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The Wakhan Valley

This is a longer than my usually video but documents the stunning Valley and mountains of the great Pamirs and stunning views of the Hindu Kusch. A road totalling 440 km it covers the full journey along the Wakhan Corridor of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

All the images were taken with my Canon 1100D and my two lenses the Canon Kit lens 18-55 mm and the Tamron 70-300mm(which I used mostly for this journey)

Welcome to my pictures from the Wakhan Valley. This was a journey through some of the most breath taking, unspoilt places on this Earth in 2012.

We picked up our car in Dushanbe and took the Wakhan corridor to Khorog and then onto mugharb, then the epic crossing to Osh in Kyrgystan. This is a longer than my usually video but documents the stunning Valley and mountains of the great Pamirs and stunning views of the Hindu Kusch. A road totalling 440Km

General info: Courtesy of; https://againstthecompass.com/en/wakhan-valley-tajikistan/ A guide to the Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan The Wakhan Valley is a mountainous region which belongs to the Pamir and Hindu Kush ranges, most of it being part of northeast Afghanistan.

For centuries, the Wakhan Valley was an important principality of the famous Kushan, a great empire which extended from southeast Tajikistan to the Ganges Valley itself in India. For this reason, despite being a very mountainous area, in the valley you find several fortresses located on the top of very high hills, offering the most epic and impressive views ever.

Historically, the region served as a division line between west and east Asia, so the valley became an important Silk Road route as well. In the 20th century, it also marked a clear border between the Soviet Union and the British Empire. With all this historical context, its incredible landscape, and awesome people, the Wakhan Valley is the ultimate adventure and a place you can’t miss in your journey through Tajikistan. By the way, even though most of the valley is in Afghan territory, the Lower Wakhan is located in Tajikistan which, unlike the Afghanistan Wakhan Corridor, is very easy to visit with just a bit of planning, a little money and following the advice shown in this comprehensive guide to the Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:08 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains sky water desert view wildlife nature park hiking landscape travel mountain river rocks clouds valley panorama holiday summer way life beautiful countryside hill day stone farm wilderness highway road shore cliff sunny flood asia tourism outdoor wallpaper corridor altitude riverside tajikistan pamirs wakhan afghanistan panj pamir khorog badakhshan wachan Comments (0)

Tajikistan


View The Big Year Out & Photos of us & Visas & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.

Tajikistan-Introduction

Well to be honest we ummed and awed about going to Tajikistan, If I remember rightly we spent three days in Tashkent(over a weekend) deciding what direction we wanted to go into next!(we always knew Tashkent was a bit of a crossroads for us)I know you are wondering why we had not planned all our trip from start to finish, the idea was that we had a date pretty fixed (Turkmenistan’s fault) up to that point, and as we all know visas are not so flexible, they all want a start and finish date, and either a “where are you going next?” or a “Have you got an exit?” paperwork first. We knew we wanted to go Kyrgyzstan try and get through to China and we had to get our Kyrgz visa and Tajik in Tashkent if we were (see visa section). What we wanted at this point was a degree of flexibility. Well reasons debated were – Visa & its cost, cost, our own physical abilities, what we wanted to see etc.

Well I just want to say I am so glad we did, it’s a “no brainer” really! On all counts,Tajikistan meets all our concerns and then some. We have been absolutely wowed by the North, the SevenLakesof Shing, or their official name the Margozar Lakes, the stunning FanMountains, which no one should miss if they have time in their itinerary.

The first part of our stay in Tajikistan we did independently from Khojand [Khojand-travel-guide-1358665] –Istavarashan-Pendjikent. We booked our Northern,Fan Mountain trip through ZDTA in Penjikent, who managed to organise us transport and a guide in one hour. Be aware that we ended up with a private car and NOT a 4x4 as advertised, which did prove to come up short on more than one occasion. If you do book with them (yes we did email in advance but got no reply) be firm and insist on a 4x4. Their guide was superb and a credit to the company and gets paid way to little compared to other guides.

We visited six out of the seven lakes, stayed in some lovely homestay with some genuine and very hospitable peoples. They will be reviewed separately.

We stayed at Hamsafar Homestay/Guesthouse in Dushanbe, we arranged this through ZDTA, but had already had it in our sites of places to stay when we were researching Tajikistan. A creditworthy stopover for any traveller.

