Set in the heart of Central Asia lies the beautifully-preserved country of Tajikistan, so far from the beaten track it is an enchanting land, enveloped by stunning natural beauty. Visitors will start their tour in the city of Dushanbe, where a vast range of traditional and cultural art can be seen. The route will take you through picturesque scenery made up of stunning and unique landscapes. Along the way, you will visit an abundance of hidden gems including the ruby mines of Khu i Lal, rejuvenating mineral hot springs and travel down the famous Silk Road.
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Arrive at the international airport in Dushanbe, from where you’ll be met and transferred to your four-star hotel, where you will reside for the next two days. After recuperating, take the opportunity to explore this large capital city. There are many ancient monuments to discover before heading back to your hotel for a night’s rest.
There is plenty of time on your second day in Tajikistan to visit the Gurminj Museum of Traditional Musical Instruments as well as the Museum of Antiquities at your leisure. Here, there is a vast assortment of Buddhist art, including the spectacular Great Buddha of Nirvana (the tallest in Central Asia) which has been retrieved from the lost Kushan empire and various other historical sites. Head back to your hotel at night and prepare to set off for the rest of the trip.
Setting off down the M41 Highway towards the Pamirs, you will be taken through the Kulyab region where Tajik culture can be seen in all its splendour. Traditional attire is the norm here and the locals adorn long beards. Further along the highway, 236 miles from Dushanbe, is Kalai-Humb, located on the Panj river, where you will spend the night in a traditional private guesthouse, a welcoming retreat after seven to eight hours on the road.
Following the Panj River, the road from Kalai-Humb to Khorog is a particularly stunning one which stretches over 161 miles. Afghanistan lies over the river on the right side and the differences in Afghan and Tajik lifestyles are clearly visible. Afghan's admirable attempt to construct a highway without machinery can be seen from this road. The route ends after five to six hours in Khorog, a small town on the Afghan-Tajik border, where you can unwind and enjoy a relaxing night in a private guesthouse.
Renowned for its healing properties, the hot mineral springs of Garm Chashma are located just 28 miles from Khorog. Just a stone’s throw away are the fascinating ruby mines of Khu i Lal, famous for its Badakhshani rubies. A three- to four-hour road journey leads from here to the town of Ishkashim, located a relatively short 74 miles from Khorog, set deep within the valley at the mouth of the Wakhan Corridor. On Saturdays, you will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Afghan culture by visiting a market held over the border. Check in to a modern hotel in the town, where you will stay for the night.
The first stop of this action-packed day set along an 86-mile road is at the ancient fortress of Kah-Kaha, located in Namadgut. Next is the museum of Sufi Muborkak-Kadami Vakhani, a famous local traveler, scholar, theologian and poet, where some of his most famous work can be seen. Further down the road, we stop at the Buddhist Stupa in Vrang, a huge place of worship in this region, and the hot springs of Bibi Fatima Zahra. Guarding the Silk Road, the ruins of the Yamchun fortress is the last stop on this road. Tonight, after five to six hours of road journeys, you will experience the hospitality and values of the Tajiks first hand by spending the night in one of the local’s traditional homes in the village of Langar.
In the cool of morning, leave the quaint town of Langar and start a steep uphill climb to the rock-face overlooking the village. Not only are there panoramic views over the corridor but you can also check out the multitude of ancient petroglyphs carved into the rock. After lunch, drive the 93 miles over the Khargush Pass and onto Yashikkul Lake. As you climb higher up the Pamirs, you will notice the landscape changes after a five- to six-hour drive from lush valleys to more rocky terrain where the local Kyrgyz herders keep their livestock. Tonight, you will spend the night one of the local’s homes near Bulunkul Lake for a truly unforgettable experience.
After rejoining the Pamir Highway, your eighth day in Tajikistan will take you to Murghab, 90 miles from Bulunkul and takes around three hours, to four hours. It’s a secluded town which lies 11,909 feet above sea level. Although remote, the landscape here is stunning, with a raw and untouched beauty. You will be able to purchase authentic Tajik-style items and handicrafts made from yak hair and felt. At night, marvel at the spectacular night sky, where the Milky Way can be seen clearly, strewn across an inky black canopy. As is synonymous with Tajikistan, the hospitality in this town is second-to-none and there is never short of homestays thanks to a local ecotourism project.
