Join a team heading to one of the world's most remote corners, to trek the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan.
This 22-day journey to trek the Wakhan will visit the land of the Kyrgyz of the Afghan Pamir, considered to be one of the world’s least visited nomadic cultures.
The trip which will be made by vehicle and by foot, begins and end in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe. You’ll travel along the dramatic Pamir Highway, one of the world’s highest roads before and crossing over into Afghanistan. You will then pass through the Wakhan Corridor to the Afghan Pamir. The last section of this journey will be made by foot, with the team and pack animals carrying everything you need for this self-sufficient trek to the summer grazing grounds of Chaqmaqtin Lake where the Kyrgyz nomads graze their sheep and yaks.
The trip is an amazing experience into one the world’s more remote and difficult to reach areas with snow even in high summer up in the Afghan Pamir. It is a tough and rough trip. In Afghanistan, you will be staying in communal rooms or camping. The food will be basic and will consist of whatever can be sourced from Ishkishim. Vehicles and roads in are rugged and bumpy and you’ll be crossing passes over 4000 metres high. The acclimatisation is gradual but you will need a certain amount of fitness to enjoy the trip.
You will have the opportunity to meet Kyrgyz and Wakhi nomads who graze their livestock here during the summer months as well as seeing ancient tombs and Buddhist engravings, which live as a reminder of this once great section of the Silk Road. Travelling in this remote region is a rare opportunity, a unique experience and one which travellers don’t forget.
- Discover the culture of the Wakhi and the Kyrgyz nomads of this rarely visited corner of Central Asia
- Travel along the Pamir highway, one of the world’s highest roads
- Explore parts of the ancient silk route
- Camp next to gorgeous alpine lakes in the high Pamirs
- See spectacular mountain wildlife like the grey wolf, red fox, ibex, and Afghan urial
Why We Love This Adventure
- Follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo and Hsuan Tsang on this ancient silk route
- The trip offers a wonderful combination of physical challenge and cultural exploration
- Visit one of the most isolated places in the world
We will start in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan and drive down the Pamir highway to Ishkishim. It’s from here that we will cross into Afghanistan and drive the rough roads of the Wakhan corridor to Sarhad e Broghil. Afterwards, we head out on foot to the Kyrgyz area near Chaqmaqtin Lake.
The itinerary for this trip is an outline of what is to be achieved. Travel in such a remote region does not lend itself to tight schedules and September is a good time to visit. It is a little colder but the rivers are much lower so the chance of being delayed due to high water is much reduced.
Days 1 – 2 Dushanbe – Kalaikhum – Khorog
Monday 2nd to Tuesday 3rd September 2019
After collecting guests from the airport we head straight out of Dushanbe driving along the Pamir Highway towards the town of Khorog. We will overnight in Kalaikhum before taking a rest day in Khorog, nestling on the banks of the Panj River. We will stay overnight at a local homestay and begin to acclimatize to the mountains and explore this typical Tajik town of the Pamirs.
Please note – if we need visas for Afghanistan for any of the group we go straight to Khorog in one long day and have a rest day in Khorog. However, we strongly recommend you arrange your Afghan visas prior to your trip.
Total driving: 14 – 16 hours
Altitude Dushanbe: 800m
Altitude Khorog: 2100m
Day 3 Khorog – Ishkishim
Wednesday 4th September 2019
We will drive to the border town of Ishkishim and cross over into Afghanistan. Once in Ishkishim we will be staying at a guesthouse converted from the home of a local man or we will stay nearby in Qazideh. With the help of the Aga Khan Foundation local families are earning a little extra income this way.
We spend one whole day in the area with our guide, making the final preparations and collecting our permits for the Wakhan region. Once we have left Ishkishim we will have to be self sufficient for 14 days and we need this day to ensure we have everything arranged. You will have time to explore the local environment and understand some of the Wakhi culture through our Wakhi guide.
Driving: 3 hours
Day 4 Ishkishim – Qala e Panja
Thursday 5th September 2019
The 250km from Ishkishim to Sarhad e Broghil takes us along the narrowest section of the Wakhan Corridor. Passing the 7492m high Noshaq, Afghanistan’s highest peak, we will follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo and Hsuan Tsang on this ancient silk route. The road is poor and can be washed out in places but we hope to make it in two long but scenic days. We will have to stop in the village of Khandud to process some further paperwork and we plan to overnight in the village of Qala e Panja.
