Tajikistan Odyssey

Tajikistan

Culture

Lose yourself in Tajikistan's unique charms

13 days £1,945 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Begin your journey in the bustling capital of Dushanbe. Follow the ancient Silk Road to the impressive Hisor Fortress. Marvel at the stunning natural beauty of Varzob Gorge before visiting the ancient city of Hulbuk and its richly decorated mausoleums. Drive alongside the rushing Panj River into the beautiful mountain scenery of the High Pamirs, glimpsing Afghan village across the water and passing the world’s longest glacier. Stop at Khorog’s Pamir Botanical Garden, bathe in the mineral-enriched hot springs of Garam Chashma. Unearth the ancient fortresses of Kahkha and Yamchun before experiencing the breathtaking scenery of the Wakhan Corridor.

NOTE: Tour finishes in Kyrgyzstan

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • The bustling capital of Dushanbe
  • Uncover the ancient city of Hulbuk
  • Marvel at the huge scale of Fedchenko Glacier
  • Bathe in the mineral-enriched Garam Chashma hot spring
  • Stunning canyon views over Langar village
  • Learn of Yamchun Fortress' role on the Silk Road
  • Stunning natural scenery along the Wakhan Corridor
  • Spot endemic wildlife in Alichur's conservation area

Places Visited

Dushanbe - Hisor Town - Kulyab - Hulbuk - Rushan Village - Khorog - Ishkashim - Langar - Alichur Village - Osh - Sary-Tash - Toktogul Reservoir - Uzgen - Bishkek

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Domestic flights (if relevant - refer to itinerary)
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival into Dushanbe

Arrive into Dushanbe where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to the hotel. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Dushanbe. 

Meal plan: n/a

Dushanbe means "Monday" in Tajik and was named after the popular Monday market that was once held here. Excavations in the area unearthed artefacts that date back to the 5th century BC. Dushanbe was little more than a village until the early 20th century, but today it is the capital city of Tajikistan.

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Day 2 : Dushanbe

Enjoy a city tour of Dushanbe. Begin at the famous Museum of National Antiquities and the National Museum. Later, visit the monument of Ismoili Somoni and the Rudaki Park in the centre of the city. Overnight in Dushanbe. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Opened in 2001, the Museum of National Antiquities in Dushanbe houses archaeological finds from Tajikistan with an array of artefacts from Islamic and pre-Islamic history. Its most valuable exhibit is the original Buddha from Ajina Teppa.

Opened in 2013, Dushanbe's National Museum houses a range of exhibits revealing the history of Tajikistan from the stone age to present day. With 22 exhibition halls, the museum showcases both real and recreated archaeological artefacts. Displays include unique frescoes and burned wooden statues from the Penjikent excavation site, as well as a reconstructed Ajina-Tepe Buddhist monastery site.

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Day 3 : Dushanbe - Hisor - Varzob Gorge - Dushanbe

Enjoy a morning excursion to Hisor town to see the ancient fortress of Hisor. Later, visit the picturesque Varzob Gorge and rest by the mountain river side. The main road north out of Dushanbe follows the route of the rushing Varzob River for about 70 km, before climbing to Anzob Pass (3,373 m). Later, return to Dushanbe for your overnight stay. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Hisor lies at an altitude of 799 to 824 metres between the Gissar, Babatag and Aktau Mountain Ranges. The old fort of Hisor is said to date back to the time of Cyrus the Great - the founder of the Achaemenid Empire who reigned between 559 and 530 BC.

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Day 4 : Dushanbe - Kulyab - Kalaikhumb

After breakfast, travel to Kulyab, visiting the ancient city of Hulbuk en route. Also stop by a local museum containing artefacts from the excavation site. On arrival in Kulyab, visit the Mausoleum of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani before having lunch in a local restaurant. Proceed to Kalaikhumb for your overnight stay.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Kuylab lies at the foot of the Khazratishokh Mountain Range in the valley of the Iakshu River. The region surrounding Kuylab has long been used to cultivate cotton and grain, leading the city to become an important trading hub. 

