Khatlon region, south of Dushanbe, is mostly a winter destination, or a place for day trips away from the capital. There are no spectacular mountains here, and in summer, it gets boiling hot. That is when you want to be in the Pamirs.
On the flipside, in February and March, while the rest of the country is covered in snow, the south is already a pleasant place to be.
Khatlon region is a place of minor sights. Off-the-beaten-track, slow travelers will revel as much in the random encounters and surprises that seem to lurk behind every corner, as in the history and natural beauty of the region. There are more reasons to visit.
Khatlon oblast suffered the heaviest damage in Tajikistan during the civil war. The region is still very divided between the more conservative Kulobis (around Kulob), and the Gharmis, who were forcibly resettled during Soviet times (mostly) in the area around Qurghonteppa.
The Kulobis won the war in the end, and supplied the president. President Ramon is from Dangara, halfway between Kulob and Qurghonteppa, and the peasant village has seen a remarkable transformation. Some say Dangara might become the new capital of Tajikistan.
Outside of a visit to Qurghonteppa and Sarband, we haven’t really seen much of the south. So I am happy to redirect you to the website of Southern Tajikistan, which has good info on the region and the sights below.
Qurghonteppa is the main hub for most visits to the south. From here, explorers can visit Sarband, the Sari Khosor valley, the Vaksh river, and historical sights close to Shahrtuz and Qubodiyon.
44 Springs near Shahrtuz is a hotspot for locals in summer and a good place to cool down from the heat. It is even hotter than in Dushanbe, though.
These are all day trips. The nature reserves in the region require 2-3 days to get a good look at. Childukhtaron should be your first port of call. If you still want more, Tigrovaya Balka and Dasht-i-Jum (Shuroobod District) require a permit. In this case, you should talk to Paul of Sworde-Teppa who goes on entomological expeditions in the area.
P.S.: watch out for snakes and scorpions.
- Karotegin: Dushanbe and around + the Garm valley
- Pamirs: The Pamir Highway winds its way through landscapes from another planet
- Sughd: Khujand, Penjikent, 7 Lakes, Fann mountains and Iskanderkul