Style: Hiking/camping/wildlife watching
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Location: Darvoz & Shurobod region
Length: 9 days
- 1 person: $1990 per person
- 2 people: $1343 per person
- 3 people: $1240 per person
- 4 people: $1170 per person
- 5 people: $1090 per person
- 6 people: $1042 per person
Price includes All meals from breakfast on the first day through dinner 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
Observing different age group Markhor goats, staying in traditional Tajik houses, bird-watching, spectacular landscapes of Hazratishor mountain range, the view of Afghan villages on the border
The Markhor is the largest species of goat family and famous for its stunning twisting horns. Markhor is usually found in mountainous parts of Central Asia. Four of our conservancies are designated as Markhor conservancies, specifically in the Shamshiddin Shohin and the Darvoz regions of Tajikistan. Markhor habitat consists of dry mountains with cliffs. They graze in areas with sparse forest and many wooded shrubs. All four conservancies offer Markhor watching and photography tours. The tour lasts 7 days and you will see plenty of Markhor from many different age groups. Our guides have vast experience in observing and studying Markhor. They will make sure you have fun, take lots of pictures, observe different age groups, and experience the culture and hospitality of our homestay families. We offer Markhor tours all year round. In the summer, however, they are more difficult to reach, as they tend to go up to an altitude of above 2500-3500 m (8200-11,482 feet). The remainder of the season, they are easier to spot. In the summertime, you will be required to take a challenging but very rewarding 3-4 day hike to one of the valleys in Darvoz to spot the Markhor. On this tour, you will also be able to see lots of bird species and other mammals like bears, Siberian Ibex, porcupines, and wild boars.
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 – Anjirob
Elevation range: 900-1920-900m/2952-6299-2950feet
Driving distance: 245 km / 152 mi
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 Nurek 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 settle in one our conservancy family house.
Day 2: Saidi Tagnob conservancy
Elevation range: 900-1750-840m/2952-5741-2755feet
Driving distance: 75km/46mi
Hiking distance: 2km / 1.3mi
Today we will explore the area of Saidi Tagnob conservancy. Saidi Tagnob conservancy founded by two local families of traditional hunters now turned into conservationists in and around the villages of Yol and Anjirob. The conservancy is located in the mountain range of Hazratishoh, which is one of the most scenic places in central Tajikistan. Spectacular red rock formations, canyons, cliffs and the dark green juniper woodlands create an ideal habitat for many species of wildlife including birds. The primary aim of the conservancy is to preserve wildlife species namely mountain ungulates and their habitat. Due to the dedicated work of conservancy families and implementation of sustainable use initiatives, the number of species is increasing, and their habitat is improving. Together with conservancy rangers we will drive to one of the camps in the mountains called devlokham from where we observe markhor goats. Later the day before the noon we will hike around the camp for bird watching and drive to Yol village where we have traditional lunch in a traditional Tajik house. After the lunch we will drive back to Anjrob where we will say goodbye to the rangers and our host. Soon after we will drive to Kisht village of the same Shamsidini Shohin district where another conservancy operates. We will be met by our host and enjoy the rest of the day in our guesthouse.
Day 3: Markhor of M. Bukhori Conservancy
Elevation range: 840-2360m/2755-7743feet
Hiking distance: 14,5km/9mi
Another conservancy run by a family of traditional hunters is located in and around the Hazratishoh mountain range near the village of Kisht. M-Bukhori conservancy established more recently in 2016, and since then rangers of the conservancy have worked tirelessly protecting wildlife in their territory. As a result of successful wildlife management practices, the species of markhor and wild boar are increasing. Habitat improvement is contributing to other species, for example, species of birds and the brown bear. Also, communities here keep orchards (huge amount of pomegranate gardens) and vegetable plots to sustain their livelihoods.
Our plan today will be to hike along the Khudkham river through beautiful canyons on to the conservancy camp. Depending on the season and the level of your fitness we will either hike further to the upper camp through a steep trail or stay at the first camp enjoying our time observing the landscape and wildlife. The hike to the second camp is strenuous, however you will be rewarded by fantastic views of eroded mountain hills specific only to this region and observation of large males of markhor is mostly guaranteed.
Either way we will be able to observe markhor in the evening and many bird species during the day. Tonight we stay in the camp in tents or in camp house.
Day 4: Kisht to Darvaz
Elevation range: 2360-1058m/7743-3471feet
Hiking distance: 14,5km/9mi
Driving distance: 21km/13mi
We will start this morning with markhor observation and have breakfast afterwards. After the breakfast we hike back to Kisht village to meet our driver and continue driving to Darvaz region. The drive will be very short and we will get to our camp of M.Sayod conservancy in about 30 minutes where delicious lunch will be waiting for us.
M-Sayyod conservancy is the first Markhor conservancy that was established in the region. The territory of the conservancy stretches all the way to the Dashtijum Nature Reserve from the northwestern side and is the biggest in terms of area. Also run by a family of former hunters who carry out wildlife surveys, habitat protection and management in its territory the conservancy has served many tourists who are into wildlife photography, game watching and trekking. As results of conservation work and implementation of sustainable management practices, the number of wildlife is thriving in its territory. Communities here to a great extent engage in mountain agriculture. Many families practice beekeeping and take pride in their practice. In fact, the honey produced here is considered the best in Tajikistan. The highlight in M-Sayyod conservancy includes an abundance of wildlife, birds, waterfalls, towering snowy peaks, incredible flower fields (Amaryllis) and breathtaking views into Afghan villages across the river. Therefore we will spend here more time.
After the lunch we will drive few miles east from our camp along the Panj river to place called Shpir waterfall. From early spring to late summer a huge body of water drops from the mountain right to the road here. Above the waterfall on the slopes of the mountain markhor is usually grazing and we will observe them here closer to the evening. We will spend the night in a comfortable Yakhchiimina camp set on the bank of the Panj river.
Day 5-7: Hiking in Zighardara valley
Elevation range: 1058-2800-1058m/3471-9186-3471feet
Hiking distance: 35-40km/22-25mi
Driving distance: 21km/13mi
We will explore stunning wilderness areas of the Darvoz region on this three-day hike. Throughout the three days you will visit high alpine lakes and walk through undisturbed open meadows. You will see some of the highest peaks (4573 m / 15003 feet) in the region. Due to this region’s abundant wildlife, you will likely have the chance to observe Ibex, brown bear, wild boar and guaranteed observation of Markhor.
The first day of the hike starts out next to a mountain stream and continues along the stream to the campsite. On the second day, you will have breakfast and then make your way uphill to the glaciers. This hike is rather short but steep.
At end of the trail, you will see ancient glaciers, a newly created and unnamed lake from a glacial melt-off, and the highest peaks of the region (Peak Kuhifrush 4573m). You may also see herds of Ibex grazing on nearby hills. On the last day you will make your way back to the trailhead. It will take 5-6 hours, hiking mostly downhill. On the way down, you will have a spectacular view of the Afghan Mountains. At the end of the hike, our driver will pick you up from the trailhead and will take you back to the camp.
Day 8: Darvoz to Dushanbe
Driving distance: 285km/177mi
Today we drive back to Dushanbe. Having our last breakfast at the camp we hit the road again back to Kulob and on to Dushanbe. You will arrive in Dushanbe at noon and have lunch before checking in to your hotel. After the lunch and some rest at the hotel you will have a short tour of Dushanbe, where you will explore the Kokhi Navruz Palace, Museum and Mehrgon bazaar to do some shopping. In the evening you will have a farewell dinner with ANCOT staff where you share your experience and possibly discuss your future trip to Tajikistan again.
Day 9: 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