Now known as Kurban-Shaid, the ancient city of Hulbuk was once the fourth largest in Central Asia, thriving between the 9th and 11th centuries. It originally guarded a giant salt hill of great trading value, as well as being a significant stop on the Silk Road. The administrative and cultural centre of Hulbuk Palace formed the citadel of the settlement, although this was later destroyed by the Mongols. Many of the buildings have been undergoing excavation since 1951, with the main facades of the west and south palace walls being recently rebuilt.

Born during the 14th century, Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani was a prominent scientist, poet and Sahfi'i Muslim scholar who played a major role in the spreading of Islam throughout Kashmir. He is also believed to have been the founder of the region's weaving traditions, after he brought 700 weavers with him to the area to teach the craft. After falling ill and dying during one of his travels, he was carried by his disciples to Khatlan and put to rest in the shrine that now stands there. The gate of the mausoleum is richly decorated with beautiful tiles, while two intricately carved wooden structures stand on either side.

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Day 5 : Kalaikhumb - Khorog

Drive alongside the Panj River to Khorog in the High Pamirs. You will be able to see the Afgan villages on the other side of the river. Observe the beautiful mountain scenery in the Vanch region, from where all trekking to Fedchenko glacier starts, and pass through Rushan village. Take a short stop to see Vamar Fortress before continuing to Parshinev village to see the shrine Pir-I Shoh Nosir, the museum and the holy spring dedicated to Nosiry Khusrav, the founder of the Isamaili religion in this area. On arrival in Khorog, transfer to the hotel for your overnight stay.

Meal plan: Breakfast

At 700 miles long, the Panj River forms a considerable part of the border between Tajikistan and eastern Afghanistan, flowing between the Pamir Mountain and Hindu Kush. As the river valley itself has an arid climate with less than 8 inches of rain per year, the water flow is created by greater rainfall and melting glaciers in the surrounding mountains.

Situated in the Pamir Mountains in central Tajikistan, the Fedchenko Glacier is the world's longest glacier outside of the polar regions, extending 48 miles long and covering up to 350 square miles. It was discovered in 1878, but wasn't fully explored until 1928 as part of a major Soviet expedition. Beginning at the ice field of Revolution Peak, the glacier flows north where it receives ice from dozens of tributary glaciers. During the middle course, the glacier can move up to 26 inches a day. It eventually melts into the Balandkiik River near the border with Kyrgyzstan, with the meltwater forming the headstream of the Surkhob River and the Amu Darya. 

Lying below the confluence of the Bartang and Panj Rivers, Rushan (also known as Vomar) is the capital of the Rushan District. It is renowned for its arts and music, with many of Tajikistan's famous musicians originating from here.

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Day 6 : Khorog

Spend the morning sightseeing in Khorog, visiting the Botanical Garden and Khorog Museum. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Khorog. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Planted at an altitude of 2,320 metres above sea level, Khorog's Pamir Botanical Garden is claimed to be the world's second-highest botanical garden. Founded in 1931, the garden is used for research on endemic Badakhshan fruit and vegetables, as well as for acclimatising foreign plants. Covering over 624 hectares, the gardens hold around 2,300 plant varieties from all over the world, ranging from East Asian plants such as peach trees, to potatoes from Central and South America. 

Founded in 1944, Khorog Regional Museum displays a range of archaeological and historical exhibits. Though dated in style, there are many interesting artefacts on show, from Stalin portraits to stuffed Marco Polo sheep. One of the highlights is the first Russian piano that arrived in Badakhshan in 1914, when 10 Russian soldiers spent 2 months carrying it over the mountains from Osh, for the daughter of a Russian commander.  

The capital city of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, Khorog is the regional centre of administration, trade, transportation and education, boasting four higher education institutes. It is located at the bottom of a deep canyon at the confluence of the Panj, Gunt and Shakhdara Rivers. With the Pamir Highway running through the centre of the town, most major transportation routes in the area run through Khorog. Though the Soviet-style city centre is relatively plain, the streets are lined with beautiful green poplar trees and quaint traditional Tajik houses can be found alongside the river. 

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Day 7 : Khorog - Ishkashim - Yamg

In the morning, drive along the Panj River to Yamg via Ishkashim town. On the way, visit the famous mineral hot springs of Garam Chashma and the shrine to Ali (believed to have opened this spring). Across the river you can see a pass leading to the open valleys of Afghanistan, thought to have been taken by the explorer Marco Polo on his journey to Badakshan. On arrival in Yamg, transfer to your homestay. Overnight in Yamg.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Surrounded by beautiful views of the Pamir mountain range, the remote town of Ishkashim lies on the Panj River opposite a town of the same name in Afghanistan. Both towns are linked by a bridge crossing the river, built in 2006. Located on a branch of the ancient Silk Road, it is a place of cultural significance.

