Introducing Wakhan & the Afghan Pamir
Afghanistan’s Wakhan District is a narrow strip of land that juts eastwards 350km between Tajikistan and Pakistan to touch the Chinese border. Wakhan District has two distinct parts – the Wakhan Corridor and the Afghan Pamir.
The deep valley of the Wakhan Corridor is formed by the Panj River as it courses between the lofty mountains of Tajikistan to the north and the snowcapped Hindu Kush Range with 38 summits higher than 7000m to the south. Wakhan is the homeland of 12,000 Wakhi people who live in year-round villages along the Panj River’s south bank and its upper tributary, the Wakhan River, where they cultivate wheat, barley, peas, potatoes and a few apricot trees.
The Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Pamir ranges converge in the Afghan Pamir, known in Persian as the Bam-e Dunya (‘roof of the world’). Pamir, U-shaped, high-elevation valleys with lush seasonal meadows and vivid blue lakes, are renowned as summer grazing grounds, but lie snow-covered for more than six months of the year. The Afghan Pamir includes two such grasslands – the Big Pamir and the Little Pamir. Only occasional clusters of shrubs or willow, birch and other small trees break the vast landscape.
A vital branch of the Silk Road flowed through Wakhan. Petroglyphs depicting warriors, hunting scenes, caravans and Buddhist history, along with the occasional rabot (travellers’ shelter), bear silent witness to the tracks of tradition, and the rich heritage that once traversed remote Wakhan. Trekking is by far the most popular way to experience the natural beauty and cultural diversity of Wakhan, and the only way to visit the roadless Afghan Pamir.