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Tajikistan honeymoon

Mountains, glaciers, hospitality, wildlife, the Silk Road, history, culture… but most importantly adventure!

Why go to Tajikistan?

That’s an obvious question and it is easily answered.

Firstly, go because you can go. You couldn’t always go to Tajikistan – at least not safely. Now you can and as tourism is just beginning you can see it in its beautiful, untouched, unruined way. Just be a responsible tourist.

Secondly, Tajikistan is not boring – it’s an exciting place to visit. It is quite likely to take you out of your comfort zone and shake you up in an invigorating kind of way! Tajikistan is the complete antithesis to the beach resort package holiday, thank goodness.

Tajikistan has just about everything that a traveler would want to see – it has history by the bucket load, and it has beautiful untouched mountain scenery. It has hospitable people and it is bound to provide you with a trip you will always remember.

Tajikistan is not an easy place to get to or travel round and unless going on an expensive everything-included Western operated tour, it is for the real independent minded traveler. It is not easy but the rewards are huge. The biggest cost for the independent traveler is likely to be transport costs.

It is also amazing that for such a small country there is so much to do and see. From trekking in the beautiful Fann mountains to traveling the second highest highway in the world, to visiting the longest glacier in the world outside the Polar regions, climbing some of the highest mountains in the world, taking tea with Pamiri families and waving at Afghans across the river. You can see the highest dam in the world and you can track the endangered Marco Polo sheep and follow the ancient Silk Road.

One of the easiest things to do, and one of the things quite a few travel agents offer is an excursion from Samarkand into Tajikistan to the ancient city of Penjikent in the Fann Mountains. It doesn’t take long to do this and you can get a clear taster of Tajikistan without having to build on lots of days to take on the whole country. It is logical really as Samarkand is historically a Tajik city but not many tourists venture over the border.

Cyclists

As a side point, Tajikistan is very popular with cyclists. These incredibly fit people can be spotted cycling the Pamir Highway and generally propelling themselves up and down mountains all over the place.

Where to stay?

Tajikistan is generally not as cheap as most of the other Central Asian countries and Dushanbe (for a capital city) is particularly poor in its offering of good value accommodation. It is also very easy to get ripped off unless you already know the correct price. Customer service is generally not a forte. Speaking Russian or Tajik is a definite advantage.

Wakhan Corridor (Afghan)

The Wakhan Corridor is the pan handle of Afghanistan that runs alongside Tajikistan and Pakistan and stops when it meets China. Unlike the rest of Afghanistan the Wakhan Corridor is safe. Visiting the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan is feasible and tourism is just starting to find its feet in this remote and beautiful area. To get to the corridor there is only one advisable safe way there that involves crossing from Tajikistan at the Ishkashim crossing. It is confusing but there are two villages with the same name on both sides of the border – they are not the same place!

The Wakhan Corridor has remained safe due to its remoteness. The Corridor does not have any open borders with Tajikistan, China or Pakistan and the communities that live in the corridor are very isolated.

The main reason for visiting the Wakhan Corridor is tourism – the area is becoming increasingly popular with mountaineers, trekkers and wildlife spotters. About half way along the corridor it splits into what is called the Big and Little Pamir. The Little Pamir reaches to China and is inhabited by Kyrgyz herders. The rest of the Corridor is the home of the Wakhi people who are generally herders and farmers.

Sustainable / Eco Tourism

Mountain Unity is doing a very good job of trying to increase tourism with the aim of supporting local people. They have set up a basic network of guesthouses around Iskhashim that are reasonably priced and comfortable. However it appears there is some outside competition starting to come in that is likely to lead to the tourism money leaving the area. For that reason alone I would strongly recommend only staying at a Mountain Unity organized guesthouse.

Source: tajiktourism.com

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