FANN MOUNTAINS TREKKING ROUTES & TRAVEL GUIDE
*Updated November 2020*
Trekking in the Fann Mountains is a truly spectacular experience. Some of Tajikistan’s most jaw-dropping scenery awaits those ready to explore on two feet. Impossibly blue lakes shimmer below dramatic mountain peaks. Welcoming locals beckon you in for chai multiple times a day. Juniper forests punctuate dry, dusty trails. Whether you visit for a day, week or month, the sense of awe felt in the presence of such dramatic landscapes is hard to shift.
Tucked away in the north-western corner of Tajikistan, the Fanns are remote enough to be unheard of by many, yet easily accessible to those with an intrepid nature. With around a hundred peaks, numerous lakes, plus countless villages and seasonal settlements, it can be hard to know where to start when planning your Fann Mountains trek.
Preparing for our own multi-day hike took a lot of research. At the time when we trekked (and first published this guide) there weren’t any online resources with detailed route maps. So, in order to make it easier for future hikers, we sat down and mapped out a multitude of Fann Mountains trekking routes, from easy two day tasters to challenging multi-day adventures. In the process, we spent far too long staring at Google satellite view and falling down internet rabbit holes, trying to pinpoint suitable camp spots and piece together the ideal itinerary for each route.
These days, many more Fann Mountains trekking trails are marked on open source maps like Maps.me, and other online resources have updated their guides to include route maps, camp spots, and so on. All of this is great news for hikers, making it easier than ever to plan a Tajikistan trek.
In this guide, we’ll help you figure out the best Fann Mountains trek to suit your level of experience and/or time available. We’ve included detailed route maps, with GPX and KML downloads for each trek, plus practical advice like what to pack, how to get there, and when to go.
Read through the whole guide, or jump to a particular section by clicking the links below.
FANN MOUNTAINS TREKKING ROUTES:
HAFT KUL (SEVEN LAKES) 1N/2D
HAFT KUL + THE LAKES
HAFT KUL TO VERTICAL ALAUDDIN 6N/7D
FANN MOUNTAINS TREK PLANNING:
ALAUDDIN & KULIKALON LAKES
THE LAKES + CHIMTARGA PASS
HAFT KUL + THE LAKES
HAFT KUL + THE LAKES
+ CHIMTARGA PASS
HAFT KUL + ISKANDERKUL
THE LAKES + ISKANDERKUL
FANN MOUNTAINS TREKKING MAP
All of the Fann Mountains trekking routes outlined in this guide are marked on the map below, along with suggested camp spots, mountain passes, homestays, and other points of note. Tap the menu button at the top left to see detailed trekking route outlines, toggle routes on and off, and switch between satellite and terrain view.
While we’ve tried to be as accurate as possible with the map routings, don’t rely solely on these for navigation. Be sure to cross-reference them with the excellent EWP Fann Mountains map, Maps.Me, and any other mapping devices you have available to you, such as Gaia.
This list of Fann Mountains trekking routes is by no means exhaustive (you just have to look at the EWP map to see the endless number of passes and trails out there!). There are various other passes and alternative routings. We’ve covered the main trekking routes in this guide. You can download each route individually – download the KML files for use with Maps.me or the GPX files for use with Gaia (and many other apps).
The number of days/nights outlined for each trek is the minimum time it takes to cover the distance. It doesn’t include getting to/from the Fanns. Be sure to factor in an extra couple of days either side for travel. It’s also entirely possible to spend longer on each trek, for example camping a few extra nights around Kulikalon, relaxing in homestays in the Haft Kul, etc.
FANN MOUNTAINS TREK VIDEO
FANN MOUNTAINS TREKKING ROUTES
ALAUDDIN & KULIKALON LAKES
Boasting numerous high altitude lakes of dazzling blues and greens, Alauddin and Kulikalon are the highlight of the Fanns for many. Both areas are only accessible on foot, although there is road access to an old Russian climber’s camp a couple of kilometres away from Alauddin Lake. This makes it ideal for those short on time, but determined to experience the beauty of the Fanns. If you have longer to explore, the two areas can be combined into one circular trek, or a one way route. For an extra challenge and bonus lake, include Chukurak Pass and Lake, making a fantastic extended lakes loop trek.
The English spelling of place names varies a lot. For example, Alauddin is also commonly spelt Alaudin or Alovaddin. Bibidzhonat also appears as Bibijonat or similar. Dushakha is sometimes written Dushoka, Mutnyi appears Mutnoe, etc.
A straightforward and easy hike, but highly rewarding in the scenery stakes. Start your hike at the old Russian climber’s camp, Vertical Alauddin. After a couple of kilometres of gentle climbing past a few smaller lakes, you’ll reach the magnificent Alauddin Lake. A couple of chaikhanas at the north shore serve food and drinks. The best camping is at the green patch of flat (ish) ground on the south-west shore. Pitch up your tent for the night and head back down to Vertical the following day.
If you’re looking to stay a little longer you can add on a day hike to Mutnyi Lake and back (around 12KM total), or just explore more around Alauddin.
If you don’t want to camp you could head back down to Vertical the same day where limited accommodation and basic toilet facilities are available, plus a cafe.
Starting at Artuch (which is easily accessible by public transport), trek southeast to Kulikalon. Numerous lakes dot the Kulikalon bowl, each offering something special. Kulikalon itself is the largest and has multiple camping spots. A few herder families live nearby so don’t be surprised if you’re invited for chai and yoghurt.
Bibidzhonat, a little further up the trail, has great views of Mt. Mirali. Dushakha, the highest of the three main lakes at around 3000m, sits at the very foot of icy Mt. Mirali. It was one of our favourite camp spots while trekking the Fann Mountains.
If you’re only camping one night you’ll need to choose between them, but if you’ve got time to spare then relax and spend a night at each! Retrace your steps to Artuch on the return journey.
Read our account of this section of the trail here.
Accommodation and food is available at Alplager Artuch (also called Artuch Base Camp), but you’ll need your own tent and supplies for camping at the lakes.
This is a great option if you want to see both Kulikalon and Alauddin Lakes, but have limited time. Opt for the Alauddin Pass for the best views and shortest trekking route. You could do the trek in either direction.
Accommodation and food is available at Alplager Artuch and Vertical Alauddin, but you’ll need your own tent and supplies for camping at the lakes.
TRAVELLING THE PAMIR HIGHWAY TOO?
The lakes loop is a classic Fann Mountains trekking route taking in the best of the lakes region, without having to retrace your steps too much. It also has the benefit of starting and ending at Artuch which is relatively easy to get to via shared or private transport. You can opt to hike clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Accommodation and food is available at Alplager Artuch, but you’ll need your own tent and supplies for camping at the lakes.
Fancy squeezing one more lake into your Lakes Loop trek? From Kulikalon return to Artuch/Alplager via the Chukurak Pass (3180 m) and Chukurak Lake. Chukurak Lake makes for a perfect camp spot if you want to add an extra night into your trekking itinerary, otherwise it’s possible to complete this section in one day.