Wakhan Corridor Tour Highlights
- Trek to the furthest reaches of Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan’s panhandle, to visit the Afghan Kyrgyz in their summer camps at Chaqmaqtin Lake.
- Spot Bactrian camel and yak caravans hauling goods along ancient silk route footpaths to trade with a distant outside world on the far side of the stunning icy peaks which span the horizon in a dizzying panorama.
- Discover ancient Burial Tombs known as “Gonbads,” one of the few permanent structures disrupting the Little Pamir’s barren high-elevation landscapes on your Wakhan Corridor tour.
- Unwind the complex history of the Afghan Kyrgyz, now stranded in isolation amidst borders contrived by distant powers, and knowing little of the terrors of war that ravaged Afghanistan at large.
- Your visit to the Wakhan Corridor will follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo and the 18th-century imperial armies who vied for control of its strategic passes during the Great Game.
Is the Wakhan Corridor Trek for me?
- The Wakhan Corridor trek requires a solid level of physical fitness. You will be trekking for 5-6 hours a day on average while carrying a light daypack. There will also be steady elevation gains while crossing the passes of the Little Pamir Valley’s high route upon return.
- Accommodation during the Wakhan Corridor tour will include basic guest houses while in the permanent settlements of the Wakhan Corridor, and tent camping while trekking in the remote panhandle of Afghanistan. We may even have the opportunity to take up an invitation to overnight in a Kyrgyz Yurt upon reaching their camps on the Pamiri Plateau.
- This Wakhan Corridor tour is one of the Untraversed team’s Expedition Itineraries. This expedition’s daily schedule and route are subject to change due to high water levels at stream crossings, permit processing, and maybe even the unplanned invitation to join an impromptu game of Buzkaski on the high plateaus.
Wakhan Corridor Tour Itinerary
Day 1 Kabul
- Begin your Wakhan Corridor tour in Kabul, Afghanistan, where a member of the Untraversed team will be waiting to greet you at the airport upon arrival. We will have a team meeting at 3 pm in the hotel as we review the itinerary and prepare to depart for Badakhshan Providence, followed by a visit to the tailor for local clothing.
Day 2 Kabul – Kunduz
- After picking up your local garb from the tailor, set out on a bumpy overland ride toward the North. Climb over the Kushan Pass on an endless series of switchbacks then descend into the hills below as you trace the Darya-Qonduz. Spend the night at a hotel in Kunduz.
Day 3 Kunduz-Eshkashim
- From Kunduz set out for the entrance to the Wakhan, arriving at a guesthouse in Eshkashim in the early afternoon if road conditions are favorable. A border city and entry point to Tajikistan, Eshakashim is the gateway and trading hub for the isolated panhandle of Afghanistan that lies ahead on your Wakahn Corridor trek.
Day 4 Eshkashim
- We have one day planned for processing permits in Eshkashim, and arranging an escort from the local authorities if required. If the permit process proceeds faster than expected, we will depart for Qila e Panja a day early in order to get a headstart on the Wakhan Corridor trek.
Day 5 Eshkashim – Qila e Panja
- Set out by jeep from Eshkashim on an undeveloped road through the bottleneck of Afghanistan’s panhandle as we travel along the Aghan side of the Panj River, tracing the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border. The Panj River follows the “Big Pamir,” the larger of the Wakhan Corridor’s main valleys which flows from Lake Zorkul. Arrive at Qila e Panja, meaning the “fort on the river,” at a Wahki village that was once the home of the Mir, the ruler of the entire Wakhan Corridor.
Day 6 Quila e Panja – Sarhad e Broghil
- Leaving Sarhad behind we will continue by jeep taking the lesser traveled valley of the Corridor along the Little Pamir River. We will leave it up to you to decide which is the true source of the Oxus River during your visit to the Wakhan Corridor, but brace yourself for strong opinions if you decide to broach the subject. Arrive in Sarhad e Broghil, a settlement of around 500 Wakhi, and the point where your Wakhan Corridor trek will leave the jeep behind and continue on foot.
Days 7-9 Sarahad e Broghil – Bozai Gumbaz
- The morning will include final preparations for the trek as your equipment is loaded onto pack animals and final supplies are acquired for the voyage ahead. Your route on the way to visit Kyrgz Camps at Lake Chaqmaqtin will follow the lower river route in order to allow gradual acclimatization. Later on the return trip, you will take on the scenic high passes on the northern route. During this stretch of your visit to the Wakhan Corridor, there are only primitive shepherd’s shelters frequented by Yak Caravans, and we will be camping in tents along the Little Pamir as we travel along the primitive Jeep trail which follows the river.
