Mountain Bike and Hike Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains

Code: TAJ/MTBHIK/19
14 Days
  • picturesque lagoon in tajikistan
  • Fann HIking
  • Fann Mountains
  • cycling 2

Fixed Departure: July or August 2019 – see Itinerary below for details

What better way to explore Tajikistan’s unbelievably scenic Fann Mountains than by mountain bike and foot?

This lung-busting, soul-reviving trip takes you through the heart of the little-visited Fann Mountains, a stunning, lake-strewn range folded into the north-western corner of wonderful Tajikistan. You’ll bike around 200 km and walk another 60 km, via turquoise mountain lakes such as Iskanderkul and Bibijinat, over high (3900 metre) passes and beneath towering 5,000 metre peaks. This is big, wild country, and  we know you’re going to love it.

You’ll also be exploring the remote Yagnob region, an isolated valley where stone houses  are clustered along the Yagnob River beneath sheer walls of rock. An anthropological microcosm, the valley is home to the last surviving remnants of the once powerful Sogdian civilisation – merchants who controlled much of the Silk Road trade between the sixth and eleventh centuries. Few places in this unspoiled country are as remote or fascinating.

This is an adrenaline-fuelled adventure which will, at times, be challenging – but your efforts will be more than rewarded by the extraordinary landscape and your interactions with the Tajik people, who – in our experience – are among the friendliest on earth.

Less known than the mighty Pamir range, the Fanns really are fantastic, and this two-week trip will leave you smitten by Tajikistan and its warm, welcoming people.

This is a partner-led tour, and will be led by our fantastic Tajik partners.

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION Dushanbe International Airport
DEPARTURE TIME Please ensure you arrive in good time for our scheduled departure from Dushanbe
INCLUDED
  • All accommodation. These will range from simple family-run homestays or guesthouses, to a few nights in tented camps in the mountains,  to 4* hotels in Dushanbe.
  • All meals
  • Local airport transfers
  • A professional guiding team with a local guide who knows every inch of the trails you’ll be travelling
  • Local transport and luggage transfers by car and donkey
  • A Water 2 Go water filtration bottle, in order to reduce plastic waste
NOT INCLUDED
  • International Flights to/from Dushanbe – we can organise these for you as part of the package – please advise us if you need this.
  • Guide gratuities
  • Your personal clothing and any mountain biking or hiking equipment you might need
  • Mountain Bike hire – many people bring their own, but you can also hire a Specialized bike from us for £220
  • Extra daily costs for snacks, alcohol or souvenirs
  • Your personal travel insurance including medi-evac
  • Visas and other permits as required (Tajik E-visa only)

If you’re looking for a short, sharp dose of adventure in a wonderfully scenic place, then this two-week itinerary in the Fann Mountains is just the ticket.

Mountain biking and hiking in the Fann Mountains Yaghnob Valley, Tajikistan
22 July 2019 – 5 August 2019
2 September 2019 – 16 September 2019
Fixed Departure

1

Day 1

Arrive Dushanbe International Airport, Tajikistan
After arriving in Dushanbe, it’s your choice whether you just relax and recover from the journey, or spend the day with our guide exploring some of the city’s main sights.

2

Day 2

Dushanbe – Yaghnob Valley
It’s a 170 km jeep ride north into the Yaghnob Valley – squeezed between the Serafshan and Gissar Ranges – today. After lunch in the remote, mountain village of Margeb you’ll spend the afternoon hiking a gentle 3 km through the Yaghnob Gorge to the village of Pskan (2480 metres). You’ll spend tonight in a Yaghnobi homestay, where you’ll have your first chance to get to know the local Yaghnobi people – the last surviving remnants of the once powerful Sogdians.

