Some trips shall be organised carefully to avoid wasting time once you arrive. This is the case of Tajikistan, a distant country where moving is not easy and requires a good capacity of adaption. The traveller, in return, will live a memorable experience among majestic natural landscapes and a harsh daily life that forged the various peoples living in Tajikistan, a country has always been a crossroads of empires and cultures. Tajikistan is really the throbbing heart of Eurasia, whose beats are characterised by the earthquakes often affecting more remote and isolated areas.
Tajiks are different in History, ethnic origin and religion as well from the other Central Asian peoples. Part of population in Tajikistan practises a different school of Islam compared to neighbouring countries. Tajikistan brings together different worlds; here was the border of Persian Empire, here passed certain routes of the Silk Road. The Uzbek Samarkand and Buchara once were Tajik cities, while today the North of Tajikistan has an important Uzbek population, all legacies of a past here certainly not without unrests.
Great part of Tajikistan is at high altitudes, this makes this country perfect for mountain lover. Crossing the Pamirs on the legendary M-41, famous as Pamir Highways, is an adventure hard to forget. This is the Autonomous Region of Gorno-Badakhshan, an area scarcely inhabited bordering with China, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Mishaps in Tajikistan are not a rarity, including the possibility your car breaks down in the nothing and scary figures, maybe Afghan smugglers, run to help you; which is what happened to me.
In this region you can admire fantastic peaks, but Tajikistan many other attractions, as the area called “of seven lakes” on the slopes of Fann Mountains, not far from the very ancient town of Penjikent, in the past a centre of the Zoroastrianism. A good way to visit this part of Tajikistan is on horseback, even if trekking and cycling are more popular options. In every case we recommend a good training due to logistical difficulties. Perhaps the best solution, at least for the first trip in Tajikistan, is travelling with an organized tour.
In Tajikistan there are no big cities, the Soviet-style capital as well has a fairly modest size. In the North we can find Khujand, more Uzbek than Tajik, whereas in the South there are the little cities of Kulob and Vakhsh. The Gorno-Badakhshan is centred around Murghab, with Khorog joining the region with the rest of the country. Adventurous people can visit Ishkashim, reachable by a long journey along the Afghan border. This is a door for the Wakhan Corridor, Afghan land travelled by nomadic people with their herds since time immemorial. It’s really difficult to name every single beauty of Tajikistan.
In any case it’s impossible don’t speak about peoples living in this country, people extremely friend and too often victims of History. The meetings with Tajiks not leave you indifferent surely, especially if you will attend to the traditional ceremonies, as the “dance of eagle”. Falling in love of this country is very easy, as the readers of this blog are well aware. Tajikistan is a destination more difficult than others, but this doesn’t mean impossible. I’ll be happy to introduce everyone want to get away from the daily routine to Tajikistan, a land located at the borders of soul as well.
Among more problematic things is the arrival, probably you’ll do it by plane. The Dushanbe capital airport is connected with Russia, China and Turkey by international flights. We have to advise about the bad reputation of Central Asian airlines and about the fact that travel in the region is quite difficult. Those who wish try the adventure of taking a Tajik train could use railways lines linking Dushanbe to Moscow and Khujand to Samarkand.