Driving: 6-8 hours
Day 5 Qala e Panja – Sarhad e Broghil
Friday 6th September 2019
We make our way to the furthest point that we can by vehicle. At Sarhad e Broghil the road ends and any further journey must be made on foot or by horse. We spend the afternoon making our final preparations for our trek into the Afghan Pamir.
Driving: 4 hours
Day 6 Sarhad e Broghil – Daliz Pass – Shawr
Saturday 7th September 2019
The geography of the region means that one of the toughest days trekking comes on the first day. The Wakhan Corridor becomes too steep to follow the river. For the first time since we joined the Panj River we move away from it, and instead must cross three passes. The first is the Daliz Pass (4260 metres) and will involve a vertical altitude gain of 1000 metres. We will overnight in Shawr.
Trekking: 7 hours
Day 7 Shawr – Boharak – Varsgitch
Sunday 8th September 2019
A further day’s trekking along the bank of the Wakhan River. We may meet Wakhi shepherds bringing their flocks back to the bigger villages for the winter.
Trekking: 6-7 hours
Day 8 Varsgitch – Masamarad
Monday 9th September 2019
Trek from Varsgitch to Masamarad via Langar. Langar means ‘free buffet’ and is a classic spot for the Wakhi to graze their sheep and yaks. The scenery gradually changes walking from the steep sided valley of the Wakhan to the wide-open plains of the Afghan Pamir.
Trekking: 5-6 hours
Day 9 Masamarad – Bozai Gombaz
Tuesday 10th September 2019
Passing by Khach Goz, we make our way further to Bozai Gombaz which is one of the largest Kyrgyz settlements in the area. At Bozai Gombaz there is a chance to visit the nearby Kyrgyz tombs, rest or simply watch the Kyrgyz way of life.
Trekking: 5 hours
Day 10 Bozai Gombaz – Chaqmaqtin Lake
Wednesday 11th September 2019
An easy days trekking up one of the sources of the Amu Darya, the 9km long Chaqmaqtin Lake where the Kyrgyz nomads graze their sheep and yaks in the summer. We may well see a Bactrian camel train too.
Trekking: 4-5 hours
Day 11 Chaqmaqtin Lake – Kurchin
Thursday 12th September 2019
If weather permits we will take the tough but spectacular high route back from Chaqmaqtin to Sarhad. Seeing more of the stunning Pamir Mountains. We return across the high plains, camping at the small Kyrgyz camp of Kurchin high above Bozai Gombaz.
Trekking: 5-6 hours
Day 12 Kurchin – Aqbelis Pass – Ghughumdeh
Friday 13th September 2019
After 2-3 hours the group will be at the top of the Aqbelis Pass (4600 metres) with great views of a small alpine lake. Another hour brings the group to a delightful lunch spot. In the early afternoon the group will arrive in Ghughumdeh for the night.
Trekking: 5-6 hours
Day 13 Ghughumdeh – Uween Sar Pass – Nauabad
Saturday 14th September 2019
Possibly the toughest day of the trip. Certainly the crossing of the Uween Sar Pass (4850 metres) is the highest point reached on the trip. An early start should see the group cross the pass around noon. From then on it is downhill to the small camp of Nauabad.
Trekking: 8 hours
Day 14 Rest day in Nauabad
Sunday 15th September 2019
A full day of rest and relaxation, or even a short day hike, in Nauabad.
Overnight in Nauabad.
Day 15 Nauabad – Sang e Nauishdah
Monday 16th September 2019
A short days trekking between Nauabad and Sang e Nauishdah.
Overnight in Sang e Nauishdah.
Trekking: 2-3 hours
Day 16 Sang e Nauishdah – Shawr
Tuesday 17th September 2019
If the river is low, as it can be at this time of year, then we have an option of making this day an hour or so shorter by fording the river to reach our overnight camp of Shawr. If the rivers are still high then we will cross the river near Boharak.
