Whether you’re looking for an alternative or an add-on to the Pamir Highway, the Bartang Valley will surely not disappoint. Long a secret favorite among cyclists, trekkers, culture and language aficionados, and those looking to get off the already far-flung beaten path in the Pamir the Bartang Valley will offer up something of interest for almost any traveler.
You’ll find the Bartangi dialect spoken in the villages that dot the Bartang Valley, a language similar to Shughni but markedly different from the Tajik spoken out west. Each village in the valley can even have its accent compared to the next. Bartangi people are some of the friendliest you’ll meet in the Pamir, so don’t surprised to receive a lesson in basic Bartangi upon making a new friend.
The Bartang Valley is best enjoyed from mid-July through early November when the Bartang Highway is at its most passible. Prior to mid-July it’s not uncommon for the roadway to be cut off intermittently owing to spring rains and meltwater coming down out of the Pamir.
Bartang Valley Highlights
This well-loved trek starts by crossing over the Bartang River on a rickety bridge and trekking about 7 kilometers to reach the beautiful village of Jizeu set around small lakes formed along a dammed-off section of the Jizeudarya River. A scattering of homestays sit around the water making this one of the Pamirs’ best and easiest to access overnight hikes.
Turning off the main Bartang Valley and into a narrow river-cut side valley, the gorgeous village of Badara comes into view. A couple of quaint homestays exist in this friendly little village. It’s a perfect diversion off the main Bartang whether you’re looking for a cultural overnight in a lovely hamlet or using Badara as a jumping off point for treks toward the Bachor Mountain Lakes or beguiling Lake Sarez.
Peak Isitklol Basecamp
The Bartang Highway passes by the village of Yapshorv where a rough track splits off and continues winding up another 7 kilometers to reach the pint-sized hamlet of Roshorv. From Roshorv begins the challenging day hike to the site of Peak Istiklol Basecamp. Those that just want to get in a nice trek can go to Isitklol Basecamp and spend the night or return in the evening, and mountaineers taking on the arduous 6,940 meter behemoth will begin their expedition here.
Starkly beautiful and the result of disaster, Lake Sarez is a large mountain lake over 70 kilometers long from east to west. An earthquake in 1911 rattled down the face of a mountain, forming the Usoi Dam and crushing the village of Usoi which once sat below it. The resulting landslide dammed off the Murghab River, leaving the deep valley filled with water over the past century.
The lake is accessible from the village of Barchidev, reachable via the Bartang Valley and from the previously mentioned Bachor and its mountain lakes. A special permit that we can help arrange is needed to reach the area around Sarez as it is considered sensitive due to the natural dam that holds all its water at bay.
Savnob is the district center for these reaches of the Bartang and home to the crumbling Savnob Fortress, worthy a climb up if you’ll be passing by. Savnob hosts a couple of homestays for those wanting to spend the night.
Khafrazdara Valley & Grum Grijmailo Glacier
At the upper reaches of the Bartang Valley sits a scattering of homes known as Bopasor Village where a track veers off and across the river to reach the tiny village of Pasor. From here, you can trek along one of Tajikistan’s most beautiful valleys- the Khafrazdara to access Grum Grijmailo Glacier.