A Tailor-Made Wakhan Corridor Jeep Tour
Afghanistan’s mountainous, isolated Wakhan Corridor is one of the most enigmatic places in the world. A slither of wilderness tucked between Pakistan, China and Tajikistan, this is a majestic landscape populated by Kyrgyz and Wakhi nomads and farmers.
Navigate the Wakhan Corridor
This Wakhan Corridor Jeep Tour will start in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and continue south to the border crossing with Afghanistan.
At Ishkashim, a town that straddles the Tajik – Afghan border, you’ll cross into Afghanistan and spend the next six days exploring the area by 4WD, foot and yak. Whilst here, you’ll go in search of the the source of the mighty Amu Darya river, keeping an eye out for Marco Polo sheep and snow leopards along the way.
As you travel, you’ll be surrounded by the towering peaks of the Pamir and Karakorum Mountain ranges, some of the biggest, but least explored, ranges on earth. Via epic, untrammeled wilderness and rushing rivers, you’ll meet fabulously friendly people, stay in delightful homestays, and learn about Tajik, Kyrgyz, Afghan and Persian culture.
Throw in some yurts, thermal springs and ancient petroglyphs, and you’ve got a trip that’s you’ll be dining out on for years to come.
Please note that, as with all of our tailor-made itineraries, this is a sample tour, and can be altered to suit your tastes and budget.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Dushanbe International Airport|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please ensure you arrive in good time for the expedition to begin.|
- Car with driver
- All accommodation
- All meals (unless you request otherwise)
- Airport transfers
- Local English-speaking guide
- Entry into local historical/cultural sites
- Filtered water
- Water-to-Go Filter bottle
- International flights to/from Dushanbe – we can book these under out ATOL license, so just let us know if you’d prefer this
- Extra snacks
- Visas and other permits as required (Tajik visa, GBAO permit x2, Afghan Visa)
Led by an Expert Afghanistan Guide
On this Wakhan Corridor Jeep tour, you will be joined by expert local, English-speaking guides. Along the way, they’ll be able to tell you about the folklore of this fabled region.
This itinerary starts and ends in Dushanbe. Your transport will be a comfortable Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD, the King of these bumpy roads.
We will, of course, have a Plan B ready in case of any unexpected unrest in Afghanistan. This will mean an exploration of the Tajik Wakhan Corridor and the Zorkul Nature Reserve in the far south-eastern corner of Tajikistan, a remote and barely-visited part of the world.
Prepare to have your mind blown and your senses sated by the incredible landscapes you’ll see on this pioneering trip.
Wakhan Explorer – The Wakhan Corridor and Valley by 4×4
Maximum group 9 persons.
June, July and August only.
Day 1: Monday
Start Point: Home Destination: Dushanbe Travel: Plane and Hotel Transfer Notes: Your Arrival in Tajikistan
Arrive Dushanbe International Airport, Tajikistan.
Flights (usually Turkish Airlines via Istanbul) arrive at the rather ungodly hour of 03.45. A driver will collect you from the airport and whisk you to the comfort of your 5* hotel. Once you wake up, today will be a gentle day of sleeping, acclimatizing, eating and drinking. We can also arrange a number of bespoke experiences for you, from a tour of the capital’s old Soviet mosaics, to a behind the scenes look at the Opera & Ballet theatre.
Day 2: Tuesday
Start Point: Dushanbe Destination: Kala-i-Hussein Travel: 4WD
It’s chocks away as you hit the road to Kala-i-Hussein, 220 km east of the capital. You’ll stop for lunch and a swim by a beautiful blue lake, and end the day in a pretty little village in the foothills of the Pamir ranges. Here you’ll be staying in either the local mosque or a family-run guesthouse. Both are delightful.
Day 3: Wednesday
Start Point: Kala-i-Hussein Destination: Kala-i-Kumb Travel: 4WD
Today it’s a thrilling 70 km drive over the 3852 m Khaburabot Pass to the town of Kala-i–Kumb, where you’ll join both the mighty Panj River and the border with Afghanistan. On the way you’ll enter Gorno Badakhshan, the autonomous province that defines the Tajik Pamirs. Tonight you’ll be in a guesthouse run by the Aga Khan Foundation, a very nice place with comfy beds and good food.
Day 4: Thursday
Start Point: Kala-i-Kumb Destination: Khorog Travel: 4WD
After a good breakfast at your guesthouse, you’ll head deeper into the mountains, following the Pamir Highway and the Panj River 240 km south-east to Khorog along the Afghan border. Expect soaring eagles, stunning mountain scenery and dusty roads carved through deep river gorges. Once in Khorog, you’ll nip into the Afghan consulate to collect your visas.
