Be one of the first to trek the remote Pamir Mountains on this MTS exclusive with Professor Rob Smurr!
The Pamir Mountains serve as the junction of several important mountain ranges, most notably the Karakorum, Himalaya, and Tian Shan Mountains. In these ranges, one hears the echoes of the ancient Silk Road even today. It is home to a wonderful kaleidoscope of different ethnicities and cultures that still adhere to traditional ways of life. And just think, you could be among the first outsiders to meet and interact with these fascinating and diverse peoples! MTS Senior Guide Professor Rob Smurr is the ultimate expedition leader for this unique trek. He’ll walk you through the complicated history of the region as no one else can, from its various religious influences to its ancient dynasties. Moving along with the assistance of camels and their drivers to transport your belongings as you travel from one camp to another, you’ll quickly develop a real connection to the nomadic people who wandered these same routes for centuries before you. This is the kind of expedition that turns the serious trekker into a bona fide explorer. That’s what we do best.
- Trek into the Pamir Mountains of Xinjiang—China’s westernmost province—on this MTS-exclusive itinerary with Professor Rob Smurr
- Enjoy challenging hikes at higher altitudes and camp in isolated wilderness while your bags are transported by a team of camels and their drivers
- Be among the first outsiders to meet and interact with the fascinating and diverse peoples of the Pamirs
- Experience the ancient and intricate mix of Silk Road cultures
- Immerse yourself in the traditional lifestyle of authentic, nomadic shepherds
- Take in striking scenery of mountains and grasslands
Duration: 15 days Start Location: Beijing End Location: BeijingDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Fly to Beijing
Fly to Beijing. Overnight at Hilton Capital Airport Hotel.
Day 2 : Beijing to Kashgar
Today you will fly from Beijing to Kashgar. You will be met by our guide at the airport and transfer to the hotel. You will stay overnight in Kashgar (4200 feet elevation).
Day 3 : Kashgar
Today we will have a late breakfast and enjoy a leisurely day of sightseeing—taking in Id Kah Mosque, one of the largest mosques in China, and a nearby Handicraft Street where you can see workers making all kinds of goods, as well as other fascinating Kashgar sites. Overnight in Kashgar.
Day 4 : Kashgar to Karakul Lake
We begin our day with a drive along the Sino-Pakistan Friendship Highway. This is the world famous Karakorum Highway to Pakistan through the Pamir Mountains. After driving about 30 miles, we will arrive at Upal Village, home to a fascinating Monday market. We will stop there for a late breakfast and buy some melons for trekking. We will enjoy the amazing scenery all the way to Karakul Lake, a high altitude lake 11,800 feet above sea level. The scenery is spectacular with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains: Muztagata (24,700'), Father of Glaciers, and Konggor Peak (25,300') attract many accomplished mountain climbers from all over the world. We will arrive at Karakul Lake at lunchtime and share lunch with a local Kyrgyz family. TWe will also stay overnight with this family in their camel wool yurt beside the lake. We will sleep on the floor in beds with wool blankets and will sleep together in one room in the yurt. After lunch we will have free time to walk and acclimatize ourselves for trekking the following day. We will meet our camel drivers and camels, who will carry our gear for the duration of the trek. We will stay in a local yurt for the night and our guide will teach us some very useful local trekking terms.
Day 5 : Trek to Tokkuzbullak
After an early breakfast we will start our trek to Tokkuzbullak (12,800'), a Kyrgyz shepherd's village (about 7 hours trekking and 14 km). Along the way, we can view the picturesque Kengxiwer River with Mt. Muztagata on one side of the trail and Mt. Konggur on the other side of the trail. We will climb, over the course of the day, about 1000 feet. We will stay in a Kyrgyz stone house or camp in this Kyrgyz village. We will also have the opportunity to visit some local Kyrgyz shepherds’ homes and talk with them about their culture and livelihood.
Day 6 : Trek to Tashningaldi
After breakfast we will start our trek to Tashningaldi (14,000 feet, about 7-9 hours), which has long been a crossroads among the Kyrgyz nomads to sell and exchange goods. It is still a market crossroads as well as our gateway into the mountains. The terrain today is blessed with mountains, rivers, grasslands and glaciers. Tonight we will camp in a remote, picturesque setting with no village.
