On the ‘Roof of the World’: Why Tajikistan is a Paradise for Climbers and Hikers


The landlocked country in Central Asia is home to some of the highest mountains of the world, which remain unknown to the crowds flocking to Everest.

Stretching for more than 13,000 kilometres across the rugged landscape of Tajikistan, the Pamir Mountains are a mindblowing sight for adventurers who dare take on the range’s dramatic peaks.

Nicknamed the “Roof of the World”, the Pamir Mountains offer trekking routes at above 4,000 metres, taking hikers and climbers literally through the clouds.

The core of the snow-capped, secluded mountain range – which extends to Afghanistan, China and Kyrgyzstan – is located in Tajikistan. Which makes the landlocked Central Asian country the perfect destination for those wishing to conquer its heights.

“About 93 per cent of Tajikistan’s territory is mountain,” Kamoliddin Muminzod, chairman of the country’s tourism board, tells Euronews Travel. “This condition gives us a good opportunity to develop mountain tourism, which includes adventure tourism, rafting, hiking – and many more.”

Tajikistan wants its mountains to be accessible to any kind of tourist, both the experienced climbers and those who just want to take a nice hike.

“You cannot climb the top of the highest mountain if you’re not an experienced alpinist, but there are other activities you can do,” Muminzod says.

Summer is the best season for trekking on Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains.
Summer is the best season for trekking on Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains.Canva

What can you see in the Pamir Mountains?

The Pamir Mountains rise within a national park that was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013.

Visitors should not miss Lake Sarez, created in 1911 by a huge landslide, a remote site that can only be reached after a long expedition. Or Lake Karakul, the largest lake in the mountain range and in Central Asia.

Because of the harsh conditions in the mountains, with rare rainfall and cold winters, plus its incredible heights, the landscape of the Pamir Mountains is pretty barren. But you can still encounter some incredible wildlife.

Hikers can hope to spot brown bears, wolves, marmots, and – rarest of all – snow leopards. Because they’re able to camouflage so well with the snowy landscape of the mountains, these would be hard to spot.

Ismoil Somoni Peak is the highest point in Tajikistan at 7,495 metres, followed by Ibn Sina peak at 7,134 metres, Korzehnevskoi Peak at 7,105 metres and Independence Peak at 6,940 metres.

Nature lovers should note that the Pamir Mountains are also home to one of the longest glaciers outside the polar circles: the Fedchenko glacier, which is 77 kilometres long. Other glaciers in the Pamir Mountains are currently suffering from the impact of climate change.

When is the best time to visit the Pamir Mountains?

The Pamir Mountains tend to be cold and arid most of the year, but the winter is particularly harsh. Icy cold temperatures between November and March would make a visit particularly challenging.

Between spring and summer, the temperature is normally around 20 degrees Celsius. Because of the lack of rain this season, hikers never need to worry about having to cancel their plans because of bad weather.

The trekking season usually runs between July and September, when the weather is ideal and the days are long.

How to get to the Pamir Mountains

While reaching the Pamir Mountains is not easy, travellers are rewarded with one of the most spectacular road trips in the world. There are only two ways to access the mountains: from Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital, or Osh in Kyrgyzstan.

The drive to Pamir from Dushanbe is about 16 hours.

Adventurers should be prepared to walk for days on the Pamir Mountains meeting very few signs of civilisation.
Adventurers should be prepared to walk for days on the Pamir Mountains meeting very few signs of civilisation.Canva

Should you hire a guide?

Depending on the activity – and its difficulty – you should consider hiring a guide.

While it’s possible to explore the Pamir Mountains on your own when sticking to easier paths, in order to climb the range’s peaks it would be safer to get an experienced local guide.

Where to stay in the Pamir Mountains

Hikers and climbers wishing to explore the remote landscape of the Pamir Mountains can expect to be trekking for days on the mountain range, finding only limited signs of civilizations.

Those wishing to do so can bring their own tent and camp under the stars in the spectacular landscapes of the Pamir Mountains.

Those seeking comfort and a fuller immersion with the local communities can find village homestays and guesthouses in some of the more fertile valleys.

Source: Euronews