures three-day trekking will be by crossing the Bel Airyk pass (4835m) and follow the grazing route of Marco Polo sheep. Ascending up the pass in four/five hours walk you can see the majestic northern wall of Afghanistan Hindikush and fantastic Zor Kul Lake.
Along the western half of the Zor kul Lake runs Afghan – Tajik border. The lake’s eastern half lied in Tajiksitan.
In 1842, Lieutenant Woods of the British India Navy Explored the Pyanj and Pamir rivers as far as the latter’s source in Zor kul. Zor kul itself is 20 km long – the road runs along its northern shore.
Today we will drive to the west of a high mountain plateau to view the glazy and spectacularly beautiful lake – Chakan kul Lake. Despite its name (“Small Lake”), for most of the year the cloudless skies and pure air (4135m) give it a translucent azure colour. These areas are all unique in their own way, and trips to these places are always fascinating.
Wildlife observation will be undertaken during the trek. The famous and endangered Marco Polo sheep (ovis ammon poli) world’s largest-horned argali sheep, Snow leopard endangered and fully protected species, ibexes, marmot and Brown bear, fox, hare are not full list of representatives of wild life of the area. From birds one can find the mountain goose (ular) pigeons, eagles, vulture, and etc.
This Arkhar (Marco Polo sheep), as they are called on Kyrgyz, have very long horns and live in herds of up to 30 or more together, separated mostly by gender and unite only at the time of mating for several months. Due to deforestation and erosion, the Arkhar are now threatened by extinction. Moreover, they are very shy, but with a little luck, we’ll get some of them to face. It is necessary very much greater happiness to sift one of the very rare snow leopards. The chance is about the same size as that to meet, who will circulate in the Pamir mountains on the famous Yeti. Other inhabitants of this area are rabbits and gray hamster, also – at heights of 4,000 meters – foxes, wolves and bears are also. Maybe we meet even one of the giant bearded vulture or see over the peaks majestically soar an eagle. Overnights camps and yurts
Meals: ( Breakfast 4, Lunch 4, Dinner 4)
Day 23 – Trekking to Aiding Kol lake Trekking
Morning we start trekking to Aiding Kol lake (4200m) very amazing views. After lunch we go to Jarty-Gumbez hot springs will take a swim in Gartigumbez hot springs. Overnight in nomadic Kyrgyz yurt (4130m).
Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 24 – Jartygumboz to Rang kul
After breakfast depart for Rang kul short stops at ever burning cave and Matat Tash en rout. The Rangkul valley is situated in the eastern part of the Pamir upland, 85 km from the district center of Murghab. It is an inter – mountain trough. The central part is occupied by Rangkul and Shorkul lakes connected to each other by the Kychyk channel. Vast areas of the valley, except the littoral zone of Rangkul and Shorkul Lakes, are typically alpine semi-desert with strong winds. Upon arrival to Rang kul village getting acquainted with the camels and their drivers / departure of the camel trek from the desert plateau of Rangkul towards Senoston mountain range / Lunch on the bank of little stream / Enter the Jol Boruluk (woolf path) valley until the upper jailoo ( summer pasture camp), first sight of the nomadic life style./ Dinner and night in yurt stay Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Meals included: 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Day 25 – Rang Kul – visit to Achik Tash (Lenin Peak (7134 m), base camp, 210 km, 7 hours) stay in Tulpar Kul
We depart today to Base Camp of Peak Lenin. Our final Pamir Highway high pass is the Kyzyl Art Pass (4282 metres), which essentially forms the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Border formalities take place shortly after crossing the pass, with 20kms of ‘no man’s land’ to cross. Be warned, even in August we could see sub-zero temperatures through the border areas, so make sure you have some extra layers to hand in case we are delayed by formalities. Having crossed to Kyrgyzstan, we will keep our driver – although we are in a different country, the ethnic lines in this region are greatly blurred, and Russian, Tajik, Kyrygz and Uzbek are all spoken with interchangeable ease!
