MTB and Trekking in the Fann and Zerafshan Mountains
Explore the most beautiful mountains in Tajikistan by bike and on foot, visiting stunning gorges and lakes as well as the ancient ruins of Sarazm and Penjikent.
With seemingly vertical peaks, white water rapids, and infinite opportunities for climbing, hiking and flying, Tajikistan is an adrenalin junky’s dream. Centred in the northern part of Tajikistan, Paramount Journey’s mountain bike (MTB) and trekking adventure includes camping in the upper reaches of the Fann Mountains, and a family home stay in the Yagnob Valley and Shing valley. This biking and trekking route combines the Alauddin, Mutnoe, and Seven lakes, and reaches an altitude over 3800m. The programme includes ample time to explore the Yagnobian villages, meeting with local people and learning about their ancient culture, as well as the opportunity to swim in the lakes, gaze in amazement at the landscapes, and to appreciate up close the flora and fauna.
At Paramount Journey, we understand that getting your own bike and camping gear out to Tajikistan can be a bit of a logistical nightmare, so we provide you a famous Specialized brand mountain bikes. Our mountain bikes are modern, comfortable and well-maintained, and your adventure leader has the skills and spares to make any necessary repairs on the go. Tents, food, and other essentials are carried by car for part of the route, and then loaded onto donkey in the higher reaches of the mountains, so you can concentrate on enjoying the ride.
- Ride more than 200 km through impressive mountain landscapes
- Gain 4,000 m in elevation over 12 days
- Traverse the isolated Yagnob Valley
- Trek 60 km, including over the Alaudin Pass (3,860 m)
- Marvel at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sarazm
- Enjoy Tajik hospitality in local guesthouse
Let’s take a closer look at our trip route
Day 1: DushanbeArriving in Dushanbe — which means “Friday” in Tajik — you’ll learn about Tajikistan past and present. This informative city tour includes the National Museum and the impressive Hissor Fortress, as well as more modern sites such as Rudaki Park (with its colourful monuments) and the Navruz Hall. Stock up in the capital on any kit or clothing you need for the journey as shops hereafter will be few and far between!
Day 2: Dushanbe – Pskan (Jeep, 170 km; Trek 3km)Leaving the city behind you’ll drive north towards the Yagnob Valley. The Yagnobis are an ancient people who were cut off from the outside world for much of their history. Their language is unchanged since the time of Alexander the Great. Lunch will be in Margheb, and in the afternoon you’ll hike through the Yagnob Gorde to the village of Pskan (3 km), where you’ll spend the night. It’ll be your first introduction to Yagnobi culture and warm hospitality.
Day 3: Pskan – Marghib (МТВ, 30 km, +460m/-700m, Trek 6 km)After breakfast, it’s a scramble down the track from Pskan to Numetkan village, where well-maintained mountain bikes will be waiting for you. Adjust the height of the saddle, put your helmet on, and you’ll be ready to go! It’s a five-hour ride along the Yagnob River from Numetkan to Marghib (30 km). You’ll stop for a picnic lunch on the way, and in the evening have dinner and overnight at friendly guesthouse in Marghib. The guesthouse has a shower and western toilet.
Day 4: Marghib – Marguzor (МТВ, 45 km, +1070m/-1400m)Today you will continue your MTB predominantly off-road and downhill. It’s a long but not uncomfortable ride. Lunch will be at a café in Sarvoda, where you can take a much-needed rest in preparation for the afternoon ascent to Marguzor. You will overnight at guesthouse where a shower is available.
Day 5: Marguzor – Vertical (МТВ, 20 km, +900m/-180)The MTB route continues through one of the most scenic gorges in the Fann Mountains’ alpine landscape. At lunchtime this MTB part of your journey will come to and end, and you’ll meet the donkey handlers and cook who will assist you for the next eight days. Tonight you will stay at Vertical Alp Camp, which has a shower and western toilets.
Day 6: Vertical (trekking, 14 km, +950m/-900m)You’re already quite high in the mountains, but acclimatisation is essential before you proceed higher. Today’s trek is intended to help you adjust. The 12 km route to Aluddin and Mutnoe Lakes will take approximately six hours, and you will camp for the night on the shore of Alauddin Lake.
Day 7: Alauddin Lake – Bibijanat (trekking, 8 km +960m/-800m)It’s time to start trekking at altitude. Conqueriing the Alauddin Pass (3,860 m) you’ll be treated to stunning panoramic views across the Fann Mountains. In bright sunlight the turquoise lakes glitter and shine. Tonight’s campsite is at picturesque Bibijanat Lake, where you might well want to have a swim.
Day 8: Bibijanat – Artuch Alp Camp (Trekking, 7 km, +300m/-700m)After breakfast we suggest you take a short walk around the Kulikalon, a group of three glacial lakes akin to the tarns in the Lake District. It’s then a three-hour trek downhill to the Artuch Alp Camp, built in the Soviet era for climbers. The camp has been upgraded in recent years with showers and western toilets, and it’s the one place along our route where you might meet other trekkers. You can spend the afternoon relaxing, or perhaps do a short hike to Chukurak and Ziyorat Lake.
Day 9: Artuch – Zimtud (МТВ, 26km, +500m/-1000m)You’ll be glad to hear that the first part of today’s MTB ride is mostly downhill. There will be a short break at the Rudaki Mausoleum so you can visit the small museum and learn about the life and work of Rudaki, the famous 9th to 10th century Tajik poet. Continue by MTB to the village of Zimtud (a slow ascent), where lunch will be served at your guesthouse. A shower will be available.
