I am looking for 3 travel partners to join me on my next trip to Central Asia

If you are a nature photographer or a nature photography enthusiast, come with me to one of remote and rarely visited by foreigners corners of Tajikistan.

Goal

This season is the best for photography of Tien-Shan Brown Bear, and good for Siberian Ibex and Tajik Marhor (a.k.a. Screw-horned Goat – a critically endangered species whose last population still remains only in this area). My main goal will be photography of these subjects. Other participants of the trip will be able to chose photography subjects according to own preferences and priorities.

Photographing Marhors, or Screw-horned Goats, is my main goal for this trip. Here you see a photograph that I made during my trip in July 2013 when the season wasn't favourable.

Photographing the last population of Marhors, or Screw-horned Goats, is my main goal for this trip. Here you see a photograph that I made during my trip in July 2013 when the season wasn’t favourable.

Destination

This short trip goes to an area at Peak Julius Fučik and near Pyanj River at the Tajik-Afghan border (marked with red dot on the map below).

The red circle indicates the destination of the trip I plan in 2014

The red circle indicates the destination of the trip I plan in 2014

The place where we are going to stay is situated near Afghan-Tajik border on the mountains at the right bank of Pyanj River, in vicinity of Peak Julius Fučik.

The place where we are going to stay is situated near Afghan-Tajik border on the mountains at the right bank of Pyanj River, in vicinity of Peak Julius Fučik.

Schedule

The trip will last for only one week (7 days) – between March 24 and April 6, 2014. The final dates have to be agreed between the participants. I chose this season because it is optimal for photography of bears, very good for landscapes and good for ungulates. Therefore these three subjects can be covered in this one trip.

Cost

With 4 persons participating, the trip is going to cost each of us around 1400 USD which is a fixed price requested for local organisation and logistics: around 200$/day x 7 days (are to be payed to local organisers upon arrival). This includes accommodation, meals (full board), transportation on road, services of a highly experienced guide, if necessary, also services of porters and helpers on terrain. This relatively high cost per person per day has the following reasons:

  1. The location we are going to is a private game reserve. The prices for stay and work there are set by its owners. It is one of few places in Tajikistan where it is almost guaranteed that you photograph a bear. It is also the only one place in this country and one of few in the world where opportunities to photograph marhors are guaranteed.
  2. The activities of every photographer have to be tailored for his needs. There will be no such thing as group of photographers walking together and photographing the same subjects. Instead everyone will receive personal services.

Alcohol drinks, personal expenses (shopping, cigarettes, medicine, etc.), personal preferences (such as special food and drinks), tips are not included and have to be payed extra.

Additionally we may need some money on the arrival and departure days (for food, etc.) – not more than 50 or 100$ per day. However, it depends on whether we will spend some time in the city or go directly to the location. In the last case no extra costs have to be expected.

A return flight from Europe to Dushanbe or Kulob costs around 360-700€ depending on the city you fly from. A flight from US (East Coast) should cost around 1000$. A tourist visa to Tajikistan costs around 60US$.

I expect the total cost of this trip for travellers from Europe not to exceed 1800€ (including flight).

What to expect

  • Opportunity to photograph the 3 species of mammals mentioned above at a distance of 50-100m. (Note: Of course, as with any wildlife, it is a matter of luck how close you get to the subject: It may be closer or farther than this.)
  • With some luck, there are chances for sighting or even for photography of Snow Leopard and Asian Porcupines.
  • Good opportunities for bird photography.
  • Fantastic scenery – great opportunities for landscape photography.
View at Pianj River and the mountains in Afghanistan

View at Pianj River and the mountains in Afghanistan

Alpine meadow at Fučik Peak

Alpine meadow at Fučik Peak

View at Fučik Peak.

View at Fučik Peak.

View from Tajik bank of Pyanj River at an abandoned village in Afghanistan.

View from Tajik bank of Pyanj River at an abandoned village in Afghanistan.

What will you need

The minimum requirements are the following:

  • A camera with a telephoto lens (minimum 300-400 mm), if you are interested in wildlife photography, and a wide-angle lens (for landscapes). If you aren’t going to photograph but only are interested in watching wildlife, you’ll need a binocular.
  • You have to be reasonably fit but no special physical training or skills (such as mountaineering) are necessary. It will be possible to choose for you personally such daily activities that will match your preferences and physical condition. However, to get the best results from this trip you should be able to walk for 3-5 hours at altitudes of 1000 – 2500 m above sea level and to climb (by walking) mountains and hills with stony and rocky slopes of  25-45°.
  • The accommodation and meals will be provided by a local family in their house that they maintain as a base for foreign hunting tourists. It is a stone building, but not a five-stars hotel. You should be open-minded to accept some reduced comfort and tolerant to local customs and traditional way of life.
  • Good hiking shoes – suitable for walk on rocky terrain. You may also find hiking poles helpful.
  • Warm cloths – for temperature down to -10°C – and windy weather.
  • Some knowledge of English or German – to be able to communicate with me and other members of our group.
  • Insurances: It’s up to you which insurances you will have when you go on this trip. I would recommend to get at least a good health insurance.

What you will not need

The following isn’t required for this trip:

  • Tent.
  • Sleeping bag and mat.
  • Camping utilities, such as stove, dishes, etc.
  • Knowledge of local language.
  • Own food supplies (except maybe some special food that you would like to have for your own)

Safety

Although the area this trip goes to is in immediate proximity to Afghanistan, it is absolutely safe. Tajikistan is a very peaceful country inhabited by very friendly and polite people. It is separated from Afghanistan by Pyanj River – a broad and very quick stream that is almost impossible to cross, particularly in this season. Afghanistan is a very big country, and extremist activities and political instability are focused in other parts of its territory than the area at the border to Tajikistan.

Please note: This is not a photo tour that I am leading. I organise this trip for my own photography work and finance it for myself with my private money. To reduce its cost for me, I am inviting not more than 3 persons interested in photography or wildlife watching in this region to join me as a partner and to share expenses. No payments in advance will be required.

 
Everyone interested in this trip is welcome to contact me via personal messaging on this site or using contact information on my website:
www.nature-images.eu