If you’re planning to come to Tajikistan in Central Asia and walk through the Pamir Mountains’ Alichur Valley, then the assumption needs to be made that you are a fully independent, hardy, adaptable, and experienced hiker. If you’re not, then you shouldn’t be coming here.
Trekking in the Pamir Mountains, particularly here in the Murghab district, where no point is below 9,800 feet (2,987 m) elevation, is about as tough as overland trekking gets. There are endless waterless expanses and distances so vast they are deceptive. There is the risk of altitude sickness, and exposure to sun, cold, and snow glare are ever-present concerns. However, if you’re properly prepared-and providing you satisfy all the requirements of the Tajik Ministry of Security (Vazorati Amniyat)-the breathtaking beauty of the world’s least visited mountain range, coupled with the overwhelming hospitality of its nomadic Tajik and Kyrgyz inhabitants, means it will be one of the most enriching experiences you’ll ever have.
The Alichur Valley is a good introduction for the first-time visitor. It runs from east to west for around 40 miles (64.3 km) and is up to 5 miles (8 km) wide. The main Khorog to Osh road runs through it, so you’re never too far from bitumen, and in summer the valley is dotted with shepherd encampments. There are numerous side valleys worth exploring, such as the Bazar-Dara Valley in the shadows of Peak Alichur (19,038 feet/5,803 m), and from Alichur village, you can walk for 16 miles (25.7 km) to the eastern shoreline of Lake Yashilkul, and from there maybe to Lyangar River or Lake Sarez, all places in a landscape any Western tourism commission would love to call its own.
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