Afghanistan Horse Trek – Riding the Wakhan
In the summer of 2014 we will be heading out to one of world’s most remote corners. A 22-day odyssey to meet and live with one of the world’s last and least visited nomadic cultures: The Kyrgyz of the Afghan Pamir. We will begin and end in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe travelling along the dramatic Pamir highway before crossing over into Afghanistan, passing through the Wakhan Corridor into the Afghan Pamir. From here we will meet our horses. What better way to explore Chaqmaqtin Lake and the surrounding area than on horse back.
We will have the opportunity to meet Kyrgyz nomads who graze their livestock here during the summer months as well as seeing ancient tombs and Buddhist engravings which live as a reminder of this once great section of the silk route.
We will be running this trip in collaboration with our horse loving friends at Zavkhan trekking. They run some of Mongolia’s best and original horse riding trips. A combination of their equine expertise and our Afghan experience is the best way to see this remote corner of the planet.
- Discover the culture of the Wakhi and the Kyrgyz nomads of this rarely visited corner of Central Asia
- Travel along the Pamir highway, one of the world’s highest roads
- Explore by horse-back deep into territory where few outsiders have ever been
Date: 18th August – 8th September 2014
Start Point: Dushanbe
End Point: Dushanbe
Maximum number of people: 10
Days 1 – 2 Dushanbe – Khorog
After collecting you from the airport we head straight out of Dushanbe driving along the Pamir highway towards the town of Khorog. We will overnight in Kalaikhum before taking a rest day in Khorog, nestling on the banks of the Panj river. We will stay over night at a local homestay and begin to acclimatise to the mountains and explore this typical Tajik town of the Pamirs.
Day 3 Khorog to Ishkishim (preparation)
The next day we will head down to the border and cross over into Afghanistan at the Ishkishim border crossing. We will be staying at a guesthouse converted from the home of a local man. With the help of the Aga Khan Foundation local families are earning a little extra income this way.
We spend one whole day in Ishkishim with our guide making the final preparations and collecting our permits for the Wakhan region. Once we have left Ishkishim we will have to be self sufficient for 14 days and we need this day to ensure we have everything arranged. The guests will have time to explore the local environment and understand some of the Wakhi culture through our Wakhi guide.
Days 4 & 5 Ishkishim – Sarhad e Broghil
The 250km from Ishkishim to Sarhad e Broghil takes us along the narrowest section of the Wakhan corridor. Passing the 7500m high Noshak, Afghanistan’s highest peak, we will follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo and Hsuan Tsang on this ancient silk route. The road is poor and can be washed out in places but we hope to make it in two long but scenic days.
Sarhad e Broghil is where the road ends and we can enter the Pamirs.
Days 6 – 10 Low route from Sarhad to Chaqmaqtin Lake
We pick up our horses in Sarhad and ride to Chaqmaqtin Lake. If the route allows we will take the low road along the source of the Amu Darya to the 9km long Chaqmaqtin lake where we hope to meet with the Kyrgyz nomads who graze their cattle there in the summer.
Days 11 and 12 Rest days at Chaqmaqtin Lake
Our local guide has friends amongst the Kyrgyz and we will have time to meet and talk with them. We hope to exchange ideas about the world and to get an insight into their lifestyle and culture, living in yurts in the this remote spot, high in the Pamirs.
Days 13 to 17 High route from Chaqmaqtin Lake to Sarhad
We will take the high route back from Chaqmaqtin to Sarhad. Seeing more of the stunning Pamir mountains.
Day 18 and 19 – Sarhad e Broghil to Ishkishim
Another Toyota Land cruiser will be waiting for us to take us back to Ishkishim. If we have time on the return we will stop at a Wakhi village where we can enjoy the hot springs and hospitality at a local homestay.
Days 20 & 21 – Ishkishim to Dushanbe
We cross back into Tajikistan and head back up the Pamir highway. Dushanbe will seem like Las Vegas after nearly three weeks in the Pamirs and we will be able to enjoy the rest and the modern amenities of the Tajik capital.
Day 22– Fly home
We will ensure that you are taken to the airport to catch your flight.
You will be accompanied by a specialist horse guide from Zavkhan horse trekking for the entire length of this trip.
The trip includes:
All food in Afghanistan
Breakfast in Tajikistan
Permits to visit the Wakhan region
The trip does not include:
Any necessary visas
Lunch and dinner in Tajikistan
Basic Cost – £3000
A deposit of £250 is required to reserve your place on this trip.
If you have any questions regarding this itinerary or about Afghanistan in general, please contact us>>>
Flights and Visas:
We do not directly arrange flights and visas. We run our Wakhan trips to coincide with the regular Turkish Airlines flights from Europe to Dushanbe which is the most practical route into Tajikistan. We can suggest alternative routes and operators. Contact us if you require further suggestions.
You will need a double entry Tajik visa with GBAO permit and an Afghan Visa for this trip.
If you have the time and inclination, Afghanistan does not have to be the end of the journey. Travel into Pakistan, Iran, China and the rest of Central Asia are easily managed and we can suggest itineraries or introduce you to friends and colleagues from these areas.
The Wakhan and Afghan Pamir regions are both very remote areas in one of the least developed countries in the world. Please ensure that your insurance covers you both for visiting Afghanistan and for rescue in the Wakhan region of Afghanistan. If you have any questions about who to use then please ask.
Outside of Dushanbe options will be limited and once we are on the horse trek we will only be able to eat what we bring with us or barter for from the nomadic people. Any specific allergies or dietary requirements can be accommodated if we are given prior warning.
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing a room when that is available. When we are in the Wakhan area we will be staying in tents and in local guesthouse which sometimes only offer central communal areas to sleep in.
We always check the vehicles we use thoroughly before each trip. In Afghanistan we use regularly maintained 4x4s and take with us a satellite phone should the vehicle develop a fault.
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. Your comfort and enjoyment of the journey is the first priority.
For this trip you will be accompanied by an experienced non-Afghan horse riding guide from Zavkhan horse treks. In addition to these experienced leaders we will be working with local Wakhi guides and porters.
Trips to Afghanistan do create dangers all of their own and whilst we want you to have as much freedom as possible we must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas which we consider to be relatively stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.