The region around Dushanbe, together with the Rasht valley leading up to the Kyrgyz border, form the central region of Tajikistan. Dushanbe is a pleasant enough town to hang around for a day or 2 to resupply, take a hot shower, drink coffee and learn about Tajikistan in museums.
Travelers are fixated on the Pamir highway, so it’s mostly expats who visit the attractions surrounding Dushanbe. The border crossing with Kyrgyzstan at Karamyk is still closed, which means few people make the effort to visit the Gharm valley. There are mountains nonetheless.
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.
Dushanbe & surroundings
Dushanbe is the capital and pretty much unavoidable. Great to recharge, but don’t overstay – the real beauty of Tajikistan is elsewhere. Day trips from Dushanbe are the fortress of Hisor, the Sufi mausoleum in Faizabad, and the Romit nature reserve. The southern province of Khatlon is also within reach for day or weekend trips, especially outside of summer.
Good hiking close to Dushanbe lies in the Karatag and Shirkent valleys east of town, or the Varzob and Sioma valleys north. In winter, you can ski the slopes in Takob.
Gharm (Rasht) valley
On your way to the GBAO area, you head into the Gharm or Rasht valley, before turning south towards Tavildara and into the Pamirs. Before you get there, though, a dip in the hot springs of Obi Gharm is a rite of passage.
It should not be a surprise that the overlooked Gharm valley also holds beautiful mountain scenery, tough farming families and amazing DIY hiking opportunities. Loaf through the idyllic Nushor valley in springtime and watch it burst into life, or pick your own path amongst unnamed peaks.
- Pamirs: The Pamir Highway winds its way through landscapes from another planet
- North: Khujand, Panjakent, 7 Lakes, Fann mountains and Iskanderkul
- South: The Khatlon province is a great 3-season alternative when the rest of Tajikistan is covered in snow.
Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan
- Southern Kyrgyzstan: yurts, horses, and rolling pastureland
- Ferghana Valley: Uzbekistan’s traditional heartland
- Central Uzbekistan: The Silk Road cities Tashkent, Samarkand. Bukhara and Khiva