The Fann Mountains in northwest Tajikistan are one of the most scenic parts of the country. The region is home to wonderful lakes and green valleys tucked between mountains over 5000 meters high. Trekking opportunities are endless and exploring the entire region at once is impossible. Located only a few hours from Dushanbe, the Fann Mountains offer a quick getaway from the fuss and heat of the capital Dushanbe.
Listing all beauty of the Fann Mountains in one article is near impossible. The Fann Mountains are particularly renowned for hosting magnificent lakes. Iskanderkul is the largest lake and reaches depths of 72 meters. Named after Alexander the Great, Iskanderkul is one of the iconic places of Tajikistan.
Another iconic place is Alauddin Lake, which is flanked by several of the highest peaks of the Fann Mountains. With several other pristine lakes surrounding it, Alauddin Lake is among the most mesmerizing sites you will encounter. The Kulikalon Lakes are another heavenly place. These idyllic lakes are spread out over a plateau at an altitude of 2800 meters that stretches over several square kilometers on a background of towering rock cliffs.
The valley of Haft Kul (literally: Seven Lakes) is host to seven elongated lakes that are stepwise located throughout the valley. These are just a few examples of all the beautiful lakes that the Fann Mountains have to offer. The lakes are fed by melt water from the snow-capped peaks and are eventually discharged via numerous rivers, streamlets and waterfalls into the major Zerafshan river in the north.
Reach great heights
Although the Pamir Mountains are the highest region of Tajikistan, the Fann Mountains are barely falling short. To get an idea, the Fann Mountains are with elevations over 5000 meters higher than most mountains anywhere in Europe and North America.
The Fann Mountains are adjacent to the Hissar and Zerafshan mountain ranges, which are together part of the Pamir-Alay. This mountain range lies in the western extension of the Pamir Mountains and started to develop following the collision between the Indian and Eurasian continents about 60 million years ago.
The highest point of the Fann Mountains is Chimtarga peak at 5489 meters. Directly below Chimtarga peak is the highest hiking pathway leading over a pass at 4750 meters. Crossing the snow-covered Chimtarga pass provides spectacular views over the entire Fann Mountains.
A dozen other peaks also reach over 5000 meters, and there are innumerable peaks above 4000 meters. No matter where you walk, you are always surrounded by gigantic rock formations. When hiking in the Fann Mountains, you mostly stay at elevations between 2000 and 4000 meters. Trekking at such considerable altitudes is demanding for your stamina and requires a good physical preparation.
Nature and wildlife
The ecosystem of the Fann Mountains comes with its own character regarding vegetation and wildlife. The high mountain crests in the area form natural barriers that allowed for a unique biodiversity to develop.
Juniper trees are most characteristic for the Fann Mountains and abound along rivers in the low-lying green valleys. Above 3000 meters, vegetation becomes more scarce and the landscape is characterized by grasslands and barren rock slopes.
Animal life is diverse, although the bigger wildlife is somewhat rare to encounter. Brown bears can occasionally be spotted, for example along the shores of Iskanderkul.
Small villages are dispersed throughout the Fann Mountains. Most villages offer a place to spend the night and a break from the outdoor hardship. Especially the valleys in the northern part of the Fann Mountains are populated and multiple villages can be found. In the south, Sarytag is the most noteworthy village, located close to Iskanderkul Lake.
Aside from the villages, smaller settlements and tent-like constructions are common elsewhere throughout the valleys. Do not be surprised to be invited for a chat and a drink when passing by.
The Fann Mountains are home to historic sites dating back to the time of the ancient Sogdiana civilization. The best-known archaeological finding place in the area is the ancient town of Sarazm, which was inhabited about 4000 to 5000 years ago and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The ancestors of some of the people living at present in the mountains north of Dushanbe can be traced back directly to the Sogdians. Among those, the Yagnobi people are the most widespread and speak a local language that has remained remarkably unchanged since Sogdian times.
The Fann Mountains offer great hiking opportunities. The topography is rugged with an alternation of steep cliffs and deeply incised valleys. Trails are rarely flat, making trekking a true challenge. The views you get in return though are worth it all. The region has countless amazing places for wild camping. At the same time, there are numerous villages with homestays along most trails that allow you to spend the night more comfortably.
We have set out a number of treks at different difficulty levels that guide you along the best spots. Are you ready to explore the Fann Mountains? Check out our treks and take the first step towards an unforgettable trekking experience.
Best time to travel
The best period for trekking in the Fann Mountains is from May to September when temperatures are most pleasant. Earlier in spring, there can still be snow on the trails – most hiking routes reach altitudes above 3000 meters. After September, trekking conditions become less ideal as the temperatures drop and the days get shorter. Especially when camping a lot, the shorter days can make everything less comfortable. Towards the end of autumn, the first snow usually starts to fall again.
The amount of precipitation in the Fann Mountains varies throughout the year. During the main trekking season in summer and early autumn, there is almost no rainfall at all. In spring, there is considerably more rain in the region and you have to be prepared by bringing good rainwear.
For any questions regarding trekking in the Fann Mountains, do not hesitate to contact us!