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) adventure includes camping in the upper reaches of the Fann Mountains, and a family home stay in the Yagnob Valley. This biking and trekking route combines the Alauddin, Mutnoe, and Iskanderkul lakes, and reaches an altitude over 4,000m. 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 everything you need. 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.
Let’s take a closer look at our trip route
Day 1: 14 August, 2017The first day is a city tour of Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s leafy capital city, where you’ll meet your tour leader and other mountain bikers. Your sightseeing programme covers most highlights of the city, including the world’s second-tallest flag pole, Rudaki Park, the White House, parliament, the National Library, and the bazaar. In the evening you’ll eat Tajik specialities in a lively local restaurant, then stay the night in a 4* hotel.
Day 2: 15 August, 2017This morning you will drive by jeep through the Fann and Zarafshan Mountains north of Dushanbe to the Alp Camp, which is where the adventure truly begins. It’s a six-hour ride but there’s plenty to see, including vertical cliffs reaching up to the sky, sheer drops to the river below, and roads which cling precariously to the cliffs. Accommodation here is in mountain cottages, simple but warm and with everything you’ll need.
Day 3: 16 August, 2017We’ll let you start gently with a radial hike from the Alauddin Alp Camp up to Talbas Pass (3,700m). It’s a good opportunity to acclimatise to the mountains and get comfortable with your equipment. Today you’ll do around six hours of walking (four hours up, two hours down), then have time to relax in the pleasant surroundings of the camp.
Day 4: 17 August, 2017Getting into your stride now, on Day 4 you will trek along the shores of the Alauddin and Pyala Lakes to camp on the shore of Mutnoe. It’s not particularly strenuous — the total distance is just 7km — but you’ll gain 1,000m in elevation, and some of the slopes are quite steep. The water in Mutnoe Lake is brackish but completely unpolluted, so you might well want to take a dip to cool down at the end of the day. You’ll be sleeping tonight in tents beneath the stars, in a place of utmost beauty and peace.
Day 5: 18 August, 2017After an early start, Day 5 is a trek of just under 10km, with some steep climbs, though none of them especially long. You’ll cross over the Kaznok Pass (4,040m), which has spectacular views of Mounts Energia and Gaza from the top. The pass might well be snow-covered, and there are glaciers and peaks in every direction. The trail then descends to the banks of the Havzak River, where we’ll pitch camp for the night.
Day 6: 19 August, 2017Your final day of trekking is along the river valley, green and lush with meadows and juniper forest, to the village of Saratog, 12km from the camp. The altitude here is much lower, so the walking easier, and as we approach Saratog there will be opportunities to stop and chat to local people along the way. You will stay the night in a local home stay, feasting on a home-cooked meal with your hosts.
Day 7: 20 August, 2017After a good night’s rest, your first day of mountain biking will begin! The morning will be at leisure, you’ll enjoy lunch, then take off on the short but steep unpaved road out of the village towards Iskanderkul. The biking distance is 12km and Iskanderkul — Tajik for Alexander’s Lake — is a real jewel of a destination. It’s named in honour of Alexander the Great, whose horse is said to rise from the waters on a full moon. The triangular lake’s waters sparkle in the sunlight, the campsite is idyllic, and if you’ve still got energy in your legs you can hike up to the nearby waterfall (known locally as the Niagara Falls of Tajikistan) which flows into the lake.
Day 8: 21 August, 2017It’s time to stretch and get some kilometres under your tires. On Day 8 it’s a 30km ride down from Iskanderkul to Takfon, the crossroads of the Fann Mountains, along a paved road. It’s “paved” in the very loosest sense: you’ll need to watch out for the pot holes, but the ride is quite a thrill! Accommodation in Takfon is at a home stay, and you’ll be treated to delicious home cooked food
Day 9: 22 August, 2017Day 9 is probably the toughest biking day of the tour. It’s another 30km, with a slow but steady ascent of 1,000m. You’ll pass through the village of Anzob, surrounded on all sides by steep mountain peaks. The views are ample reward for the exertion: this is one of the most photogenic places in Tajikistan. You’ll spend the night in Marghib, which is located under the tremendousness Zamin Karor mountains wall, at the start of the Yagnob Valley.
Day 10: 23 August, 2017On day 10 you will enter the Yagnob Valley and ride 31km through the villages of Bedef, Kashi, and Petif to the guesthouse at Pskan. It’s a pretty route with lots to see, including scenes of rural life which have remained largely unchanged for centuries. The Yagnobis are subsistence farmers, who attentively tend the valley’s fertile fields and graze their flocks of sheep and goat on the higher pastures in summer. Alpine wildlife, including the elusive snow leopard, hide amongst the rocky outcrops on the slopes, but you are likely to see fox, mountain goat, marmot, and possibly even the tracks of wolf and bear. You will stay in a local home stay in the village of Pskan.
Day 11: 24 August, 2017On Day 11 you’ll have the welcome chance to rest. There’s an optional short hike to surrounding villages, and you’ll be able to meet local Yagnobi people and learn about their way of life. Their culture and language are unique: their Sogdian language is almost unchanged since the time of Alexander the Great, and it is passed down from mother to child. You will be invited into a Yagnobi home for tea and to learn more about the Yagnobi way of life. This is a rare privilege as the Yagnobis are typically wary of outsiders. Tonight’s accommodation is once again in the home stay in Pskan.
Day 12: 25 August, 2017Leaving Pskan behind, it’s a 17km ride along the river and then over to the Yagnob Gorge, a deep natural canyon which has been eroded by the Yagnob River. Neither the ascents or descents are particularly steep, so you should complete the day’s ride in good time. You will camp for the night at the foot of the pass, at an altitude of 2,900m.
Day 13: 26 August, 2017Your first challenge for the day is to ascend the Pskan Pass (3,400m). It’s a fairly gruelling ride on an unmaintained Soviet-era road to Rufigar: cars can no longer get along the road, but it’s a good enough surface for mountain bikes, and down hill almost all of the way. Arriving in the village of Rufigar, you will have a local supper and spend the night in a home stay.
Day 14: 27 August, 2017On the penultimate day of your tour, a car will collect you from Rufigar, to drive back through the mountains to Dushanbe. You’ll have a scenic lunch stop along the way, and reach the capital in time for souvenir shopping in the market and a farewell dinner. Your final night will be spent in the comfortable, centrally located 4* Hotel.
Day 15: 28 August, 2017Departure from Dushanbe.
- 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 30 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.