The Pamir Mountains are among the wildest, least visited mountain ranges in the world. Its highest peaks stand at over 7000m high, and at 77km long its Fedchenko Glacier is the longest glacier outside the polar regions. For Secret Compass the area holds particular significance. The Pamirs saw our first ever expedition, in which a small team set out on horseback to seek out the source of the River Oxus and ever since, its verdant valleys, high passes and nomadic communities have been among the highlights of our expedition calendar year after year.
A whopping 93% of Tajikistan’s landmass is considered mountainous but despite being a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, the country doesn’t have the fame of other mountain nations like Nepal or Peru. Mountain tourism does however remains as one of only few economic opportunities for rural Tajikistan.
Jan Bakker, co-author of the Cicerone guidebook Trekking in Tajikistan and Secret Compass expedition leader is looking to change that by creating the world’s newest long-distance hiking trail, the Pamir Trail.
“The mountains in Tajikistan are connected by a vast network of trails, created by shepherds who travel here with their livestock,” says Jan. “We’ve mapped out a hiking route to cover more than 1000km from the Fann Mountains in the northwest of the country all the way to the southern boundary of the Pamirs in the Wakhan Corridor, ending at the border with Afghanistan.”
The Pamir Trail passes through extremely remote locations where very few tourists have ever set foot and as such, the route is designed in a way that will impact on local businesses.
“The trail will benefit over 50 remote homestays, while creating new homestay opportunities for plenty more and boosting business opportunities for more than a dozen local tour operators,” he says. “It’s the perfect way to experience true wilderness and meet the warm, generous and welcoming people who call the Tajik mountains home.”
The Pamir Trail will consist of roughly 70 stages with more than 30,000 metres of climbing (that’s climbing Everest from sea level to summit almost four times). Half of the stages have been tried and tested by Jan and his co-author Christine Oriol for their guidebook but to complete the route, Jan needs to verify and document the remaining half, mainly in the northeast of the country.
“Two reconnaissance expeditions are planned in the summers of 2021 and 2022 and the aim is to have the definite route of the Pamir Trail ready by the end of 2022,” says Jan.