Bored of crowded Alpine slopes? After a bit more adventure on your skiing holiday? Then this Tajikistan ski tour is just the ticket…
Join us on the peaks of Tajikistan’s Zarafshan Mountains for ten epic days of skiing and snowboarding. Speed down virgin slopes beneath towering 4000 metre peaks and be wowed by the scale and majesty of these little-explored mountains.
At night, you’ll stay in cosy homestays in mountain villages, enjoying local cooking and experiencing Tajik family life. This will be apres ski, Tajik style.
Led by an Expert Tajikistan Guide
For this pioneering expedition we’ve teamed up with Dave Cowell, a British skier and adventurer who led the first ever ski expedition in these mountains in 2018. His sense of adventure is fuelled by a lifetime of studying mountain trails and snow conditions, and there’s no one better to lead a trip here. Dave will be accompanied by an excellent local guiding team. If he’s not available, we will provide you with a fully-qualified IFMGA guide.
As with all of our tailor-made tours, this itinerary is just a sample, and can be altered to suit your tastes, experience and budget.
Dushanbe International Airport
Please ensure you arrive in good time for our scheduled departure from Dushanbe
Accommodation in comfortable homestays and hotels. These will range from simple family-run homestays to a 5* hotel in Dushanbe.
Local airport transfers
A professional guiding team including an accredited IFMGA ski guide (if you wish), a highly experienced expedition leader from the UK’s Eagle Ski Club, and local guides.
Local transport and luggage transfers
A Water 2 Go water filtration bottle, in order to reduce plastic waste
Professional route planning and logistics, backed by risk assessments, emergency procedures, satellite communications (where necessary) and medical support. We don’t take risks lightly and we plan for all eventualities, believing it is better to have prepared and not require a procedure than not to plan at all. We also carry a very well stocked First Aid and Trauma medical kit and have been First Aid and Trauma trained by the excellent team at Crux Medical.
International Flights to/from Dushanbe
Your personal clothing and any skiing equipment you might need
Extra daily costs for snacks, alcohol or souvenirs
Your personal travel insurance
Visas and other permits as required
Tajikistan was the first Central Asian country we visited, and this mountainous nation holds a very dear place in our hearts. We are pleased as punch to bring you a pioneering winter itinerary that does justice to this country’s one-of-a-kind scenery.
We will collect you on arrival at Dushanbe airport and transfer you to an excellent hotel for the night. The next day, you will be driven about three hours north into the Zarafshan Mountains.
A Tailor-Made Experience
As this is a tailor-made Tajikistan ski trip we are more than happy to customize this itinerary according to your interests and experience. This applies to everything – from group-size to your lead guide.
We can organise this tour for anything from two to eight people. Snowboarding – or a combination of both – is an option too.
Here’s a short film of Dave’s 2018 trip:
Ski Touring in the Fann/Zerafshan/Yaghnob Mountains, Tajikistan Feb to April. Minimum Group Size 2 persons. Maximum number 8 persons.
Day 1: Saturday
Start Point: Home Destination: Dushanbe Travel: Plane and Airport Transfer Notes: Arrival in Tajikistan
You’ll fly into Dushanbe International Airport. 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: Sunday
Start Point: Dushanbe Destination: The Mountains Travel: 4WD
After an excellent breakfast at your hotel, you’ll be driven four hours north into the Fann mountains in the comfort of a top spec 4WD. By the afternoon you’ll reach your village homestay, where you’ll have your first taste of Tajik rural life.
Day 3: Monday
Start Point: Base Camp 1 Travel: Skis or Snowboard Notes: Your First Day on the Slopes
After a hearty breakfast at your homestay, you’ll set off for a day in the mountains. This will be the first of three days skiing from this village. In the evenings you’ll return for hot food, warm fires and the enfolding bosom of Tajik hospitality.
Day 4: Tuesday
Start Point: Base Camp 1 Travel: Skis or Snowboard
More fun and more routes to explore from this first homestay base.
Day 5: Wednesday
Start Point: Base Camp 1 Destination: Base Camp 2 Travel: 4WD
After a final morning of touring from this village, this afternoon you’ll be driven to your second base, a village in the nearby Zerafshan ranges. You’ll be there in time for dinner and preparation for tomorrow’s touring.
Day 6: Thursday
Start Point: Base Camp 2 Travel: Skis or Snowboard
New location, new routes, new enjoyment. You’ve got another two days skiing from this village, where again you’ll be hosted by a charming local family.
