Where is Tajikistan and Why Should I Go?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Follow the ancient Silk Road if you want to know where is Tajikistaninfo-icon. Follow the history of the Persian Empire if you want to know why Tajikistan's culture is so special. Follow a mountain enthusiast if you want to understand why Tajikistan attracts so many photographers, adventurers, and travelers. 

The lowest point of this country is at 300 m altitude. The highest point of Tajikistan is at 7,495 m altitude. A country rose on mountains, a people living in a “roof of the world” style, history started with the glory of an empire and ended with long years of Soviet domination are just some reasons to discover where is Tajikistan.

There are some Tajikistan facts you have to know before you plan your journey. The country gained its independence from USSR in 1991, but democracy didn't come easy. 

A five years civil war ended with a peace agreement implemented only in 2000. Today, Tajikistan is among the poorest countries in the world. So don't expect five stars tourism. 

However, expect a stunning country. Tajikistan's landscape is indeed impressive. Mountains and lakes, snowy peaks and turquoise waters will definitely inspire you.  Where is Tajikistan, just expect the unexpected!

Best Time to Visit Tajikistan

VIsit Tajikistan from June to September to get the best experience of its magnificent nature.
VIsit Tajikistan from June to September to get the best experience of its magnificent nature.

To experience the best of Tajikistan’s nature, plan your journey from June to September. Outdoor activities can be fully accessible this time of the year. Don’t be afraid of the hot weather. Half of the country is at over 3,000 m altitude, some peaks never lose the snow hat, and you can go from 40 °C to freezing in no time. 

Where is Tajikistan, be prepared for all extreme temperatures. It can be a rough country if you don’t take precautions.

If you want to experience the Tajik way of life, take part in some of the holidays in Tajikistan. Spring is really welcomed here. Three festivals are lined up to celebrate it. So if cold and snow aren’t a problem for you, enjoy the celebration of spring in the Tajik way. 

Read more: Where is Kazakhstan?

Traditions, local foods, and the joyful celebration of life will charm you for sure. If you plan your journey around the festivals of Tajikistan you should consider these:

Snowdrop Festival – After a long and snowy winter, the first sign of spring is a good reason to be thankful. The child that first founds snowdrops is considered lucky, and the Snowdrop Festival is declared open. Men and children pick snowdrops and give them to the women. The women put them on their eyes and give thanks to God for living another spring. 
Tulip Festival (Sayri Guli Lola) – When colorful tulips blossom is a good time for celebration. Such beauty cannot be missed. Celebrated with sports events, contests, and good food, Tulip Festival is a delight for all senses.
Navruz – like in all Central Asian countries, spring arrival is a national public holiday. It used to be the Persian New Year. Between 20th and 22th of March, Tajiks go to street parties, eat special foods, visit their relatives, and take part in parades.
Victory Day – Reminiscence from the Soviet era, Victory Day is celebrated on 9th of May. The victory of Russiainfo-icon in the Second World War is a good reason for military parades and fireworks.
Independence Day – But even if some Soviet legacy can still be found in Tajikistan, the day of independence is appropriately celebrated. 9th of September is the day when this Central Asian country became free again.

How to Get Around in Tajikistan

Pamir Highway is a true showcase for the breathtaking landscape of Tajikistan. Where is Tajikistan, you can expect wondrous vistas.
Pamir Highway is a true showcase for the breathtaking landscape of Tajikistan.

You can get to Tajikistan by plane, coming from Russia and several other countries. But inside the country, the best way to get around is by car. 

The country is known for the Pamir Highway, a route built in the 1930s, which passes across the country. You cannot miss a road adventure on such a beautiful route. 

Where is Tajikistan? It's home to one of the most scenic routes in Asiainfo-icon and in entire world.

Read more: Experience Pamir Highway in a Week

It will take you at high altitude (4,655 m), through Ak-Baital Pass and then near the Lake Karakul. Pamir Highway is famous among motorcyclists too. 

You can rent SUVs or motorcycles from Kyrgyzstaninfo-icon to have a try on this great highway. Used for the Mongol Rally, the highway is an unforgettable experience. After you have tried the Pamir Highway, you will definitely remember where is Tajikistan. 

What to Do in Tajikistan

Hisor Fortress is just 15 kilometers away from the capital!
Hisor Fortress is a landmark located in a breathtaking location.

Start your journey in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. An ancient village (built around the 5th century BC), Dushanbe has transformed into a modern city at the beginning of the XXth century. 

With very hot and dry summers and warm winters, this city is welcoming its guest with museums and historical sites. Named after the local market (Dushanbe means Monday), the city is an oasis of comfort for the tourists. 

Go and see the golden statue of Ismoil Somoni and Fort Hissar, to have a glimpse of Tajik culture and history. Visit a bazaar (Zilioni Bazaar or Korvon Bazaar) to understand the local way of life. Then just stand in the center of the city watching snowy peaks mountains. 

Follow this list of landmarks and things to do in Dushanbe to be sure you don’t miss anything:

Dushanbe Flagpole – situated in front of the Palace of Nations, this flagpole is 165 m high. It had been the tallest flagpole in the world between 2011 and 2014.
Tajikistan National Museum – learn everything there is to know about the history of Tajikistan. The museum is hosted into a beautiful building since 1934.
Victory Park – established in 1985, this park is dedicated to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War (1941 – 1945). 
Rudaki Park – a green space, full of flowers, gardens, lakes, and fountains. During summer it is an excellent place for picnics. Dushanbe Flagpole is the standard view from here.
Ethnography Museum – a small and fascinating museum, which exhibits a unique collection of traditional Tajik clothing. You can see a lot of silk, atlas, natural pigments, and cotton weaving industry examples.
Ayni Opera and Ballet Theatre – this is an exquisite building from the 1940s, beautiful both on the outside and on the inside. Plan a night at the opera in Tajikistan and don’t forget about the smart dress code.
Botanical Gardens – An extensive collection of trees is waiting for you here. Relaxed and peaceful, this large park is full of music during Saturday afternoons.
Chaykhona Rokhat – having a tea in Central Asiainfo-icon is a must. Especially if you can visit a teahouse, like this one. Built in Persian style, this open teahouse is the perfect place to have your five o’clock tea. Take a look at its wedding hall; you won’t regret it.
A trip to Hisor – this city is only 15 km away from Dushanbe. It is surrounded by mountains and has a fortress, medieval buildings, a caravanserai, an 8th-century mosque, a museum, and many other landmarks.

