The 20 best places to visit in Tajikistan

 

Built in 1974, standing at 12 metres (39 ft) high on an equally tall plinth next to a hammer and sickle is the Statue Of Vladimir Lenin, the largest complete likeness of the late Soviet Union Communist leader in Central Asia. Once it stood in the centre of the northern Tajik city of Khujand, but today it cuts an unusual sight in a park on the outskirts of the city.

20. Lenin Statue

 

West of the capital, Dushanbe, in the Hisor Valley is the well known historical site of the Hisor Reserve. Once home to the governor of the Bukharan Emir, the reserve holds monuments from many historic eras. The most noteworthy monuments are the Hisor Fortress, dating back around 2,500 years it was massively changed and updated in the 16th century to have a great arched gate and two tall towers. There is also a 16th century Madrasa, 19th century Caravanserai and a whole host of mosques from the same periods.

Pictured is the Hisor Fortress.

19. Hisor Reserve

 

In the far west of the country is Tajikistan's capital city, Dushanbe, translated as 'Monday' in the Tajik language, the largest and most populated city in the country by far. Fairly modern by the standards of the region, attractions are few and far between with the occasional statue & fountain. The most famous attraction is probably the Dushanbe Flagpole outside the Palace Of Nations. With a height of 165 metres (541 ft) it is the second tallest on the planet, flying a flag 30 by 60 metres (98 by 197 ft) weighing a whopping 700 kilo's.

18. Dushanbe

 

Built in the 1970's to the south of the city of Istaravshan in the north of the country is a huge concrete bust of Vladimir Lenin. At the top of a steep staircase visitors can see the sheer scale of the statue and witness a great view over the surrounding hills and nearby reservoir.

17. Istaravshan Lenin Bust

 

In the southern centre of the country is the small town of Qal'ai Khumb, meaning 'Fortress On The Banks Of The River'. Within the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region on the border with Afghanistan, surrounded by the Pamir Mountains, the town is a major stop off for those travelling the Pamir Highway. The Qal'ai Khumb is also the name given to the stretch of road that runs along the border river with Afghanistan. It is a long dusty track that weaves with the river between a gorge of steep cliffs.

16. Qal'ai Khumb

 

North of the capital, Dushanbe, in the Gissar Range of the Fann Mountains, at an elevation of 3,372 metres (11,062 ft) above sea level is the Anzob Pass. Usually open from May until November, mainly made up of dust and gravel, the road is steep, narrow, bumpy, muddy in places and extremely dangerous. Despite the zig zagging narrow roads, the constant year round high winds and the potential for ice and snow even in summer, the road offers some incredible views over it's entire length and is regarded to be one of the countries most dangerous and picturesque driving roads.

15. Anzob Pass

 

In the almost exact eastern centre of the country, within a remote area of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region is the pristine Sarez Lake. Formed in 1911 following a great earthquake, the lake sits at an elevation of 3,263 metres (10,705 ft) above sea level surrounded by steep, rugged, snowy peaks. This beautiful lake in an area of seismic activity is incredibly unstable, with fears that another earthquake could breach the natural dam flooding an enormous area of the surrounding terrain.

14. Sarez Lake

 

In the extreme south east of the country, within the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region, close to the border with Afghanistan in the Shakdara Range of the Pamir Mountains is Karl Marx Peak. Standing a whopping 6,723 metres (22,057 ft) above sea level it is the highest point of the Shakdar Range. Named after the famous German socialist philosopher it has become one of the must climb mountains within the Pamirs.

13. Karl Marx Peak

 

In the north west of the country, north of the capital, Dushanbe, is an area known as the Yaghnob Valley, a beautiful landscape between the slopes of the Gissar and Zarafshan Ranges. Sitting at an elevation of around 3,000 metres (9,842 ft) above sea level, surrounded by high rocky mountains, the area is famed for it's smattering of small, very remote Yaghnobi villages.

12. Yaghnob Valley

 

In the extreme west of the country, between the capital, Dushanbe, and the Uzbeki city of Samarkand are the Kulikalon Lakes, a group of three picturesque glacial lakes in the Zeravshan Mountains. Lying at an altitude of some 3,500 metres (11,483 ft) above sea level, surrounded by high snowy peaks and the largest remaining juniper forest in the country, it really is a most beautiful natural landscape.

