RemotExpeditions | Wakhan Photography Expedition
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Remote & Cultural Wakhan Photography Expedition

More than for the beauty of its natural environment, the Pamir is outstanding for the cultural appeal and the unique hospitality of its human population of transhumance herders, the yurt-dwelling Kirghiz. Lost in the immensity of the Little and the Big Pamir valleys, weeks away from the rest of the world, the Kirghiz keep their ancestral way of life. Every year they manage to survive the lengthy and harsh winter thanks to their herds of yaks and sheep that provide them with their basic needs: wool to keep warm, felt to build yurts, dung for the fire, and meat. In the summer, Kirghiz are happy to welcome traders and visitors. It is the time of wedding ceremonies and buzkashi games. A trip to the Pamir is a journey to another world, where physical efforts and cultural exploration come together, and where traditional way of life and complete political freedom meet. Needless to say that a remote area like this combined with hospitality people offers great possibilities for everybody who is keen on photography. This trip is not only an expedition to the Afghan Pamir that guaranteed unique travel moments. As a photography workshop it is tailored for everybody who loves to take photographs. Travellers will have the chance to improve their photography skills in several ways – technique but also storytelling. Therefor a professional photographer focussed on this area will guide you and work with you to get expressive photographs. To do so it is pretty clear that you will experience an intense time together with local families to know them better and get a sense of their lives.
Expedition Highlights -Explore Afghanistan’s vast Wakhan National Park. -Visit semi-nomadic Kyrgyz communities, chat and drink tea with them. -Sleep in traditional yurts under a magical sky full of stars. -Experience horse trekking. -Forge a trekking route through the Big Pamir. -Experience a side of Afghanistan untouched by war. -Take impressive photographs with the support of a photographer -Trek across fertile plains and high-altitude areas (mostly around 4300m). -Travel by road across Tajikistan to reach the Wakhan..

Remote Wakhan Photography Expedition 17 Days/17 Night

Day 1 Dushanbe to Khorog (preparation) – 12th July 2020

Early in the morning we ‘ll start to drive from the capital Dushanbe to the main town of the Pamir area, called Khorog. As it is a long on a bumpy road, 4WD-cars and experienced drivers are provided for the ride. Along the way we stop for lunch in Kalaikhum. We’ll arrive in the late evening and sleep in a simple but nice guesthouse, where we’ll have supper. Driving: 12-14 hours – Altitude: 2065m

Day 2 Khorog – 13th July 2020

After breakfast we’ll go to the Afghan embassy to apply for our Afghan visa. The rest of the day we’ll have time to explore the city with its market and park. The visa should be ready the same day.

Day 3 Khorog – Ishkashim– 14th July 2020

We’ll drive to the border town of Ishkashim and cross over into Afghanistan. Once in Ishkashim we will be staying at a guesthouse. We’ll spend a whole day in Ishkashim with our guide, making the final preparations and collecting our permits for the Wakhan region. Once we have left Ishkashim, we’ll have to be self-sufficient for the 11-day-trek, and we’ll need this day to ensure we have everything arranged. The guests will have time to explore the local environment and experience some of the Wakhi culture. Driving: 4 hours – Altitude: 2600m

Day 4 Ishkashim – Gaz Khan – 15th July 2020

In the morning we’ll do last preparations and permit stuff in Ishkashim. The 140km from Ishkashim to Gaz Khan take us along the Afghan Wakhan. We follow the Panj river to reach the town Khandud after 80 km. We’ll have to stop in the village of Khandud to process some further paperwork and we’ll plan to stay overnight in the village of Gaz Khan. The roads might be washed out in places, and the ride takes a long time, but it will be fascinating to get the first impressions of life in Afghan Wakhan. On the way, you ‘ll see a great scenery of mountain ranges as well as people working on the fields. Driving: 6-8 hours – Altitude: 2800m

Day 5 Gaz Khan – Nakhchirsheetik river – 16th July 2020

At Gaz Khan the road ends and any further journey to the Big Pamir must be made on foot or by horse. The first trekking day is tough. For this trekking route to the Big Pamir we don’t have to cross high passes, which make the trekking a lot easier compared to the route to the Little Pamir. Nevertheless, it is a long way to go. Our horses will carry our entire luggage and we will even ride them to make our way. We’ll sleep in our tents next to the little river Nakchirsheetik. The whole day we will enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery with the Hindukush in our back and the Tajik Pamir right next to us. Trekking: 9 hours – Altitude: 3700m

Day 6 Nakhchirsheetik River – Sirt – 17th July 2020

A further day of trekking along the border to Tajikistan until we reach the first Kyrgyz village called Sirt. We sleep in a traditional yurt at this village. Trekking: 8 hours – Altitude: 4180m

Day 7 Sirt – 18th July 2020

After two days of trekking we take our time in this picturesque village with all it’s yurts and welcoming people. In the morning, you will probably get a first impression of how the Kyrgyz people care for their sheep and yaks. You will see women, and sometimes even little girls, milking the yaks, and you will try local handmade food like yak butter, yogurt and salty milk tea called ‘choy’. That day we’ll get in touch with local families and learn more about their lives in this remote area. We will start our first photography workshop and try to get appealing indoor and outdoor portrait shots. Keep in mind that it is up to the local chief if we are allowed to take pictures of man and women or only of men. Altitude: 4180m

