Country/Region: Pamir, Tajikistan
Trekking Date: 2014-09-01
Duration: 4 days
Difficulty Level: Difficult
The ascent to Vrang pass is difficult, the pass is at 5067m and there’s no clear path (at least we didn’t find one). besides the ascent, rest of the trek is moderate.
Recommended Season: July-August
Maximum Height: 5067m
The trek starts at the village of Rubot, situated in Shokh Dara valley. It goes up the Vrang valley towards Vrang pass, crosses the pass and continues south, following the Vnukut river down to the village of Vrang in the Wakhan valley.
Required Equipment & Supply:
All required equipment and supply for 3-4 days of independent trek should be carried. Trekking poles are very important in some parts of the route. Water can be filled from the main river (we purified it) or from smaller streams along the route.
All supplies should be bought in Khorog (Don’t plan on buying anything in Rubot). You’ll be able to buy food when you get to Vrang.
GBAO permit must be obtained in order to get to Khorog (can be done at Dushanbe or in Tajik embassies in neighboring countries.
Note that marks on this map are not completely accurate and do not substitute a proper trekking map.
Getting to/from there:
Getting from Khorog to Rubot (98km) might take a long time if you rely on public transport or hitchhiking since the road takes about 4 hours (it is only paved half way) and there’s very little traffic. We hired a taxi driver in Khorog to take us all the way to Rubot.
From Vrang you’ll be able to find a taxi going to Ishkashim and from there back to Khorog.
Distance: 10 KM
we arrived at Rubot around 14:00 after the ride from Khorog and started walking.
when getting to Rubot, you’ll need to cross the bridge over shokh-dara river to its south bank (1), just near where the Vrang River (this is the river going south which you’ll follow up to the pass) is joining the Shokh-dara river.
From there, Vrang river is going south-east and breaking south after about 1km. You’ll need to look for the path going east, north to the Vrang river valley, (it’s a wide path, suitable for 4×4 vehicles) and then turning south to join the river valley on its east bank (look at the map above and use the relevant soviet military map – link below).
After joining the Vrang river, the route just goes along the river’s east bank and it is very easy to follow. We walked for about 4 hours and camped at point (2)
Distance: 11 KM
Keep walking along the path in the wide river valley, until reaching a shepherd’s hut (3) which was populated at that time.
From the hut, taking the path going up south-east with the main river – a short and steeper ascent on a bit rocky terrain. Keep heading south following the main river (the river valley opens-up again and become grassier), passing some small lakes, you’ll start seeing the pass in the distance in front of you.
We arrived at point (4), where the steep climb to the pass begins, around 14:00, but the pass seemed very cloudy so we decided to stop and do the climb the following morning.
Distance: 14 KM
The ascent to Vrang pass is challenging and the path is not very clear for most of the way. Stick to the trail as marked in the relevant Soviet military map.
From the foot of the pass, there’s a stream going up south, directly to the pass. We walked a bit west of this stream, inside a very small stream going south-west (we simply stuck to the western slopes of the pass and found a comfortable place to walk). Again, you should basically follow the trail marked on the soviet map but walk where it seems most comfortable.
After going south-west for about 300m, keep following that stream as it turns south and climbs straight up. After a short climb, you’ll see the pass south-east from you (above you and to the left). At this point, just find a reasonable path on the snow-covered face and climb to the pass (5). The climb to the pass took us about 3 hours.
The view from the pass is amazing and on a clear day, you’ll be able to see all the way to the Hindu-Kush Mountains in Afghanistan.
From the pass, descending south into the deep and wide Vnukut river valley. Again, no clear path down, just follow the stream as marked in the soviet military map (about 300m) until getting down to the river valley.
From there, heading down south with the Vnukut river. After about 1km cross to the eastern bank and keep following it. If you find a clear path, try not to lose it. We didn’t find a clear path in the first few kilometers so we just walked by the river wherever seemed reasonable. However, at certain points the walk was very uncomfortable and a few places where the river became steeper and narrower required extra caution!
We found a comfortable path after a while, but maybe we just didn’t notice it until that point – just look for it and avoid getting yourself into dangerous crossings.
Keep following the river south until getting to a little grassy area by the river (6), just before the conjunction with a river from your left (coming from north-east). This is probably the best camping spot you’ll find before getting to Vrang.
Distance: 8 KM
Keep heading south along the river and don’t lose the path as the river gets very steep and narrow at certain parts (and you can no longer go along the stream) so the path goes up to the slopes above the river where it’s reasonable to walk. This is most prominent in the last few kilometers before getting to Vrang.
About 1km before Vrang, the path leaves the main river and you’ll get to the slopes above the village of Vrang (7) – a beautiful stretch of the wakhan corridor, with the Hindu-Kush Mountains on the background.
From this viewpoint, descending into the Vrang village you’ll see a Buddhist temple on the way, just above the village.
In Vrang (8), you can find places to buy food, although you’ll probably be invited by someone for a meal…
Below are links to relevant 1:100K topographic maps (Soviet military maps). Hard copies can be bought at PECTA in Khorog. The trail marks on these maps are very accurate so just follow them.
This map covers all the trek, except for the first 1-2 kilometers:
This map covers Rubot area and the beginning of the trek:
Things To Do Around:
Bibi Fatima hot springs – About 7km west of Vrang there’s a road going north up the mountains towards Yamchun village and Yamchun Fort and up to Bibi Fatima hot springs. You can ask a driver in Vrang to take you all the way up there.
Saturday Afghan Bazaar in Ishkashim – An Afghan bazaar is being held on Saturday morning in Ishkashim, on the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Very recommended… However, note that it might be cancelled occasionally for certain reasons without notice (or at least so we heard).