Zigzagging in the Fann Mountains (August 8-23, 2006)
I returned to Central Asia in August 2006 for the third summer in row. I wanted to hike in the Central Pamir around the Fedchenko glacier in Tajikistan. But a last-minute permit problem forced me to change plan. Instead, I ended up trekking in the more easily accessible Fann mountains, which I had partially visited in 2004 (see Central Asia 2004). These are beautiful mountains, with a few summits above 5000m, culminating at Chimtarga peak (5489m). They are located in Western Tajikistan, near the Uzbek border (and Samarkand). They usually enjoy sunny, stable weather during the summer.
My guides for this trip were Slava (in the middle of the following photo) and Mishra (right). Slava had already been my guide in 2004 and 2005. Both are great and reliable companions. Like in 2005, the logistics for this trip were arranged by Boris Karpov of Elena Tours.
Trek area (red rectangle).
Since the Fann mountains cover a relatively small area and we had a lot of time due to the change of plan, we ended up zigzagging in the Fann mountains for a couple of weeks, as shown on the map below (click here for a full-resolution map):
- Line in red dots: 2006 itinerary.
- Line in blue dots: 2004 itinerary.
- Large orange dot: Artuch mountain center (start of trek).
- Large green dot: Gazza village (end of trek).
- Large yellow dots: campsites.
- x (black crosses): passes.
This aerial photo (provided by Boris Karpov) covers a large portion of our trek. The lines in red and blue dots show our main itinerary (red: visible; blue: hidden). The orange dots show side trips. The start and finish of the trek are outside the photo.
To see photos of the trek, click on the following links:
After this trek I spent a few days in Samarkand, which I had already visited in 2004, and in Shahrisabz, near the birthplace of Amir Timur, some 80-90 km south of Samarkand. I was not expecting much from Shahrisabz, but I was wrong. It has a number of impressive monuments, while its lively and colorful bazaar was more interesting than the more modern bazaar of Samarkand. See here.
Remark: The Fann mountains have recently been "discovered" by European (mostly French) trekking agencies. The northern part (lakes Kulikalon and Alaudin, but also Chimtarga pass and lake Big Allo) is now visited by large groups (and their porters). This would not be a major problem if these groups were mindful of the environment. Unfortunately, I have seen them wash their clothes directly in the lakes using large amounts of detergent. Their toilet paper flies all around the main camping sites and abundant trash can be found in many areas. For some reasons trekkers in Nepal or Morocco seem to behave more responsibly. Why?