Short stop in Karakul lake. This drive will see us enjoying some of the most dramatic scenery of the trip, with the lunar-like landscapes and bright blue lakes providing plenty of opportunities to take our breath away. We will again cross a high-altitude pass Ak-Baital Pass (4655 meters) which is the highest section of road in the former Soviet Union. We descend to Karakul Lake, the highest lake in Central Asia, and at 3915 meters, too high to support any aquatic life.
At Sary Tash we will turn to the west and continue to drive through stunning mountain scenery to the Alai mountain valley along Kyzyl suu River and then to Achik Tash camp site. Base camp of Peak Lenin (7134 m), the second highest mountain in Central Asia is situated on a raised meadow between two steep river valleys. The ground is a carpet of wild garlic and alpine flowers. After exploring Pik Lenin we wiil drive to Tulpar Kul for overnight.
Overnight in Nomadic Yurt camp.
Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner)
Day 28 – Base camp to Osh (260 km 6/7 hours)
After Sary Tash village we depart the high mountains of the Pamir-Alay range, leaving behind us the crossroads of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. The drive offers a contrast as we encounter lush farmlands and small villages on this side of the mountains, instead of the stark high-altitude plateau we recently crossed in Tajikistan. En route we will cross the Taldyk Pass (3554m) and enjoy some beautiful views. We must travel about 185km from Sary Tash, and depending on road conditions and travel times we expect to arrive in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s oldest city early evening. Our first night in Kyrgyzstan is spent at the hotel, we have free time to explore this sleepy town or simply relax. Night in hotel “Sun Rise”./similar Meals: (1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch and Dinner)
Day 29 Osh flight to Bishkek
After the breakfast transfer to airport, flight by domestic flights to Bishkek
Meeting at the Manas airport transfer to Hotel.
Night in hotel Rich *** Meals: (1 breakfast)
END OF THE SERVISE
Level of difficulty: This tour is suitable for both children and adults.
Conditions: If you have some specific sicknesses you need to bring own first aid kit with necessary medicaments
|Days:||Program||Accommodation||Room type: DR. SR. TR/||Meals|
|Day 1||Dushanbe||Lotus ***||(Double/Twin||BLD|
|(Single room is available)|
|Day 2||Dushanbe – Kalaihumb||Guest house||Shared rooms||BLD|
|Day 3||Kalaikhumb to Poi Mazar||home stay||Shared rooms||BLD|
|Day 4||Poi Mazar – Rushan||home stay||Shared rooms||BLD|
|Day 5||Drive to Geisev and hiking in Geisev valley, overnight in Khorog||Hotel Lal Inn **||Double/Twin (Single room is available)||BLD|
|Day 6||Khorog visit to Garm Chashma – Ishkashim||Guest house||Shared rooms||BLD|
|Day 7||Visit to Khahka Qala Fortress, Yamchun, Bibi Fatima hot spring, Budda stuper in Vrang drive to Langar||home stay||Shared rooms||BLD|
|Day 8||Langar to Jawshangoz||home stay||Shared rooms||BLD|
|Day 9||Javshangoz to Bulung kul||home stay||Shared rooms||BLD|
|Day 10||Bulung kul – Bachor||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 11||Bachor to Kawa||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 12||Trekking to Zaroshkul||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 13||Trekking to Zaroshkul to Uchkul||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 14||Trekking Uchkul to Chapdara||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 15||Trekking Chapdara to Kyrgyzshiber||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 16||Trekking Kyrgyzshiber to Marjanay||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 17||Trekking Kyrgyzshiber to Bulung kul||home stay||BLD|
|Day 18||Bulung kul to Keng Shiber||Yurt stay||BLD|
|Day 19||Keng Shiber to Kok Jigit||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 20||Trekking||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 21||Trekking||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 22||Trekking||Tent capm||BLD|
|Day 23||Trekking to Aiding Kol Lake||Yurt stay||BLD|
|Day 24||Jartygumboz to Rang kul||Yurt stay||BLD|
|Day 25||Rang Kul to Tulpar Kul visit Karakul lake||Yurt capm||BLD|
|Day 26||Base capm to Osh||Sun Rise Osh ***||Double/Twin (Single room is available)||BLD|
|Day 27||Osh flight to Bishkek||Rich Hotel||Double/Twin (Single room is available)||B|
Included to tour price
• Meals as listed: 29 Breakfasts, 28 Lunches, 28 Dinners.
• Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
• All transfers according the program (price includes driver’s per diem, road and parking fees, all necessary permissions fuel and taxes;) Experienced and basic English speaking drivers, type of car: (A/C Toyota Land Cruiser or Nissan Patrol)
• Mineral water (1L per day per person)
• English speaking guide service
• Horses and horse owners for carrying the luggage
• Tents and mattresses
• Ticket for Tajik National park and permeation
• LOI (Letter of invitation)
Excluded to tour price
Supplement for single room USD 85
Any airport taxes
Tips and gratuities
Any personal expenses
Any services not included in the above itinerary
• Important – early arrival is not included.
• Some sightseeing places and excavations might be closed / not possible to visit due to local changes, reconstruction, roads condition, and security reasons. We do not guarantee all advised places will be covered, but we will try to do our best to cover them.
• Pricing is confidential & non commissionable
Country Notes – Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan
Tajikistan is safe place, much more than many European countries. However, because of the civil war of the 1990s, your embassy will have a website setting out their view of the latest assessment of the security situation.
Most nationalities will need to apply for a visa for both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Should you require an invitation letter, we will provide this for you. However currently British passport holders do not require a visa for stays of less than 60 days in Kyrgyzstan – for other nationalities please check with your nearest embassy.
For Tajikistan you will need to request the embassy to issue the GBAO permit, which allows you to travel the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, which we visit on this tour.
Please note that visa regulations can and do change and so you should check this again before your departure.
From 1st June, 2016 in Tajikistan earned a new portal for the issuance of e-visas and GBAO permit “e-Visa”,
( https://www.evisa.tj ) enabling foreign citizens entering the country with tourist or business purpose, fill out an online application and e-visa without appearance at the Consulate of Tajikistan abroad.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, valid for at least six months after the date of return to the UK. We strongly advise that your passport contains a minimum of two blank pages, as this may be a requirement of the local immigration authorities. In addition certain countries will stipulate that the two blank pages are opposite each other. If you are unable to meet these requirements you may be refused boarding by your airline or denied entry by the immigration authorities.
For specific information about the requirements for your destination please check with the country’s embassy or consulate. Alternatively UK citizens can visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
No departure tax currently applies when leaving Kyrgyzstan by air. There are also no border taxes to pay for the land borders crossed within this tour.
Health and Immunisations
We strongly recommend that you contact your doctor’s surgery or a specialist travel clinic for up-to-date information, advice and the necessary vaccinations. For a visit of less than one month, almost certainly you will be advised to have immunisations against the following: Diphtheria and Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Meningitis.
Health at Altitude
95% of Tajikistan is mountainous. On the Pamir Highway between Murghab and Osh, you cross two passes over 4300 metres and altitude sickness is a possibility. It is quite normal to feel tired for the first few days in mountain areas and it is important that you drink plenty of water. Do not drink any tap water. We will provide you with 2 litres of water per person per day. We will always try and gain height slowly.
What should my travel insurance policy cover?
medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad
24 hour emergency service and assistance
personal liability cover in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property
lost and stolen possessions cover
cancellation and curtailment (cutting short your trip) cover
Extra cover for activities that are commonly excluded from standard policies, such as certain sports
The policy should cover the whole time that you are away.
Your policy may also have:
personal accident cover
legal expenses cover
Common travel insurance policy exclusions
Always check the conditions and exclusions of your policy:
most policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents
You must take reasonable care of your possessions or your policy will not cover you.
The currency in Tajikistan it is the somani, and in Kyrgyzstan it is the som. For current exchange rates visit www.xe.com
Where currency can be exchanged
It’s relatively easy to exchange money in Dushanbe, either at banks or moneychangers. ATM machines are not widely available in Tajikistan – and those that do exist tend to be unreliable. The best way currency to bring is US dollars – these should be crisp and free from any marks as many places will not accept them otherwise. Other currencies can be extremely difficult to exchange. Outside of Dushanbe you will find it difficult to exchange money. When you cross borders into Kyrgyzstan, your guides will be able to assist you with obtaining local currency.
