The Studio D 2019 Pamirs Expedition presents an unique opportunity to explore the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) of Tajikistan, on the borderlands of Afghanistan, China and Kyrgyzstan.
Our 2,000km overland journey, culminates in a three-day trek to Zorkul Lake, in the Zorkylsky Nature Reserve that straddles the Tajikistan/Afghanistan border. This high altitude trek starts at 4,000m and takes us over a 5,012m (16,400') pass before descending to the lake. We'll have a trekking guide, plus yaks for carrying gear.
New: deposit option, with the balance due in February 2019.
Who is this for?
Guaranteed interesting, occasionally very tough, the Pamirs Expedition will challenge who you are, and what you want to become.
The expedition suits people with an innate sense of adventure, curiosity, and a willingness to step out of their comfort zone. Studio D attracts an eclectic mix of people and career-experience in line with our projects and where we operate. We value having a gender, ethnic and life-stage diverse group.
Most of our attendees are accomplished professionals, often working at the forefront of their domains. Many self-describe as being “in transition”, looking for an experience that will provide the space to reassess the status quo, refocus and plan next steps.
There are few creature comforts in the Pamirs. Travel will be at the edge of and off-grid and will provide the opportunity to fully disconnect from email and social media.
There is plenty of down-time built in, with space for exploring the markets of Khorog and Murghab, the unique cultural heritage and cuisine of the region and getting to know the other attendees. The region has a rich cultural and geopolitical history, with Tajikistan marking the edge of the Soviet empire.
We want you to make the most of this incredible journey.
Attendees are expected to contribute to the daily running of the expedition, and on certain days are given a distinct role and responsibilities in line with their experience and what they want to learn. We also encourage you to bring your life experience and goals to the fore.
We acknowledge our responsibility when operating in fragile and remote communities and take a medium- to long-term view of working relationships with our local team and partners to ensure it is positive and sustainable.
Due to high demand, we've added a second expedition:
Arrive July 18th, depart August 2019 (15 days).
Arrive July 1st, depart July 15th 2019 (15 days). [SOLD OUT]
The Expedition starts and ends in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, the nearest accessible airport. On the second day we cross the high-altitude border post into the GBAO where the adventure begins.
We recommend arriving in Osh a few days early to acclimatize, and to extend the trip by a few days to decompress and explore Kyrgyzstan. The Osh Bazaar provides a welcome introduction to being in Central Asia. Our local team can advise on making the most of your onward travel.
Once in the GBAO we'll follow the Pamir Highway through Murghab, a town of 4,000 people that provides the first real taste of Pamir life. From here we head to Khorog, a bustling town with magnificent view of Afghan mountain ranges, and the jumping off point for a lower altitude, two-day warm-up trek, to help bodies acclimatize.
We then follow the Panj River that separates Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and leads us into the fabled Wakhan Corridor, to the start of our trek—a remote hunting lodge, where we'll meet out trekking guide and yaks.
The first day of the trek will take us through a 5,012m pass, before descending to Zorkul Lake. The snows will have cleared by then (photo above from April 2018), but the weather at that altitude can still be unpredictable. The second and third days we trek at around 4,400m, camping along the way. There are a smattering of natural hot springs in the GBAO, including one at the end of the trek.
We have two sturdy 4WDs, ideal for the rigours of the Pamir Highway and off-roading to remote communities. Aside from the Studio D drivers , attendees will also have the opportunity to drive off-road in one of the world’s last unexplored wildernesses.
Yaks to carry expedition gear for the trek, including SDR Traveller prototypes.
We’ll be staying in carefully selected home stays, guesthouses with a few days camping. A remote hunting lodge is the jumping off point for the three-day trek.
Rooms are communal and/or gender split. If additional privacy is required, find a corner to make your own. At high altitude, you’ll likely want the warmth of humans nearby.
Studio D will supply tents and other expedition equipment, such as sat phone.
Attendees are required to bring hiking boots (that include solid ankle support), a three-season sleeping bag and roll mat, along with a waterproof jacket and insulating layers. A recommended list of equipment will be provided.
Making the Most of the Expedition
We’ll provide a number of resources to help you make the most of the journey and our local crew can suggest an itinerary for onward travel.
The Expedition is part of a multi-year Studio D investment in the region.
The price of the Pamirs Expedition is $5,000 and includes all local transport, trekking permits, food and accommodation, plus drivers, fixer and access to our local network. The price does not include international flights, visas or alcohol. For most nationalities an eVisa for Tajikistan is available for $70.
For the deposit option, the balance due in February 25th, 2019.
For those of you who see this as an investment in professional skills we offer an optional two-day Designing for Resource Constrained Communities Masterclass, at a discount for Expedition attendees.
All payments, including deposits are non-refundable. You are welcome to transfer your place to another person.
While we do our utmost to ensure an interesting and safe expedition, there are always elements outside our control, such is the nature of travel to the GBAO. All attendees are required to sign a Studio D risk waiver form.
The balance on the deposit (the $4,000) is required by February 25th, 2019. If payment is not received by then, the deposit will be forfeited and we will make the place available for another attendee. Please ask if you have any questions.
All payments including deposits are non-refundable. You are welcome to transfer your place to another person.
About the Expedition Team
The July 1st to July 15th Expedition is lead by Studio D founder Jan Chipchase. The July 18th to August 1st Expedition is lead by Gyula Simonyi.
Both include a professional driver, fixer and support staff drawn from our local network.
About Studio D
Studio D provides discreet international research, design and strategy services to multinational clients with a global remit.
We use human centered design, remote sensing, rapid calibration and many other established and experimental techniques to document and decipher human motivation. Our projects impact strategy, design, public policy, community engagement, partnership models and brands. Most of our projects are for Fortune 100 clients, although we also work with startups, government agencies, and non profit organisations.
Our team have experience of running field projects in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Somalia, Myanmar, Bolivia as well as more established consumer hotspots including China, Brazil, India, Japan and the US.
We run projects that challenge minds and flutter hearts.