Tajikistan Discovery

Tajikistan Discovery

From $ 2,885 AUD

Description

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan sprawl across the vast expanses of Central Asia but are still hidden from many visitor’s minds, despite offering outstanding beauty, simplicity and a feeling of complete remoteness. The allure lies in the heritage of the Silk Road, where ideas, culture and people flowed from East to West, and in the green field backcountry and sweeping mountain landscapes that play host to the traditional nomadic lifestyle. Journey through cities featuring crumbling reminders of Soviet occupation and influence and out into the stunning wilds, where the ancient history of these long-lived nations – Persian and Mongol, Buddhist and Muslim – becomes clearer. While political and military forces have battled over these regions, life in these isolated areas has changed little in the past centuries – the families you will stay with in their homes have remained, while empires have fallen.

Trip Name
Tajikistan Discovery
Last Updated
2019-07-25
Days
13
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Experience the legendary hospitality of Central Asia. With five nights spent across Tajikistan's excellent homestay network, you'll immerse yourself in local life
  • Skirting the border with Afghanistan, get glimpses of the other side, from the hair-raising Afghan-built footbridges (ovrings) to the exotic imports on display in Khorog's local bazaar
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch as you take in the splendour of Karakul, the largest lake of some 800 in the Pamirs
  • Soaring along the iconic Pamir Highway is an unforgettable experience, especially in fine weather when the mighty peak of Muztag Ata rears its head
  • Dushanbe is perfect final stop. With included visits to the Hissor Fort and National Museum of Antiquities, you can discover the nation's capital while learning more about the country's fascinating past

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. TAJIKISTAN Due to the remote location and landscape of where we travel in Tajikistan, conditions can change suddenly and may affect your itinerary. Tajikistan is located in an active seismic zone. There’s been an increase in the number of earthquakes in Tajikistan during 2016 and 2017; most are small but affect remote areas of the country. Avalanches and landslides often block roads in the spring and early summer. In late spring and summer Tajikistan is prone to seasonal flooding and mudslides caused by melting glaciers. While it's likely that your trip will be trouble-free, it's important to be aware that at times we may need to make last minute changes to your itinerary in response to local conditions.

