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Afghanistan & Tajikistan: Wakhan Pamir Adventure

Group Tour

20 Days From £5,245

Overview

In Afghanistan’s distant north-eastern corner lies the Wakhan corridor. This narrow strip of land once formed the buffer zone between the British and Russian Empires and was of immense strategic importance during the 19th century ‘Great Game’. Today the area is inhabited predominantly by Wakhi herdsmen and is not only remote and peaceful, but is also blessed with some of the finest mountain scenery the world has to offer.

From Dushanbe in Tajikistan, we will ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

19 x Breakfasts
18 x Lunches
18 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will predominantly be using 4WD vehicles and your own two feet! 

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip.

Throughout this trip we will be in hotels (in Dushanbe and Khorog), guesthouses and homestays which generally consist of two to three large rooms (which serve as communal sleeping areas) with shared facilities. Conditions are basic but by staying here we are not only experiencing a taste of local life, but also contributing much needed currency into the region. In many cases there are no beds, so you will sleep local style on mats and cushions (provided) on the floor.

There are few frills up in the Wakhan, but what you will witness in these breath-taking hills, with the local people who live among them, will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression upon you.

For security reasons we do not provide details of the hotels used on this trip but if you would like more information please contact the office. Please note that any accommodation mentioned is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Moderate

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

VERY HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Afghanistan & Tajikistan: Wakhan Pamir Adventure
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN DUSHANBE (TAJIKISTAN)

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN DUSHANBE (TAJIKISTAN)

Due to the arrival time of our suggested group flight in the early hours of day 2, accommodation for this night is included in the tour cost. The Tour Leader will arrange a short introductory meeting for those who arrive earlier.

Hotel

DAY 2: DUSHANBE

DAY 2: DUSHANBE

After some time to settle in this morning we will take a look around the Tajik capital, admiring some of the impressive architecture and stocking up on some supplies at the local bazaar. At an altitude of 800m and with a mountainous backdrop, this is the perfect place to get ready for the big journey ahead.

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: DUSHANBE – KALAIKHUM

DAY 3: DUSHANBE – KALAIKHUM

After breakfast we will head out on the famous Pamir Highway. This road is of vital importance for the country and ultimately it skirts the southern edge of the Tajik Pamir to finish in Osh. Today we follow the road as far as Kalaikhum where we plan to spend the night

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: KALAIKHUM – BARTANG VALLEY

DAY 4: KALAIKHUM – BARTANG VALLEY

Kalaikhum sits on the Panj River, a major tributary of the famous Amu Darya (Oxus) River. This morning we’ll follow the river upstream passing the Vanch Valley before coming to the meeting point of the Bartang and Panj Rivers. From here we turn off the main road and follow the Bartang River upstream. We’ll pass traditional Pamiri villages and stay in a small private guesthouse.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: BARTANG VALLEY – ISHKASHIM

DAY 5: BARTANG VALLEY – ISHKASHIM

After a morning walk visiting local villages and some time to relax we’ll make our way to Ishkashim in Tajikistan, which lies opposite the town of Ishkashim in Afghanistan and which will be our base for the next two nights.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: IN & AROUND ISHKASHIM

DAY 6: IN & AROUND ISHKASHIM

A full day allows us to explore our surroundings, which contain a multitude of varied sites including forts, hot springs & shrines. Tonight, while sipping on our last beers for some days to come, we can look out over the river towards the country that will be our home for the next 10 days.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: TO ISHKASHIM (AFGHANISTAN)

DAY 7: TO ISHKASHIM (AFGHANISTAN)

Leaving Tajikistan this morning we’ll cross into Afghanistan via a bridge over the Panj River. Even after clearing immigration & customs there will still be some further red tape to deal with, so some patience will be needed! We will at least have the help of our Afghan guide and the feeling of being in an almost forbidden land is very special.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: ISHKASHIM – PEGISH

DAY 8: ISHKASHIM – PEGISH

A rough road built by the Soviets takes us into the Wakhan Corridor. With the valley barely 20km wide in places, this road is not for the fainthearted and there may be some river crossings to negotiate. The scenery, however, is truly magnificent and we will undoubtedly meet many of the local Wakhi people. The women are especially noticeable with their bright red scarves and beaded necklaces. The valley has several basic guesthouses, which – along with yurts in the Little Pamir - will serve as our accommodation over the coming nights. The itinerary has been designed to allow for ample time for walks, village visits, photography and meeting the friendly inhabitants of the valley. While we have a planned itinerary, it should be stressed that day to day changes can and almost certainly will occur – this is Afghanistan after all! Maximum flexibility may be called upon. For the most part, daily driving distances are generally not far but can take time to the rough condition of the roads. Our base for tonight is Pegish, home to the Wakhan’s oldest shrine.