Even if the capital of Tajikistan is a nice place to be, the best way to understand this country is by taking advantage of its fantastic landscape. 

A road trip on Pamir Highway, a camping adventure near one of great Tajikistan’s lakes (Iskanderkul Lake, a glacial lake, is an outstanding view), or merely a trekking expedition in the Fann Mountains will fill you with energy and stories. 

So, where is Tajikistan? It is a place where you can enjoy in rich culture and history as well as stunning nature.

Here is a list of favorite places among tourists:

Timur Dara Lake - A turquoise lake only 45 km away from Dushanbe, Timur Dara Lake is an excellent destination for trekking in Karatag Valley. 
Nurek Dam – is the second highest dam in the world and the lake near it is a beauty. It is also on Pamir Highway, so it would be hard to miss it. For both relaxation and adventure on the water, Aqua Club is the place to look for.
Bartang Valley – a stunning region, with arid mountains and turquoise lakes, Bartang Valley is another good place for trekking. Khafrazdara Valley, Grum Grijmailo Glacier, Lake Sarez, and Ravmed Valley are just a few of the most popular routes.
Bachor Lakes – another good destination on the Pamir Highway, Bachor Lakes are situated in a natural park. Snowy peaks surround the lakes. This incredible landscape is designed to be a photograph.
Wakhan Valley – picturesque villages, Quaaqa Fortress, and Darshan Gorge are just a few of the landmarks of this valley. Every town is unique; cultures are mixing in this region and offer a great experience. Close to the Afghan border, this territory is a different part of Tajikistan. This valley can be visit on the bicycle and what a great route it will be.
Fann Mountains – mountains and six lakes, this is the offer of this adventure. Rocky mountains and donkeys, high altitude and long trekking days, glacial rivers and very small villages, will fill your agenda.
Shirkent National Park – have you ever seen dinosaur trails? Yes, real dinosaur trails. This natural park in Tajikistan features a true Tridactylous footprint. There are three sites where dinosaur footprints were discovered, which made Shirkent Valley a natural reserve.

What to Eat in Tajikistan

Langman is a noodle soup filled with various kind of meat.
Langman is a noodle soup filled with various kind of meat.

As many of the Central Asian cuisines, Tajik cuisine is also crowned by the green tea tradition. Based on rice, meat, and vegetables, Tajik cuisine has influences from Afghan, Uzbek, and, of course, Russian cuisines. 

Flatbread is also present here, under the name of Non. When a Tajik is out of Non, he is out of food. Placing a Non-upside down or under something else is bad luck. You cannot go to Tajikistan and not eat Non. 

Read more: Where is Kyrgyzstan?

Also, you have to try some local soups, any dairy products you can find, and traditional pastry. Here dessert is served two or three times during one meal. 

The Western order of foods is not typical in Central Asia, and their order is right too. Of course, green tea in a local teahouse is a must. 

They are called chaikhana, and they are places where men meet to talk. The tea flows continuously, but if you don’t need a refill just place the cup upside down and the sign will be understood.

In the kitchen lists are at the high price, so here is a list of traditional foods you need to taste in your trip to Tajikistan:

Chaka, yogurt, kaymak, and kefir – these are the dairy product you have to taste. Some say that kefir helps you decrease the cholesterol level.
Shish Kebabs – yes, you know what this is, but every country has its own way of doing it. In Tajikistan mutton is often used and tail fat is a must.
Kabobs – a traditional dish with mutton and onions.
Shakhlet – beef with onions and rice
Pilau – there are many recopies of pilau. With meat, vegetables, noodles or rice, this rich meal gives your energy for an entire day.
Ugro and Langman – noodle soups with various kinds of meats
Naryn and Kaurmo Shurbo – mutton meat soups, Naryn has also horse meat.
Halvaitar – a dessert made with mutton fat and sugar.
Pichak and Nabat – candies and crystal sugar.
Twiglets – a sort of Tajik pastry.
Melons – this part of the world is famous for its fruits. For many years Tajikistan exported melons to Russia. If you get there in melons’ season, it will be an excellent diet.

Now you probably have the answer to the question of where is Tajikistan. Tajikistan is a great country for its outdoor experience and ancient culture. Even if it is a developing country in economic terms, it is a wealthy country in landscapes, wild nature, and exciting traditions. Not many people find out where is Tajikistan, but if you are one of them, enjoy this experience. The mountains will always connect you with yourself, better than anything else. Try its unique foods, embrace the art of this Central Asian country, and discover its beliefs. Wear your boots as much as possible and enjoy the vast landscape. Choose to walk, to cycle, or to travel by car. Discover the Pamir Highway and though it, the entire country. Small and welcoming villages are spread along its side. With different spirit and customs, but with the same love for nature, these villages will show you a new way of life, the way of the mountains. Dicover where is Tajikistan and embark on a wonderful journey!

Monica Radulescu a freelance writer for aSabbatical.com
Travelling is a joy. It's a way to become a better and wiser person. Mountain paths and road trips are my favourites.