In the northwestern corner of Tajikistan, along the border with Uzbekistan, lay the rugged and beautiful Fann Mountains, a branch of the Western Pamir-Alay Range. They divide the northern territory of the country, in the Fergana Valley, from Dushanbe and the south. It is a compact range, with around 100 stunning peaks, many over 5,000m, and renowned alpine lakes. Famed among nature lovers and mountaineers, these mountains nonetheless see very few visitors, and their natural beauty and cultural treasures have remained virtually unchanged to this day.
Access is easiest from Penjikent in the northwest or Dushanbe in the south, across high, unforgettable passes with breathtaking views. Ancient Tajik mountain villages line these routes, whose faithful residents dress traditionally and follow the ways of their ancestors. Authentic “chaikhanas” sit perched over roaring mountain streams, offering “osh” (plov) and tea in Central Asian style, and roadside springs are crowded with locals gathering sparkling glacial water. Herds of sheep and cattle wander the mountainsides and roads, often driven by young boys riding donkeys. Local people are some of the kindest in the world, always ready to welcome the visitor with a warm smile and polite bow; prepare to be invited for tea! If in need of a place to stay, Tajik people never hesitate to open their home to the traveler. Aside from the few vehicles on the main roads, there is little sign of modern life to be found.
The only road from Dushanbe north across the Fanns is on the very good condition. Several enormous tunnels of 5 km or more are being carved out of the bases of several ridges, and will replace the most treacherous and difficult passes. The passes are an exciting experience in themselves, winding steeply up to 3,600 meters on rough dirt roads; there are places where one can look down and see the wrecks of dozens of vehicles (mostly from winter driving). Trip between Dushanbe and Penjikent, and as well from Dushanbe to Khujand takes 4-6 hours.
The Fann Mountains is the country of turquoise lakes, breathtakingly high peaks and ancient legends. You can hardly find such a marvelous place anywhere in the world, with over 30 beautiful mountain lakes and a dozen peaks more than 5,000 m high concentrated on a relatively small area of 650 km2. The picturesque Zindon and Archamaydan valleys, the fabulous beauty of Big Allo Lake surrounded by vertical rocks, splendid Kulikalon, Alaudinand Marguzor Lakes, legendary Iskanderkul Lake, amazing waterfalls and astounding and impressive Chimtarga, Energia, Chapdara and Big Hansa Peaks attract large numbers of trekkers and climbers from around the world. The cleanest streams playing in the sun, soft carpets of grass under the feet and bottomless sky without a single cloud – all this in combination with the inimitable colours of the numerous lakes and the majesty of white-collared peaks will undoubtedly be forever imprinted in a traveller’s memory…
Geographically, the region is a part of the Pamir-Alai mountain system bordered by the Hissar Range on the south, Zeravshan Range on the north, the chain of Marguzor Lakes on the west and the Dushanbe-Ayni Highway on the east. Sometimes the Yagnob Wall (Zamin-Karor Massif) near the village of Margib (Margeb, Mageb), east of the area, is also referred to the Fann Mountains.
Administratively, the Fann Mountains are located in Penjikent and Ayni Districts of Sogdian Province, Tajikistan. Penjikent is a city nearest to the area, situated 80 km from the popular mountain camp Artuch. The popular camping place in Fann mountains.
The Fann Mountains feature soft climate, with stable sunny weather prevailing throughout summer. Best time for travelling and recreation in the Fann Mountains is between July and September.
The Fann Mountains nine peaks exceeding 5,000 m above sea level. The highest point of the region is Chimtarga Peak (5,489 m). Other 5,000-metre mountains are Big Hansa (5,306 m), Bodkhona (5,138), Mirali (5,132), Chapdara (5,050), Energia (5,120), Zamok (‘Castle’) (5,070), Little Hansa (5,031) and Moscow (5,046).
Lakes numbering 30 plus and contrasting the harsh looking ridges and peaks are true pearls of the area. They vary in type and origin, some of them having been formed through the blocking of narrow mountain valleys with landslides (Iskanderkul, Big Allo and Marguzor Lakes), while others created by glaciers (Kulikalon, Alaudin, Moutiye, Piala, Ziyorat and Chukurak Lakes). Almost all of the Fann lakes are fed by streams.
The region’s largest rivers are the Fandarya with its tributaries, the Pasrud, Yagnob and Iskanderdarya, in the east and the Kshtutdarya formed by the confluence of the Archamaydan, Sarymat, Amshut and Artuch, in the western part of the region. The temperature of water in the rivers ranges from 5°C to 10°C in summer. By the end of summer the level of water in the streams drops perceptibly. Travellers will not find much difficulty in crossing the rivers in the Fann Mountains.
The Fann Mountains are a Mecca for mountaineers and rock climbers, the conquerors of ‘big walls.’ The area is the scene of Russia’s Annual Technical Rock Climbing Championship. Some of the more difficult rocky routes to the summits of Bodkhona (5,138 m), Parandas, Adamtash (4,700), Zamok (5,070), Zindon (4,800), Mirali (5,132), Chapdara (5,050), Dukdon (4,896), Sakharnaya Golova (‘Sugar Head’) (4,971) and Skalnaya Stena (‘Rocky Wall’) are no less complex than the famous walls in the Aksu-Karavshin area of Kyrgyzstan.
One of the Fann Mountains’ pleasant features is that on free days during treks travellers can ascend some of the nearby summits, high but quite easy from the technical aspect, such as three- and four-thousanders Zmeya (‘Snake’) (4,150 m), Fizkultury i Sporta (‘Physical Culture and Sports’) (4,120), Gratuleta (4,230), Chinal with the Fagitor spur (3,900), Paykhamber (4,958) Fluorite (3,450), Ruzeravat (3,700) and others and even five-thousanders Zamok (5,070) and Energia (5,120), from where you can obtain fantastic panoramas.
Local people, Tajik, adhere mostly to old lifestyle, following ancient customs and traditions. The hospitality they treat foreigners with is just unbelievable. Tourists can have a talk with shepherds pasturing their livestock in the Kulikalon depression and Amshut River valley and near Chukurak Lake and drink tea and refreshing yoghurt in their primitive temporary dwellings. Most of the itineraries we offer go via the classical Tajik mountain villages of Yakkakhona, Zimtut, Guytan, Sarytag, Shin and others), where travellers can familiarise themselves with the local lifestyle and ancient traditions.