"Tajikistan - gateway to the Pamirs :-))" Top 5 Page for this destination Tajikistan by Trekki

Tajikistan Travel Guide: 224 reviews and 688 photos

My impressions of a wonderful country





"There are few treasures of more lasting worth than the experiences of a way of life that is in itself wholly satisfying.
Such, after all, are the only possessions of which no fate, no cosmic catastrophe can deprive us; nothing can alter the fact if for one moment in eternity we have really lived."

Eric Shipton




Summer 2006 (July and August) brought me to Tajikistan, as part of a trip through Central Asia. I came into the country via land, crossing the border from Samarkand to Penjikent and from there on to Dushanbe. Well, Dushanbe was an experience on its own, but it was related only to some British rip-off gangsters, called Traveltajikistan, who use their customers as banks to draw money for everything. From there I took the magic flight to Khorog, capital of the Pamir region and eventually went eastwards from there, along the Pamir Highway, with several stops here and there, until Osh in Kyrgyzstan.

I cannot say much about Tajikistan as a whole country, as I was travelling mostly in the Pamir region (and will never hold the Tajiks responsible for the gangsters I encountered in Dushanbe). But already the western region of Tajikistan holds beautiful mountain treasures such as the Fan Mountains. I only got a glimpse of these on my way from Penjikent to Dushanbe, but, yes, the more I think, the more I am sure that I’ll go there as well one day.

But the Pamir region, in eastern Tajikistan, is for me the most marvellous part of this country, for the landscape, the mountains and of course, the locals. This region is part of the Pamir Mountains, which together with Tien Shan in the north, Karakorum and Hindukush in the south and the Himalaya form the highest coherent mountains and high plains on the planet. Even if my health and thus fitness was not the best (given the intense “Montezuma” that followed me since Bukhara), travelling there was an out of the world experience and it definitely shaped me to abide the brats of my daily life back home (which would piteously cry for mom, mobile phone and comfort).

I will definitely go back and do serious hiking, and some recent discussions with experienced hikers have lead to considerations if it might be possible to hike from Pakistan via Afghanistan’s Wakan Corridor (the country’s easternmost tiny corner) into Tajikistan’s Pamirs. We will see how the situation develops. At least, we have a nationality that doesn’t agitate too much.

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Disclaimer:
Yes, I should write this here, although I know that the average cruise ship or nightclub or Euro Disney tourist will never ever consider to travel to the Pamirs. Mostly, they will freak out just by connecting the “-stan” in Tajikistan with Afghanistan and bombs, completely ignoring that “-stan” means country.
The Pamirs are a marvellous region - I wrote this already. But don’t expect luxury there. Well, or yes, depending on the view point – the people living there are a bigger luxury than anything else :-) They simply did not lose their identity and have not transformed into consumer monsters as most of us have, they are warm hearted, friendly and give (as opposed to always expect a service in return – only a smile).
Electricity is rare, so don’t expect to load up batteries all and everywhere or hot water or showers all over. Cars do work, but in another dimension. Often, stops are inevitable, when the radiators overheat and have to cool down for a while.

So if you plan to go, know where you are going and don’t cry for mom if it does not turn out to be the comfortable Alps or any other “industrialised” mountain region.
Oh, and Pamiri are not used to the concept of porter service, as in Nepal for example. So you have to carry the things on your back and not let others do this. Occasionally, donkeys, yaks or camels can be rented though. But consider the very much tough ground; the animals have to walk on.
And keep in mind that the Pamirs have an average altitude of 3500 m !!! If you are not used to be in higher elevations or have never been - this is not the place to try out !

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Some remarks in advance:
I will double the tips, i.e. place them under "Viloyati Mukhtori Kuhistoni Badakhshon", which is the Tajik name of the Pamir region. Most of us know it still under its Russian name Gorno Badakhshan Avtonomnaya Oblast.

I will write slowly, start with the trip description via travelogues, then add what I want to tell in tips. It will take a while, as I have realized that my impressions about my travels are constantly changing. No, not really changing, more that they re-form themselves. Some impressions I perceived as "bad", just after they happened (the "Karakul military incident" for example), but by now, weeks and months later, I only perceive or remember them as "weird".
It is difficult to describe, but maybe someone understands what I mean.
Well, let me start :-)

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Update, January 2009:
I've exchanged some weblinks only. No new tips or text.









All pictures have been taken by me (© ID), if not marked otherwise (=no mark).
Please do not use any of them without my permission.
The same applies for my writings here.
Thanks.




Pros and Cons
  • Pros:One of the most beautiful country with one of the most wonderful people
  • Cons:Military guys, taxi drivers and smell of gas :-)
  • In a nutshell:Go there, and it will change your perceptions of life and yourself and some other meanings
  • Last visit to Tajikistan: Jul 2006
  • Intro Updated Sep 22, 2013
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Reviews (40)

Comments (62)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Sep 25, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    wonderful page Ingrid! will have to come back as its late here now and have to stop!

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Sep 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      Oh thanks Angie!! Oh dear, it is well past midnight there, correct? Sleep well :-))

  • wabat's Profile Photo
    Sep 25, 2013 at 5:49 AM

    Fantastic things to do section. I will return to read more soon. Great detail and photos.

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Sep 25, 2013 at 6:03 AM

      Thank you for your nice compliment, Albert :-) It was a fantastic trip!!

    • wabat's Profile Photo
      Sep 25, 2013 at 6:30 AM

      High on my priorities to visit .. Only problem is the list is long

  • Flynnie38's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    Thanks for all the great info Trekki, I really do want to go now!

  • NessaVoss's Profile Photo
    Jun 7, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    "Go there, and it will change your perceptions of life and yourself.- I had this with Uzbekistan- Next stop Tajiksitan/Afghanistan for me! Thanks for this wonderful webpage and tips! And the more I read, the more jealous and full of wanderlust I become!!!

  • illumina's Profile Photo
    Nov 29, 2009 at 1:18 PM

    Sounds fantastic - if you manage to get from Pakistan to Tajikistan via Afghanistan, I will be seriously jealous!

  • JohnniOmani's Profile Photo
    Sep 27, 2009 at 6:56 AM

    I am jealous :) Stunning John

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Sep 1, 2009 at 7:22 AM

    I shall probably never be lucky enough to see the Pamirs, Reading your excellent page & tips has given me a dream. I once saw a doco about that highest Botanical Garden. It looked magnificent. I shall continue my tour of General tips soon. Thanks Ingrid.

  • hindu1936's Profile Photo
    May 17, 2009 at 8:34 AM

    The descriptions make a person want to jump on his bike and leave NOW. thanks for such good information.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2009 at 6:08 AM

    Me again, checking back to read the updates and new tips that you have added to this page since November 4, 2007. Your tips are comprehensive, authoritative and thoughtful, for example the ones about changing perceptions and understanding Islamic beliefs.

  • Arkeolog's Profile Photo
    Feb 19, 2009 at 2:40 AM

    You've a great page here on Tajikistan. I liked every line of it. thanks for sharing. Best wishes from Istanbul.Bora

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