The Fann Mountains

The Fann Mountains in TajikistanThe Fann Mountains (the Fanns) are an incredibly beautiful corner abounding in alpine lakes and snow-capped peaks, situated at the junction of two major mountain ranges in the Pamir-Alai system in Tajikistan - the Hissar and Zeravshan Ranges, not far from the world-famous ancient city of Samarkand. This is a truly unique highland region known from the past as Kuhistan (which translates from Farsi as ‘the country of mountains’).

Picturesque gorges and passes, rapid rivers, ancient glaciers and splendid emerald green and turquoise lakes, juniper forests and pointed summits, stably warm weather and good accessibility - all this makes the region highly attractive for mountaineers, trekkers and fans of outdoor activities, including their extreme versions.


The Fann Mountains in TajikistanAdministratively the Fann Mountains are situated in Sughd Region of Tajikistan. The administrative centre of the region is Khujand.

Geographically the Fanns form a kind of meridional bridge connecting the two major latitudinally oriented mountain ranges of the Pamir-Alai system - the Zeravshan Range on the north and the Hissar Range on the south. This isolation ensuring the protection of the region on all sides is what makes its climate, flora and fauna unique and original and highly attractive for travellers.

The length of the Fann Mountains is about 150 km. There is only one way for water to flow out of the closed depression bordered on all sides with mountain ranges - via the narrow gorge of the Fandarya River cutting its way through the Zeravshan Range. The largest watercourse of the region is the Zeravshan River, which is the third longest river (780 km) in Central Asia after the Syrdarya and Amudarya.


The continental climate of the Fann Mountains is considerably drier and more stable than that of the neighbouring Tien Shan, with a relatively small amount of average annual precipitation (250 mm).

The Fann Mountains in TajikistanSummer is hot and brings almost zero precipitation. Warm sunny windless weather always settles in the region throughout the period between June and September and even October.

Winter is cold and frosty. The area is divided into several climatic zones, altitudinally and from west to east.

The vertical zonation results in mild winter on the bottoms of valleys, at altitudes between 1,400 m and 1,600 m, with a large number of warm days, and hot but not stuffy summer. Temperatures may drop below zero in December-January. The temperature drops by 0.6-0.7°С and the level of precipitation rises with the increase of altitude by 100 m. At 3,200-3,400 m temperature may rise above zero only between May and September. Summer at altitudes from 3,400 m to 5,500 m is characterised by frequent cold days, when temperature may fall to minus 10-12°С, while in winter the air temperature may be as low as minus 25-30°С, which, however, does not prevent snow on rocks attacked by intense solar radiation from melting on sunny days. The most pleasurable altitudinal zone is that between 2,000 m and 2,800 m rich in meadows and forests. In summer during the day the air is heated well by the sun, and the nights are quite warm even at an altitude of 2,500 m.

Specificity: Most of the precipitation in the Fann Mountains occurs in the south (the upper stretches of the Sarymat and Karakul) and south-west (Archamaydan). The level is lower on Lakes Alaudin and Kulikalon, while the lower stretches of the Pasrud, Fandarya and Iskanderdarya are referred to arid zones.

Natural Specifications

The Fann Mountains in TajikistanThe Fanns include amazingly beautiful lakes ornamented with dazzling mountain peaks covered with a mixture of snow and ice. Most of these natural objects are concentrated in a limited area and are located at a distance of several hours on foot from each other. When you climb a path meandering along picturesque gorges with clearest streams which feed unique relict juniper forests and stop their rapid flows from time to time to form another breathtakingly beautiful emerald green or turquoise lake, and watch rare birds and animals in their natural environment and enjoy peaks and ridges of all forms, you thus absorb the salutary energy of Earth herself.

Among the Fann Mountains’ most characteristic features are large numbers of ancient end and ground moraines, glacial lakes and valleys with a rounded bottom and steep and tall ice-polished walls.

Fann Summits

The Fann Mountains’ highest point is Chimtarga Peak (5,489 m). South of Chimtarga, in the Zeravshan Range, there is another high peak - Energia (5,100 m). Mirali (5,200 m) is Chimtarga’s closest neighbor from the north. The most remarkable summits in the northern spur are Bodkhona (5,300 m) and Chapdara (5,200 m), in the southern one - Krasnykh Zor Peak and Bely Bars Peak.

The Fann Mountains in TajikistanThe summits that form the Eastern Fann Ridge (listed in sequence as they are in the ridge starting from Energia Peak) are: 4,000-metre summits - Zmeya (4,150 m), Fizkultura i Sport (4,120 m), Gratauleta (4,230 m), Chinal with the Fagitar Spur (4,277 m), Paykhamber (4,958 m); 5,000-metre peaks - Zamok (5,070 m), Cherny (5,010 m), Little Hansa (5,031 m), Big Hansa (5,306 m); 4,000-metre peaks - Fann-Ulla, Sarof, Korabliki, Zinah, Shome.