3

Day 3

Pskan – Margheb (+460/-700 metres, Trek 6 km, MTB 30 km)
After a hearty home-cooked breakfast it’s a short hike to the neighbouring village of Numetkan, where we’ll pick up our mountain bikes, saddle up and hit the dusty track. From here it’s a beautiful five-hour, 30 km ride through the Yagnob Valley, through the stunning scenery of these little-visited mountains. This evening we’ll be at another lovely family-run homestay in the Yaghnobi village of Margheb (2200 metres). Set amidst towering mountains, cascading terraces, orchards and rushing rivers, this is a truly lovely spot.

4

Day 4

Margheb – Marguzor (+1070/-1400 metres, MTB 45 km)
It’s a challenging, but very beautiful 45 km ride today, although you’ll be glad to hear much of it is downhill! We’ll spend tonight in a family-run guesthouse in the village of Marguzor (2140 metres), set between seven glacial lakes.

5

Day 5

Marguzor – Vertical Alp Camp (+900/-180 metres, MTB 20 km)
This morning will be spent riding 20 km through one of the most scenic gorges in the Fann Mountains. At lunch we’ll say goodbye to our bikes for a bit and meet the donkey handlers and cook who will travel with us for the next eight days. We’ll trek with them up to our base for the night – Vertical Alp Camp (2500 metres), which has a shower and western-style loos.

6

Day 6

Vertical Alp Camp to Aluaddin Lake (+950/-900 metres, Trek 14 km)
It’s a beautiful 12 km trek today via the turquoise Alauddin and Mutnoe Lakes. Tonight’s camping spot is on the shores of Alauddin Lake itself (2785 metres), where we’ll eat around a camp fire and enjoy a wonderful starry sky.

7

Day 7

Aluaddin Lake to Bibijanat Lake (+960/-800 metres, Trek 8 km)
After yesterday’s relatively easy trek, today we ramp it up a bit – walking up and over the 3860 m Alauddin Pass. From here the views over the Fann Mountains are incredible – jagged peaks, green valleys and glittering, turquoise lakes. And don’t forget the hardy little donkeys will be carrying your gear! Tonight’s campsite is beside the picturesque Bibijanat Lake (2880 metres), where you can dive into the cool blue waters.

8

Day 8

Bibijanat Lake to Artuch Alp Camp (+300/-700 metres, Trek 7 km)
After a delicious camp breakfast, whipped up by our resident cook, we’ll explore three nearby lakes then trek for three hours downhill to the Artuch Alpine Camp (2200 metres), built in the Soviet era for climbers. A gentle day to rest weary muscles with (hopefull!) a sauna at the end of it!

9

Day 9

Artuch – Zimtud (+500/-1000 metres, MTB 26 km)
It’s back on the bikes today, starting with a nice warm-up ride downhill to a small museum dedicated to Rudaki, the famous 10th century Tajik poet and national hero. After lunch here, it’s a slow ascent to Zimtud (1600 metres), where we’ll spend the night in a family-run homestay.

10

Day 10

Zimtud – Tovassang Pass (+1500/-750 metres, Trek 4 km, MTB 16 km)
It’s a mixture of biking and trekking today, starting with a 20 km ride to the remote village of Humorigung. After lunch here, we’ll leave the bikes and continue on foot to our camping spot beneath the Tovassang Pass at 2950 metres.

11

Day 11

Tovassang – Hazorchashma Lake (+900/-1000 metres, Trek 11 km)
Fuelled up by a nourishing camp breakfast, you’ll trek to the top of the Tovassang Pass (3305 m), where you’ll be rewarded by superb views over rivers, lakes and peaks. It’s downhill from here, to our fantastic camp spot on the shores of Hazorchashma (2450 metres), one of the Seven Lakes.

12

Day 12

Hazorchashma Lake – Shing (+300/-1300 metres, MTB 23 km)
After breakfast and a walk around this gorgeous alpine lake, we’ll get back on our bikes and continue on down to Shing. It’s a fantastic, exhilarating ride via all of the Seven Lakes (said to have been formed by the tears of seven daughters), to our lunch in a mountain village. We’ll spend tonight in a family-run homestay in Shing after a swooping downhill ride.