Day 10 Bozai Gumbaz – Chaqmaqtin Lake
- Pass the domed tombs of Bozai Gumbaz, perched along this ancient caravan route to the Wakhjir Pass. The Wakhjir route leads to what is now the modern-day Xing Xang Providence of China. The Wakhi people of the region are still permitted to visit Pakistan by crossing the high passes to the south with their yak caravans. There in the Chitral district of Northern Pakistan, they trade sheep and goats for critical supplies required to sustain their fragile existence in the frigid Pamirs. Arrive in Chaqmaqtin Lake in the evening to pitch tents alongside the nomadic Kyrgyz Yurt camps of the Little Pamir. Spend the night camping in tents.
Days 11-12 Chaqmaqtin Lake
- Enjoy a break from trekking in order to visit the Kyrgyz and join their daily camp activities. Pitch in to help as they scramble to take advantage of the brief summer to prepare for the oppressively brutal winter that lies ahead. Yak milking, sippling yak butter tea, and learning to make local flatbread are options on the agenda during your time with the Afghan Kyrgyz. Many of the Kyrgyz of the Little Pamir, and especially the women, have never traveled beyond this plateau. Contemplate this life of isolation amidst unrivaled mountain views as the night sky erupts with stars over a long-forgotten corner of Afghanistan. Spend the night camping in tents next to the Kyrgyz camps.
Day 13 Chaqmaqtin Lake – Kashch Goz
- Leaving Chamaqtin head east towards the last Kyrgyz settlement of the trek in Kasch Goz. Listen to the stories of the Kyrgyz around the warmth of a yak-dung-fueled stove, as the vividly decorated Yurt interior seems even more stunning amidst the backdrop of the grayscale wind-swept Pamir plateau. The Kyrgyz have at times fled to neighboring Pakistan due to threats from war, and often contemplate what a modern life might be like in the world below. Spend the night camping in tents on the last night of your visit to the Afghan Kyrgyz.
Days 14-16 Kashch Goz – Borak
- Leave the Yurts behind as you resume trekking with the pack animals on your way to visit the isolated Wahki Settlements along the high route of the Little Pamir Valley to the north. Your next three days will be spent trekking between Wakhi villages while topping steep passes, all the while rewarded by unrivaled views of the Pamirs. The Wakhi are less nomadic than the Kyrgyz, living in permanent stone and mud dwellings, and cultivating crops with the aid of an ancient system of glacier-fed irrigation. Camp in tents during this stretch of the trek, with the possibility of joining a Wahki village for a night along the way.
Day 17 Borak – Sarhad e Broghil
- From the Wakhi settlement of Borak, conquer one last steep climb over the Daliz Pass before pausing to savor the view down the Little Pamir. Upon reaching Sarhad, check to see if the hot spring is open then into a guest house for one last night in the Little Pamir Valley.
Day 18 Sarhad e Broghil – Qila e Panj
- At Sarhad e Broghil you will leave your Pak animals and their handlers behind as you return to modern transportation via Jeep. Descend along the bumpy route to the confluence of the Little Pamir and Pamir Rivers for a night at a guest house in the Wakhi village of Quila e Panj.
Day 19 Quila e Panj – Eshkashim
- From Quila e Panj continues your descent via Jeep back to the start of Afghanistan’s Panhandle at Eshkashim for a night at a guest house. In the past, a cross-border market with Tajikistan was a popular stop for the few travelers who managed to traverse the Tajikistan side of the Corridor, but it has since been closed.
Day 20 Eshkashim – Kunduz
- Setting out from Eshkashim, travel by road across Badakhshan Providence, named for the larger Badakhshan territory which once spanned Northeastern Afghanistan, the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Afghanistan, and the Wakhi portion of Xing Xang Providence in Western China.
Day 21 Kunduz – Kabul
- Return to Kabul by climbing over the Hindu Kush to pass through the soviet era Slanag Tunnel and the impressive series of avalanche galleries built to protect the route during the snowy season. Arrive in Kabul after a long day on the road to spend the night in a hotel.
Day 22 Kabul
- Explore the bazaars of the capital and take time to indulge in Kabuli pulao as you recover from your Wakhan Corridor trek. Visit Bird Street, haggle on Chicken Street, or seek out a portrait from the last surviving wooden box camera in the old city.
Day 23 Departure
- There are no activities planned for the final day of your Wakhan Corridor tour. You are free to depart at any time.