Day 1 - Bishkek
Welcome to Central Asia! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early, be sure to explore Bishkek. You'll find it's a relaxed city of wide streets, trees and parklands, and a palpable Soviet past. TsUM Department Store in the city centre is renowned for having the best range of Kyrgyz souvenirs for shopping. Also check out the State Historical Museum, which can't hide from its former guise – the National Lenin Museum. As we will leave Bishkek on Day 2 and do not include any activities here as part of our tour we recommend arriving a few days earlier to experience all that this city has to offer.
Day 2 - Chychkan/Toktogul/Kok Bel
Depart Bishkek and travel to Toktogul (approximately 6 hours) though spectacular mountain scenery today. This is an urban settlement in the Jalal-Abad province of Kyrgyzstan. You will arrive in the early evening, then enjoy a night of free time. Due to the limited options in this area, the accommodation tonight might be in Chychkan or Kok Bel rather than Toktogul. Your leader will advise you on Day 1 as to where you will stay for your departure.
Day 3 - Osh
Travel onward from Toktogul to Kyrgyzstan's second city, Osh (approximately 8 hours). Located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country, Osh is often referred to as the capital of the south. It has a mostly Uzbek population, which is evidence of its proximity to the border. While you are here, you'll visit Suleiman's (Solomon's) Mountain, a site of huge Islamic importance that dominates the centre of the city. While the walk is not strenuous for those with good fitness, you will need sturdy footwear as there are many slippery and steep steps and slopes. You will also visit the Osh Bazaar, one of the biggest markets in Central Asia. As well as browsing this intriguing bazaar, here you can change some money into Tajikistan Somani for the journey ahead. Depending on the arrival time, some activities in Osh will be scheduled for tomorrow instead of today.
Day 4 - Sary Tash
After a morning of exploring Osh, continue to Sary Tash (approximately 3 hours). On this journey you will cross the Taldyk Pass (3,615 m). Conveniently located in the Alai Valley, bordering Tajikistan, Sary Tash is a junction for explorers heading off in many directions on the road to Osh, Murgab (Tajikistan), and Kashgar (China). You will spend the night in a basic guesthouse or homestay in this small, remote village at the junction of the Silk Road.
Day 5 - Kyrgyzstan/Tajkistan Border Crossing - Murgab
Today we drive to Murgab (approximately 6–7 hours). Firstly, after breakfast, drive the 50 kilometres from Sary Tash to the Kyzyl Art Pass (4,280 m). In this spectacularly remote spot, you will cross the border from Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan. Remember to be patient as officials work through the various permits and procedures. Once inside Tajikistan, you'll make your way down the 95 km to Karakul Lake for lunch, with yet more dramatic scenery and photo opportunities along the way. Karakul Lake is too high to support aquatic life and is the largest out of 800 lakes in the Pamirs; these lakes were created by earthquakes, tectonic activity and glaciers. The final 135 km today takes you to Murgab via the Ak-Baital Pass (4,655 m), the highest pass on the Pamir Highway and in the former Soviet Union. Murgab is located in a valley at approximately 3,000 m above sea level, surrounded by high peaks. This region is inhabited mainly by Kyrgyz people. From here, on a clear day, you can see Muztag Ata (7,546 m), the highest mountain in the Pamirs. While here, your hosts will prepare you a simple dinner and breakfast – homemade bread, plov (rice pilaf) and fried eggs or porridge. Keen stargazers will be treated to a great display on a clear night, with very little light pollution affecting views of the night sky.
Day 6 - Langar
Today is another long day of breathtaking driving (approximately 10 hours). Drive through the picturesque Alichur valley, over the Khargush Pass (4,344 m), to the Wakhan Corridor. As you enter the Wakhan there are amazing views of the Pamirs to the right and of the Hindu Kush to the left. On the other side of the pass you will cross through another check point and travel along the Afghanistan border. In contrast to the previous village stays, the surroundings here are more fertile, with families growing tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbages and flowers on their own garden plots. A stop will be made somewhere along the way for lunch in a local chaikana (teahouse/cafeteria). Tonight you will stay in a traditional Pamiri house, which consists of a large pillared central room where all home life takes place. Home cooking awaits – perhaps lagman (noodle soup) or shorpa (meat and vegetable soup). After dinner your hosts will roll the mattresses and you'll share a sleeping area with the rest of the group.
Day 7 - Ptup
