Bartang valley, pamir, Tajikistan


As with so many parts of Tajikistan, travellers venture to the Bartang Valley for solitude and seclusion, but the experiences and memories created there are such that you will look back and wish to capture them again and again. You may not travel this way just once.

Bartang means “Narrow Passage”, and the valley takes its name from the river. The passage in question is narrow indeed, and before the construction of modern roads (albeit still unsurfaced), getting into the depths of the valley would have required ladders, platforms and tenuous paths cut into the land itself. The path of the river often shifts from year to year, eroding its surroundings, and necessitating an ongoing cycle of construction and reconstruction.

As remote and ancient as this place is, it is still undergoing growth and change. An earthquake in the early 1900s shifted a colossal amount of earth and consequently formed a natural reservoir 60 km long.

Yet the main attraction in this part of Tajikistan is the epic Fedchenko Glacier, a behemoth ecovering an area of over 700 sq km and which is more than 1,000m deep at its thickest point. This phenomenal volume of ice earns the Fedchenko Glacier the prestigious accolade of being the longest glacier in the world outside of the polar regions.

The Bartang Valley lacks the archaeological sites of the Wakhan, but these are compensated for by highly rewarding views and encounters with people and wildlife.

With a valley that could easily house some of the tallest mountains in Europe, and valleys so clean and pure you would be easily mistaken for thinking you were on a different planet, it should come as little surprise that the Green Destinations included Bartang in their list of the top 100 Sustainable Destinations on the planet.