Departure: November 26. 2020
Style: Hiking/camping/wildlife watching
Location: Shamsiddin Shohin, Darvoz, Ishkashim, and Alichur
Driving distance: 2000km/1242mi
Length: 15 days
Group size: min. 3 people / max. 6 people
- $2280 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
Watching ibex, Marco Polo Sheep, brown bears, markhor, bathing in a hot spring, camping, staying in traditional homestays and enjoying breathtaking mountain landscapes.
This tour is consisting of visiting four of our conservancies to watch wildlife, mainly mountain ungulates and depending on the season brown bears. Together with the community-based wildlife organizations, ANCOT has been working for 10 years protecting the conservancy areas from poachers and livestock grazing to reduce competition and wildlife disturbance. Within 10 years the conservancies achieved remarkable results in increasing the number of mountain ungulates in their protected areas. Today we are supporting these conservancies by organizing wildlife watching and learning tours. On this trip you will enjoy trekking, camping, yak safari and a road-trip which goes along the famous Pamir Highway. You would be able to see Marco Polo Sheep, Siberian ibex, Markhors, Brown bears, and observe many species of raptor and singing birds. You will certainly enjoy hospitality at our conservancy families who have dedicated their life in wildlife conservation cause. Also, you will camp under the stars, explore beautiful canyons, learn about the natural and cultural history, and experience what’s it like being a conservancy family in remote corners of Tajikistan. This tour includes airport pickup; drop off, ground transportation, food, accommodation, local English speaking guides and rangers who will help you with your treks and excursions and wildlife watching during 15 days of your stay. You just come and enjoy the trip rest will be taken care by us. This trip can be organized individually or for groups as well. The tour can be easily adjusted according to your wishes, flight dates and it can be shorter or longer as well.
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.
Driving distance: around Dushanbe
Hiking distance: city tour
Upon your arrival, we will pick you up from the airport and we will take you directly to your guest house/hotel in Dushanbe. Our guide and the driver will be there to help. They will take you to the local market, various parks and museums Dushanbe offers. This day will also allow you to exchange money if you needed. You will have the opportunity to eat out at the local restaurants in Dushanbe before hitting the road next day to your big adventure.
Day 2: Dushanbe – Anjirob
Elevation range: 900-2000-900m/2952-6561-2952feet
Driving distance: 240km/149mi
Hiking distance: 8km / 5mi
On the second day, after having breakfast we will hit the road towards southeast part of Tajikistan. We will be travelling roughly 4-5 hours with toilet and coffee break in between. Around noon we will reach Shurabod and will have lunch in one of our Markhur conservancy family. In the afternoon, we will have a short hike to top of the hills and as the sun sets behind the mountains we will observe Markhur moving down the slopes in front of us. In the evening we will return to our homestay family have dinner and relax.
Day 3: Anjirob – Khorog
Elevation gain: 1200m/3937feet
Driving distance: 370km/230mi
Hiking distance: No hiking
On the third day, we will have breakfast and hit the road towards town called Khorog along the Pyanj river. We will have 8 hours of solid driving. We will break the whole drive into three sections, and we will be making stops for bathrooms, coffee and a lunch. We also stop by for you to have a look at the small Afghan villages across the river from us. Ideally, we should be arriving in the late afternoon to Khorog. Khorog is the administrative town of GBAO / Pamir region. Here, we will see stay in a traditional hotel, designed with Pamiri architecture. We will also have a dinner at the hotel. We do not plan anything for the evening, since we all are tired from a long drive.
Day 4: Khorog – Darshai
Elevation gain: 625m/2050feet
Driving distance: 160km/100mi
Hiking distance: 8km / 5mi
On the fourth day, after having breakfast, we will drive up to the Botanical Gardens of Khorog. We will have a tour of the botanical garden, usually full of flowers, fruits, and breathtaking view of the town of Khorog and as well as Gunt river, which goes through the heart of Khorog. After having the tour and taking our pictures, we will head down to the Ishkashim Valley. We will have 4-5 hours of driving mostly on a dirt road partly paved and arrive early in the afternoon. Our destination is the village of Darshai, and we will stay with a homestay family run by our conservancy. We will have lunch and coffee there, and after having a rest we will go on a short hike to discover old Shrines decorated with Ibex horns, we will also have a look at the beautiful apricot gardens surrounded with beautiful wheat fields and a sun thorn forests. We will have a dinner with the host family and stay for the night here.