Credit cards and travellers cheques
Changing travellers’ cheques can be difficult and we do not recommend that you bring these. In addition to this, credit cards are not widely accepted. We recommend that you bring sufficient cash in US dollars to last your visit.
Best time to go
The Pamirs can only really be visited between mid April and October due to the possibility of snow closing the roads at other times of year
In Tajikistan the official language is Tajik, from the Persian language family. In Kyrgyzstan it is Kyrgyz. English is becoming increasingly widely spoken but it is still not always easy to find someone who speaks it. With both countries only recently released from the Soviet Union, Russian is widely spoken.
The region is predominantly Sunni Moslem, although in the Badakshan region of Tajikistan most are Ismaili and follow the Aga Khan. Islam is interpreted less strictly here than in other parts of the world. There are also small pockets of Orthodox Christianity.
Food and drink
Central Asian cuisine tends to feature a fair amount of mutton as a staple. Food here is influenced by Turkish style cuisine and often involves kebabs, breads and various dips. Plov is a regional favourite – a mixture of rice, meat, fried onions and vegetables which is similar to a pilaf. Other dishes to look out for are steamed pumpkins, stuffed cabbage and vine leaves, and a variety of dishes made from fermented dairy products. The food in Central Asia contains a fair amount of spices but tends not to be too hot – cumin, coriander and sesame seeds are some of the most popular spices used. In summer, fruit, vegetable and nuts can be found in abundance. In home stays you will be offered tea – this is reasonably safe, as the water has been boiled.
If you have any special dietary requirements you must notify us at the time of booking. While we will make every effort to cater for you, we cannot guarantee that this will be possible. Vegetarians may experience a lack of variety in food as much is made or flavoured with meat. As a rough guide, a simple meal will cost around $4-8, while something more elaborate will cost $8-10 or more depending on where you eat. Street snacks are cheaper, at around $1-3.
Transport & Roads
On our tours through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan we mainly use 4WD vehicles. On some sections of the tour, when a 4WD is not required, a minivan will be used. The significance of roads does not correspond to their quality. The quality of roads, the weather conditions and the quality of the vehicles are decisive in calculating the time needed between destinations. The roads in the region are rough and often unsealed, with some sections travelling on single-track roads above river valleys.
We use highly experienced drivers, however this itinerary may not be suitable for those who suffer from heights or are nervous passengers. The driving habits in this part of the world are something for which you ought to prepare yourself!
Travelling in the destinations that we visit requires a good deal of understanding that often standards simply won’t be as they are at home. While we aim to make your trip as comfortable as possible, please be aware that we are visiting remote, less developed regions that have little infrastructure. This is particularly the case with regards to Tajikistan, where the tourism infrastructure lags behind its neighbouring countries. Tajikistan is almost completely undeveloped in terms of tourism and has a basic infrastructure once outside Dushanbe. During this journey the group will spend time in remote areas without home comforts or easy access to medical facilities. Apart from in parts of Dushanbe, most toilets are squat type. Although a high level of physical fitness is not required, travellers should be comfortable with the realities of a wilderness adventure, and prepared for very basic conditions in the countryside.
What to take with you
First Aid Kit
The first thing on your list should be a first aid kit. Whilst there is no undue cause for alarm, travellers are best advised to travel well-prepared: adequately immunized, with sufficient supplies of prescription drugs, along with a medical kit.
When it comes to clothing it is usually recommended that lighter clothes are worn through the day, and warmer ones at night. A hat is also advised to be worn through the day to protect from the sun as well as a hat for the cold. You should make sure that you bring a waterproof jacket for any rainy days. As the region is conservative in terms of dress codes you should make sure that you bring a few outfits that are suitable for entering mosques and religious buildings – long sleeves and trousers / skirts are a good idea.
Torch / Head torch
Essential everywhere. Power cuts are frequent, there are holes in roads and pavements and toilets
and stairwells often have no lights.
Footwear is a main priority on this tour. Comfortable walking shoes/boots are recommended.