13

Day 13

Shing – Penjikent (+300/-1070 metres, MTB 40 km)
It’s a 40 km ride to the ancient Silk Road city of Penjakent today, on a mix of tracks and proper roads. As we’re mainly going downhill, you can relax and enjoy the mountain views as your wheels do the work. After lunch in Penjakent, we’ll have the afternoon to explore the Penjikent Historical Museum and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sarazm, learning about the rich ancient history of this region. Tonight you will stay at a local hotel.

14

Day 14

Penjikent – Dushanbe
Sadly, it’s time to leave the mountains today, and we drive 240 km back to Dushanbe, where we’ll have a celebratory dinner and a night in a comfortable hotel. There will be time for shopping, souvenirs and more exploration of this interesting capital city.

15

Day 15

Dushanbe – Home
 We will get you to the airport in good time for your flight home today (probably around 5am…eek!). You’ll fly away with wonderful memories of this country, the majestic mountains and delightful people.

Where will we be staying?

On this expedition, you’ll be in a comfortable hotel in Dushanbe, and then we’ll be staying with local families or camping in the hills. We love this way of travel and you’ll come away with a real sense of the people and culture of Tajikistan.

What size of group will it be?

Our group sizes are always small, allowing for an intimate experience of the places and cultures we meet along our path. On this expedition group size is just 10 guests  We usually find groups are made of like-minded people, both male and female, from a wide age range. We like our expeditions to be have a personal touch throughout and you’ll be accompanied at all times by our brilliant local guides.

What will the weather be like?

Warm – in the 20’s Centigrade during daytimes and cooler in the evenings. You’ll need a warm jacket and sleeping bag for camping at higher altitudes.

I’m a solo traveller – is this for me?

Yes. More than 85% of our expedition clients travel alone as part of our group. You’ll travel as part of the group, not an outsider.

Do you charge single supplements – I can’t see them in your information?

We don’t believe that solo travellers should be penalised with extra charges.  It goes against our ethos, so unless totally unavoidable or astronomically expensive,  all costs are included in the expedition price. Please note that in many of our destinations, single rooms are simply not available due to the nature of the available tourism infrastructure.

What kit do I need to bring?

We will provide you with an information pack after signing up to this trip, and this will detail any particular equipment we think either necessary or useful. For now though, here is an indication of some of the things you will need.

Biking:

  • Mountain bike and Helmet (these can be rented from us if needed)
  • MTB backpack (+20 liter)
  • Padded cycling shorts/trousers
  • Biking specific shoes if you use them
  • Short-sleeved and long-sleeved cycling or wicking tops
  • Bike gloves
  • Hydration system – we like bladder-based systems for easy hydration

Hiking:

  • Backpack (+50 liter) for your main kit
  • Daypack for essentials
  • Sleeping bag
  • Trekking poles – if you use them
  • Trekking shoes
  • Warm and windproof clothes
  • Rain jacket and pants
  • Hat/cap

Is there a back-up vehicle?

Yes. We will travel with cars that will transport your kit, camping gear and bikes when not needed. We will also be using donkeys with porters for carrying your luggage when in more remote areas that the cars cannot reach.

How much are flights?

This totally depends on factors outside our control, but from experience the best flights are with either Turkish Airlines via Istanbul or Fly Dubai via Dubai. Pricing from London to Dushanbe return is around the £500 mark.

We can book your flights for you through our trade ATOL partners – please just ask us for details.

What will the food be like?

Simple but good. The food in the mountains will be prepared by the local families we are staying with and will normally include plenty of bread, meat and dairy products. We will arrange for some extra food ‘treats’ to come with you, including energy bars for days out on the trails.

Will I have to share a room?

Yes, at times. There will be hotels where we will have separate rooms and wherever possible we will arrange this, but much of the time we are in family houses (or tents) where shared rooms are the norm. This is all part of the adventure, and a reason we love to travel here. It makes sense for light sleepers to bring good earplugs and eye-masks, in case of snorers or the host family waking early.

Will I be affected by altitude?

