With less than 400,000 yearly visitors, Central Asia’s mountainous country Tajikistan is not on the bucket list of most travellers.
However, the short time we spent in Tajikistan was full of countless opportunities to experience its incredible nature, crazy adventure and friendly people.
Watch here our Tajikistan drone footage
Tajikistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia that borders with Kyrgyzstan to the North, Afghanistan to the south, China to the east and Uzbekistan to the west.
With 90% of its area covered with magnificent mountains, the country’s main attraction for adventure and outdoor enthusiasts is its stunning landscape.
Even though we did not spend much time in this beautiful country but the experience we had in our limited time was unforgettable. Be it hiking in some of the most stunning trails or the hospitality of the local people, picnicking by the turquoise blue lake or indulging in a traditional meal with locals, Tajikistan has become one of our favorite offbeat destinations.
We would highly recommend Tajikistan to anyone who loves going to offbeat places and drawn to experience surreal landscapes.
Where To Fly
You will be taking international flight to the capital city Dushanbe. Many local flights are available from Dushanbe.
Visa process for Tajikistan is not very complicated. If it isn’t a visa free entry for your nationality, you can either get it on arrival or get it online depending on your passport.
Read full guide on visa here:
1) Best time to travel is between May to October mid. During winter most of the hiking trails get closed.
2) If you plan to go off the beaten path and not limit your stay to cities, we would highly recommend you to book a tour. By tour we mean a car with a driver. Roads are really rough in Tajikistan and we would not recommend you to drive on your own. Yes, you can take shared taxis to reduce the cost but having your own driver and car will give you flexibility to stop wherever you want.
We booked our tour through www.pamirhorseadventure.com and we are really happy with their service (No, it’s not a sponsored post)
3) Always add 1-2 hours more to your estimated time of arrival as roads are worse than you can imagine (only applicable for offbeat paths).
We spent 350 USD per person for our 4 days trip. This included everything with exception of flights and visa (food, accommodation, transportation, fuel, guide, tips).
Cost is on the basis of 2 people and you can reduce it further by sharing your car or using the shared taxis.
We also met many travelers in our hostel who were doing hitchhiking across the country.
Tajikistan is one of the cheapest countries in Central Asia where for 2 USD you can get a 4 course meal with drinks.
Read our day by day guide for our trip to Tajikistan
Day 1. Drive from Dushanbe to Seven Marguzor Lakes in Fann Mountains
Fann Mountains may not be as famous as Pamir Mountains but are as stunning as Pamir if not more. Dotted with little tiny villages and turquoise blue lakes, Fann Mountain range offers spectacular opportunities for hiking, climbing and rafting.
We started our journey to Marguzor early in the morning from Dushanbe, as it was a very long drive.
It is around 250 km but it took us almost 6 to 7 hours of driving, as the road is really bad.
We arrived to the lakes at around 3 pm.
Marquzor Seven Lakes also called as “seven beauties of Shing” is located around 50 km from Penjikent in Hissar range of Fann Mountains.
Each of the seven Marguzor lakes is unique in its own way. Some are long and wide, others are narrow and shine blue in the sunshine. These lakes change colors from green to blue, turquoise to black depending on sun position in the sky.
Seven lakes are: Lake 1 : Mijgon ( 1640 m), Lake 2 : Saya (1740 m), Lake 3 Gushor (1820 m), Lake 4 : Nofin (1820 m), Lake 5 : Hurdak (1870 m), Lake 6 : Marguzor (2140 m) and Lake 7 : Hazorchashma (2140 m ).
Our homestay was between lake three and lake four. Right after arriving, we went for some hiking in nearby area. And as we started trekking, we realized that this rough long drive was all worth. Trails were breathtaking. We were back to our homestay by the sunset.
The highlight of the day was to stay with a local Tajiki family. It was Eid holiday and our host invited us for the big Eid feast which was prepared by the lovely wife of our Tajiki host.
We would highly recommend you to spend a night in a homestay in Tajikistan to indulge in local culture.
Day 2. Alouddin Lake
Next morning after having the traditional Tajik porridge, we started driving towards the seventh lake.
We had a quick stopover on lake 5 and lake 6 and then continued our journey to our final stop.
If you wish, you can also hike to seventh lake from lake six, as the drive is really rough.
We picnicked near the lake and also met some cute local kids near the lakes dressed in their colorful Tajik dress. Meeting these little munchkins made our day.
Drive to and from the Seven Lakes was an incredible experience that we will remember for a very long time.
Kids going to school in their bright colored dresses, women cooking food on the wood stove while men selling home grown fruits and vegetables, grandmas filling fresh drinking water from the rivers and kids taking a dip in lakes. It was like going back in time.
Then we continued our journey to Alouddin Lake.
Drive to Alouddin Lake was again quite rough and we won’t recommend you to do it on your own. It is quite dangerous if you are not familiar with the area.
Having said that, the drive to the lake was breathtaking. Little tiny villages with a long narrow river in their front and a mountain range in the backdrop. No wonder we saw so many happy faces in the village.
We arrived around 4 pm to our camp in Russian Turbaza and started hiking towards the lake. It is 2-3 hours moderate hike (return).
We spent some time near the lake, waited for the sunset and then we were back to our camp.
Day 3. Iskanderkul Lake
After breakfast we started our drive to Iskanderkul Lake also known as “the emerald framed by gray-haired mountain tops”. It is the most beautiful lake in Tajikistan and the biggest lake of Pamir-Alay.
Lake is located in Hissar mountain range, sits at an altitude of 2255 m. It is 2.5 km long and 1 km wide.
Turquoise, peaceful and surrounded by the range of Fann Mountains, it is one of the most picturesque and spectacular places we have been to.
You can hike around the lake or swim in the lake although the water is really cold even in summer.
By evening we were back in Dushanbe.“Fan Niagara” waterfall and Snake Lake are other two places not to be missed when you are in that area.
Day 4. Shirkent Valley (Dinosaur Footprints)
Shirkent valley is a well-known place because of its dinosaur footprints.
It’s around 2 hour drive from Dushanbe and easily doable in a day trip from the capital city.
Hiking to the dinosaur footprints and back will take anywhere between 5 to 6 hours.
The famous dinosaur footprint is 30 cm wide and 75cm long.
Hiking trail is green and not very strenuous. You don’t have to be super fit for the hike but also note it’s not going to be a walk in the park. Carry snacks and 2 to 3 liters of water.
It is a bit difficult to locate the footprint on our own, so it is recommended to have a guide.
We didn’t take a guide and located the footprint successfully but it was tough. Make sure to book in advance. We barely met a soul on our hike.
Day 5. Spend a day in Dushanbe (optional)
We did not really spend a full day in Dushanbe but in case you are interested in history and culture, you can spend a day in Dushanbe. Here are a few things to do in Dushanbe in a day
- Statue of Ismail Samani
- Botanical Garden and Zoo
- Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments:
- Ayni Academic Opera and Ballet Theater
- Tajikistan National Museum
- Falcon show
Here is our recommended 4 to 5 days itinerary. However, if you have more time, do try to explore Pamir Mountains, another gem on the crown of Tajikistan.
If you have more questions on planning a trip to Tajikistan, please leave a comment below.