We had also decided that we would like to travel through the Wakhan corridor, down to the Afghan market at Ishkashim(which the Taliban managed to scupper), and through the Pamirs, we started in Dushanbe-Kala-I Khum-Khorog-Wakhan Valley-Bibbi Fatima Springs-Langar-Alichur, before finding that Angela did actually suffer from altitude sickness which hit her at 4,200mtrs, and having to make a hasty detour to Murghab(yes we had already stayed at 3,600mtrs at Alichur [Alichur-travel-guide-1193157] without incident), but remember at the higher altitudes smaller hundreds of mtrs makes a big difference to the body. So Murghab it was and Angela recovered well enough for us to spend two nights here before our progress onto Osh.

We booked this part of our journey through Pamir Guides with a Mitsubishi Pajero, more than man enough for the terrain we encountered. We delighted in the hot spring at Bibbi Fatima and thoroughly enjoyed our first stay in a Yurt at Alichur, where we enjoyed Yak Yoghurt and cream,(unpasteurised) and yes it is lovely, saw Yaks being milked etc. The scenery of the Wakhan and Pamirs is stunning, waterfalls, Snow topped mountains of the Hindu Kush, coupled along with desert environments, Geysers and abundance of wildlife made this a fascinating place to journey through. That is why I am only doing this short section of Blog; I will upload the pictures will I know will speak for themselves! I will add short editorials to accompany some of them.

Posted by TheJohnsons 00:11 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains sky architecture sunset view nature park landscape monument culture history traditional travel mountain trekking town lake city soviet building famous panorama holiday summer beautiful country hill top national stone skyline tourist scenic central destinations evening asia tourism historic state landmark peak wallpaper structure freedom government symbol tajikistan dushanbe pamir Comments (0)

The Fann Mountains

During my Silk Route trip across Central Asia I spent some of the best time I had in Tajikistan. In the North there are the Fann mountains and the seven lakes of shing, which are stunning. Here in this show you will see my view of these awesome mountains form my stop in an unmapped village called Sargob. Breathtaking views ans stunning blue skies (yes they really are that blue!) are worth the effort. Unlike most of the mountain ranges in Central Asia, the Fann showcases a unique blend of barren and verdant outlooks. Nestled amidst high mountains you will come across traditional villages and picturesque green meadows, turquoise lakes, gurgling rivers, and scenic valleys. Tajikistan is a paradise for mountain lovers, and as the Fann range is only a few hours driving from the Tajikistan capital, Dushanbe, you can combine trekking with an immerse cultural experience. On a footnote the music entitled "fond memories" was a perfect match and did remind me along with the images of "fond memories" of my time there.

Posted by TheJohnsons 23:40 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains sky snow water view nature park hiking landscape scene travel vacation mountain trekking lake green adventure sport scenery blue panorama summer beautiful top national rock stone road scenic high central destination reflection natural asia tourism recreation outdoor peak extreme tajikistan background pamir tranquil mountaineering terrain fann Comments (0)

The Big Year Out- Zeravshan Valleyand 7 Lakes of Shing

During my trip across Central Asia I journeyed to this amazing area of Northern Tajikistan. I will let the images speak for themselves. Yes the sky is that blue and yes the lakes are that colour! and glacial cold too! The Zeravshan Valley (also Zarafshan or Zarafshon) is situated in northern Tajikistan, embedded between the impressive mountain ranges of the western Pamir-Alai massive.“Zeravshan” – which means “Golden River” in Tajik –is the main stream which crosses the valley and which supplies its inhabitants with a most precious resource: water. The area is famous for its unique mountain landscapes and its beautiful lakes: the Alauddin lakes, the Kulikalon lakes, Iskanderkul Lake, the seven lakes of Shing among many others. While being an important tourism and recreation destination during the Soviet era of dispatch tourism, it is now an insiders' tip among those interested in mountain trekking, alpinism and the little travelled branches of the silk road

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:23 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains buildings architecture landscape culture temple travel ruins mountain river province scenery valley famous heritage rural hill old road historical medieval central destination tradition asia ancient tourism fortress archaeological journey outdoors civilization sunlight silk remote citadel discover location tajikistan magnificent pre-islamic zeravshan zoroastrianism sogdiana clay-bricks pendjikent proto-urban sughd panjakent sarazm geographical soghdians Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Yarkand the deep south, not!


View The Big Year Out & Photos of us & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.

large_1842667_13488163008352.jpgYarkand

Yarkand is not really a hot place to stay, well maybe if you count the temperature, but other than that it might not be worth a stop. We decided that we would do the southern loop round to Hotan [Hotan-travel-guide-221834] and the look at either completing it or cutting across the Taklamakan Desert to Kuqe. As we had no experience of Chinese buses and wanted to find out what they were like we thought we would break up the journey by doing a short trip (3hours) from Kashgar [Kashgar-travel-guide-1315664] to Yarkand first.