Altitude can affect different people in different ways. It can also affect the same person in different ways from trip to trip. We will be spending quite a number of days above 3000 metres, and up on the Alichur and Murghab plateaus, often above 4000 metres. We also cross some high passes, with the Ak Baital being 4700 m (over 15,000 ft). If you feel that you might suffer from altitude sickness, or have history of it, you should consider discussing this with your doctor prior to booking and travel. Diamox and other similar prescription drugs are available to ease symptoms, but the key way to address any onset of altitude sickness is to descend. Luckily, from anywhere particularly high, descent is possible rapidly thanks to our vehicles. Our route is also planned to gain altitude in the smallest increments possible to aid acclimatization. Simple precautions and awareness go a long way.

Do you perform proper risk management on your expeditions?

Yes. We are members of TRIP – the Travel Risk and Incident Prevention Group – and perform detailed country risk assessments prior to departure, in line with the ISO 31000 international standard for risk assessment. We also maintain close contact with the relevant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for countries we plan to visit, in addition to making use of the Australian Smart Traveller assessment tool, and the US State Department’s OSAC service. Beyond this, we have a full set of risk management and disaster contingency plans for each expedition and are expedition first aid trained by Crux Medical. For final back up we also use the services of Remote Medical Support that allows us to have a UK expedition doctor on the end of a telephone line wherever we may be. And we always carry a satellite phone if there is any danger of being out of signal in the places we travel through. We really don’t mess around when it comes to safety.

I can’t do your dates but love the sound of your expedition – can you be flexible?

Yes. We offer set group dates for many of our expeditions, but we can organise and deliver bespoke expeditions to groups and individuals to suit your itinerary and budget. More information is available on our tailor-made tours page.

Is it a guaranteed departure?

Yes, the dates shown are guaranteed departures.

What’s a partner-led tour?

We run a range of different trips and expeditions. Our Director’s Cut tours are 100% designed by us, and are completely unique to Silk Road Adventures. You won’t find these trips anywhere else and a huge amount of research has gone into making these journeys one-offs. Examples of these are our ‘In the footsteps of Joanna Lumley’ and Amu Darya journeys. These trips are either led by one of the SRA directors, Marley or Antonia, or by a carefully picked expert on the region, such as Leon McCarron.

Partner-led tours are a little different to this, in that they are designed, organised and led by one of our tried and trusted local partners. These tours are not always unique to Silk Road Adventures, and won’t be led by one of our UK team. However, this by no means affects the quality of the trip, or the level of enjoyment you’ll experience: we’ve put a great deal of time, research and Air Miles into ferreting out the best people to work with, and collaborating closely with them on these trips. We try and make it very clear what sort of trip each one is – if anything is remotely unclear please drop us a line here.

Value for Money

We are very proud of the itineraries we design and the way in which we travel them. We don’t cut corners and we plan meticulously. We are a small company that treats every guest as our friend and you won’t find that kind of service in many places. 85% of our customers have re-booked to travel again with us and some of them come on a trip every year. We also do annual expedition and remote medicine training and pay for 24/7 remote medical assistance cover. We employ professional military-grade risk assessments and plan for every possible negative scenario whilst hoping that none ever come to pass. We take our obligations to you and your safety very seriously and this all does cost money. We think the price offered is  great value for money.

Is this really for me?

Although this is an extremely enlivening way to spend two weeks of your life, it’s also potentially dangerous.

Trekking and mountain biking are inherently risky activities and to compound this, you will be travelling in a developing part of the world.

Not only could you be hurt, maimed or even killed but in the event of an accident it could take hours for the emergency services to reach you.

It will also be physically tiring and you’ll be at altitude for some of the time.

Don’t even consider signing up for this adventure if you aren’t fully aware of the risks you are taking.

If you like your holidays to include foie gras, butlers and miles of quilted loo roll then please look elsewhere.

If however, you want a proper, unique and delightful experience that you’ll remember forever, then you are in luck!

Price:£2,200.00