A mountainous paradise embroidered with oases of Persian culture, Tajikistan offers epic road trips and unforgettable vistas. With more than 93% of the terrain dominated by mountains the country is packed with sites for trekking and climbing. Rarely visited, the Pamirs are unjustly obscure and underrated for one of the great Asian ranges. Travel through tiny Ismaili smallholdings in steep sided gorges or cross vast Pamir valleys dotted with colourful Kyrgyz yurts, following one of the highest international highways in the world. Tajikistan is full of jaw-dropping sights and memorable experiences.
You’ll discover blue-tiled shrines, walled cities and Buddhist stupas reminding the visitor of its past as a stopping off point on the silk road and wonder why the monuments are not as famous as those of the country’s neighbours.
This small but stunning mountain range is a perfect playground for adventure seekers. Towering mountains of over 5000 metres guard picture-perfect emerald green lakes, fringed by juniper forest. The maze of shepherd trails allows trekkers to roam the valleys and passes where they may be invited to visit the locals for a mug of chai and a bowl of fresh yoghurt.
The M41, better known as the Pamir Highway, is the second highest international highway in the world. Large parts are still unpaved and prone to avalanches, landslides and flooding, making this route perfect for an epic adventurous road trip. The Pamir Highway stretches from Termiz in Uzbekistan over the high-altitude mountain passes of the Tajik Pamirs to Osh in Kyrgyzstan, for a total journey length of 1250km. It is one of the most spectacular mountain roads in the world and a must-do for all adventure travellers.
THE HIGH PAMIRS
The High Pamirs harbour the 77km long Fedchenko Glacier the largest in the world outside the Polar regions. It is fuelled by incredible high mountains, with Pik Ismoil Somoni the largest at 7495m (it was the highest peak in the former Soviet Union). The altitude, vastness and remote character of the Pamirs allow a small population of snow leopards to call this home. Known in ancient times as the roof of the world, the trekking possibilities are endless and you’re unlikely to encounter any other travellers. Experience it for yourself on our Pamir Mountain Lakes expedition to the region.
THE WAKHAN CORRIDOR
The Panj river, the Oxus of antiquity, carves its way through the Wakhan Valley to drain into the deserts of Uzbekistan. It divides Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and also separates the Pamir Mountains from the Hindu Kush. On the Tajik side of the Wakhan Valley you can find a number of ancient fortresses and Buddhist stupas which emphasize the historic importance of this valley. Halfway through the valley there is the Bibi Fatima hot spring, which is said to boost women’s fertility. The valley has fine views over the six and seven thousand metre peaks of the Hindu Kush.
Tajikistan’s capital has a very European air, with a handful of stand-out sights. Tree-lined boulevards and neoclassical facades make it hard to believe that you are just a step away from China, Afghanistan, and the sub-continent. The museum of antiquities houses some interesting relics of the region’s Greco-Buddhist heritage, including a 13 metre-long Buddha statue. Dushanbe is dotted with parks, complete with beer and kebab stalls, making it a great place to unwind after a week or two in the mountains. Rudaki Park named after the father of Persian literature is in the centre of the city and marries modern and traditional formality.
Cradled in a river valley close to the Uzbek border, old Penjakent can be found above the modern town. The best mosaics and frescos have been excavated and taken to museums to preserve them yet there are still many extraordinary ruins of the ancient Sogdian trade centre. Up the valley can be found Sarazam, the 5000 year-old proto-urban area that is a UNESCO world heritage site. Hidden amongst the mountains is the mausoleum of Rudaki, the father of Persian poetry and Tajikistan’s national poet.
E-visa to be obtained in advance
It can get cold in Central Asia, especially at night. Temperatures at night can drop below freezing.
For up to date exchange rates please have a look at www.xe.com
Two prong European style systems (types C and F).
Poor internet connection/speed.
Bread is a staple. Regional variations but popular dishes include dumplings, grilled meats and rice, all frequently served with vegetables.
Alcohol is permitted and is widely available.
Tajik. Russian commonly spoken.
Islam. Sunni majority.
No special dress code.
SAFTEY & SECURITY
The FCO considers Tajikistan to be a low risk region to travel.
Christopher Baumer – The History of Central Asia (tetralogy)
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