Best time to visit:
from April to November
In a word:
Assalom u Aleykum (the peace be with you)
Spend a night at a local family on the Fan Mountains; admire the turquoise waters on Lake Iskander-Kul; get lost in the colorful bazaars of Panjakent.
In this great adventure we rent an off-road vehicle and, starting from the border with Uzbekistan, we reach the ancient Khujand, we climb the high mountains Fan towards the true Tajik heart and, along the shores of the beautiful Lake Iskander-kul, we sleep at local family in the cold in the mountains and without electricity, walk along ancient paths always greeted by smiles and friendly looks. Now it is easier to visit this country thanks to the new visa easily obtainable in a few days online.
Our suggested itinerary (7 days)
|one day:||ground transfer to Samarkand, Uzbekistan or to Dushambe and flight to major Asian cities and beyond|
We are in Tajikistan. Persian language outpost in a predominantly Turkish region; this country is a mosaic of mountain valleys, 93% of its territory is formed by mountains (some even more than 7000 meters high), clans, languages and identity, held together by a vague sense of belonging to a former Soviet Republic and from the hopes for a peaceful future.
A peace missed throughout the 1990s when a terrible civil war caused the death of 60,000 people by turning this remote republic on the mountains into the most bloody corner of the former Soviet Empire.
Today, Tajikistan is a safe, solid and scenic country. The Pamir region - "the roof of the world" - is undoubtedly its flagship and offers incredible mountain views, a shame that this time we will not be able to visit it.
Its president "Rahmon" has been the country's leader for more than 25 years, since its independence; it is a bit like Ataturk in Turkey, loved and respected for all the great things he is doing for his nation.
We get to Khojand (or Khojent, formerly Leninbad) from Tashkent by land. Khojand is the second largest city in the country as well as being one of the oldest settlements, founded on the banks of the Syr-Darya by Alexander the Great.
At the border we are welcomed by the beautiful Simo of the Chitmargha Travel, with whom we will share this wonderful adventure!
Historical and cultural Complex "Istiqlol". In Tajik it means "independence", 53 meters high and inaugurated in 2016, it offers a taste of the various regions of this magnificent country and the clothes and traditions of the various ethnic groups.
The Historical Museum of Sughd Province offers interesting exhibits on Timur Malik, a local hero who defended the city of Khojand from the assault of the Mongols by a river island.
We get lost in the "Bazar Panchshanbe", one of the most supplied markets in Central Asia. The core of the bazaar is an elegant room with arched entrance portals and a very colorful "thousand and one night" facade.
Here too, sellers of dried fruit, spices, clothing and anything that can be useful for the people.
Opposite the bazaar there are the mosque, the medressa and the mausoleum of Sheikh Massal Ad-Din, a modest complex no longer in operation.
A tall statue of Lenin as well as other Soviet-era memorabilia adorns the city. The atmosphere is magical, we stay in one of the most luxurious hotels: Sipehr Hotel and, in the evening, with the sweet Simo, our Tajik guide, we have dinner with an excellent plov (rice accompanied by mutton, onions, carrots, chickpeas, apples quinces).
Today we head to Lake Iskander-kul; we leave the heat of Khujand behind us and begin to climb up the Fan mountains. The landscape changes thousands of times and the temperature begins to fall. We cross picturesque places of incredible beauty ...
Lake Iskanderk-kul is a postcard beauty ...
On foot, we climb rocks and thorny bushes, we reach a 40 meters waterfall called: "Fan Niagara" ...
We continue to climb up the mountains with our off-road vehicle up to Saratog ...
I have rarely seen a similar landscape, we are welcomed by 15 women and girls, while all the men are at work ... we will spend the night here, hosted by a family of local mountaineers, in a fairly spartan environment, without electricity, with the bathroom in courtyard but in great harmony!
On a terrace overlooking the Zerafshan river there are the remains of ancient Penjikent (the so-called "Pompei of central Asia") ... this is an important settlement of the 5th century and abandoned 3 centuries later. At the peak of its splendor, this city was one of the most cosmopolitan centers along the Silk Road as well as a rich commercial emporium.
Today there are only walls sun-baked, the melancholy tomb of the last Russian archaeologist (who dedicated 29 years of his life to this project) and a small museum that illustrates the chronology of the excavations although, most of the finds are exhibited at the Hermitage of St. Petersburg.
Lunch with Sino Ismatov, general manager of Chimtargha Travel, the local tour operator we used to visit this part of Tajikistan and that we strongly recommend considering the enormous experience and professionalism demonstrated.
We eat at the Choykhona Dilkusho the best shashlyks (skewers of spiced meat) ever!
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