Well buying a bus ticket was easy, into the bus station at Kashgar and helped by the nice “Official” managing the ques we were able to make it clear that we wanted two seats to Yarkand.large_1842667_13488163012314.jpg Then once again kindly helped by another bus “Official” we were shown to our bus out in the Station (sounds likeIranexperience doesn’t it?). Bags stowed away under the bus luggage compartment and seated in clearly numbered seats (English numbers everywhere so far) we congratulated ourselves in getting this far through the system. Bear in mind this is our first ever trip throughChinaand language is completely different to anything we have encountered so far.

Comfy seats and a swift three hours saw us to the Yarkand bus terminal. We arrived around3.00pmand it was hot! We had read in LP that the Subiyi Aletun Hotel would take foreign tourists, WRONG! No they don’t, well not anymore, after a 10rb taxi ride to said Hotel we were told “no Tourists” in Chinese and hand signals….large_1842667_13488163011114.jpg .oh no, and we don’t speak English and they don’t speak Chinese. After much discussion and gesturing we managed to get them to understand that we needed to stay somewhere! I hit upon the idea of ringing our English/Chinese speaking tour operator we used for the border crossing fromKyrgyzstantoChinato help out. He advised us that he only knew of the “Yarkand” Binguan (hotel) that accepted foreign visitors there. So with some basic words and a bit of help from the manager at the Subiyi Aletun we got another Taxi to take us up the road back toward the bus terminal and drop us off outside the Hotel. At last, we booked in, funny how the price of this Hotel managed to be more expensive than the one we just left. Never mind, double room with air con, western loo and breakfast did us.large_1842667_13488163021337.jpg We had after all only wanted to stop for one night to A. break up the journey and B. visit a couple of sights we knew were there.

Thankfully nothing shuts early hear inChinaand once we had dumped our bags we were off out and back towards the sights were had come to break up the journey with. First stop the Mausoleum of Ammanisahan a Uighar Queen, revered musician and famed for her work collecting the Uighar muquam. Her Tomb was stunning; they obviously loved her very much as great effort had gone into its placement and construction with surrounding garden for her (see pics). A few meters away is the Mazaar cemetery where members of Yarkand Royal family from 16th& 17thCentury lie. Calm and slightly restored we saw maybe 30 tombs with intricate stone carving (see pics) with the main man (Sulitan Saidyidhans) centralised in the cemetery (also have pics of this).large_1842667_13488163033508.jpg Right next door to this Cemetery is the Altun Mosque Complex this one is an open style mosque and was built in 1533A.D. by Sulitan Abdureshidhan, another Royal member of Yarkand. It also was a cool and calm place and even though it was Friday we were able to walk round and take pictures, although I did run into afternoon prayer time so left a little earlier than I would have liked. We paid 15rb each to get into all three sights which I thought was reasonable considering how much I enjoyed it and how many sights we got for our entrance fee.

Tired, hungry & hot we decided that the next task was to find food, and edible food. There really is only so much shashlik a girl can eat. LP was pretty useless and it seemed that anything LP suggests turns out to be pretty expensive and quite a disappointment.large_1842667_13488163035508.jpg We decided to trust our instincts and let me follow my nose and eyes on the locals. Sure enough on the main road back to our Hotel we found a restaurant whose name I couldn’t read let alone pronounce, but I do know it was number 161 on the street. We walked in with other customers and followed the way they did things. Seated we looked around at what other patrons were eating which gave us a good idea of the kind of food they served. Great! Food at last, the obligatory pot of chai was brought to us and we basically pointed at what other people were eating and said “one of those please”. The staff was really friendly and brought us two Thali like plates with an assortment of chicken, beef (small pieces), some peppers and aubergine with cooked onions, and a decent portion of plain white rice.large_1842667_13488163036035.jpg Yum! At last a lovely spicy, filling meal. We were stuffed, we left after paying a whole 15rb for the two of us and this is what we had been looking forward to. We walked back to our hotel as we had already purchased our next day’s bus ticket to Hotan and wanted to make sure we had ourselves packed up and ready to go the next morning. Not the most exciting place inChina, but then again my view is it’s what you make it; it gave us a good introduction to Chinese buses and local “foreign tourist registered only” hotels and definitely a taste of good local food. Hotan here we come!

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Posted by TheJohnsons 23:42 Archived in China Tagged sky desert nature culture travel town china map wild red portrait macro asia marker marked deer geography countries silk business push badlands hair corridor close-up tajikistan background bukhara afghanistan panj pamir fur pin antlers riparian badakhshan yarkand thumbtack cartography pushpin grazer bactrian wapiti lowland bokhara yarkant corridors herbivore chordata vakhan Comments (0)

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