Short Walk Expedition

 

Update: The 2019 Short Walk team is now full. To be notified of future expeditions, drop your email here.

In August 2019 Studio D is running a three-week Short Walk Expedition to the Big Pamir in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor. The journey includes high altitude trekking through remote Wakhi settlements, alpine meadows and spectacular mountain passes. We have space for up to eight attendees. Details below.

 

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Ethos

A well thought-out travel experience challenges who you are and what aspire to become.

It starts with the people we attract, their willingness learn, and to strive towards a shared goal. Once the full team is in place, we assign each attendee a role and responsibilities in line with their skills and how they want to grow. We’re transparent about the planning process and welcome input prior to arrival at the rendezvous in Dushanbe, Tajikistan (input is optional, although it will enhance the experience). 

Studio D are professionals in cross-cultural research, and as such attendees will be exposed to our field methods, including finding the right balance between ethics and hustle, negotiations, cross-cultural team dynamics, problem solving, all under challenging and interesting environments. 

Our decision making process adheres to the One Body principle that acknowledges that the success of the Expedition is rooted in an ethic of mutual care, relying on the physical and mental well being of all members of the team.

Studio D expeditions are part of our larger investment in the Pamir region. For example, we are building capacity to support trekking guides to ensure that our presence has a long-term positive impact on the livelihoods of the people and communities we engage.

Team

The Short Walk is lead by Jan Chipchase, with support from our local support staff in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Our local team includes our Sultan Eshkashim fixer, a trekking guide and cook, with yaks and horses to carry gear. We will accept up to eight applicants. 

We cover the cost of a NOLS Wilderness Advanced First Aid Course (or equivalent training) for one attendee that wishes to take on the Medic II role, in support of the primary medic.

Route

The journey starts in Dushanbe, Tajikistan where we'll drive 4WDs down to Khorog to pick up visas and supplies, before crossing the border into Afghanistan at Ishkashim. After meeting up with our fixer and trekking guide we'll obtain the necessary permits, and it'll take at least two days to drive to the trailhead.

The trekking portion of the expedition to the Big Pamir, ten days spent at altitudes up to 4,900 meters (16,000ft) is in some ways the most straightforward part of the journey. We trek between five and nine hours per day, starting at the gateway to the Wakhan Corridor, along remote mountain ranges inhabited by Wakhi shepherds and sparse Kyrgyz settlements, before arriving at the hamlet of Sarhad e Broghil, with a mountain backdrop that marks the border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and beyond that the Hindu Kush.

Time and weather permitting, we will make a first, non-technical ascent on one of the mountains en route.

With the trek complete, we’ll take two days to return to the border town of Sultan Eshkashim before heading to our guesthouse in Khorog to decompress. On the final day we conduct an expedition debrief, to discuss the experience and share lessons learned. Our goal is to enable every attendee to take on increasingly adventurous travel with more insight, better skills and higher confidence. The expedition closes with a celebration banquet.

Our team can advise on making the most of your onward travel. We chose Khorog as the end point, for easy access to Tajikistan’s Pamir highway, should you decide to travel to the Silk Road town of Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

Fitness

Trekking at high altitude is physically demanding. For those looking to raise their fitness level, we can recommend a training regime.

Expect to return leaner and lighter.

Food

We fly-in food supplies to compliment local ingredients bought at the markets of Khorog (Tajikistan) and Sultan Eshkashim (Afghanistan), and what we can buy or barter from local shepherds en route.

Let us know if you have any dietary restrictions. 

Obvious alcohol is confiscated at the Afghanistan border.

Accommodation

Accommodation is a mix of guesthouses, yurts and on the trek, camping.

Transport

4WDs to the trailhead. Early starts to be able to ford rivers before the snow melt kicks in.

Trekking on foot with daypack, supported by yaks and horses for carrying gear.

Equipment

We supply most of the equipment and will recommend a packing list on sign-up. You'll be required to bring a four-season sleeping bag and worn-in hiking boots with good ankle support.

Dates

Starting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on the first week in August, 2019.

Ending in Khorog, Tajikistan 21 days later 

Exact dates are only shared with successful applicants. 

Cost

The total amount of Expedition is USD$7,250

The ticket price does not include flights to/from the Expedition, visas, travel insurance or alcohol. 

All logistics are arranged ahead of time. We require a non-refundable deposit of $1,450 to secure your spot and to cover the vetting and advance costs. The balance is due by March 31st 2019. If the full payment is not received by then, the deposit will be forfeited and we will make the place available for another attendee. Please contact us if you have any questions before booking.

Risks

We’ve chosen a route that exposes the team to diverse and often-unpredictable conditions. Higher risk regions and places that live under variable rules of law demand a constant evaluation and re-evaluation of best- and worst-case scenarios, and a process for understanding, surfacing and mitigating risk, often on the fly. The mindset and skills this requires can be applied to all aspects of life. In the event that the Tajikistan/Afghanistan border is closed, we’ll initiate a plan B, to be discussed. That said, the Wakhan Corridor is a relatively peaceful part of Afghanistan.

The expedition includes briefings that cover the psychology of travel to higher risk environments, the fundamentals of wilderness medical care, wellbeing and team dynamics, and on the last day we run a retrospective to reinforce what we learned on the journey.

For all that you might imagine can go wrong, the greater risk is looking back on a life half-lived.

How To Apply

Candidates are reviewed within two weeks of completing the application form and, if suitable, we set up a call to discuss the expedition risks and answer any questions. For successful applicants, we provide instructions to sign-up. Everyone is welcome to apply but consider carefully prior to leaving a deposit.

Please note, as of writing Chinese, Japanese and Russian passport holders are currently refused visas to Afghanistan.

 

Apply To Join Expedition