Introducing Chapursan Valley
Stretching northwest of Afiyatabad for approximately 80km towards the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, the remote Chapursan Valley sees very few visitors though it offers splendid trekking opportunities and the chance to experience the renowned Wakhi hospitality and culture.
Just beyond the northern limit of Afiyatabad the winding link road to Chapursan intersects with the KKH. After travelling through crumbling mountains and sliding scree slopes that make the trip adventurous at any time but exceedingly dangerous during rain, the simple but colourful Panja Shah Ziarat, a shrine to a Sufi saint, is reached after about 40 minutes. Soon after, the first village of the valley, Yazrich is signalled by a rare splash of green vegetation and low stone-and-mud dwellings typical of the valley. Fifteen minutes further is the large village of Raminj, mostly hidden above the road. The next three villages – Aminabad, Rahimabad and Nurabad – are clustered where the valley broadens into a bowl and are collectively known as Kirmin. Ten minutes on, massive slopes of grey scree are separated from the green wheat terraces and irrigation canals of Kil, a village that spans the river and is linked by a tenuous suspension bridge. The next villages along the valley road are Reshit and nearby Sher-e-Sabz, each with a guesthouse, then Ispanj and Shuthmarg, before the final village of Zood Khun, at about 3500m.
At Zood Khun, accommodation, trekking information, yak and jeep transport and more can be found at the Pamir Serai guesthouse run by the redoubtable Alam Jan Dario, horseman, musician and ambassador of Wakhi Tajik culture. As the operator of Pamir Trails (www.pamirtrails.com), Alam Jan Dario runs cultural and adventurous treks on foot or horseback into the valleys and over the passes of his spectacular homeland.
Beyond Zood Khun is the mystical and holy Baba Ghundi Ziarat, a shrine to a Sufi saint said to have miraculous powers, and a popular pilgrimage site. The shrine is surrounded by meadows that host herds of sheep in summer and, sporadically from June to September, Kyrgyz traders from Afghanistan who traditionally cross the Irshad Pass with horses, yaks and sheep to trade with the Chapursan villagers.