Vakhan, the Vakhan Valley and the Vakhan Corridor are the different names for one of the most interesting places in the world. The picturesque valley is named so after the stream running on its bottom, the Vakhandarya, a tributary of the legendary Panj River flowing along Tajikistan's southwestern border, where Tajikistan is separated from Pakistan by a strip of Afghan land, narrow (between 20 km and 50 km) and long (200 km from the Tajik village of Ishkashim in the east to the Takmansudavan Pass on the Afghanistan-China border, in the west). Squeezed between the Pamir Mountains (Shakhdara and Alichur Ranges) from the north and Hindu Kush from the south, the territory is often called the Vakhan Corridor.
Although the area is extremely difficult to pass, the Vakhan Corridor since ancient times was actively used as a trade route, one of the Great Silk Road’s branches connecting Badakhshan in present-day Tajikistan and Yarkend in China. This was the way Marco Polo, the famous Italian merchant and traveller, used in 1271. These areas remember the troops of Alexander the Great and the Caliphate, as well as the Mongol hordes. In the late 19th century the region became an arena for the competition between Russia and Great Britain, the world’s strongest powers at that time. All this has made the Vakhan culture an original blend of different religions, traditions and systems, while the local people are remaining in perfect harmony with the majestic mountains they live amidst.
In recent years the region has grown greatly popular among tourists travelling in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. As ASIA ADVENTURES does not organise tours in the territory of Afghanistan, below you will find descriptions of the most interesting attractions in the Tajik portion of the Vakhan Valley.
The most popular places in the Vakhan Valley are the villages of Ishkashim, Yamg, Yamchun, Langar and Vrang, the ancient fortresses Kaahka, Yamchun and Ratm and the Fatia-Bibi spring. The area abounds in beautiful views of the Panj and Vakhandarya Rivers and their valleys and the snow-capped peaks of Hindu Kush. The Vakhan Corridor serves as a starting point for the ascent of a number of world-famous peaks, such as Mayakovsky, Karl Marx and Engels.
The people in the Vakhan villages are hospitable, friendly and good-natured.