Mountain Biking and Trekking in Fann and Zarafshan 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.
The Pamirs might technically be higher, but there are no more dramatic mountain ranges in Central Asia than the Fann and Zarafshan ranges in north-west Tajikistan. You’ll bike on low-traffic roads through remote valleys, then along mountain trails over high passes which normally only shepherds and their flocks can reach. Mix this with hikes to waterfalls and through gorges, swimming in pristine alpine lakes, and campfires beneath the stars and you start to understand why our MTB and trekking itinerary is the most exciting adventure tour around.
This tour is physically challenging. Though your baggage will be transported by donkey or vehicle, you’ll have to mountain bike up to 45 km per day, gaining as much as 1,070 m in altitude. On trekking days you inevitably cover shorter distances (up to 14 km) but at altitude even this can feel strenuous. You’ll be staying in simple accommodation and eating local food: some nights will be spent in local guesthouses, others will be in camp sites.
- 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 guesthouses
Arriving 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!
Accommodation: 4* Hotel
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. (Jeep, 170 km; Trek 3km)
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. (МТВ, 30 km, +460m/-700m, Trek 6 km)
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. (МТВ, 45 km, +1070m/-1400m)
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. (МТВ, 20 km, +900m/-180)
Accommodation: Vertical Alp Camp
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. (Trekking, 14 km, +950m/-900m)
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. (Trekking, 8 km +960m/-800m)
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. (Trekking, 7 km, +300m/-700m)
Accommodation: Artuch Alp Camp
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. (МТВ, 26km, +500m/-1000m)
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. (МТВ/trekking, 20km +1500m/-750m)
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. (trekking, 11 km +900/-1000m)
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. (МТВ, 23km, +300/-1300m)
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. (MTB, 40km +300m/1070m)
Accommodation: 3* Hotel
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. (Jeep, 240 km)
Accommodation: 4* Hotel
Transfer to Dushanbe Airport, or alternative transport arrangements as per your personal itinerary.
UNABLE TO JOIN A GROUP TRIP?
No worries, all our group tours can also be customized to a private trip just for you
Or fill in our
to craft a unique itinerary
I visited the Fann Mountains with Paramount Journey in early October for a four-day trek (starting and finishing in Dushanbe). It was my first visit to Tajikistan. Paramount Journey were... read more
Iskanderkul Weekend - My wife and I and two friends of ours enjoyed an excellent autumn weekend Iskanderkul, one of the top tourist spots in Tajikistan. It was a very smooth and... read more
Travel to Tajikistan - We took a 7 day tour to Tajikistan taking in Dushanbe and trekking in the Fann Mountains. The mountain scenery was breathtaking and the tour was very professionally arranged.... read more