Day 7 : Trek to Turbulong Grasslands
After breakfast we will start out trekking to Turbulong Grasslands at 15,000 feet. There is not a village here, but this is the biggest grassland for Kyrgyz shepherds in the region. All of our trekking will be above treeline and we will have the opportunity to view many yaks during the day. Occasionally we will see rabbits and sheep. If lucky, we might catch sight of foxes and wolves. We will be climbing all day today over glaciers, grasslands and rivers. We will hike for approximately eight hours.
Day 8 : Trek to Janbulak
After breakfast we will start our trek to Janbulak (15,700'), where the shepherds water their animals. We will hike for 7-9 hours and must cross a glacial pass. We will trek for about 7-9 hours, but we will be treated to stunning views of the Karakorum Mountains.
Day 9 : Rest day at Janbulak
We will stay one extra day here to better acclimate, immerse ourselves in Kyrgyz shepherd life and culture and rest our camels and camel drivers for the upcoming challenging trekking days. Those who want to rest can rest and those who want to explore will have the opportunity to explore. Camp overnight.
Day 10 : Trek to Qiqeklik
After breakfast we will start out trekking to Qiqeklik Village (16,700 feet), once again crossing a glacial pass. Qiqeklik is a remote village of Kyrgyz and Tajik shepherds. We will get to experience two different ethnic groups and learn about their cultures. Tonight we will visit Kyrgyz and Tajik shepherds’ homes and have the opportunity to taste their local cuisine. This regional cuisine is dairy and meat-based, but the locals also have their special bread. Because the village is so remote, locals don't have many opportunities to eat vegetables. Trek for about 7 hours today. Stay in Kyrgiz or Tajik stone home.
Day 11 : Trek to Lengger Tajik Village
Today we start our descent. After breakfast we will trek to Lengger (11,100 ft), viewing the unspoiled scenery of the Pamir Mountains along the way. There is no village here, but the Tajik people grow wild wheat at Lengger. Approximately 9 hours of trekking. Camp overnight.
Day 12 : Lengger Village to Xindi Village to Kashgar
After breakfast, we will start our trek to Xindi Village (9800'), below treeline. The terrain is rocky mountain, small rivers and grasslands. At Xindi we will say goodbye to our camels and camel drivers and will be picked up for our return drive to Kashgar (150 miles). We will enjoy a celebratory dinner to mark our accomplishment of completing the trek and stay overnight in Kashgar.
Day 13 : Kashgar
Today we will rise early to catch the famous Sunday market, when the population of Kashgar swells by 50,000. This market is still one of the most amazing bazaars in the world and there is little that is not for sale here. You will see an overwhelming array of livestock, rugs and clothing. Photo opportunities abound and you can easily spend hours losing yourself in the labyrynthine chaos. Next we will visit the Old Town where we will enter into a Uyghur home for a delicious lunch. Afterwards we will visit the Apak Hoja Tomb where there are 58 tombs and 5 generations buried. Our guide will relay the differing legends of the "Fragrant Concubine" related to this site. Return to your hotel for your last night in Kashgar.
Day 14 : Kashgar to Beijing
Fly from Kashgar - Beijing. Overnight at Hilton Capital Airport Hotel.
Day 15 : Fly home
DATES: Best time to go: June - September Departures: Jul 15 - 29, 2014
$5,095 (11-14 members)
$1,250 internal airfare – Beijing/Kashgar/Beijing (subject to change)
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Rob is both a professor of Russian and Environmental History at Washington’s Evergreen State College and an experienced outdoor guide in the former Soviet Union. He spent two seasons leading climbs on Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe (in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia) and several more seasons leading numerous treks in the Pamir, Tian Shan, and Altai mountains in Central Asia. Rob has excellent Russian language skills. He served as a U.S. Department of State interpreter in Leningrad and Moscow and studied at such places as the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and the University of St. Petersburg in Russia. He obtained an M.A. in International Studies and a Ph.D. in Russian History at the University of Washington. Rob’s outdoor skills include mountaineering (he has summited peaks like Aconcagua and Mont Blanc), rock climbing (5.10), and advanced (Class V) whitewater kayaking. Rob is also a triathlete.