Departure: September 10. 2020
Style: wildlife watching /hiking/camping/
Location: Darvoz region
Group size: min. 3 people / max 6 people
Length: 7 days
- $969 per person
Price includes All meals from breakfast on the first day through lunch on the last day. Round trip transportation from Dushanbe to host destination and back. Accommodation on site and all the camping gear for the trip.
WHY IS IT BETTER TO BOOK WITH ANCOT?
- All the tours listed here have been developed exclusively by ANCOT
- Tours listed are built upon many years of experience in wildlife conservation and management
- The pricing policy is established on the priority conservation needs and long-term sustainability of tourism
- If you are looking for a wildlife tour in Tajikistan, book it with professionals, from whom you can learn so much, what you will probably never learn and experience by booking with regular commercial tour operators
- You may find similar wildlife tours with cheaper prices. However, you will not benefit wildlife conservation by using a cheaper way
The Darvoz Conservancy guesthouse, observing Brown Bears, hiking in valleys of Hazratishoh mountain range, experiencing legendary Tajik hospitality, viewing Afghan villages across the Panj river, observing other wildlife like Markhor goat and different bird species
Darvoz region of Tajikistan is arguably the most exciting place to viewing brown bears in the wild. Darvoz region is located in the central Tajikistan on the border with Afghanistan and consists of Hazratishoh mountain range. This mountains are one of the most productive habitats in the region with highest densities and concentrations of brown bears in Tajikistan. Bear viewing actually takes place in the mountains and this tour offers excellent mountain hiking activities in order to see the legendary Tien shan brown Bear at home in their natural habitat.
Covered with red cedar forest and variety of bush plants Darvoz is mostly mountainous with many lush and green valleys. In one of the valleys resides an old growth walnut forest. Each valley in the region ends with towering peaks, the highest one reaching 4573 m (15,003 feet) – Kuh-I Furush mountain. On this tour you will enjoy the most spectacular mountain scenery with delightful hospitality at the guesthouse in the Darvoz conservancy. We will then spend 4 nights camping in the mountains. September and October is the best months to spot brown bears, as they are actively fattening up before winter hibernation. You see them as they pick and eat walnuts then take naps in the trees. Over the last decade, our guides have been thoroughly observing the brown bears so they know when and how to spot one.
With a maximum capacity of 6 guests, the Darvoz conservancy will be the perfect place for any bear enthusiast to immerse themselves in the observation, photography and learning about the one of the most famous carnivore on earth!
Association of Nature Conservation Organizations of Tajikistan (ANCOT) supports the conservation of wildlife in areas managed by people from the local communities. These organizations – being it local NGOs or small family businesses – are rooted in the local communities and aim at providing benefits to the whole populations of the areas where they are active. Through the revenues generated from tourism, we motivate these local communities to protect their natural recourses and wildlife. Thus participating in this tour you are contributing to the conservation of endangered wildlife species and their habitats in Tajikistan.
Day 1: Dusanbe – Darvoz
Elevation range: 900-1920-1050m/2952-6299-3444feet
Driving distance: 282km/175mi
The most convenient flights to Dushanbe from Americas and Europe are via Istanbul and Dubai, both arriving early in the morning. Upon your arrival, we will pick you up from the airport and take you directly to your guest house/hotel in Dushanbe for rest after your flight. After some rest and breakfast our guide and driver will pick you up and you will drive to Darvaz region on a 4-5 hour trip. You drive past the Norak reservoir and into the steppe landscape between Dangara and Kulob where you stop to explore the 10th century fort. After Kulob you will drive through Shurobod pass down to Panj river and continue on to Darvoz along the Panj river. Tonight you will settle in M-Sayod Conservancy guesthouse at Yakhchimina.
Day 2 – 5: Hiking and trapping bears in the mountains
Elevation range: 1050-2800-1050m/3444-9186-3444feet
Hiking distance: 23-40km/19-25mi
For the next 4 days, we will be searching for signs of bear activity, recording their spoor and scat on treks in mostly forested areas of Darvoz mountains and retrieving images from camera traps. The conservancy rangers will help you observe the bears from a hide, oblivious to your presence when they are spotted.
The first day of the hike starts out next to a mountain stream and continues along the stream to the campsite. The elevation builds up as you gain distance. You will have multiple stops along the way. Rest stops will include snacks, lunch, and possibly watching for Bears. When you reach the camping spot, you will have the evening to set up camp and rest. The rangers will prepare a delicious dinner and campfire for you. If you stay up late, you will get to see the vivid Milky Way and shooting stars. On the other days, we will be looking for bears in their usual places where they fattening. Some days we may see a male bear, but the ranger will do their best to help you spot a female with cups. We may come back to our camp in Yakhchimina overnight after 2 days of hike and hike in a different valley where the possibility of spotting bears will be higher. The rangers of the conservancy will tell us which option is the best.
Day 6: Drive to Dushanbe
Driving distance: 338km/210mi
After our successful 4 days of bear trapping and observation we will head back to Dushanbe. On our way back we will visit a famous fortress near Hisor town some 30 km from Dushanbe. A 16 century fortress was used by the governor of the Eastern Emirates of Bukhara until the early 20th century and includes two madrasahs now turned into the museums. This trip will help us better understand the history of Tajikistan and the region as well. Later we will drive to Dushanbe and rest.
Day 7: Dushanbe
Today you will embark on a city sightseeing tour. You will visit the local market, various parks and museums Dushanbe offers. This day will also allow you to buy some gifts and souvenirs for your family and friends. You will have the opportunity to eat out at the best traditional restaurants in Dushanbe before leaving the country. In the evening together with ANCOT staff you will have a farewell dinner where you will discuss about the ANCOT activities in wildlife conservation and your overall trip experience.