11. Kulikalon Lakes

 

Formerly known as the 'Stalin Peak', in 1962 the name was changed to 'Communism Peak' before changing it's name again to Ismoil Somoni Peak, named after the founder of the Samanid Dynasty, the embracers of Islam. Within an extremely remote area of the Pamir Mountains, sitting at a height of 7,495 metres (24,590 ft) above sea level it is the highest peak in the range. The landscape surrounding is some of the harshest in the country, with only the most adventurous and highly skilled seeking the challenge of laying their eyes on this beautiful, remote mammoth mountain.

10. Ismoil Somoni Peak

 

In the far north east of the country within a large depression believed to be an asteroid crater is the Karakul Lake, meaning 'Black Lake'. Sitting within the Pamir Mountains at an elevation of 3,960 metres (12,990 ft) above sea level it is one of the highest lakes in the world. Easily accessible from the infamous Pamir Highway, encircled by high snowcapped peaks it is one of the countries most famous bodies of water.

9. Karakul Lake

 

In the south east of the country within the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region close to the Pamir Highway and the Wakhan Valley is the village of Alichur. This white dusty village with a smattering of white and light blue one storey buildings surrounded by Pamir Mountains is a true middle of nowhere town, and a most welcome piece of civilization in a remote part of Tajikistan.

8. Alichur

 

In the far east of the country within the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region, within the Pamir Mountains along the infamous Pamir Highway is the most significant town in the region, Murghab. Sitting at an altitude of 3,650 metres (11,975 ft) above sea level it is the highest town in the country. This remote place sit's within a great open tundra, with only small one storey buildings and shipping containers accounting for human civilization.

7. Murghab

 

Stretching some 340 kilometres (211 miles) along the south western edge of Kyrgyzstan and the north western edge of Tajikistan, extending the Pamir Mountain Range to the Alay Mountain Range is an area of steep mountains known as the Turkestan Range. The southern slopes are a landscape of steep bare cliffs and mountain steppe, whilst the northern slopes are made up of great forests. The highway cutting through the range is called the Shakristan Pass, it has an elevation of 3,378 metres (11,083 ft) above sea level connecting the capital, Dushanbe, with Khujand.

6. Turkestan

 

In the extreme north of the country, touching the border with Kyrgyzstan is the 26,000 square kilometre (10,038 square mile) area of protected land, the Pamir National Park, sometimes referred to as the Tajik National Park. The landscape that encompasses parts of the Pamir Mountain Range is made up of steppe, grassland, desert and high alpine regions with deep rocky valleys and cliffs. The entirety of the national park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

5. Pamirsky National Park

 

Discovered in 1878 among the highest peaks in the Pamir Mountain Range is the enormous Fedchenko Glacier. Long and narrow, at the last measure it covered an area of some 700 square kilometres (270 square miles) and was 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) deep. Outside of the Polar regions it is the longest glacier in the world, and one of the Pamir Mountains most amazing sights.

4. Fedchenko Glacier

 

The M41, more commonly known as the Pamir Highway, part of the ancient Silk Road, and one of the most famous stretches of road on Earth. With disputes raging about where it begins, whether it be Afghanistan, Uzbekistan or Tajikistan, the bulk of the road does indeed lay within the latter. It is the only continuous route through the difficult terrain of the Pamir Mountains and serves the only supply line through the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region. Maintenance of the road varies hugely along the route with areas of heavy damage due to erosion, earthquake, landslides and avalanches. It's highest point, the Ak-Baital Pass, at an altitude of 4,655 metres (15,270 ft) above sea level is the second highest mountain pass on the planet. The Pamir Highway is one of the most famous roads for a reason.

3. Pamir Highway

 

To the north west of the capital, Dushanbe, with an elevation of 2,195 metres (7,201 ft) above sea level, in the Gissar Range of the Fann Mountains is the large glacial lake, Iskanderkul, named after Alexander The Great. Encircled by high rocky peaks in beautiful natural surroundings, this popular tourist destination is claimed to be one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the former Soviet Union, making it if not the most, then one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Central Asia.

2. Iskanderkul

 

In the far south east of the country running along the border with Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, is Tajikistan's very own Wakhan Valley. Like much of the Pamir Mountains in the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region it is an area of high snow capped mountains and deep rocky valleys. Being one of the most difficult locations to get to in the country, few tourists venture the Wakhan Valley, making it one of the most seldom seen and pristine landscapes in Central Asia.

1. Wakhan Valley

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