Tajikistan: August 27 - September 04, 2019
Dushanbe (2 nights) - Kalaikhum (1 nights) - Khorog (3 nights) - Osh (1 night) - Bishkek (1 night)
Day 1, August 27, Tuesday
Arrive in Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s green, peaceful and traffic-free capital. Some time to rest, and perhaps enjoy the hotel’s spa and swimming pool. A welcome afternoon walk in Dushanbe to explore the Gurminj museum of musical instruments, the new central market, and then have dinner in a traditional oshkhona.
Day 2, August 28, Wednesday
After a late breakfast, we will explore central Dushanbe: Rudaki Avenue, the Museum of National Antiquities, and the Rudaki Park with the Presidential Palace and the world’s second-highest flagpole. We will have lunch at the Rohat Teahouse, an icon of Dushanbe - before it gets torn down. In the afternoon we will head west, towards the border with Uzbekistan. We will visit the Tursunzoda Aluminium Plant museum - the largest aluminium smelter in the world, and which uses about half of the country’s electric supply. On the way back we will have a look at the ruins (and restorations) of the Hissar fortress, and the giant Mellon building, built to house weddings for up to 3000 guests. Dinner in a lovely Ukrainian restaurant in town.
Day 3, August 29, Thursday
After breakfast we will start driving on the M41, known as the Pamir Highway, the world’s second highest paved road. The first stretch of road will see us drive across Khatlon, an agricultural, fertile land, until we eventually reach the Pyanj river, which is the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The road (recently paved) will turn very dramatic, twisting and curving along the river. Welcome to Pamir and the Autonomous Region of Gorno-Badakhshan! We will stop for a picnic lunch on the way, with view of the Afghan border, before reaching Kalaikhum, exactly half way to Khorog, where we will stay in a newly built plush hotel. Late afternoon at your leisure to rest or have a walk in Kalaikhum village. Before dinner we will head up to the ruined fortress of Karon. Dinner at our hotel.
Day 4, August 30, Friday
Today we will drive on the bumpiest stretch of the Pamir Highway, along the Pyanj river. Be prepared for bumpy roads, but also be prepared to be overwhelmed by the mountains surrounding us on all sides. We will pass many small villages tucked in the narrow valleys underneath. We will have a chance to see life on the Afghan side, just across the river. Please notice the changes: the Tajik side, which we are driving on, has infrastructure (although crumbling) like schools, roads and electricity. The Afghan side has only started building a narrow road and schools. We will enjoy a simple village lunch on the way, with a local Pamiri family who at this moment will be busying themselves drying and conserving their own produce for winter: apricots, figs, apples, pears, and many vegetables. We will also have a walk in their village, learning how they make pikht (dried mulberry flour), walnut oil, and more. In the late afternoon we will arrive at Khorog, the capital of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan. It is a very welcoming small university town. We will stay at the Serena Inn, owned by the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims. Dinner at the hotel restaurant, on the bank of the Pyanj river.
Day 5, July 31, Wednesday
After a late breakfast, we will take a walk in town, visiting the brand new University of Central Asia campus, and the beautiful Botanical gardens - highest in the world. We will have lunch at a pretty riverside restaurant and then have a stroll along the city’s new park, Ismaili cultural center, and market. Free time to explore the town on your own in the afternoon or head back to the hotel and rest.
Day 6, September 01, Sunday
After breakfast we will continue to Ishkashim and the Wakhan valley, where once British, Russian and Chinese empires met. On the way we will stop in the village of Avj, where the most famous man of the Pamir lives: Dr Shirinbek. We will visit his cabinet and pharmacy, and learn more about traditional Pamiri healing methods. We have two options for the afternoon: option 1 is to cross the Afghan border at the Ishkashim bridge. We will visit Sultan Ishkashim, the twin town on Afghan side. Our guide will be an Afghan mountaineer, the first Afghan to ascend the highest peak in Afghanistan. Crossing the border, be prepared to notice the change in attire and manners. Be ready to find some unique products at the local market, and to bargain! They haven’t seen many foreigners here. We will take lunch on the Afghan side. This is the safest part of Afghanistan. The other option is to stay in Tajikistan and visit a nearby mazar (an Ismaili shrine), an ancient ruined fortress and a small local museum, founded by an enchanting local man. Lunch will be with a local Wakhi family. The Wakhi have some of the world’s most beautiful and intricately carved homes. We will learn more about the symbolism of it, and also more about life in a border area that has been troubled for decades. On the way back we will stop at a mineral spring and those who want can take a dip in the big pool (frequented by locals) or a small private pool. We will be back in Khorog in time for dinner at our hotel.
Day 7, September 02, Monday
Today we will drive to Osh. Due to the risk of altitude sickness, we will not stay overnight in the town of Murghab, like all other (adventurous) groups are doing. It will be a long drive, quite bumpy at times, but the scenery will be second to none, and the last stretch of road in Kyrgyzstan has recently been paved. Our first drive will be across numerous villages and farmland. As we go further up the mountains, all Pamiri and Wakhi settlements disappear, and so do trees. We will enter the barren Murghab plateau, where only a band of hardy Kyrgyz shepherds live. We will stop for a short walk in Murghab town to have a look at the market, and also at some absolutely beautiful traditional crafts - especially the woolen socks the ladies of the town make! Lunch in a Kyrgyz home in Murghab. Then we continue across the Ak Baital pass (at 15,272 feet) and across the Kyrgyz-Tajik border at the Kyzyl Art Pass (14,042 feet). Welcome to Kyrgyzstan! The road will dramatically improve as we head down to the Ferghana valley to the town of Osh.
Day 8, September 03, Tuesday
In the morning, after a late breakfast, join us for a tour of Osh old town, including the UNESCO-inscribed Suleiman Too mountain, and the market. Traditional lunch in a local Uzbek restaurant. In the afternoon we will catch a short flight to Bishkek. Transfer to our hotel, the Hyatt, and farewell dinner in a fine restaurant nearby.
Day 9, September 04, Wednesday
Breakfast, and transfer to Bishkek airport for your flights back or where the heart takes you next.
- Accommodation in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan’s best lodgings: from a Hyatt,
to a cosy Serena Inn lodge.
- Transport with
a new, comfortable minibus where the
roads are paved, and 4WDs for the
Pamir Highway and the bumpy side
roads. And not least, good drivers!
- Drivers and
guides lodging and food.
- Domestic flight
from Osh to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.
- All meals
according to programme: 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 13 dinners in carefully selected
- All taxes and fees.
- Bottled water, refreshments and sweet treats
while on the bus and while exploring
- A comprehensive information pack with maps, literature, useful knowledge and gifts.
- Tips for pretty much everyone but guide and driver.
- All activities
according to the program.
- Entry tickets
to all sights that are ticketed.
- And much, much more.
Price does not include:
- Medical and
- Personal expenses
such as phone
internet, drinks apart
from those included.
- Visa fees for Tajikistan ($50, online).
- Permit for Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan ($20, online at time of Tajikistan visa applica- tion)
€2820 per person, €440 single supplement.
The cost is per person sharing double or twin room.