Tajikistan travel guide, including map of Tajikistan, top Tajikistan travel experiences, tips for travel in Tajikistan, plus how to follow the Pamir Highway thr
Sandwiched between Afghanistan and China, this former Persian settlement is made up of a mêlée of clans. It has a long and swashbuckling history; it is the land where Alexander the Great battled the Scythians, where Russian and British spies played cat and mouse and, most recently, where civil war raged.
But despite being the poorest of all the former Soviet countries, it is rich in travel experiences, offering striking scenery and gargantuan peaks (a staggering 93% of the country is mountainous).
Perfect for those who like adventure with a capital A, this is a wild, rugged region where you’ll find yurt-dwelling farmers, gleaming lakes and the Pamir Highway, one of Asia’s greatest road trips.
Keep your documents handy as the military in all towns will be eager to vet your papers; there are numerous checkpoints, too. Arrive armed with small gifts to repay the Tajik hospitality you will undoubtedly encounter. Take a good first aid kit as you could find yourself a long way from medical facilities. A satellite phone is a must if you plan to head off into rural areas alone.
With 300 sunny days a year you would be hard pressed to pick a wrong time to visit, although the sweltering temperatures of around 40ºC in the summer months (June-September) don’t suit everybody. This is the best time to see the mountains but in early summer some river crossings can be dangerous. Winter temperatures between November and February hover around freezing in the capital but can plunge to between -20 and -40º C in the Pamirs. Some mountain passes are closed at this time. The best seasons are spring (March - May) and autumn (September-October). Spring is mild but wet and avalanches and landslides can leave roads impassable. Autumn is also mild and is perfect for trekking.
Dushanbe (DYU) 5 km from Dushanbe.
In the capital and large cities such as Khojand buses, minibuses and taxis are plentiful. Getting from A to B elsewhere is no mean feat. Trains run to some of the major destinations. Shared taxis and minibuses ply certain routes such as the run from Dushanbe to Khojand and Penjikent, and east to Khorog. Self-drive car hire is available though roads are bad, petrol stations are few and far between and there are no car recovery companies should you break down.
With a minimal tourist infrastructure, choices are limited. Hotels and rented apartments are usually soulless former Soviet blocks. Instead, opt for a homestay with a Tajik family or a spell in a mountain yurt. You’ll get to glimpse how Tajiks live and dine like a king but facilities are usually pretty basic, with squat toilets and no running water.
A traditional spread consists of dried fruit, sweets and nuts followed by soup, then meat and, finally, plov (fried rice, meat and chopped turnip or carrot). Meals are served with non (flatbread). Other specialties include qurotob (flaky bread coated in cheese ball liquid and topped with onions), mantu (steamed meat dumplings), sambusa (meat and onion pasty) and belyash (fried yeast case stuffed with minced meat). You’ll find plenty of dairy products, most commonly chaka (sour milk) and yoghurt, as well as an abundance of grapes and melons. Tea is served with meals, between meals and whenever else the occasion calls for it.
On the whole Tajikistan is stable and relatively safe. You should be careful near the volatile Afghan border. Unexploded mines are a hazard along the Afghan, Uzbek and Kyrgyz borders and in the Tavildara region. Lone female travelers should be wary, particularly outside the cities. Medical facilities are poor and basic supplies are thin on the ground. Take precautions against TB, typhoid cholera, malaria and altitude sickness – consult your GP or travel health clinic well in advance of departure.