The region around Dushanbe, together with the Gharm valley leading up to the Kyrgyz border, form the region of Karotegin. Dushanbe is a pleasant, leafy 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 only 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.
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 Hissar, the Varzob Valley (inclduing Siama Gorge and the botanical garden at Kandara gorge), the Sufi mausoleum in Faizabad, and the Romit nature reserve.
Good hiking close to Dushanbe lies in the Karatag Valley east of town. In winter, you can ski the slopes in Takob.
With an overnight stay, you can also enjoy the sanatorium of Khoja Obi Gharm, the floating hotel on the Nurek dam, or find dinosaur footprints in Shirkent National Park.
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
- Sughd: Khujand, Penjikent, 7 Lakes, Fann mountains and Iskanderkul
- Khatlon: a different Tajikistan: hot, flat, but also nature and history
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