Sarof Peak gives rise to two spurs: the Turzul spur with Stupenka (4,200 m), Bashnya (4,200 m), Patrush (4,040 m) and Tangi Peaks diverges to the north, and a short spur with a 4,000-metre summit - Paltsy (4,150 m) - to the south.

The Western Fann Range includes summits such as Maria (4,800 m), Aurondag (4,600 m), Saryshakh (4,700 m) and Gaznych (4,200 m). The following summits can be found south of Energia Peak in the Zeravshan Range: Skalnaya Stena (4,734 m), Moscow (5,200 m), Sakharnaya Golova and Pushnovat (4,600 m). Further the range veers westwards to form a strong barrier of rocks and ice known as Dukdon featuring a few summits up to 5,000 m high.


The Fann Mountains in TajikistanDuring the glacial period the entire inner depression of the Fann Mountains and the Yaghnob Valley was filled with ice. As the climate was becoming increasingly milder, the mass of ice split into several glaciers which went as far down as the Fandarya River gorge forming the lower part of the depression.

As they withdrew, the glaciers left after them end moraines and extensive lakes. The melting water found an outlet into the Zeravshan valley via a narrow canyon.

The Fann Mountains’ glaciers are currently receding and their present condition is but a tiny trace of the great glaciation that in former times covered, like a shell, the now flowering valleys almost to their tops. Due to the arid climate, today’s glacification is not extensive, with around a hundred glaciers nowadays going down from the crests of the Zeravshan and Hissar Ranges. They are currently in a receding stage and continue to decrease in number and area throughout. Their former size can be established based on the end and ground moraines.

A large glacier once covered the entire Kulikalon depression, which currently consists of a uniform ground moraine. As it shrank and withdrew, the glacier divided into two streams. The first stream left after it moraine-dammed Lake Kulikalon, while the second one moraine-dammed Lakes Dushaha, the short glacier Maria and a series of cirque glaciers hanging under the slopes of Promezhutochny Peak.

There was another big glacier in the past at the mouth of the Chapdara River. The glacier went down below present-day Lakes Alaudin. Its end moraine is currently covered with a forest, and the Chapdara River cascades down from it nowadays.

The largest branch united the Lakes Moutniy cirque glaciers.

Lakes in the Fann Mountains

There is a bunch of many-coloured lakes concentrated in a relatively small area amid wonderful mountain landscapes, at the feet of snow-clad high mountains, surrounded by emerald woods. The water in these lakes ranges from gently green to dark purple.

The Fann Mountains feature around 40 lakes varying in size and character.  By now many of them have shrunk considerably because of the reduction in the flow of streams feeding them. Some of the lakes have disappeared completely, and dry depressions are all that has remained of them.

The present-day valleys of the Sarytog and Pasrud Rivers were formerly the bottoms of large lakes.  

Some of the Tajik lakes form two-lake systems. They include Dushaha, Ziyorat, Kulikalon, Chukurak, Pushnovat. Water from the upper of the two lakes flows into the lower one, and when the water level in the upper lake drops, the lower one shrinks or temporarily dries up.

Lakes Alaudin
Lake Ankatad
Lake Beloye (White Lake)
Lakes Big and Little Allo
Lake Dushaha
Lake Zamin-Mullah
Lake Iskanderkul
Lake Kulikalon
Lake Kulisiyokh
Lake Chukurak

Rivers in the Fann Mountains

All streams and watercourses in the Fann Mountains and the Yaghnob Valley are a part of the Zeravshan River basin. The Voru and Fandarya Rivers, the left tributaries of the Zeravshan, are highly important from the economic aspect, since they form a large portion of the flow of the river feeding the Samarkand and Bukhara oases.

The Fann Mountains in TajikistanThe rivers of the Fann Mountains rise at high altitudes, at around 3,000 m above sea level. They are fed primarily by melting glaciers and snow. Rainwater contributes but insignificantly. Underground water sources play even less important role in the flow of the rivers. The average water temperature in the Fann rivers ranges between 5°С and 12°С.

The flow fluctuates throughout the year. The highest water level is observed in summer (July-August). The flow may rise for a short time in spring and early summer, when strong thunderstorms occur in the mountains. By late summer the flow, particularly that of small snow-fed streams, decreases. In winter it drops considerably in all rivers. The water level in brooks and small streams fed by glaciers ranges strongly throughout the day. The flow starts in the morning, at 10-11 a.m., and stops after sunset. The numerous lakes naturally regulate the flow of rivers they are fed by. In winter the larger watercourses do not freeze, while the smaller ones either dry up or become covered with ice. Most of the streams have no fish in them, the others are inhabited only by small representatives of this type of aquatic animals.

The network of rivers in the Fann Mountains forms parts of two river basins - those of the Fandarya and Kshtut.


The banks of the fast streams of the Fann Mountains are frequented annually by hundreds of tourists interested in water activities. Water activities today are among the most popular outdoor activities. The rivers in the Fann Mountains are perfect for rafters of all levels.


The Fann Mountains in Tajikistan The Fann Mountains in Tajikistan The Fann Mountains in Tajikistan The Fann Mountains in Tajikistan

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