Homestay/Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: PEGISH – QALA E PANJ

DAY 9: PEGISH – QALA E PANJ

Continuing east, we follow the southern bank of the river and are treated to views of both Tajik and Afghan mountains throughout the day. We will pass through the regional centre of Khandud which divides the lower Wakhan from upper Wakhan and has the largest market in the valley after Ishkashim. Despite this, it is still a very quiet town with limited supplies. We will spend tonight in Qala e Panj which was the the home of Pir Shah Ismail, the spiritual leader of Wakhan Ismailis. Here we will find the atmospheric ruins of two forts, overlooking the river from a strategic vantage point. It is also home to the regional office of the Wildlife Conservation Society, and if we are lucky we may be able to find someone to talk to us about their efforts to protect the wildlife of the area, especially the endangered snow leopard. There will also be the chance to go for a walk in the Sarkand Valley.

Homestay/Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: QALA E PANJ - SARHAD E BROGHIL

DAY 10: QALA E PANJ - SARHAD E BROGHIL

As we head further up the valley, we cross the Wakhan River just upstream of where it meets the Pamir River to become the Panj. This confluence of rivers also mirrors the interweaving of Pamiri & Wakhi cultures. As we head along the northern bank of the river, deeper and higher up the Wakhan, we pass several clutches of homes, all of which are inhabited by families who eke a subsistence living off the land. Later today we’ll reach Sarhad e Broghil which will be our base for the next two nights.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: IN SARHAD E BROGHIL

DAY 11: IN SARHAD E BROGHIL

Depending on local conditions, today we will make one of several local hikes available and perhaps picnic on a grassy meadow below one of the area’s many mountain passes. En route we can expect to encounter some local families on their summer pastures. Alternatively, the day is free to explore this tranquil village with its friendly local people. We may also be able to arrange a traditional game of buzkashi, a game often described as rugby on horseback; it involves several men, their horses, a headless goat and almost no rules!

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: SARHAD E BROGHIL - BOZAI GUMBAZ

DAY 12: SARHAD E BROGHIL - BOZAI GUMBAZ

Today we will drive on the Wakhan’s newest road. Previously the road ended at Sarhad e Broghil and anyone wishing to proceed further east needed to prepare for a major expedition on foot or yak! However, in 2020 a new road opened connecting Sarhad to the Little Pamir. Our journey today will explore a whole new world whilst visiting and overnighting with the famous Afghan-Kyrgyz community, who fled to the region in the early 1900s to escape increasing Russian influence in their homeland of Kyrgyzstan.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: BOZAI GUMBAZ - CHAQMAQTIN LAKE

DAY 13: BOZAI GUMBAZ - CHAQMAQTIN LAKE

We will continue on the new road to Chaqmaqtin Lake which lies towards the west of the Little Pamir and which was formed in a giant rock basin carved by ice. Here we will visit the old ruins of USSR military camps whilst learning more about the unique Afghan-Kyrgyz culture. There may also be opportunities to go fishing, walking and to view the source of the Wakhan River.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: CHAQMAQTIN - WARDIF

DAY 14: CHAQMAQTIN - WARDIF

Today we will head back westwards towards Wardif, leaving the Kyrgyz and returning to the lower reaches of the Wakhan Corridor. Tonight, we plan to stay at the homestay of two widows, whose story is famous in the Wakhan and has become an inspiration for female empowerment projects in the area. After tragically losing their husbands, both brothers, the women took it upon themselves to start raising an income from shepherding in the local community. In recognition of their hard-work and positive approach to their struggles, a local organisation then built them a simple home which could accommodate visitors; and this is where we will spend the night.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 15: WARDIF - GOZ KHAN

DAY 15: WARDIF - GOZ KHAN

Heading further westwards we will reach Goz Khan, situated on the knuckle of the Pamir and Wakhan rivers and affording our first sight of Tajik territory in almost a week. This quaint village is great for an afternoon stroll and the relatively comfortable guesthouse offers the perfect sanctuary for digesting the sights, smells and memories of the journey so far.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 16: GOZ KHAN - QAZIDEH

DAY 16: GOZ KHAN - QAZIDEH

Our final full day in Afghanistan sees us travel to Qazideh, which sits at the entrance to the valley leading to Afghanistan’s highest peak, Mt Noshaq (7.492m). It was from here in 2009 that Malang Daria and Amruddin Sanjar set off with a team including fellow Afghans Afiat Khan and Gurg Ali to become the first Afghans to summit their country’s highest peak. All four so-called “tigers” of the Wakhan were integral in helping Wild Frontiers set up their Wakhan operations over a decade ago and remain good friends today.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 17: DRIVE TO KHOROG (TAJIKISTAN)

DAY 17: DRIVE TO KHOROG (TAJIKISTAN)

Crossing back into Tajikistan we bid farewell to our Afghan guide and drivers and head for our first hotel night in over two weeks! Being the regional capital of the GBAO (Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast), Khorog is a very relaxed and quite cosmopolitan place, home to a university and a wonderful city park. After the stresses and strains (and bumpy roads!) of Afghanistan it should come as a very welcome relief.

