Tajikistan is located in the Southeastern part of Central Asia. It borders on Uzbekistan and Kyrgizstan in the West and in the North, Afghanistan – in the South, and China – in the highlands of the East. The largest glaciers in Central Asia – Fedchenko and Zaravshanskiy are in the mountains of Tajikistan. The Fedchenko Glacier (length – 77 km., width – 1700 – 3100 m.) – is the largest valley glacier in the Pamir Mountains, named in honor A.P. Fedchenko, the naturalist. The hydro-meteorological station is at the height of 4169 m.
Tajikistan is a multi-ethnic republic. The major part of the population is the Tajik (about 68%). Since the IX – X centuries the Western Iranian language, which became the foundation of the modern Tajik language, had been spreading in Central Asia. Since that time there had been the process of gradual consolidation of various Iranian groups which inhabited Central Asia into a single nation of the Tajik.
The Mountain Badakhshan is a marvelous mountain country. There are only two similar places over the world: Tibet and Bolivia high mountains. You can reach the Mountain Badakhshan on one of the most high-mountain highway in the world – Pamir Highway with extension of 728 km via the highest pass in the CIS – Ak-Baital (4641 m), crossing the deepest gorges, high-mountain deserts, where only yaks are able to find poor fodder for themselves. But even there, in inclement conditions, the people calling themselves proudly “Pamirians” are able to live in those places.
Amazingly beautiful landscape of high-mountain valleys, surrounding by peaks with eternal snow, splendid high-mountain lakes and impetuous rivers, unusual architecture of mountain settlements, centuries-old traditions and customs, saved by local inhabitants – all these things are deserved reward for traveler succeeded in reaching to these places. The most high-mountain botanical garden in the world is located in administrative centre of the Mountain Badakhshan – Khorog – at a height of 2300 meters.
In a famous Vakhan valley the tourists can see the ruins of ancient towers Kaakhka and Yamchun (I-II cc.), and also they can go into amazing culture and ancient traditions of Pamir highlanders.
There are more than two thousand lakes on the territory of Tajikistan and the Sarezskoe Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes. It is situated in the middle of the high mountains land Pamir. It was formed in winter 1911, when due to an earthquake the valley of the Bartang (Murgab) river – the main confluent of the Amudarya River, has been obstructed by mass of stones that slept down and created a dam. The Usoy village with the whole population has been totally buried under the rock debris. The landslide is approximately 2 km3, its maximal height is 500-700 m more than initial bottom of the valley. Behind the mass stones has formed a lake which has been named after name of the village Sarezskoe, which went under water with raising level of the lake. Today the total area of the lake is 80 sq.km, its length is 60 km. It is one of the deepest lakes –its depth is more than 500m and total pool is about 17 km3. The Usoy dam is the highest among both natural and artificial dams of the world.
The appallingly beautiful lake is fraught with danger: 17 billion of water by breaking of the dam can flood the bordering territory of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan with 5 billion populations and all plants, animals and industrial objects.
The Fann Mountains is the country of turquoise lakes, breathtakingly high peaks and ancient legends. You can hardly find such a marvelous place anywhere in the world, with over 30 beautiful mountain lakes and a dozen peaks more than 5,000 m high concentrated on a relatively small area of 650 km2. The picturesque Zindon and Archamaydan valleys, the fabulous beauty of Big Allo Lake surrounded by vertical rocks, splendid Kulikalon, Alaudinand Marguzor Lakes, legendary Iskanderkul Lake, amazing waterfalls and astounding and impressive Chimtarga, Energia, Chapdara and Big Hansa Peaks attract large numbers of trekkers and climbers from around the world. The cleanest streams playing in the sun, soft carpets of grass under the feet and bottomless sky without a single cloud – all this in combination with the inimitable colours of the numerous lakes and the majesty of white-collared peaks will undoubtedly be forever imprinted in a traveller’s memory…
Geographically, the region is a part of the Pamir-Alai mountain system bordered by the Hissar Range on the south, Zeravshan Range on the north, the chain of Marguzor Lakes on the west and the Dushanbe-Ayni Highway on the east. Sometimes the Yagnob Wall (Zamin-Karor Massif) near the village of Margib (Margeb, Mageb), east of the area, is also referred to the Fann Mountains.
Administratively, the Fann Mountains are located in Penjikent and Ayni Districts of Sogdian Province, Tajikistan. Penjikent is a city nearest to the area, situated 80 km from the popular mountain camp Artuch. Another popular camping place, Vertical, is located near Alaudin Lakes. As the Jartepa border checkpoint between Samarkand and Penjikent is closed, the Fann Mountains can reached from Tashkent (Uzbekistan) via the Oybek checkpoint on the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border or from the Tajik cities of Khojent and Dushanbe, which can be got to by air.
Apart from fantastic mountain landscapes, the Fann Mountains feature soft climate, with stable sunny weather prevailing throughout summer. The average annual precipitation in the region is 250 mm. Best time for travelling and recreation in the Fann Mountains is between July and September.
The Fann Mountains total nine peaks exceeding 5,000 m above sea level. The highest point of the region is Chimtarga Peak (5,489 m). Other 5,000-metre mountains are Big Hansa (5,306 m), Bodkhona (5,138), Mirali (5,132), Chapdara (5,050), Energia (5,120), Zamok (‘Castle’) (5,070), Little Hansa (5,031) and Moscow (5,046).
Lakes numbering 30 plus and contrasting the harsh looking ridges and peaks are true pearls of the area. They vary in type and origin, some of them having been formed through the blocking of narrow mountain valleys with landslides (Iskanderkul, Big Allo and Marguzor Lakes), while others created by glaciers (Kulikalon, Alaudin, Moutiye, Piala, Ziyorat and Chukurak Lakes). Almost all of the Fann lakes are fed by streams.
The region’s largest rivers are the Fandarya with its tributaries, the Pasrud, Yagnob and Iskanderdarya, in the east and the Kshtutdarya formed by the confluence of the Archamaydan, Sarymat, Amshut and Artuch, in the western part of the region. The temperature of water in the rivers ranges from 5°C to 10°C in summer. By the end of summer, the level of water in the streams drops perceptibly. Travellers will not find much difficulty in crossing the rivers in the Fann Mountains.
The Fann Mountains is a Mecca for mountaineers and rock climbers, the conquerors of ‘big walls.’ The area is the scene of Russia’s Annual Technical Rock Climbing Championship. Some of the more difficult rocky routes to the summits of Bodkhona (5,138 m), Parandas, Adamtash (4,700), Zamok (5,070), Zindon (4,800), Mirali (5,132), Chapdara (5,050), Dukdon (4,896), Sakharnaya Golova (‘Sugar Head’) (4,971) and Skalnaya Stena (‘Rocky Wall’) are no less complex than the famous walls in the Aksu-Karavshin area of Kyrgyzstan.
One of the Fann Mountains’ pleasant features is that on free days during treks travellers can ascend some of the nearby summits, high but quite easy from the technical aspect, such as three- and four-thousanders Zmeya (‘Snake’) (4,150 m), Fizkultury i Sporta (‘Physical Culture and Sports’) (4,120), Gratuleta (4,230), Chinal with the Fagitor spur (3,900), Paykhamber (4,958) Fluorite (3,450), Ruzeravat (3,700) and others and even five-thousanders Zamok (5,070) and Energia (5,120), from where you can obtain fantastic panoramas.