Today is one of the most active days of the trip so take advantage of the chance to stretch your legs! After breakfast there's the option of hiking to an interesting petroglyph site above the village. The images, carved into the rocks high above the village, depict goats, caravans, horses and Ismaili symbols. You'll hike up a gravelly slope for at least 30 minutes (depending on fitness) before the first carvings are visible. There is little shade and it's hard going, but it's well worth the exertion, especially after so long in a vehicle. Next you will drive to nearby Vrang, where on a cliff-side pitted with caves stands a Buddhist complex with 4th-century origins. It's another climb to get there, but the path is flatter in places and not as physically demanding as the hike to the petroglyphs. Continue to Ptup via the stunning valley that follows the winding river (approximately 3 hours). You'll stop en route for lunch. Ptup is the location of your next Pamiri homestay in the traditional Wakhan style. The multi-generation family who live here have a beautiful garden and house with a flush toilet and shower with solar-heated water. While you're in Ptup you'll visit the stunning Yamchun Fort, which some claim is the most spectacular sight in the country. To get to the fort you'll follow very windy, narrow mountain roads, so for safety reasons this journey will be made well before nightfall. Access to the fort itself is via a tricky scramble down and along the rocky valley. The views out over the valley are amazing. If time and road conditions permit, you might be able to visit Bibi Fatima hot springs too.
Day 8 - Khorog
From Ptup you will travel to Khorog (approximately 6 hours), which after our village experiences might seem like a bustling metropolis. You will pass through Ishkashim, perhaps stopping for lunch there, and continue along the Afghan border. Look out for the watchtowers and border crossings which, despite the proximity of the countries (sometimes only 100 m apart), are few and far between, with very little contact between people on each side of the divide. Also watch out for ovrings, the spectacularly scary footbridges that Afghans have built along the cliff faces in order to be able to commute from one village to another. The contrast across the river valley here can be quite stark in places. Tajikistan is undoubtedly a poor country; in general the roads are sealed and buildings are connected with electricity, but over the river you will see locals living in much simpler conditions. You'll often be able to get a wave from your neighbours across the river as you travel along. Once in Khorog you will be in the capital of the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). Here you'll stay in a guesthouse or hotel with private bathrooms. Perhaps enjoy a dinner at an Indian restaurant in town – one of the city's best.
Day 9 - Khorog
Time to explore Khorog's sights today, including the bazaar. As you wander throughout this intriguing marketplace, your leader will be able to point out to you which stalls are selling Afghan goods from our neighbours across the river. There will also be time to check out the lovely botanical gardens that are perched high above the town, which boast some great panoramic views, and the curiously quaint Regional Museum.
Day 10 - Kala-i Khum
Set off to Kala-i Khum (sometimes written Kalaikhum), a small town on the Pamir Highway (approximately 10 hours). Today is mostly a travel day, and since the town is so far away, most groups will arrive too late to be able to explore on arrival. Tonight's accommodation is a guesthouse or homestay which sometimes also accommodates other independent travellers. The guesthouse is multistory, so be prepared for some steep steps to get to and from the sleeping spaces, dining area and bathrooms. There is a simple shower, some running water and both a flush and pit toilet in the courtyard. Dinner is included again this evening, perhaps local style dumplings.
Day 11 - Dushanbe
Enjoy some breakfast at the homestay before setting off for the nation's capital, Dushanbe (approximately 8 hours). In Dushanbe we stay for 2 nights in hotel with private bathrooms. For dinner tonight, the group might head out on the town to a Middle Eastern restaurant – one of the city's finest – or to a popular Chaikhana which has been in operation since Soviet times.
Day 12 - Dushanbe
Check out the local central parks, fountains and monuments, with the option of visiting the main bazaar or Soviet-era Central Department Store for some souvenir shopping on our city tour toady. Just outside of Dushanbe (around 30 km) is the 18th-century Hissor Fort. Though this fort is being heavily restored, its colourful 20th-century history makes it quite an interesting visit. Back in Dushanbe, you'll check out the excellent Museum of National Antiquities. This relatively new museum reflects Tajikistan's diverse pre-Islamic cultural heritage, with exhibits from Bactrian, Buddhist, Zoroastrian and Hindu eras. The giant sleeping Buddha on the second floor may well be the highlight here. Enjoy your last night with the group this evening.
Day 13 - Dushanbe
This epic trip through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan comes to an end after breakfast. There are no activities today and you are free to depart at any time.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
11-09-201923-09-2019AUD $ 3,000-
09-10-201921-10-2019AUD $ 2,885-
28-04-202014-05-2020AUD $ 3,685-
17-05-202002-06-2020AUD $ 3,685-
02-06-202018-06-2020AUD $ 3,685-
21-06-202007-07-2020AUD $ 3,685-
30-08-202015-09-2020AUD $ 3,685-
22-09-202008-10-2020AUD $ 3,685-
06-10-202022-10-2020AUD $ 3,830-

Accommodation

Guesthouse/Hotel with private rooms (7 nights),Guesthouse/Homestay multishare (5 nights)

Transport

Private Vehicle

Map