Located in the Wakhan Corridor, Garam Chashma is an open-air hot spring pool. Enclosed by large white and coloured mineral cascades, the water is rich in various minerals that are believed to provide curative qualities for those with skin and health problems. There are separate pools for men and women, divided by a natural mud wall.

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Day 8 : Yamg - Langar

After breakfast, visit the museum of the local astronomer and poet Sufi Muboraki Vakhoni. Listen to a talk from his grand grand son, Aydar Malikmamadov, and learn about his solar calendar. Visit Namadgut village to see the Kahkha Fortress before exploring the local museum (subject to availability) to observe the historical local embroidery and excavation artefacts. Also see a typical 11th century Islaili shrine, Oston-I Shobi Mardon, with unique wood carvings and petroglyphs. Proceed to the village of Yamchun and bathe in the Bibi Fatima hot springs before visiting the ruins of Yamchun fortress. Return to Yamg for lunch. In the afternoon, drive to Langar and see the famous Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. On arrival in Langar, transfer to a traditional Pamiri House for your overnight stay.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Located at the end of Wakhan Valley, the small and quiet village of Langar lies deep within a gorge surrounded by steep, rocky slopes. Outside of the village there are stunning views over the canyon, where the Wakhan and Pamir rivers meet to make the Panj. Many archaeological and historical sites are dotted throughout the surrounding areas.

Built in the 4th century AD, Kahkha Fortress is located on the banks of Panj River along the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. It is named after the king of the Siahpushes-Qanqaha, who were known to be fire worshippers. Protected by a double layer of clay and stone walls, as well as 56 towers with gun slots, its inner layout consists of a citadel and 3 grounds, with the total length of the rampart extending to 750 metres. Erosion has damaged much of the inner walls, though numerous towers still stand.

Located in the Wakhan Valley within the Pamir Mountain range, the Bibi Fatima Hot Springs were named after the Prophet Mohammad's daughter. The crystal clear hot water flows from a stalactite cave and into a simple concrete room constructed against the rock face, in which men and women can seperately bathe at different time intervals. The water is believed to not only have many health benefits, but also boost the fertility of women.

Originally built between the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, Yamchun Fortress is believed to be the oldest monument in the Wakhan region, though the current structure is thought to be from the 12th century. Constructed in a triangular shape, it was fortified with 36 towers and 2-metre-wide outer walls, while the inner layout is divided into sections consisting of a citadel, bastion, barracks and 2 open grounds surrounded by walls and towers. Stategically placed 500 metres above the valley, the fortress played a key role on the Silk Road, controlling the traffic, cargo and security in the region.

A high mountain valley stretching between the Pamir and Karakoram mountain ranges, the Wakhan Corridor separates Tajikistan and Pakistan. It is from this corridor that the Panj and Pamir Rivers emerge and form the Amu Darya. Traditionally used as a trade route between Eastern, Southern and Central Asia, the Wakhan Corridor is now predominantly inhabited by Wakhi herdsmen. Given its beautiful mountain scenery and remote location, it is a popular spot for mountaineering, trekking and wildlife-watching.

The House-Museum of Sufi Muboraki Vakhoni celebrates the life of the Tajik astronomer, poet, musician and Ismaili religious scholar who lived from 1843 to 1903. Originally from Badakshan, Vakhoni is little-known in modern academic works, though he played a significant role within the Ismaili traditions in the Pamir Mountains. The museum exhibits books and manuscripts written by the master, his "solar calendar", collections of ethnographic artefacts and even a model of a classic 19th-century Pamiri home.

