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Tajikistan is a small country popular among adventure travellers. It is known for its incredible panorama, beautiful mountains, bustling and unique metropolis, and scenic lakes. This central Asian country has no coastlines, but nature has blessed it with mountain beauty.

Here are 10 points of interest in Tajikistan that will help you to create the perfect bucket list.

1. Iskanderkul

Iskanderkul Lake is an excellent place for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and swimming. It is sandwiched between the beautiful Fann Mountains and is one of the largest glacial lakes in north-west Tajikistan.

The lake is beautiful, with a unique vibe that is sure to mesmerise you. The crystal-clear turquoise waters that contrast with the red rocks of the mountains create a special ambience.

Spend a night at one of the nearby guesthouses after relaxing on the shores of the lake during the day. As the skies go dark after sunset, you will experience a surreal serenity around the lake.

If you want to explore the lake on a boat, go to Turbaza. This is an old resort on the lake’s shores where you can rent a boat.

Iskanderkul in the Fann Mountains, Tajikistan

2. Khujand

The historic city of Khujand was founded in the VII-VI centuries BC. Later, Alexander the Great captured, remodelled and fortified the city. Today, Khujand is a centre of Tajikistan’s industrial, scientific, and cultural developments.

A visit to Khujand Fortress and the regional history museum are must-dos for visitors who want to know the history of the region. If you have a thing for musical performances, head over to Tajikistan Musical and Drama Theatre.

You can’t get closer to the ultimate Tajik experience without a visit to historic Panjshanbe Bozor. Walk around the lively and vibrant market, meeting with local vendors, and buying gifts for your family and friends back home.

Somoni park is yet another landmark in Khujand that you should not miss. Families and couples flock to the beautiful park after sunset. Enjoy the calm atmosphere or walk around to explore the statues and fountains.

Old mausoleum in Khujand

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3. Dushanbe

Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan. The tidy avenues lined with beautiful pastel frontages belie the violent civil war that ruined the city streets in the 90s. Stroll down the side streets, and you’ll know how Dushanbe is transforming.

Sample the fresh produce like vegetables, fresh fruits, and dried fruits at the lively markets such as the Mehrgon Bazar. Feast on some delectable local, home-cooked cuisines at the food stalls in the afternoon. Don’t miss the famous Qurutob, Tajikistan’s national dish.

If you are in the mood to escape from the buzzing city and for some calmer moments then head over to Hissar Fortress – a palace of the ancient Bukhara Emirate. It is situated on the outskirts of Dushanbe. Enjoy the calm and peaceful atmosphere while exploring the fortress.

A visit to the Memorial to Tajik writers (Wall of Great Tajik Writers) will acquaint you with the history of Tajik literature. It features the statues of famous novelists, poets, playwrights, and other writers of Tajikistan.

Fountain and Independence Monument in Dushanbe

4. Pamir Highway

Pamir Highway connects Tajikistan with neighbouring Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. There’s no better way to see an array of breathtaking valleys, spectacular mountain views, and rugged cliffs than to be behind the wheel on Pamir Highway.

This highway, also known as M41, is one of the highest in the world, with the peak point at Ak-Baital Pass, which is 4,655 meters above sea level. The quirky roadside attractions, wild landscape, and snow-covered ridges are sure to make your trip an unforgettable experience.

Along the way, look out for flocks of yaks. If you are lucky, you may get a chance to spot the elusive Marco Polo sheep in the higher stretches of the surrounding mountains.

Pamir highway

5. Karakul Lake

Vivid skies, sparkling water, cool breeze, and sounds of geese! Welcome to Karakul. Located in Tajik Pamir National Park (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Karakul Lake is the main attraction of the Karakul village. Walk around, and you’ll appreciate the unique vibe and desolation of the lake and the village.

The sparkling blue water of the lake is mesmerizing, and so are the reflections of the lovely landscapes and snow-covered peaks in the waters. Be fascinated by looking at the Peaks of Lenin and Avicenna that stand tall with all their glory among the deep blue skies.