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 18: KHOROG - KULYAB

DAY 18: KHOROG - KULYAB

Today we’ll leave the Pamirs behind us as we make our way westwards, aiming to reach Kulyab in time for dinner, this allows us to get the bulk of our drive out of the way today.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 19: KULYAB - DUSHANBE

DAY 19: KULYAB - DUSHANBE

Our final day’s drive takes us back to the Tajik capital by lunchtime and gives us a chance to spend a relaxed afternoon in the city.

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 20: TOUR ENDS IN DUSHANBE

DAY 20: TOUR ENDS IN DUSHANBE

Those on the suggested group flights will transfer to Dushanbe airport in the small hours of the morning for their early return flight.

Breakfast

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Afghan Aid Partnership

Through the Wild Frontiers Foundation we are proud to support Afghan Aid, a British humanitarian and development organisation that operates solely in Afghanistan. Security and time permitting we hope to visit a local community project funded by Afghan Aid in the small village of Nechem, located not far from the border town of Ishkashim. In addition a donation from each client’s trip price will be made to the organisation.

For more information on Afghan Aid and the work they have done in Afghanistan to date, please visit their website here: www.afghanaid.org.uk

 

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
TK 1980 London Heathrow (LHR) 11:30 Istanbul (IST) 17:20
TK 254 Istanbul (IST) 21:00 Dushanbe Airport (DYU) 03:40
TK 1989 Istanbul (IST) 10:25 London Heathrow (LHR) 12:35
TK 255 Dushanbe Airport (DYU) 05:10 Istanbul (IST) 08:30

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour, UK passport holders currently require a double entry visa for Tajikistan and a single entry visa for Afghanistan, as well as a GBAO permit for Tajikistan.

Important: Please note that UK residents currently need to apply for a double entry Tajikistan visa and GBAO permit in person at the embassy in London.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

Uzbekistan

Why not extend your trip with a visit to neighbouring Uzbekistan? As a complete contrast to the mountains of the Pamirs, you can visit the architectural gems in the royal cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Allow approx 1 week.

Istanbul

If flying with Turkish Airlines you could stop over in Istanbul for 3 nights, taking in the sites of Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern and Süleymaniye Mosque.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Warning

The FCDO sometimes advises against certain parts of this itinerary.

Wild Frontiers has many years’ experience of running trips which contravene FCDO advice but these decisions that are never taken lightly and are always taken in conjunction with our local partners after extensive consultation. As part of the booking process, you will need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you have read the advice, that you are still happy to travel and that you will obtain travel insurance which is not invalidated by the FCDO advice.

For more information, please see the Insurance section or contact us. Non-UK clients should be sure to check the travel advice of their own governments as well as the small print of their insurance policies. Should you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Key Information

CLIMATE

We expect there will be many dry and warm days but of course at altitude, the weather could turn at any time and you should be prepared for all conditions.  That said, this is generally considered to be a lovely time of year to visit.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Please be advised that on this trip vegetarians can be catered for but the selection and variety will be pretty limited.

Clients require a double entry Tajikistan visa for this tour. In order to obtain this you currently need to visit the Tajik embassy in London in person to lodge your application and for fingerprinting.

Please note that Afghanistan is not a regular tourist destination and the infrastructure for tourists is limited. As such there are no official guides available and the local guides provided are more akin to a "fixer", and will orchestrate the logistics rather than providing in depth information about the country and visits.  So please do not expect the same standard of service compared to neighbouring countries. 

Anyone in a good state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour. However please note that although this trip is not necessarily physically demanding by way of exertion, the remoteness and roughness of the journey can take its toll and should not be undertaken lightly.

Flexibility

For logistical reasons it might be necessary to change the itinerary at very short notice, and clients must be flexible enough to deal with this and acknowledge that this is an inherent part of travel to Afghanistan.

Photography

On this tour you will be visiting a number of villages where the local people are very sensitive about photography. We ask you to respect the wishes of the local people and please listen to your Tour Leader who will let you know when you can and cannot take photographs. Other tour groups have caused issues in the past when taking photos of people without their permission so please be aware of this.

 

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this tour we are happy to offer an optional single supplement in Dushanbe and Khorog only as the accommodation throughout the trip is fairly basic.       

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Elite policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking. In addition, due to the particular nature of this trip, an interim deposit of £600 (or equivalent) per person will be required within 30 days of booking a guaranteed departure, or subsequently within 30 days of receiving confirmation from us that the trip has been guaranteed. 

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 6714 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

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