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Day 9 : Langar - Murghab

In the morning, visit the local shrine of Mazor-I Shoh Kambar-I Oftob before departing to Murghab through the Wahan region. Cross the high Khargush (4344m) and Nauzetash (4314m) mountain passes as well as Alichur village. Later, cross another mountain pass Nayzatosh (3137m). On arrival to Murghab, if time permits, visit a local handicraft shop where you can buy some traditional handmade Pamiri souvenirs. Overnight in Murghab.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Believed to have been used during pre-Islamic times, the holy Mazor-I Shoh Kambar-I Oftob Shrine in Langar is dedicated to the Lord Kamber of the Sun. Its name directly translates to "Holy Place of the Master of the Sun". The shrine is surrounded by a beautiful garden filled with old sacred trees where aromatic herbs are burnt.  

Surrounded by a beautiful and remote mountain landscape, Alichur Village is known for its wildlife. After poaching drastically reduced the number of its Marco Polo sheep, a conservation area in Northern Alichur was established in November 2012 in an effort to protect the declining species. There are now over 500 sheep and more than 700 Asiatic Ibex in the area, as well as the Tian Shan brown bear, snow leopard, wolf and lynx. 

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Day 10 : Murghab - Kizil Art Pass - Sary Tash - Osh

After breakfast, depart to Sary-Tash via Akbaital Pass *(4655m), *Uybulok Pass *(4232m)* and Kyzyl Art Pass *(4336m). *Along the journey, you will see Karakul Lake, Lenin Peak and beautiful mountain desert views. After border formalities, proceed to Kizil Art Top and into the high rising Pamir ranges. Arrive in Osh for your overnight stay.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Sary-Tash is a small remote village located at a major crossroads in the Alay Valley. Sitting at the convergence of the roads to Murgab, Osh and Kashgar, it connects Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China.

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Day 11 : Osh - Toktogul

After breakfast city-tour in Osh: visit Osh Bazaar, the largest market in Central Asia. Walk along the colorful rows of the Golden market, watch the black smiths working and smell aromas of spices, fruits and vegetables. After the visit to the Osh Bazaar sightseeing continues in Osh. The next stop is Mount Sulaiman, one of the main shrines of the Islamic world in Central Asia. Witness panoramic views of the city and visit the historical museum.
 
Afternoon transfer to Toktogul Resevoir. Uzgen will be visited on route (one of the capitals of the Karakhanid State). The drive continues to Toktogul Resevoir with scenic views of canyons and gorges of the Central Tien Shan Mountains.
 
 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Toktogul is the largest reservoir in Central Asia, with an area of almost 300 square kilometres and a depth of over 200 metres. The reservoir was created following the construction of a hydroelectric and irrigation dam on the Naryn River. Rolling valleys and mountains provide a scenic backdrop to the reservoir, making it a particularly good location for fishing and swimming in the summer months. 

The town of Uzgen sits in the east of the Ferghana Valley. Formerly known as "Mavarannahr", it was once a capital of the Karakhanid dynasty (999-1211 AD). The town is home to several preserved mausoleums that were constructed during the 12th century. 

The city of Osh has a rich history that stretches back over 3,000 years. Legends say that the city was founded by Solomon or even Alexander the Great. Its position at a crossroads of the Silk Road led Osh to become a significant historical trading centre. It is home to Central Asia's most impressive remaining Lenin Statue, along with a bustling bazaar that gives visitors an insight into traditional Central Asian hospitality and culture. 

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Day 12 : Toktogul - Bishkek

After breakfast the drive to Bishkek commences with an excursion via Chichkan gorge. Upon arrival in Bishkek there will be a city tour including a visit to the Manas Monument (a national hero amongst the Kyrgyz people). Then proceeding to the State History Museum, Independence Monument, government buildings and the Old Square (with the House of Parliament). Transfer to the Victory Square to complete the city tour. 
 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Bishkek lies in the shadow of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tian Shan mountains. It is Kyrgyzstan’s capital and biggest city with a population just under one million. It was named “Frunze” by the Bolsheviks in 1926 after a military leader born there. Following its independence in 1991 it was renamed “Bishkek”, after the fortress of “Pishpek“ in the area.

Toktogul is the largest reservoir in Central Asia, with an area of almost 300 square kilometres and a depth of over 200 metres. The reservoir was created following the construction of a hydroelectric and irrigation dam on the Naryn River. Rolling valleys and mountains provide a scenic backdrop to the reservoir, making it a particularly good location for fishing and swimming in the summer months. 

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Day 13 : Departure - Bishkek

A morning transfer to the Bishkek airport for departure flight home.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Extensions

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