Spend a night in Karakul to get extraordinary views of Milky Way and watch unique bird species in and around the lake in the morning. Hiking around this area will treat you with amazing views of the lake, the village, and the mountains. On top of that, you will get to see some beautiful birds while hiking.

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6. The Pamir Mountains

Treat yourself to a taste of extreme adventure in the Pamir Mountains, which is often referred to as the roof of the world. The glaciers, lakes, alpine deserts, rivers, valleys, and green and rugged mountains hold a treasure trove enough to fulfil your wanderlust.

This adventure is for the tough ones, as the environment is rough with little facilities, and the climate can get harsh. During your adventure spree, you will get to see many high mountains, including Ismoil Somoni Peak and Korzhenevskaya Peak.

If you haven’t heard about the Fedchenko Glacier, it is the largest glacier of the Pamirs and the longest one outside the Arctic and Antarctica. It is located in the Pamir Mountains.

This trip will traverse you through steep river ravines, rugged terrains, and beautiful villages and towns. The local people are friendly and helpful, and at times you’ll have no other option than to stay at the local houses. You can find a couple of hotels and shops in Rushan, which is the main commercial centre in the mountains.

Views of Pamir mountains

7. Jisev Valley

The lovely mountain village of Jisev is a perfect getaway in Tajikistan. Go around the village sightseeing or take short hikes along the brimming lakes. The rugged mountains and dotted forests cast a unique ambience.

There are a few houses in the village that are arranged together in a group of 2-3 houses each. Vehicles do not go to Jisev. After crossing the river, you’ll have to walk for two hours to reach the Jisev Valley. Do not expect to have telephone or internet connections once you cross the river.

The good news is that you’ll get the opportunity to spend the night in a traditional Pamiri house and enjoy the local culture and traditions.

8. Wakhan Valley

A large swatch of Wakhan Valley sits in Afghanistan’s northern region, but some part of it stretches into Tajikistan. An arena of colonial competition between Tsarist Russian and Britain during the Great Game (1830-1895), Tajikistan’s Wakhan Valley is now a peaceful region.

See the ruins of the 12th-century Yamchun fortress that speaks volumes about Wakhan history. Many other fortresses at the top of the hills offer extraordinary views of the surrounding areas.

The people here are hospitable, and the landscape is fantastic. Enjoy gazing at the lovely villages across the river on Afghanistan’s side and take pictures of the Hindu Kush Mountains.

Other attractions in the valley include the old ruins, a hot spring, and the picturesque Dasht and Langar villages.

Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan.

9. Murghab

Snuggled in the foothills of mountains, Murghab is an underdeveloped town that is known for its splendid mountain range. A glacier adjacent to the town gives it an imposing backdrop. If you have a love for mountains, then Murghab is a must-visit.

There is also a bazaar in Murghab where you can buy inexpensive Chinese goods, handicrafts, and food. If you have an interest in archaeology and history, head over to the ancient tomb at Kana-Kurgan.

Get out of town and go hiking or drive off-road near the foothills of the mountains. Yak trekking and Marco Polo sheep viewing are other interesting activities here.

The hotels here lack proper facilities, but you could have a great time staying in a traditional yurt or homestay with the locals.

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10. Khorog

Khorog is a small town and has restaurants, markets, and hotels. Head over to the famous Botanical Garden or Central Park where you can make friends with the locals.

To explore the history of the area, go to the Regional Museum. If you are visiting the city in winter, do not miss soaking yourself in the warm pool at Garm Chashma.

Other interesting places to see here include the Khorog City Park and Khorog Museum. The city park is an excellent place to relax and enjoy the evening breeze. It has a restaurant and an open theatre.

Khorog

Summary

Tajikistan has a whole lot of admirable attractions that are sure to impress. Lush meadows, glaciers, the Pamir Highway, and the grandiose mountains and rivers make this country heaven for adventure travellers.

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Kamran Ahmed

Writer and Traveller
Based in the picturesque Hunza Valley in Pakistan, Kamran Ahmed is a freelance content writer. He is particularly passionate about traveling and frequently writes travel content to share his experience with the world. A foodie by nature, he often travels across Pakistan with his wife and four-year-old son to bring out the best of his country to the world. [Read full bio]
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