Today is reserved mainly for seeing the vastly unseen part of Tajikistan, strictly off the beaten track. A short drive to Rangkul takes you on a journey back in time to how the Kyrgyz have lived for centuries. The local herders keep sheep, yak and goats in this province and you can catch a rare glimpse of this simple way of life by staying with them in a traditional yurt camp. Spend the afternoon trekking near the lake on an indigenous Bactrian camel, where you can enjoy alpine scenes. At night, head back to Murgab to complete the 74-mile round trip for another memorable homestay.
After breakfast, you are invited to explore the peaceful and surreal surroundings of this region. A transfer towards the town of Murghab is a great opportunity to take a look at the picturesque scenery and you will stop for a welcomed lunch along the way. Next, hit the 198-mile journey to the ancient city of Khorog, which takes around six to seven hours. Tonight, enjoy a delectable meal at a modern hotel in the city, where you will also be spending the night.
A traditional breakfast is followed by a visit to the botanical gardens of Khorog, where you can take a leisurely stroll and look around the exclusive range of exquisite plants from around the world. A transfer from here takes you 161 miles to the town of Kalai-Humb and a stop for lunch along the way breaks up the six-hour road trip. Tonight is a relaxing affair with dinner and an overnight stay in a private guest house.
The penultimate day of this tour is a relaxing one, dedicated to enjoying the stunning scenes over eight hours across a 236-mile route. After breakfast, take a drive through dramatic landscapes to Dushanbe via Kulyb. You will stop for lunch along the way and tonight, sample some authentic dishes within an oriental tea room. Spend the last night in Tajikistan in a private guesthouse.
This action-packed adventure across Tajikistan finishes on day 13. After breakfast in the guesthouse, it is time to say goodbye to the country’s incredible hospitality and traditional values. You will be transferred to the airport where you will catch your plane out of the country and to your next destination.
Set in the heart of Tajikistan’s capital city of Dushanbe, the Hyatt Regency boasts luxury five-star accommodation, reflecting the country’s unique culture throughout its generously-sized suites. Located on the grounds of the city park and near to the stunning lake Komsomol, this hotel boasts not only stunning urban surrounds, but is also conveniently located to reach many local attractions by foot and the international airport is just four miles away. It is one of the most beautifully-appointed hotels in Dushanbe and one of the finest luxury properties throughout the whole of Tajikistan. Boasting over 200 luxury rooms and suites over three accommodation options, the hotel is proud to maintain a distinctive theme that runs throughout to encompass the local Tajik culture so prevalent in this region. One of the best restaurants in the city is also featured here, where creative cuisine combined with sophisticated surroundings provide an elegant retreat. There is enough to keep guests occupied at the hotel during their stay relaxing in the heated, indoor pool to the unwinding in the tranquil surroundings of the spa.
This luxury hotel in the center of Dushanbe really is head and shoulders above most of the city's other accommodation options. As soon as you step inside the grand lobby with its traditional Tajik features, it's clear that plenty of time and effort have gone into the hotel's design. There's a choice of serviced apartments or deluxe double rooms, all with 24-hour room service, large comfortable beds, TV and internet. The great location of the Serena, situated on the main boulevard at the center of Dushanbe, offers a stunning backdrop, surrounded by a lush garden and mountains in the distance. It also provides ease of access to the city's attractions, such as the National Art Museum, cinemas and the opera theater, and is just a 10-minute drive from the international airport.
Trekking and driving in the beautiful Qal ‘Ai Khumb valley, while breathtaking, can be tiring work and a comfortable place to bed down for the night will be most welcome. Throughout Basid, Savnob and Bardara are a number of cozy homestays at which local families happily host weary travelers in their houses for a peaceful night’s rest. The only thing warmer than the welcome is the refreshing cup of tea and tasty meal guests will receive, to fill their grateful bellies after a long day of adventuring. Out here in the wilds, there are no luxury hotels and while alternatives are few and far between, we highly recommend a night’s stay in a local home for the unique opportunity to experience true Tajik lifestyle with a real family - to cook, eat, share and stay in a real home is unforgettable. With no other opportunities to purchase food out in the mountains, the breakfast and evening meal provided at the homestays will be most welcome and the care with which they are prepared will warm the heart.
On a far, quiet edge of Khorong, Parinen Inn is one of the most comfortable places to stay in the city. Guestrooms have beds (unlike some homestays in Tajikistan, where guests must sleep on the floor), TVs, and relatively reliable electric service. Bathrooms are shared, and include a toilet and shower. Meals, often included in the stay, are served outside the main building. The main appeal of Parinen Inn is its friendly service: here, the staff treat guests like family, and no task is too challenging for them to help with. Many of the front desk staff speak excellent English, greatly easing communication.
