Afghanistan & Tajikistan: Wakhan Pamir Adventure

STYLE Small Group
DURATION 20 Days
BETWEEN Dushambe and Dushambe
COUNTRIES VISITED – 2 Afghanistan and Tajikistan
MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE 12
TRAVEL DATES
Contact Diesel for all departure dates and latest pricing
WHATS INCLUDED
All Accommodation All tour transportation
Meals mostly full board as listed
Entrance fees as listed Professional Tour Leader
WHATS NOT INCLUDED
Airport Transfers Airport taxes
International Flights Travel Insurance
Visas

Trip 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. This is a trip right out there on the edge of civilisation: we will find no mobile reception, internet access or even electricity for the most part! What we will experience here though takes us back to another century when people lived in a very different way, this trip is a true adventure of a life time.


Afghanistan & Tajikistan: Wakhan Pamir Adventure

From Dushanbe in Tajikistan, we will first travel into the Tajik Pamir to witness life here before heading to the Afghan border and into the Wakhan Valley. We will make our way slowly up the valley, visiting villages, taking some day walks and enjoying some traditional Afghan hospitality. We will stay in basic guesthouses throughout our time in Afghanistan as we discover the delights of this famed region.


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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Being one of the few to have visited Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor
  • Staying in a Tajik homestay
  • Enjoying the hospitality of the Wakhi people
  • Exploring a beautiful & remote area without needing to camp
  • Driving along the famous Pamir Highway
  • Phenomenal views of both the Hindu Kush and the Pamir Mountain ranges

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Day 1: Join tour in Dushanbe (Tajikistan)

Due to the arrival times of our suggested flights, accommodation for this night is included in the tour cost. Those on the suggested group flight will arrive in the early hours of Day 2. Hotel (no meals)

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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 its mountain backdrop, this is the perfect place to get ourselves ready for the journey ahead. Hotel (B,L,D)

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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 (B,L,D)

High Pamir:

Once known as Bactria, the High Pamir region in modern-day Tajikistan, with its ancient caravanserais, Zoroastrian fire-temples, wildly coloured desert canyons and huge glaciers is a remote wilderness with a history of romance and adventure. The Tajiks call this region the Roof of the World. Merchants and traders, military units, missionaries and pilgrims have been travelling here for centuries.

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Day 4: Kalaikhum – Bartang Valley

Kalaikhum sits on the Panj River, a major tributary of the famous Amu Darya (Oxus) River. This morning we 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 pass traditional Pamiri villages and stay in a small private guesthouse. Local Guesthouse (B,L,D)

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Day 5: To Ishkashim

After a morning walk visiting some 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 (B,L,D)

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Day 6: In & around Ishkashim – exploring the Tajik Wakhan

A full day here allows for a thorough exploration of the Wakhan area, which contains a multitude of varied sites, visiting 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 (B,L,D)

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Day 7: Ishkashim (Tajikistan) – Ishkashim (Afghanistan)

Leaving Tajikistan this morning we cross into Afghanistan via a bridge over the Panj River. Even after having cleared immigration & customs there will be still be some further red tape to deal with, so patience will be needed but we will at least have the help of our Afghan guide, who will meet us here and the feeling of being in an almost forbidden land is very special. Local Guesthouse (B,L,D)

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Day 8: Ishkashim – Keshnikhan

A rough road built by the Soviets takes us today 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 will serve as our accommodation over the next few 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 noted that day to day changes can occur – this is Afghanistan after all! Maximum flexibility may be called upon. Daily driving distances are generally not far, but can take time to the basic nature of the roads. Homestay/Guesthouse (B,L,D)

The Wakhan Corridor:

The Wakhan corridor was given to Afghanistan as a buffer between the expansionist empires of Czarist Russian and British India as a means to keep a neutral space between them and it is one of the remotest and least visited valleys in the world. It has been the goal of many a Western explorer and traveller, yet few have ever made it to this dramatic and awe-inspiring valley.