Your luggage should not exceed 20kgs (44lbs). Our style of travelling means that it is desirable to carry a backpack as your main luggage and use a daypack for items you will want to access during the day. Please bear in mind that your luggage will be loaded in a jeep and we are travelling on bumpy roads – fragile items should be well protected, and you must be prepared for your luggage to get dusty and be thrown about a bit. Please pack as light as possible since there will be times when you will need to carry your own luggage and this will also maximise space in the vehicles. Investment in protective bags for camera equipment and similar is well worthwhile.
Suncream/sunblock is a must. Insect repellent, including a bite spray will also be useful to have.
This tour does not require any special degree of fitness but you will find it more enjoyable if you are reasonably fit.
Cultural and environmental guidelines
Women should not enter mosques unless specifically told they can do so and you should always refer to your guide regarding dress code and behaviour in and near religious sites.
You may come across beggars while on tour in Central Asia. Every traveller has different perspectives on this and ultimately the choice is up to you. Many sources recommend that you watch to see if local people give, and then follow their lead with genuine beggars. We do not recommend giving money, sweets, pens etc to children as this can encourage a begging mentality and can lead to children choosing to beg rather than go to school.
Haggling is a way of life in Central Asia when making many purchases, especially with tourist souvenirs. Usually, but not always, the vendor will start with a price that is higher than they are prepared to accept, and the buyer is expected to haggle. There are no hard and fast rules with this – some vendors may initially quote a vastly overinflated price, others may start with a price close to the true value, while others may just present you with one price and not be prepared to discuss it. Although many tourists may feel uncomfortable with this, it’s important to remember that this is best entered into in a relaxed manner. Once you have agreed upon a price, it is extremely bad form to then not pay this. Please also bear in mind that a small amount of money to you can be a relatively large amount for the vendor, and that it is not necessarily best practice to ‘beat the vendor down’ to the lowest possible price. Remember that they also have a living to make.
A sleeping bag is not required as bedding will be provided when camping. However, you should take a lightweight sleeping bag liner as this will be required in the home stays when only blankets may be provided. We also recommend that you bring a towel.
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Please make sure that you take any rubbish back to the hotels or camps with you where it can be properly disposed of – this includes cigarette butts as well.
Please do not buy any products made from endangered species – this is not sustainable and hastens the species’ decline.
You should always ask permission before taking anyone’s photograph and respect their decision if they say no. In more remote areas women and older people often do not want to be photographed. Some people may also ask for some money – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot – in return for a photo. Taking photos of military installations, state buildings, and airports can lead to problems with local authorities. If you are unsure about whether it is acceptable to take a photo, please ask your tour leader or guide.
Please note that many sites charge photography fees, which are not included in the cost of your tour. You should allow around $40 or so if you wish to take photos at a wide range of sites.
Tipping is common practise in Central Asia. If your local guide has been helpful then you could think about tipping. For people travelling on our group tour, a reasonable amount to allow would be around $70-100, to be split between the guide and driver.
Foreign Office Advice
We constantly monitor the advice posted by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At the time of writing there is an FCO advisory in place for travel to the GBAO area of Tajikistan. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns or if would like to know in detail what measures are being taken to ensure visits remain trouble free and without incident. It should be noted that this information applies to British citizens. Other nationals are asked to check the current position of their respective government.
Public Holidays in Tajikistan:
1 Jan New Year’s Day.
8 Mar Women’s Day.
21 Mar Navruz (New Year)
1 May Labour Day
9 May Victory Day
27 Jun National Unity Day
9 Sep Independence Day
6 Nov Constitution Day
9 Nov National Reconciliation Day
In addition to there are a number of Islamic holidays which follow the lunar calendar and so vary annually.
Dates are for guidance only and may vary year to year
Electrical supply is 220V and plugs usually have two round pins like most European countries.
Central Asia – The Lonely Planet Guide – Bradley Mayhew
The Great Game – Peter Hopkirk
The Lost Heart of Asia – Colin Thubron
IMPORTANT NOTES – PLEASE READ
Please note that the information provided is correct at the time of writing but may change. It is intended as a guide only. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health visit www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk or contact your local healthcare provider.
In addition we strongly advise you to check the information and any travel advice provided by your government. For British citizens you should visit the Foreign Office website www.fco.gov.uk.