Hikers and climbers scoping out vacation spots in Central Asia should check out Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains. Never heard of them? The Fann Mountains are part of the famed Pamir-Alai System that everyone who visits Tajikistan raves about. The Pamirs are the Goliaths of Central Asia with peaks towering over 7,000 meters. The Fann Mountains are a prime Tajikistan trekking and climbing destination as they have routes of varying degrees that allow for light and more strenuous traipsing around the mountains. Most peaks are over 4,000 meters high with several 5,000+ meter peaks. The Fann Mountains are just a couple hours from both Dushanbe and Samarkand, sandwiched in the middle, so they are relatively easy to reach.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE AND DO?
There are several destinations located in the Fann Mountains that you will definitely want to check out during your Tajikistan trekking holiday. First of all, the Fann Mountains are littered with scenic alpine lakes. One of the most famous is Lake Iskanderkul, named after Alexander the Great who was believed to have passed by it on his way to India (In Persian, Alexander is Iskander), located at the range’s eastern end. The lake is 2,255 meters above sea level, 2.5 kilometers long, over 70 meters deep, and contains barely any aquatic life. Set into the mountains like a precious gemstone, this tranquil destination is a favorite with many who travel to Tajikistan. As a bonus, there is waterfall not far from the lake about 40 meters tall complete with observation deck that locals have named Niagara. Other lakes scattered around you can visit include Alaudin, Turbid, Chukurak, Piala, Kulikalon, and the Marguzor Lakes, although there are more than 30 in total if you were to hit them all.
If you want your Tajikistan holiday to include summiting one of the Fann Mountain’s 5,000+ meter peaks, some of the most popular are Energia (5,120 m), Big Hansa (5,306 m), Little Hansa (5,031 m), Bodkhona (5,138 m), Zamok (5,070 m), Chapdara (5,050 m), as well as the granddaddy of all the 5000+ meter peaks, Chimtarga (5,489 m). Chimtarga is obviously the most popular and can be reached using the base camp Vertical Alaudin (2,641 m) in the Chapdara Valley as a starting point.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
Now, before you start thinking that this is a well-traveled touristy area, it really is not. You might see evidence that others have been there before you, but it is likely that trekking in this area will leave you by your lonesome in the midst of the mountains for the majority of your Tajikistan holiday. Trekkers should be aware that traveling to this area of Tajikistan is quite an off-grid experience. Emergency rescue is not available, so it is highly recommended to obtain the services of a Tajikistan travel company with experienced guides. (A plus of using a Tajikistan travel company is also that they can help arrange for pack animals for you to help lighten your load if you feel the need for this.)
Truly, traveling to Tajikistan to go trekking in the Fann Mountains is a surreal experience. Unlike many places in the world, the mountains in Tajikistan are largely untouched by tourism and exude a primal, wild atmosphere. That is one of the fantastic things about Central Asia; the tourism industry has not grown so large as to make you feel like everything is regulated and controlled.
It is more like you have a chance to explore an area that few people in the world have ever been to. So for an authentic wilderness experience full of good trekking and climbing, visit Tajikistan and check out the spectacular Fann Mountains for yourself.
Photos from source: explorersconnect.com, fanyvertical.ru, top10places.com, friejose.wordpress.com, snowleopardblog.com.