Approximately 120 km east of Khorog, the Soviet resort town of Jelondy is the last of a long string of villages before the M41 Pamir Highway reaches 4000 meters. In the next 420 km until Sary Tash, you’ll only pass a few small wind-swept settlements: Bulunkul, Alichur, Murghab and Karakul.
Famed among locals for its sanatorium, this village is home to a number of hot springs which purportedly contain cure-all properties. There are a few options for accommodation, bathing, and very basic food in Jelondy.
The village is split by a river, and the bridge to cross from one side to the other is located a few kilometers west of town. The eastern side along the main road is slightly larger, but the western side across the river is where most hot springs are located.
Hot springs and sanatorium
If you are not squeamish, we recommend the sanatorium. Here, men and women are split, and you can sit in a large hot tub with several naked locals and experience Soviet sanatorium culture at its best. There is a shower with cold water to cool down in, and the sanatorium also has a hotel and a restaurant with standard Tajik fare.
For a more private experience, go to any of the houses on the southwestern side of the town, across the river from the main road, and say istochnik. Locals will point you in the right direction. There are several small buildings with spring-fed hot tubs inside for 2-5 somoni per person. Let’s be clear, none of these fall in the luxury spa category.
All are often too hot to stay for more than a minute in the water at a time. Look for one with a cold shower; you won’t last long otherwise. Pro tip: double check that there are no outhouses located upstream from your hot spring of choice.
Other hot springs in the Pamirs are Bibi Fatima and Gharm Chashma. Near Dushanbe the sanatorium of Khoja Obi Gharm is also worth a visit for sanatorium fans.
A mini bus leaves occasionally to Khorog for 30 somoni, but only on mornings when there is enough demand. It returns in the afternoon (ask the driver for exact times). To get to or from Murghab, you typically have to either pay the full fare to Khorog (150 somoni) or hitch a ride for slightly cheaper.
See transport on the Pamir Highway for a more complete overview of your options.
Small house 7 km west of Jelondy: 15 somoni without food. This is the first and cheapest option. It is the location of the westernmost hot spring and the house also functions as a cafe and homestay. Even if you don’t sleep there, their fried fish is worth stopping for.
Unofficial homestays: 20-50 somoni without food. In the southwesternmost part of the village, near the majority of hot springs, there are several unofficial homestays where it’s possible to sleep and bathe.
Sanatorium: 30 somoni for a trailer, 50 somoni per person for a “luxe” room with ensuite bathroom, without food. The most unique accommodation option. This is the best place to meet locals on vacation from around Tajikistan.
More comfortable guest house: 50 somoni without food. Above the sanatorium is a building with a blue roof. They have ensuite bathrooms.
Official homestay: 100 somoni with breakfast and dinner. On the east side of town, only meters from the M41, is a sign for a homestay. Currently (summer 2018) the shower is a hose in the backyard with water from a hot spring, though the friendly family who owns it is planning future improvements.
“Restaurant” in the sanatorium. Ironically, people come here to cure their health problems, but a quick look into the kitchen would make one worry about acquiring new illnesses. This is no different from any other local cafe in the Pamirs, though.
Homestays may have cleaner kitchens and are probably willing to cook you a meal for a decent price even if you don’t sleep there.
Shops: A few very small shops exist on both sides of the river. The most equipped is right on the M41, though this only means that you can choose between two types of instant noodles instead of one. If it’s locked, ask around town to find someone to open it.