Wildlife and tourism in Tajikistan

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Home Tourism in Zong

Zong at a glance

The NGO "Yuz Palang" (Wakhi/Tajik for "snow leopard") has been established in 2012 after a snow leopard attacked livestock on the summer pastures near Zong and was photopgraphed by community members. The NGO Panthera started assisting local herders in making their livestock corrals predator-proof. In 2013 the NGO established the community-based conservancy area in the upper part of Wakhan valley, in the area with the famous Peaks Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

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The members of the community group protect the area and assist herders in preventing livestock losses from predators. like snow leopards. Income from tourism and strictly controlled trophy hunts on very few ibex provide the necessary means for the Yuz Palang's nature protection actibvities and the social-economic development of the members' community.

Tourism opportunities

The conservancy area offers excellent trekking opportunities combining the experience of stunning nature and traditional culture. The high mountain village of Dirch is one of the starting points for trekking and mountaineering at Peaks Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. You can also visit remnants of abandoned villages and historic castles. Above Dirch local guides can show you a large hidden cave, which in the past was used as shelter by local people. You can visit the summer camp sites of the local herders and enjoy their dairy products. You can experience tradtional culture of the Wakhi people. From the conservancy area you have an impressive view over the upper Wakhan valley, at the confluence of the Pamir and Wakhan rivers, and the ppeaks of the Hindukush Range, forming the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Often you can see Afghan people - Kyrgyz and Wakhi - in their traditional dresses, with caravans of camels and horses on the way between their high mountain pastures and the bazaars, not much different than during the times of the Silk Road.

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“Yuz Palang” has been succesful in controlling poaching and has guidid first successful hunting tours on Asiatic ibex. At maximum one out of hundred ibex counted during the most recent surveys and not more than one out of five old males above the age of seven years will be used. Thus it will be guaranteed that the population will not suffer from overexploitation and selective take-off. And hunting tourists will have a good choice of trophy size old ibex males. All tours will be organized strictly on the basis of official permits the NGO will obtain for their guests by the responsible state authorities.

Practical Information

How to get there?

The conservancy is located in the upper part of the Wakhan at the southern slopes of the Shohdara Range near the villages Zugvand, Zong and Langar. It includes a number of gorges and high mountain peaks.

You can go by car to all villages. From there you can hire donkeys are available for carrying luggage or for riding.

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Coordinates: 37.039945 N // 72.621582 E

Where to stay

Members of “Yuz Palang” provide home stay in their houses.They would also care that different NGO members and other people from the community can profit from tourism. There is a simple toilet and you can take a shower with hot water from a bucket in a simple bathroom. The food offered is of local Tajik style. In the mountains you can sleep in your tent or just enjoy the night under the stars. Good sights for camping are at the riverbanks where green meadows provide excellent grounds for tent. Clean drinking water is available from many springs and streams.

Guides

It is recommended to hire guides from “Yuz Palang”, who are excellent trekking guides and are able to show you the rare wildlife. For carrying the luggage they are usually able to assist you in hiring donkeys.

What to bring with you?

Bring with you trekking equipment including good shoes, binocular and photo equipment. For taking wildlife pictures you will need a large lens. The local guides also have binoculars and one spotting scope, which is essential for enjoying wildlife observations at long distances.

People provide local cuisine. There are few shops in Langar village.

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