Day 10: Zimtud – Tovassang Pass (МТВ/trekking, 20km +1500m/-750m)Back in the saddle this morning, you’ll MTB to the village of Humorigung, which has attractive stone-built houses. Leave your bike here and continue on foot, trekking to the campsite under the Tovassang Pass.
Day 11: Humorigung – Hazorchashma (trekking, 11 km +900/-1000m)Enjoy your breakfast, then you will start the ascent to the top of the Tovassang Pass (3,305m). If the weather is clear, you should be able to see the Hazorchashma Lake in one direction, and the Sarimat River in the other. Coming down from the pass will be faster, and you’ll have a picnic on the way to the Seven Lakes of the Shing Valley. You’ll camp tonight on the lake shore beneath the stars.
Day 12: Hazorchashma – Shing (МТВ, 23km, +300/-1300m)You will start today with a short walk around the seventh lake, then continue by MTB, descending towards Shing. En route along the river you’ll pass all seven lakes, each one of which is strikingly beautiful. Lunch will be at the village of Noffin. Our guests frequently say that today is the undisputed highlight of their MTB tour, so we hope you enjoy every minute of it. Accommodation in Shing is in a clean but basic guesthouse.
Day 13: Shing – Penjikent (MTB, 40km +300m/1070m)It is a long but actually quite relaxing ride towards Penjikent over a combination of paved and unmade roads. You will reach Penjikent in time for lunch, and will have the chance to taste the delicious traditional plov for which the town is famous. After lunch you will visit 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, where a private bathroom is available.
Day 14: Penjikent – Dushanbe (Jeep, 240 km)The drive back to Dushanbe from Penjikent is long, but it’s a scenic route through the mountains and there will be plenty of opportunities to stop and take photographs. Reaching Dushanbe in the late afternoon or early evening, you’ll be treated to a farewell dinner and spend your last night in a comfortable city hotel.
Day 15: Dushanbe (Departure)Transfer to Dushanbe Airport, or alternative transport arrangements as per your personal itinerary.
TESTIMONIALS FROM PARTICIPANTS OF MTB & TREKKING TOUR 2017
I was lucky enough to be part of Paramount Journeys first ever mountain biking tour in the Fann Mountains ( And Yagnob and Shing valley ) and what an adventure it’s been.The tour itself was an amazing adventure, crossing all kinds of terrain with good bikes, with the comfort of having our gear taken along in a van following us at a safe distance. Everything was organised perfectly even though this was a first. The locations we went to were stunning, we camped in gorgeous spots alone or stayed in houses with locals in beautiful villages where people were incredibly kind and sharing. All in all I can’t recommend this company enough. They really know what they’re doing and can customise everything to fit specific needs. Read more…
I was part of a group adventure combining cycling and trekking in the Fann mountains. I am so grateful to Paramount journey for revealing the best kept secret in the world and making an unforgettable experience! The trip was a combination of trekking and mountain biking from the Yagnob valley to Penjikent. Every day was a new adventure with at least one pleasant surprise; either if it was some beautiful scenery, delicious food or Tajikistan history and not forgetting the Tajikistan people – the worn legs were always rejuvenated. Most days, it was all of the above. Our trip was full of epic landscapes, sunrises I will never forget and found serenity. We met the wonderfully friendly people of Tajikistan in the most remote places. Read more …
- Intermediate Trails are most suitable for individuals and social groups seeking a short to medium distance trail requiring a moderate level of skill and fitness.
- A variable surface is likely that may include sections of rock, sand, clay, gravel, etc. Obstacles such as rocks, water streams, jumps, drop offs are likely
- Trail with slope 15% and 45 km maximum distance
- Trail riding and trekking experience recommended
- Accommodation in Dushanbe
- All meals in Dushanbe
- MTB and Trekking Guide service
- Porter with donkey
- All transportation during your trip
- All specialist and safety equipment
- Accommodation noted in itinerary (inc. camping gears)
- All meals noted in itinerary (breakfast, lunch dinners, snacks)
- All permits and taxes
- Airport pick up/drop off
- Mountain Bike rent
- International Flights
- Visa fee
- Personal kit and equipment
- Alcoholic beverage
- Travel Insurance
- International Phone calls
- Gratuities to porters, guides and drivers
• Mountain bike and Helmet (can be rented from us)
• MTB backpack (+20 liter)
• Padded cycling shorts/trousers
• Biking specific shoes
• Short-sleeved and long-sleeved cycling tops
• Bike gloves
• Hydration system
• Biking glasses
• other bike essentials
• Backpack (+50 liter)
• Sleeping bag
• Trekking sticks
• Trekking shoes
• Warm and windproof clothes
• Rain jacket and pants
• Stock of clothes
• Any medication you require
• Personal care products
• Personal crockery
• Other personal items
A typical Tajikistan meal is a sumptuous affair with appetizers and soups, exquisite preparations of meat and specially cooked rice. Many indigenous soups are also prepared in Tajikistan. Tea is the most common drink among the inhabitants of Tajikistan, although many restaurants also serve wine, beer and vodka.
A large group will be accompanied by a cook while trekking who will prepare freshly cooked, high-energy food with a blend of Tajik and Western flavours.
- Men typically salute each other with handshakes and women typically salute women with hugs. With opposite sex the greeting is made only by putting the right hand on the heart.
- In the countryside, people wear in traditional clothes. We do not recommend not to bring, shorts, tank tops/singlets and any types of clothes with bare shoulders, above the knee and backs
- Make sure that you ask permission for visiting mosques and shrines from locals if the guide is not near
- Ask permission to take photo of someone. Usually, people do not mind if you take the photo of them, but respect their wishes if they refuse. Offer to send hard copy them, Paramount Journey will assist you to keep your promise.
- Bargaining is expected in the bazaars but not in places like department stores.