Day 8 Sirt – Zorkul Lake 19th July 2020

For the trekking, we’ll have to change our horses and horsemen as this is already Kyrgyz area and we’ll need to take local guys and horses. Along the way, we’ll enjoy the beautiful scenery of the wideopen plains of the Afghan Pamir and some little lakes. We’ll cross small rivers on our way to the west end of the Zorkul lake, where we will camp with our tents. Trekking: 8 hours Altitude: 4130m

Day 9 Zorkul Lake – Stiq – Sarmoqur – 20th July 2020

To get a better and photogenic view from above the lake, we’ll visit the Kyrgyz village Stiq. After lunch, we’ll do another short trek to reach the Kyrgyz village Sarmoqur, where we’ll stay overnight. We may see Bactrian camels too. On this day we’ll focus on taking pictures of the landscape and sceneries with the beautiful yurts of each village. But of course, we’ll also get the chance to observe the Kyrgyz way of living. Trekking: 4-5 hours – Altitude: 4200m

Day 10 Sarmoqur – Moqur – 21th July 2020

After a short trek we’ll have time to spend an intense day with Kyrgyz families and learn more about the living conditions in the remote and tough mountain area. We’ll continue our indoor and outdoor portrait workshop in a wider sense. We’ll try to take portraits of people, including their environment, to show the Kyrgyz life. Besides improving technical skills, we’ll focus on storytelling as an important part of memorisable photography. Trekking: 2,5-3 hours – Altitude: 4200m

Day 11 Moqur – Arghunuk – 22th July 2020

Today we’ll explore another picturesque village in the middle of beautiful scenery of several mountain river arms and high mountains with snowy peaks. As in the other villages, we might have the chance to meet some traders from other parts of Afghanistan and have a chat with them. On the way, we’ll pass some photogenic landscape spots where we’ll spend enough time to take pictures. Trekking: 2,5-3 hours – Altitude: 4190m

Day 12 Arghunuk – 23th July 2020

Early in the morning, we will do another workshop to take appealing shots of the scenery in the first sunbeams of the day. After a rest, we ‘ll spend time in the village which is divided in three different parts. We can walk throught the village to explore the Kyrgyz life and do another photography workshop. Altitude: 4190m

Day 13 Arghunuk – Sirt – 24th July 2020

After a short trek, we’ll arrive in Sirt where we’ll stay overnight and prepare everything for the next two trekking days back to Gaz Khan. As the following two days of trekking will be tough, we’ll have a rest. Trekking: 1 hour – Altitude: 4180m

Day 14 Sirt – Nakhchirsheetik River – 25th July 2020

The first of two long trekking days to get back to the Wakhan. We will sleep near the Nakchirsheetik river in our tents. Trekking: 8 hours – Altitude: 3700m

Day 15 Nakhchirsheetik River – Gaz Khan – 26th July 2020

A tough trekking day like at the beginning of our journey. In the late afternoon, we’ll arrive in Gaz Khan and have a rest in the guesthouse where we’ll sleep and have dinner. Trekking: 9 hours – Altitude: 2800m

Day 16 Gaz Khan – Ishkashim – Khorog 27th July 2020

Right after breakfast, we’ll drive back to Ishkashim and cross the border into Tajikstan. In the afternoon of the same day, we’ll continue with another ride to Khorog, where we’ll stay overnight. Driving: 10-12 hours – Altitude: 2065m

Day 17 Khorog – Dushanbe – 28th July 2020

Early in the morning, we’ll start driving from Khorog back to the capital, Dushanbe. Along the way, we’ll stop for lunch in Kalaikhum. We ‘ll arrive in the late evening in Dushanbe, where the expedition ends. Driving: 12-14 hours – Altitude: 706m

Dates and Prices

Date: 12th July – 28th July
Cost: $4650
Group size: Min. 4 – Max. 8
Starting/ending point: Dushanbe / Dushanbe
Trip Leader: Priska Seisenbacher
Cost includes: All the accommodation and meal as mention in the expeditions program (BLD), local English speaking guide, and ground transportation.

Price is based on double occupancy: a single supplements of $380 will apply*
*Note: We will make every effort to connect you with a roommate should you like to share a room, however, if unable to make a match, the single supplements will be apply. During the stay in the remote part will try the best to find the most comfort.

A deposit of $1000 is required to hold your spot, balance is due 60 day prior to departure

As a traveller and photographer it became a passion to visit exceptional remote places, because there are some untold stories to find. Stories of people and their lives those disserve more awareness. After a while I focused on the Persian cultural area as well as on the Silk Road in general and I learned Persian. To be honest I lost my heart to Iran, Afghanistan’s Wakhan and Tajikistan a long time ago and I spent a lot of time there to experience the rich cultures and various beauty of these regions

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