Day 5: Friday
Start Point: Khorog Destination: Khandud (Afghanistan), via Ishkashim Travel: 4WD
It’s an early start this morning. From Khorog you continue south to Ishkashim, where you cross into Afghanistan and meet up with your new Afghan guides. You’ll then travel east up the Wakhan valley this afternoon (warning: this road is bumpy) before stopping for the night in Khandud village. Here you’ll be staying in a simple homestay, with a lovely, welcoming family.
Day 6: Saturday
Start Point: Khandud Destination: Sargaz Travel: 4WD
This morning, after breakfast at your homestay, you’ll visit the old mosque in Khandud and, from here, admire the views over the river that once gave the village’s ruined fortress such a commanding aspect. From here you’ll continue on, through the confluence of the Pamir and Pyanj rivers. On the way you’ll pass the hunting lodge of the last Afghan King Zahir Shah and a couple of revered shrines. The road is rough but the hot springs at Sargaz will be your reward on arrival. Tonight you’ll be in another village homestay.
Day 7: Sunday
Start Point: Sargaz Destination: Sarhad-e-Broghil Travel: 4WD
Today you head due east up the Wakhan valley towards the village of Sarhad-e-Broghil. This is the end of what passes as a road, and will be your base of operations for the next couple of days, surrounded by high valley walls and saw-toothed snow peaks. This is epic scenery, on a grand scale. More hot springs await us here! Tonight you’ll be in another village homestay.
Day 8: Monday
Start Point: Sarhad-e-Broghil Destination: Wakhan Valley Travel: Foot, 4WD, Horse or Yak
Today you’ll be exploring the remote mountains and valleys of this area, and getting a real feel for life here at the end of the road. One of the places you’ll be seeing is Bozai Gumbez, at the confluence of the Wakhjir and Ak Su Rivers, where one of the most important players of the Great Game – Colonel Francis Younghusband – met a band of Russian Cossack soldiers and was ordered to leave “Tsarist Russian” sovereign territory. The Russians later apologised, but the incident laid the foundation for the creation of the Wakhan Corridor as a buffer zone between the two great empires, a legacy that created the geographical oddity of current-day Wakhan. The scenery, and remoteness, of this place will take your breath away. Tonight you’ll be in the same homestay in Sarhad-e-Broghil.
Day 9: Tuesday
Start Point: Sarhad-e-Broghil Destination: Wakhan Valley Travel: Foot, 4WD, Horse or Yak
Today you’ll have another day exploring this area by foot, car and either horse or yak.
Day 10: Wednesday
Start Point: Sarhad-e-Broghil Destination: Langar
A full day’s drive back down the Wakhan will bring you to a brand-new border crossing back into Tajikistan. Assuming this new bridge is open, you’ll cross back into Tajikistan and spend the night at a guesthouse in the Tajik village of Langar, with a family we know and adore. The food here is wonderful, as is the hospitality.
Day 11: Thursday
Start Point: Langar Destination: Ishkashim Travel: 4WD
Today, after a hearty breakfast at your homestay, it’s a full day’s drive west along the length of Tajikistan’s Wakhan Corridor. There is plenty to see on the way, including ancient stone sundials, a Buddhist stupa, a ruined 2000 year old Zoroastrian castle and one of the best hot springs in the region. You should be back in Ishkashim in time for supper. Tonight you’ll be in a guesthouse.
Day 12: Friday
Start Point: Ishkashim Destination: Rushan Travel: 4WD
You’ll drive north along the Pyanj River today, passing Khorog and stopping for a picnic lunch on the way. It’s about 160 km to Rushan, where you will stay in a family guesthouse at the foot of the Bartang valley. This is a welcoming, pretty place where you can sip tea in an apricot orchard and marvel at the beauty of the mountains.
Day 13: Saturday
Start Point: Rushan Destination: Dushanbe Travel: 4WD
In order to reach the capital by dusk, it’s an early start this morning. The initial 200 km to Kala-i-Kumb is rough going, but after that it’s a smoother ride back to Dushanbe, via the town of Kulob. You’ll arrive back in Dushanbe by the evening, in time for a late supper and a good night’s sleep at the best hotel in town.
Day 14: Sunday
Start Point: Dushanbe Travel: Foot, Vehicle or Trolleybus
Day off in Dushanbe – it’s your time to explore this interesting city, maybe visit a spa for a massage, do a spot of shopping, explore the bazaar or just relax in the comfort of your 5* hotel. We will be taking you for a delicious farewell supper in Dushanbe this evening, and then you can sleep before your early morning flight tomorrow.
Day 15: Monday
Start Point: Dushanbe Destination: Home Travel: Airport Transfer and Plane
The suggested Turkish Airlines flight (via Istanbul) departs at another ungodly hour of 05.40. Hardly worth going to bed is it?