Day 7: Friday
Start Point: Base Camp 2 Travel: Skis or Snowboard
Plenty of routes to find and explore. You’ll be feeling on top of the world amongst these 4000-5000 metre peaks. Tonight will again be spent at your village homestay.
Day 8: Saturday
Start Point: Base Camp 2 Travel: Skis or Snowboard
Today is your final day of ski-touring or boarding, so make it count! The host family will cook you a hearty meal and you’ll have a final sleep in the hills before you head down to Dushanbe tomorrow.
Day 9: Sunday
Start Point: Base Camp 2 Destination: Dushanbe Travel: Vehicle
After breakfast you’ll be hitting the road for a three hour drive south to Dushanbe. After checking back in to your 5* hotel, there’ll be some 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 the 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 10: Monday
Start Point: Dushanbe Destination: Home Travel: Airport Transfer and Plane
We will get you to the airport in good time for your flight home today. You’ll fly away with wonderful memories of this country, the majestic mountains and wonderful people.
Tajikistan Ski Touring
Who is Dave Cowell?
Dave’s lifelong passion for adventure started with rock-climbing as a teenager in the 1980s. The obsession grew into all branches of climbing and mountaineering until a decade later when he discovered ski-touring. After attempting to make the first high-level crossing of the island of Spitsbergen with a friend, sponsored by Newcastle Brown Ale, he decided to learn how to ski properly and set about exploring other far-flung places on skis – including Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain and many more traditional destinations. He has devised, organised and led a huge number of ski trips and expeditions, including several for the Eagle Ski Club (UK), and is convinced that we are now in a true Golden Age for exploratory ski-touring.
In his spare time he has had careers as an environmental scientist and software engineer, and in 2012 he founded FATMAP, the world’s first dedicated global outdoor map platform. As well as skiing he also enjoys bouldering, rock-climbing and mountain-biking. He lives with his wife Ros and their two children in Bristol, UK.
Where will we be staying?
On this expedition, you’ll stay in a very good 5* hotel in Dushanbe, and then with local families in the mountains. We love this way of travel and you’ll come away with a real sense of the people and culture of Tajikistan.
What size of group will it be?
As this expedition will only run on a tailor-made basis, group size can be anything from two to eight people. We like our expeditions to be have a personal touch throughout and you’ll be accompanied at all times not only by Dave but our highly-knowledgeable local guides.
What will the weather be like?
Cold, we hope. We’ve chosen early March after very careful analysis of snow conditions and local data, plus personal experience. Dress for cold conditions as you might for any winter sports trip. There may be cloud and snow, or we may be lucky and get blue skies. This is one thing that is out of our control!
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. For now, here is an early idea of the sorts of things you are going to need:
Skins – ensure they have a tail fixing and are correctly fitted to your skis
Ski-touring ice axe
Lightweight crampons – ensure they fit securely and are adjusted for ski boots
Transceiver – with fresh & spare batteries
Shovel – with metal blade
Helmet – recommended
Rucksack – day pack with space for all ski gear, food, water & clothes. Ski and ice axe attachments
Headtorch – with fresh & spare batteries
Sunblock & lip balm
Personal First Aid kit – plasters, blister kit, painkillers, any personal medication
Personal Repair Kit – gaffer tape, needle & thread, cable ties, any specific tools required
Watch – ideally with altimeter
GPS – optional
Clothing system – personal preference, but suitable for all conditions down to -25C, e.g:
Shell trousers or salopettes
Thermal base layers
Lightweight down or synthetic warm jacket
Warm gloves or mittens
Hat and/or balaclava
Is there a back-up vehicle?
Yes. We will travel with a 4×4 carrying filtered water. This will remain with you at base camp and be available throughout in case of issues.
How much are flights?
This totally depends on factors outside our control, but from experience the best flights are with either Turkish Airlines via Istanbul or Fly Dubai via Dubai. Pricing from London to Dushanbe return is around the £500 mark.
We can book your flights for you through our trade ATOL partners – please just ask us for details.
What will the food be like?
Simple but good. The food in the mountains will be prepared by the local families we are staying with and will normally include plenty of bread, meat and dairy products. We will arrange for some extra food ‘treats’ to come with you, including energy bars for days on the slopes. A thermos flask for soup might be a good thing to bring.
Will I have to share a room?
This depends on the size of your group. In Dushanbe you won’t have to share rooms, but if your group is more than four then yes, you may have to share rooms in the mountain homestays.
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.
Winter sports are inherently risky activities and to compound this, you will be travelling in a developing part of the world.
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 and you’ll be at altitude for some of the time.
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!