Day 5: Trekking in Darshaidara
Elevation gain: 775m/2542feet
Driving distance: 0
Hiking distance: 10-15km/6-9 mi
On the fifth day, we will head out on the trail in Darshaidara. We will slowly make our way into the valley. This hike has some steep slopes and exposure but other than that we will be walking next to a mountain stream mostly. Of course, our guides are there to help you to cross the steep sessions of the hike. The idea today would be spotting an ibex in one of the hills. Our guides will carry spotting scoped and binoculars for you to enjoy flocks of ibex in nearby hills. You will also have a good view of Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush range and some stunning peaks. We will have lunch on site and in the afternoon we will return the village of Darshai. We will have a nice dinner and relaxing evening. By this time we should be ideally acclimatizing to the altitude this altitude since we are gaining altitude slowly.
Day 6-7-8-9: Alichur valley
Elevation gain range: 1155-1775m/3789-5823feet
Driving distance: 250km/155mi
Hiking distance: varies multiple days
On our 6th day, after having breakfast, we will drive toward the town called Alichur through Khargush pass. It is going to be a daylong pretty much all day long. We will break the day into multiple sections, for coffee breaks, toilet breaks, and a lunch. Towards the evening we will reach the town of Alichur and town is located in the foothills of Alichur range with the elevation of 4000m/13123feet. It is a high plateau and in the evening temperature usually drops down and can be quite chilly compare other places we have been so far. We will settle down for the next four days with our conservancy homestay in Alichur.
Next three days will include three activities, Yak Safari, watching Marco Polo sheep and the ibex. Yak Safari is a daylong tour, where you will have a trip and get to ride yaks in the mountains. Yaks are slow animals but they can go high, and they are quite hardy animals. Ideally, you will be visiting one of the shepherd families up in the mountains and get to see what’s it like being a shepherd in a remote high plateau. You will be served fresh yogurt and other milk products and will have lunch with the Shepherd family.
Next two days you will have the option of hiking to nearby mountains an observe Marco Polo Sheep and an ibex. Both of these two days would be, daylong activities and at the end of each day, you would return to homestay. Or we could organize you with an option of camping in the mountains. We would leave this up to you. Both ways are fun, however, in the past, some tourist preferred to stay with the homestay family, and some other have camped. In case you choose camping, we would have all the equipment for you.
Day 10: Alichur – Khorog
Elevation loss: 1900m/6233feet
Driving distance: 220km/136mi
Hiking distance: 0
On the tenth day, we will have breakfast in Alichur and then start driving back to Khorog. On the way, we will stop by in a hot spring to have a bath. We will be driving roughly 7 hours through the Gunt valley, and it is spectacular mountain scenery quite different from the drive to Alichur via Ishlashim. In Khorog again we will stay at the Hotel with traditional Pamiri architecture for the night.
Day 11-12-13-14: Darvaz
Elevation range: -900 – +1200m/-2952 – +3937feet
Driving distance: 400km/248mi
Hiking distance: varies multiple days
On the 11th day, we will have breakfast in Khorog and travel to Darvoz region. We will be mostly traveling along the Panj River again. It will be a 7-hour drive, and we will take our time. During the drive, we will stop by for lunch and coffee tea along the Pamir highway with beautiful scenery of Afghan villages. Later in the afternoon we will arrive in Darvoz and settle down in one of Markhor conservancies hunting camp.
Here we will have activities for couple of days. You will start the 12th day from the hunting camp and drive up to the trailhead. You will be mostly hiking next to the riverbed. From the trailhead to the hunter’s viewpoint you will gain 850masl of elevation. The trail is a short but super step. You will be physically exhausted but don’t worry our rangers are there to help you on this path. In the afternoon, you will enjoy wildlife watching, and walk around the mountains and visit a walnut forest. There will be an excellent opportunity to observe brown bears. Towards the evening you will set up the camp and cook on the fire and enjoy your delicious dinner. Many tourists do stay up late to watch the stars and crisp view of the Milky Way.
Next day, you will get up early morning to watch the wildlife as the sunrises. Our guides will have set of binoculars and spotting scopes for you to enjoy wildlife watching, mostly, ibex, markhor, and brown bears. Afterwards, you will head back down on the same trail. Our drivers will meet you at the trailhead and will bring you back to the camp for lunch.
On the 14th day you will start driving to Dushanbe after having a breakfast. Ideally, we should be back in Dushanbe early in the afternoon. You will have time to relax before the dinner. We will have a final meal in Dushanbe, which will be the end of the two weeklong tours.
Flying back home.
- All meals – from day 1 to day 15.
- 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.
- Camera Traps
- 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 expense 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.
We are confident that although it might be less profitable, it is important for the kind of tours we offer that the group size is small, a maximum of 6 people.
Click on this link to read answers to frequently asked questions