Where will we be staying?
On this expedition, you’ll be staying in good hotels in Dushanbe and Khorog, guest houses or basic hotels in other towns, and homestays with local people and their families. The homestay concept is widely accepted throughout Tajikistan so these nights are often highly enjoyable glimpses into local customs and lifestyles. We also stay in yurts in a couple of locations on this trip, particularly in Afghanistan where we will spend at least one night in tents too.
We feel that true luxury is getting to know a place and its people, not necessarily measured by the thread count of the bed linen or the number of hotel restaurants. Give us a real experience any day.
However, as this is a tailor-made trip, we can alter the accommodation to suit your tastes. Please be aware though that in many cases here, homestays and yurts are the only option.
What will the weather be like?
A very difficult question to answer when travelling among the third and fourth highest mountain ranges on earth. it also depends which time of year you choose to go. But, you can expect some hot days lower in the valleys – 20 degrees or higher. At altitude, we have experienced every season in the course of a single day – warm sunshine followed by winds and rain, hail or snow on the passes and perhaps down to freezing for a short period of time. In general, the rule of thumb is to expect warm days and cooler nights when we are out of the lowland areas. The winds in the Wakhan can be pretty cold and fierce around sunset particularly, so you’ll need to bring warm clothes and a sleeping bag.
What kit do I need to bring?
We will provide you with an information pack after signing up to this trip, and this will detail any particular equipment we think either necessary or useful.
How much are flights?
This is a moving feast! It depends on where you are travelling from and how you want to get there. From London, the cheapest flights to Dushanbe might be via Moscow. We use Turkish Airlines via Istanbul because they are good, cost-effective connections. Costs are usually around the £550 mark, return. Again, we’ll send you an information pack containing all the information you need when you book your place.
We can book your flights as part of an ATOL-protected package, so just holler if you’d rather we did this for you.
What will the food be like?
Varied; the Pamir area is not particularly agriculturally inclined, mostly due to the precipitous nature of the topography, and often poor soils. But many of our homestay hosts pride themselves on making good meals for their guests, so you will be well looked-after. If you are a vegetarian, food can be a little dull (lots of bread, potatoes and eggs with salads) but perfectly acceptable. For meat-eaters, pilaf is the main dish. Usually rice and meat in one dish and often very tasty. Freshly made non (bread) is available almost everywhere and can be delicious. We try to ensure we have some treat foods in the vehicles for picnics. In general we think food is a core part of any cultural experience and there are a good number of local dishes to try on our route.
Will I be affected by altitude?
Altitude can affect different people in different ways. It can also affect the same person in different ways from trip to trip. We will be spending quite a number of days above 3000 metres, and up on the in the high valleys, often above 3500 metres. If you feel that you might suffer from altitude sickness, or have history of it, you should consider discussing this with your doctor prior to booking and travel. Diamox and other similar prescription drugs are available to ease symptoms, but the key way to address any onset of altitude sickness is to descend. Luckily, from anywhere particularly high, descent is possible rapidly thanks to our vehicles. Our route is also planned to gain altitude in the smallest increments possible to aid acclimatisation. Simple precautions and awareness go a long way.
Do you perform proper risk management on your expeditions?
Yes. We are members of TRIP – the Travel Risk and Incident Prevention Group – and perform detailed country risk assessments prior to departure, in line with the ISO 31000 international standard for risk assessment. We also maintain close contact with the relevant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for countries we plan to visit, in addition to making use of the Australian Smart Traveller assessment tool, and the US State Department’s OSAC service. Beyond this, we have a full set of risk management and disaster contingency plans for each expedition and are expedition first aid trained by Crux Medical. For final back up we also use the services of Remote Medical Support that allows us to have a UK expedition doctor on the end of a telephone line wherever we may be. And we always carry a satellite phone if there is any danger of being out of signal in the places we travel through. We really don’t mess around when it comes to safety.
Is this really for me?
Although this is an extremely enlivening way to spend two weeks of your life, it’s also potentially dangerous.
Travelling by 4WD is an inherently risky activity and to compound this, you will be travelling in a developing part of the world. Travel insurance will not cover you in Afghanistan, so we will be self-reliant when on Afghan soil.
Not only could you be hurt, maimed or even killed but in the event of an accident it could take hours for the emergency services to reach you.
It will also be physically tiring due to altitude.
Don’t even consider signing up for this adventure if you aren’t fully aware of the risks you are taking.
If you like your holidays to include foie gras, butlers and miles of quilted loo roll then please look elsewhere.
If however, you want a proper, unique and delightful experience that you’ll remember forever, then you are in luck.