Day 8: Departure
Early morning you will be transferred to the airport where our staff will help you with the registration to your flight and leave Tajikistan.
End of tour!
- All meals
- Professional and knowledgeable guides will lead the tour.
- Transportation from and to Dushanbe, including transfers from and to the airport
- Conservancy rangers services
- Camping equipment – tents, utensils, stove, etc.
- Other equipment such as camera traps, watching scopes, etc. if outlined in the itinerary
- All accommodation – Hotels, Guesthouses, and homestays
Meals: What To Expect
During the hikes: Most of our hikes include a variety of meals to nourish our bodies with enough carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. We usually have pasta, rice, sausages, cheese, oatmeal, canned lentils and beans, sugar, and bread. We also carry fresh vegetables and can easily accommodate vegetarians.
Additionally, we have snacks such as dried fruits, fresh fruits, chocolate bars, and each break will include hot coffee and tea. We can accommodate people with special dietary needs.
In guesthouses, home-stays, and restaurants (Tajik cuisine):
Tajik cuisine offers a large variety of fruit, meat, and soup dishes. The most popular among them are dishes such as Oshi palov, kurutob, Shurbo, Laghmon and snacks like sambusa and mantu. The national drink is green tea, respectively. Traditional Tajik meal begins with small dishes of dried fruits, jams, and halva, followed by soup and meat, and finished with plov. Tea accompanies every meal and is often served between meals. Besides traditional dishes, most restaurants serve Russian borsh and popular shashlyks.
Shurbo: boiled meat on the bone with chickpeas, red and green peppers, potatoes, carrots, and onions.
Laghmon: the same with homemade noodles
Oshi Palov: a rice dish made with shredded yellow turnip or carrot and pieces of meat, all fried together in vegetable oil or mutton fat.
Shashlyks: chunks or minced meat on a skewer cooked over an open fire. Vegetarian versions are often available.
What’s Not Included?
- Clothes, raingear, and footwear
- Any other expenses of a personal nature
- Tips (Always optional)
What Gear To Bring
- Personal soap/shampoo
- Personal medicines (especially against diarrhea, altitude sickness, and car sickness), most of the passes on the road are above 3500m
- High protection Sun-screen
- Sun hat
- Strong hiking shoes
- Plastic bottle for water and water purification tablets, if you intend to hike in remote areas
- Camera (Including spare batteries. You won’t believe how many pictures you will be taking and if you don’t have a proper camera you’d wish you had one)
- Trekking poles, if there is trekking involved
- Gifts (People in most of the villages in Tajikistan are among the poorest in the world, however, they will share their last crust with you to offer hospitality. Therefore it will be nice of you to bring gifts like toys and books for the children, winter clothes or cosmetics and chocolates for women and man)
What Clothes To Bring
We will email you what kind of gear to bring depending on the season. Summers are usually warm in central Tajikistan; however, if you are going up to higher altitudes (above 2500m/8200ft) you will need warmer clothing, including a sweater and windproof jacket
Due to its mountainous nature, geographical remoteness, and deteriorated roads, traveling in most parts of Tajikistan involves a lot of driving, especially to the Pamir region. We use services of experienced drivers, who have been driving at least 5 years on such road conditions. In most cases, we use 4wheel drive SUV like the Nissan Patrol and Toyota Land Cruisers. For bigger groups, we may use 4WD Vans. We’ve found that how you get there significantly influences the tone of your journey, and therefore we always make sure that your ride is comfortable with reliable transportation.
Your safety is our top priority. Only trained guides and experienced rangers will accompany you during your hike. All of our rangers and guides are local from the nearby villages, of the respective conservancy. All guides are trained to offer first aid and always carry the necessary first aid kit.
Click on this link to read answers to frequently asked questions
Where to meet us?
If you book a tour with us, we can pick you up from the Dushanbe International Airport upon arrival. We will take you to the location of your tour. We arrange cars from Dushanbe to Shamsiddin Shohin, Darvoz (GBAO/Pamir region), and other regions of Tajikistan. Airport pick up and transport to your destination will be additional costs.
If you are already in Tajikistan, we can organize transport for you with additional costs, or we can provide you with the address so you can come on your own.
Due to its mountainous nature and geographical remoteness hiring a taxi can be expensive. We use services of experienced drivers, who have been driving at least 5 years on such road conditions. We also use rather new vehicles to make sure our customers enjoy their journey. We charge US$0.85 per km and daily per diem of $15 for the driver.
Your safety is our top priority. We will only put you with experienced rangers during your hike. Most of our rangers are local and have been working in their field for 8 years or more. We may have to cancel trips or end trips early due to weather. In such cases, we are happy to accommodate you with another date without extra fees.
The standard group size for Shamshiddin Shohin and Darvoz regions backpacking trips is 3 guests and 1 guide. Due to steep terrain and exposure on the mountains, we care about your safety. If we have larger groups, we will split them into maximum group sizes of 6 guests and 2 guides. This way we are not travelling in one big group and not getting on each other’s way.
Weather In the Darvoz region:
In the Darvoz region at 700-900masl, the climate is similar to Dushanbe. The temperature in the summer can rise to 45 °C (113 °F), while in winter it can drop to -20 °C (-4 °F). The region tends to be dry from June-September and sometimes until October. We present monthly average temperatures in the chart below.
Monthly average temperatures for Darvoz region