The extremely cozy, welcoming atmosphere of Serena Inn belies its noble purpose. Originally built especially to accommodate Aga Khan on his visit to the town, it’s the pride of Khorog, sitting on its outskirts, nestled in the foothills of Mount Badakhshan. On the banks of the Panj river, with views over to Afghanistan, the inn is elegant and understated. Built in the traditional style and beautifully decorated with authentic Pamiri artworks, bedecked with locally-made textiles, it’s a little corner of Tajik heaven, surrounded by soaring mountains. Meanwhile, it is well-equipped with international standard facilities and all six comfortable rooms feature WiFi, air conditioning and satellite television, with beds blanketed in crisp, clean linens. Breakfast is included for all guests and food is served all day in The Pamir restaurant, while lighter snacks and drinks are available in the lobby lounge. When the weather is kind, delicious barbecue food is sizzled up outdoors in The Panj Garden.
For visitors to Ishkashim, we recommend Hani’s Guesthouse where the accommodation may not be luxurious, but the welcome is warm. Well located in the center of town, next to the police station and close to nearby amenities, the two storey guesthouse provides clean and comfortable rooms with double or single beds. One of the town’s best places to rest up for the night, guests can usually rely on getting a hot shower and, what’s more, there are western-standard toilets. This might not seem noteworthy but it’s something of a perk in the area and certainly a welcome addition to the facilities for international visitors. There’s a pleasant outdoor space with eating area and garden, not to mention laundry and ironing facilities. Guests can make use of the communal kitchen, which is well equipped with fridge, freezer, oven and stove.
Tucked into the mountains on the Afghan-Tajik border, in the shadow of the Hindu Kush range, beautiful Langar sits on the mighty Panj River and offers a unique window into local life. What better way to get a feel for the authentic, welcoming and fascinating culture than by passing the days in a family-run homestay? Visitors succumb to the charms and hospitality of the inhabitants of Langar’s three homestay houses and discover a whole new, more personal side to Tajikistan. It’s surely the best way to experience local life, cooking, eating, playing and sharing within the town’s real community. And, though accommodation may not be five-star luxury, guests can be assured of privacy, the beds are clean, cozy and comfortable, the food is home-cooked and hearty and some boast surprisingly western amenities. Nigina Homestay in particular can offer hot showers, thanks to their solar heater.
The lonely town of Murghab, in its position in the midst of the Pamirs, is a town well accustomed to receiving tired and weary travelers, worn out from their adventures in the surrounding areas in the beautiful but punishing terrain, and looking for a little respite. Luckily Ibrahim and his charming family, who run the Anara Guesthouse, are ready to welcome tired and grubby guests with a warm smile and even warmer showers. Indeed, the plentiful hot water at Anara sets it apart from most other accommodation options in Murghab. Guests arrive at Anara, drop their heavy things and relax in a little haven of comfort. The rooms, while not luxurious, are well maintained and cozy and the large bathroom is clean. After an invigorating clean up, guests can enjoy a tasty and hearty home-cooked meal and a peaceful night’s sleep.
Nestled into the exquisite Pamir Mountains, Murghab, with its population of 4,000, offers a fascinating window into Tajik culture as well as unparallelled views. And how better to experience this incredible place than in a private house, where guests will feel an immediate connection with the culture and locals that can’t be found in hotels? In this humble but comfortable homestay with the basic facilities covered, guests will have a chance to live how the locals live, while having a base from which to explore Murghab. Meals are often included in private homestays here, and, though they may not be five-star, will provide guests with the sustenance needed to explore the stunning area that surrounds the city.
For a comfortable and characterful place to stay in Murghab, we recommend the Sarykol Lodge. A great place to break up an adventurous journey in the Pamirs, Murghab has long been an important central hub for travelers and trade. And, in the center of town, near all the local attractions and amenities including the local bazaar, amidst all the town’s charms, Sarykol is a good choice to bed down for the night. This small guesthouse offers basic but comfortable accommodation in a dorm-style configuration, suitable for sociable travelers looking for a taste of local life in this traditional Tajik town. The quirky Sarykol is clean and cozy with whitewashed walls and timber ceilings, decorated with brightly colored, locally made textiles. The home-cooked evening meal is hearty and delicious, an ideal treat for hungry travelers. And amongst the traditional touches, the guesthouse is solar powered sufficiently for guests to charge up their devices and take a warm shower.