When we entered Tajikistan, we knew that we will spend a lot of time in the nature. We were very happy about that. Our first trip brought us to the wonderful Seven Lakes in the Fan Mountains in the northwest of the country. We hang around there for a couple of lazy days. After this time, we were ready for some physical activity. With the friendly help of the tourist information ZTDA in Khunjab, we hired a donkey with a donkeyman and planned our route. We like to hike over passes. The region around Alaudin Lakes, also in the Fan Mountains, seemed to be perfect for a shorter trek.
We could drive with Willie quite far into Alaudin Valley. At the end, there is a camp, called Vertical Camp, where you can rent a room or just camp in the garden. They looked after our car for the two days we were away. And we even could get a hot shower when we had come back.
Day 1 – Alaudin Pass
The next morning, the trek started at around 8.45 am. Together with our donkey, the donkeyman Mirzo and the fellow overlander Ricardo from Spain (traveling on a KTM), we took the path towards Alaudin Lakes. After around 30 minutes we reached these incredibly blue and turquoise lakes. Next destination was the Alaudin Pass at 3730 m. The first part was a decent ascend. We stopped by a small spring, filled up our water bottles, and our energy storage with some dry fruits. The last kilometer was pretty steep and stony but doable with a slow pace.
Actually perfectly timed, we reached the pass at lunch time. We started to unpack the bread and eggs. But suddenly, the breeze became a strong wind. It started to snow and out of the sudden we were in the middle of a snow storm.
Quickly, we took our stuff and said goodbye to Ricardo who planned to hike back to the Vertical Camp. Thankfully, within only 30 minutes and a fast descending, the sun came out again and dried our clothes and the donkey. We had amazing views down into the valley with Kulikalon Lake and many other crystal clear lakes. The descend was not difficult. At around 4 pm, we reached a shepherd’s hut whose owner invited us in for tea. It was raining again for a couple of minutes. We decided to set camp close to his hut next to a small river. The rest of the afternoon, we walked 45 minutes to the big Kulikalon Lake. Mirzo came with us. With his translation skills, we got invited by a nice herding family. Although it is Ramadan, they gave us tea, bread and delicious yogurt.
Back in our camp, we had small dinner and went to bed. The temperature was fine the whole night and it was not too cold when we got up at 6 am the next morning.
Day 2 – Laudan Pass
We started at 8 am to cross the second pass of our trek. We walked in a wide valley for around 30 minutes, had a quick stop at another shepherd’s hut for some tea. The ascend to the pass took around three hours with some shorter stops. Anna’s knee was hurting since the evening before. Maybe it was from the steep ascend to Alaudin Pass, the cold and wet weather in the snow storm or, most likely, a combination from both.
We hiked up Laudan Pass slowly. It was less steep than the hike the day before. The view down into the valley was great again.
After we reached the pass at 3630 m, the trail went on on the same elevation for a few kilometers. Before the descent, we had lunch break. Unfortunately, it started raining again. 30 minutes break must be enough.
The descent was easy all in all. At some parts, the trail was steeper and slippery but not really difficult. At 3 pm, we arrived at the Vertical Camp again. We chilled in the sun, unpacked our stuff and enjoyed dinner after a hot shower.
Day 3 – Mutnoe Lake, not for us…
Due to Anna’s knee ache, we decided to skip day 3. Actually, we had planned to camp next to Alaudin Lakes and hike to Mutnoe Lake and back to Vertical Camp. But we had seen many beautiful lakes already and hiking for another eight hours would not have been the best for Anna’s knee.
Because of that, we were thankful for our donkey again. He was carrying the food, the cooker and our camping stuff. In a smaller backpack, we just carried our sweaters, water and some snacks. It is not necessary to have guide there. The trail is always quite good visible. But we had a great time with the donkeyman. When we first thought about getting a donkey with a donkey man, we were thinking about an old, raddled man, familiar to hiking. We had not expected to meet a 23 year old boy, just finished university, never hiked before. It was great that he could speak some English and we had a lot of fun. He received 24 USD for the donkey plus 6 USD for his food for each day. ZTDA had arranged all that. BTW we also had bought a decent hiking map for the Fan Mountains there.
After a very good night, we started slowly into the day. We had breakfast in the sun and packed the car. We wanted to spend the coming night in a homestay. ZTDA had arranged that, as well. For 12 USD each plus 5 USD for dinner.
At midday, we drove to Pasrud. It is one of the bigger villages in Alaudin Valley with around 1000 inhabitants. There, we met Mirzo again. He showed us around the village. We relaxed in his parent’s house, had some tea and bread. His grandfather came by to say “Salaam”. Anna looked through the papers from his doctor. She decided, it is all fine what his doctor had done. After this consultation, Mirzo’s younger brother came in. Anna looked through his papers, MRI images and did a short examination. She could not find any severe reason for his occasional head ache and the family was happy.
Mirzo’s father made Plov for dinner. It was delicious!
After a small breakfast, we gave Mirzo Heiner’s old fleece as a gift, and some last hiking advice. We took him with us to the next town from where he wanted to drive to Khunjab to find work. Probably, we had given him the money to start a life there. We said goodbye and headed towards Dushanbe.