Trekking: 5-7 hours
Day 17 Shawr – Daliz Pass – Sarhad e Broghil
Wednesday 18th September 2019
A final crossing of the Daliz Pass (4250 metres) before the descent back into Sarhad e Broghil, where we will spend the night. Our vehicles will be waiting to take us back towards Tajikistan. We will say goodbye to our horsemen here.
Trekking: 5-6 hours
Day 18 Sarhad e Broghil – Qala e Panja – Ishkishim
Thursday 19th September 2019
The drive back to Ishkishim should be relatively smooth at this time of year as the river levels are low after the summer snow melt. Once back in Ishkishim there will be time to rest and say goodbye to our Wakhi guides.
Driving: 4-6 hours
Day 19 Ishkishim – Khorog
Friday 20th September 2019
We cross back into Tajikistan and head back up the Pamir Highway. Khorog will seem like Las Vegas after nearly three weeks in the Pamirs.
Driving: 3 hours
Day 20 Khorog – Kalaikhum
Saturday 21st September 2019
The long drive back to Dushanbe will be broken at the small town of Kalaikhum.
Driving: 6-7 hours
Day 21 Kalaikhum – Dushanbe
Sunday 22nd September 2019
A final meal together in Dushanbe.
Driving: 8-9 hours
Day 22 Fly home
Monday 23rd September 2019
We will ensure that you are taken to the airport to catch your flight.
PriceUS $4,300 per person
- All accommodation
- All food in Afghanistan
- Breakfast in Tajikistan
- International guide
- Local guides
- Local cook
- Tents and camping equipment
- Pack animals
- Permits to visit the Wakhan region
What's Not included
- Any necessary visas
- Entrance fees
- Lunch and dinner in Tajikistan
Trip Duration22 days
Start LocationDushanbe, Tajikistan
End LocationDushanbe, Tajikistan
Average Group SizeMaximum 10
The operator does not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on the itineraries. They consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when choosing where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing a room when that is available. When in the Wakhan area you will be staying in tents and in local guesthouses that sometimes only offer central communal areas to sleep in.
Outside of Dushanbe options will be limited and once you are on the trek you’ll only be able to eat what what the group has brought, or bartered for from the nomadic people. Any specific allergies or dietary requirements can be accommodated if given prior warning.
The operator does not directly arrange international flights to Tajikistan. The trips are run to coincide with the regular Turkish Airlines flights from Europe to Dushanbe, which is the most practical route into Tajikistan.
Vehicles used are thoroughly before each trip. In Afghanistan the aim is to use four-wheel drive vehicles and take a satellite phone should the vehicle develop a fault. When choosing vehicles and drivers consideration is made of the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the driver behind the wheel. Your comfort, enjoyment and safety of the journey is the first priority.
You will need double entry Tajikistan visa with GBAO permit and an Afghan Visa for this trip. We will assist with advice on how best to obtain these visas as visa requirements vary from country to country. If you are based in the UK or Australia then we can recommend using The Visa Machine as a visa agent.
The Wakhan and Afghan Pamir regions are both very remote areas in one of the least developed countries in the world. Please ensure that your insurance covers you both for visiting Afghanistan and for rescue in the Wakhan region of Afghanistan. If you have any questions about which insurance company to select please contact us.
For this trip we use team leaders who have experience of guiding in the Wakhan. In addition to these experienced leaders, we will be working with local Wakhi guides and porters.
Trips to Afghanistan do create dangers all of their own and whilst we want you to have as much freedom as possible we must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas that we consider to be relatively stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.
Dates & Availability
- 02 Sep 2019 – 23 Sep 2019
Specialists in trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus, this operator aims to add positive benefit to the areas visited by ensuring that whenever possible, the money goose directly to the people of the region. In their words “”small scale tourism might not change the world but every path starts with a single step’.
The founders met as travel guides in the mountains of Afghanistan and bonded over a shared passion to enable other people to experience the beauty of Pakistan and Afghanistan, lands that are often described as dangerous and inhospitable.
Working with small groups of a maximum of 12 people and using specialist local guides throughout, their aim is to provide authentic and original experiences for all guests. This small number allows for greater security, flexibility and access to local people and places. Each set itinerary trip is individually designed to coincide with local events or to visit the area at the best time of year.
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