The Fann Mountains, the western most part of the Pamir-Alay Range, are a tremendous natural barrier that intersects the Zarafshan and Hissar Ranges in the Sughd Province of northern Tajikistan. They form the highest part of the Zarafshan Ridge, and whether you approach them on foot or by car, you cannot help but be awestruck by their scale and beauty.

Frequently referred to as the Gems of the Tajikistan due to their aquamarine and turquoise lakes, the mountain slopes are cloaked with juniper trees and other indigenous forests. The human population here today is sparse, though there were substantial sized cities here in ancient times, but the advantage of that is that flora and fauna thrive, and it’s easy to escape into the wilderness.

The Fanns are a major attraction for climbers as they’re home to some towering and notable peaks, including Chimtarga (5,487m), Bodkhona (5,138m), Mirali (5,120m), and Zamok (5,070m). If you don’t fancy a high-altitude ascent, Paramount Journeys leads numerous treks through the lower reaches and passes of the mountains, often hopping from one picturesque lake to the next. The lakes of the Fann Mountains are famed for their bright turquoise colour, though they change to azure, green and grey depending on the weather, and also the incredible purity of their water. You can swim safely in almost all of the region’s lakes, but remember they can still be exceptionally cold.

The Fanns offer a variety of landscapes, from the highest snow-covered peaks and glaciers, to the steep and colossal ridges that give way to the sweeping valleys below, and then grasslands, swamps, woodlands, flood plains, and arid expanses of desert. Standing at Iskanderkul and surveying the surrounding terrains, a number of these eco-systems are visible. The region has been extensively studied for it wide variance of flora and fauna, including studies on the medicinal plants, and you do trek into the remoter areas, especially away from villages and areas where livestock graze, you might be fortunate enough to see rare species of mammals and birds. The most impressive, and sadly had to spot, of these is of course the snow leopard, but more amenable to appearances are wild boar, wolves, foxes, rabbits, eagles, and hawks.

“I left my heart in the Fann Mountains. Now I heartlessly walk o’er plains” – Jury Vizbor