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Day 9: Keshnikhan – Khandud

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 plan to spend our 3rd night in Afghanistan in the regional centre of Khandud. This town 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. It is also home to one of several development projects run by local women. One project encourages women to makes traditional clothing for souvenirs – this is a good place for Afghan hats or thick woolly socks! These projects are still in their infancy, so it will be interesting to see year on year how they are developing. Homestay/Guesthouse (B,L,D)  

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Day 10: Khandud – Goz Khan

As we head today into the Upper Wakhan, 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. This afternoon we’ll take a walk and hope to have tea with a local family. Local Guesthouse (B,L,D)

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Day 11: Goz Khan – Sarhad e Broghil

As we head along the northern bank of the river, deeper and higher up the Wakhan, we pass several small villages, all of which are inhabited by families who eke a subsistence living off the land. While the waters of the rivers are typically glacial melt, there are a few hot springs that dot the valley. Today we intend to get clean at the Sargaz hot springs. Finally, we come to the end of the road (literally) in Sarhad e Broghil. From here the mountains close in and anyone wanting to proceed further east needs to be prepared for a major expedition on foot, horse or yak! This will be our base for the next two nights. Homestay (B,L,D)

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Day 12: In Sarhad

Depending on local conditions, today we hope to cross a river on horseback to take a picnic on a grassy meadow below the Daliz pass, which leads into the Little Pamirs. Here we hope to encounter some local families on the summer pastures. Alternatively, the day is free to explore this tranquil village with its friendly locals. We may also be able to arrange a traditional game of buzkashi, a game described as American Football on horseback; it involves several men, their horses, a headless goat and almost no rules! Homestay (B,L,D)

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Day 13: In Sarhad; to Kret

This morning, for those up for some exploration, we’ll set off in search of some ancient petroglyphs which have been found nearby overlooking the village. After lunch in Sarhad, we’ll cross back over the glacial melt waters of the Panj River, making for the small and stunningly located village of Kret, which sits in the foothills of Baba Tangi (6513m). Homestay (B,L,D)

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Day 14: In & around Baba Tangi; to Goz Khan

We hope to visit a local school this morning where perhaps surprisingly boys and girls can be seen studying together. This is a quintessentially Wakhi village and the locals are incredibly friendly. At the women’s cooperative we plan to learn about the skills required in the making of traditional clothing. There will also be a chance to explore this stunning area on foot before we head west to Goz Khan for the night. Homestay (B,L,D)

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Day 15: Goz Khan - Qala e Panj

Qala e Panj 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 (B,L,D)

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Day 16: Drive to Ishkashim

Our final full day in Afghanistan sees us return to the border town of Ishkashim. There should be time for some final shopping opportunities before our final dinner in Afghanistan. Local Guesthouse (B,L,D)

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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, being 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 (B,L,D)

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Day 18: Drive to 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 (B,L,D)

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Day 19: Drive to 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. Hotel (B,L,D)

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Day 20: Tour finishes in Dushanbe

Day 20: Tour finishes in Dushanbe (B)


Tour Dossier Notes

Climate – We expect there will be many dry 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 these tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. The team at Diesel Adventures can provide the details and expertise you need to help you choose the right trip for you.

Airport transfers – Not included but can be arranged. If you’re booking flights yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.

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 can be 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.

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

Guides – Full services of a Tour Leader with local guides and drivers.

Meals – In most cases a “Full Board” Meal plan as detailed in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner) with the majority of meals being taken in local restaurants where viable. Plus bottled drinking water as required

Entrance fees – Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, we can arrange if possible and these would be at your own expense.

Visas – We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then can request for this to be arranged for you. If you need any advice with visas just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as CIBT can assist.

Airport taxes – If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, these are at your expense.


Please note that there is more detailed tour dossiers available specific to each departure date, contact our Sales team and we would be happy to send these to you