Tajikistan (2017): Trek in Badomdara and Rostovdara valleys

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On the day after our return from the trek in the Rivak valley we drove to the small village of Shavoz in the Shakhdara valley southeast of Khorog and started a second trek in the Badomdara and Rostovdara valleys. See maps below. Our two Pamiri companions of the first trek, Nozimsho and Muboriz, had decided to stay in Khorog. Instead, we were joined by another Kyrgyz from Murghab, Siyew (uncertain spelling). Our goal had been to cross the Shakhdara range between Sahvoz and the village of Darshai in the Wakhan valley, near the southernmost tip of Tajikistan, via the Darshai pass (5100m). However, on the third trekking day, after traversing more rocky slopes and ravines, I felt exhausted and unable to ascend the pass ahead. In addition, my left knee was still hurting from a fall on hard ice on the glacier below Yurievskij pass three days earlier. I decided to turn back. In retrospect, I think that it would have been much wiser for me to spend a couple of nights in Khorog both before and after the first trek, to reduce tiredness accumulated during the flights to Tajikistan, the long drives on bad roads from Dushanbe to Khorog and around Khorog, and the first trek. This was a big disappointment, but on the positive side it gave me more time to visit (by car) the upper Shakhdara valley (see here) and the Wakhan valley (see here), with their old fortresses and mazors (shrines).

 

Maps:

Left: Map showing the location of the trek relative to Khorog: the paths in red and blue dotted lines are the planned itinerary, with the red part being the actual itinerary. Right: Topographic map of the trek area annotated with recorded GPS waypoints; the two waypoints marked with green pins are our camps on the way up; the waypoint in red (007) is where we turned back. Click here to access the topographic map at full resolution.

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View of the Shakhdara valley from the village of Shavoz at the entrance of the Badomdara valley.

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Along the lower section of Badomdara river before reaching our first camp, with some high peaks of the Ishkashim mountain range in the background.

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Views of the Badomdara valley in the morning of the second day.

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Reaching the Badomdara village (a few scattered houses) on the left bank of the Badomdara river. In Soviet time a mine was exploited further up in the valley and a dust road connected the villages of Shavoz and Badomdara. Today, this road is only drivable to the point where we started our trek (see topographic map at the top of this page).

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House in the Badomdara village.

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There we were offered hospitality and food (yoghourt, cream, butter, and bread) by a very friendly woman.

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From left to right, Almaz, Jumach and Siyew eating in the traditional setting of a Pamiri house.

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Traditional Pamiri ceiling, with four stacked square layers, each representing one of the four Zoroastrian elements (from bottom to top: earth, water, air and fire).

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Left: Hanging cradle. Right: Pamiri rubab (without strings) carved in a single piece of wood, with a skin head.

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Leaving the house.

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Looking back toward the Badomdara village (bright green area) from higher up in the valley

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View of Mayakovsky peak (6096m), the highest peak in the Ishkashim mountain range, west of the Shakhdara range.

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Striped cliff on the right (east) bank of the Badomdara river.

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Less than one hour after leaving the Badomdara village, we reached a tributary of the Badomdara river that was too big and fast to ford. Fortunately, a (shaky) bridge had been recently built further up along this tributary to give access to a shepherd settlement and pastures. Below: Almaz (left) and Jumach (right) crossing.

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Reaching the shepherd settlement.

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This settlement was inhabited for the summer by a man, his wife, and his daughter. These friendly people offered us very tasty yoghourt. The man (an Ismaili Muslim) had no idea what was written on his T-shirt.

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Former mining equipment in the river?

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View of the valley further up. At the bifurcation, the Badomdara river branches out to the right toward the former mine, while the Rostovdara river (a tributary of the Badomdara river leading toward the Darshai pass) branches slightly to the left.

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At the confluence of the Badomdara and Rostovdara rivers. We were on the left bank of the Badomdara river. Here, the trail (former road) turns right (west) toward the old mine. We realized that we were on the wrong side of the river and we returned to a bridge that we had noticed earlier across the Badomdara river.

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Back to the bridge across the Badomdara river. We established our second camp on the right bank of the river soon after crossing the bridge.

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Side-canyon near our camp.

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Mayakovsky peak (6096m), on the right, seen from our camp in the evening.

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Another view of Mayakovsky peak further up along the Rostovdara river on the next morning.

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From there the climb was on broken rocky terrain cut by side ravines. I felt much too tired to reach and cross Darshai pass (still much higher). I eventually decided to turn around and return to the trailhead near the village of Shavoz.

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