Journey to Tajikistan
Journey to Tajikistan take the Great Silk Road and traverse the magnificent Pamirs and Tien Shan. Absorb Persian and Central Asian history and witness ancient hospitality.
Journey to Tajikistan
Tajikistan is hemmed in the south by Afghanistan, Xinjiang in China to its east, Kyrgyzstan to its north, and Uzbekistan to its northwest and west. An ancient land, it was part of the Persian empire for the greater part of its history.
94% of Tajikistan is mountainous. Dominated by the Pamir and Alay ranges, it’s tallest point is the Qullai Ismoili Somoni peak at 7,495 meters. This rugged region is is predominantly Tajik, a Persian speaking ethnic group, distinct from its Turkic neighbors in the North, East, and West.
Historical Overview of Tajikistan
Tajikistan is an ancient land, and our Journey to Tajikistan focus just as much on its spectacular history as on its glorious mountains and nature. The oldest cultures in the region date back to the 4th millennium BCE to the Bronze Age Bactrians and to the site of Sarazm, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The great Persian Achaemenid Empire, Alexander the Great’s Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Scythian tribal states, and the Kushan Empire all controlled modern day Tajikistan at various points. The ancient Iranian civilization of Sogdia spread across modern day Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Sogdia existed from the 6th century BCE to the 11th century AD between the famed rivers of the region the Amu Darya (the Oxus of antiquity), and the Syr Darya (the Jaxartes of antiquity).
The region had rich and diverse religious history including Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Nestorian Christianity, and Manichaeism. This incredible melting of religions, cultures, traditions, and empires is visible even today in the culture of the region. The Great Silk Road, which cross-crossed the region connected distant China with the Islamic heartlands and the northern nomadic tribes.
Most travelers on Voygr’s Journey to Tajikistan pair the trip with a visit to neighboring Uzbekistan due to their long shared history, or combined Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan on our Central Asian Journey. Much of Tajikistan was ruled from Bukhara and Kokand in modern-day Uzbekistan through the medieval and early-modern period, before the establishment of the Soviet Union, so it’s the perfect way to combine what was once once region.
Continue reading below to see how itineraries are created and our top recommendations for a bespoke trip.
Exceptional Guiding on Journey to Tajikistan
Journey to Tajikistan were for long only possible by the most adventurous and independent travelers. Difficult bureaucracy, impossible logistics, and true off-the-beaten-path travel meant that only the most intrepid explorers visited.
Voygr’s Journey to Tajikistan are led by guides who are explorers in their own right. They are leaders with experience leading expeditions to the most remote parts of Asia. With a passion for history, architecture, and story-telling, they are incredible problem-solvers. A long-standing interest in the region combined with a lot of relationship building leg-work give us access to remote communities that package tour companies just don’t get.
Experience the incredible hospitality Tajiks are known for in the mountains of Gorno-Badakshan by the Afghan border. Experience the romance of traveling on the legendary Pamir Highway, along the Panj river. Listen to stories about traders on the Great Silk Route.
An oft done itinerary starts off in neighboring Uzbekistan with arrival in the capital, Tashkent. A day is spent in Tashkent exploring the glories of this former Silk Road city before flying to the desert frontier city of Khiva. Khiva, capital of the Khawarzem Empire, was a major fortress on the great Silk Road. The entire inner city in the fortress of Ichan Kala, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We spend two days exploring some of our favorite sights within and then transfer by road to the legendary city of Bukhara, seat of the Samanid Empire and of the Khanate of Bukhara. With over 140 architectural sites strung through the city and the entire center of town designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bukhara has a lot to offer. Two days in Bukhara lead us to mythical Samarkand, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. It was conquered by Alexander in 329 BCE, by Genghis Khan in 1220 and was the capital of Tamerlane, in the 15th century. Of course, it is also on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as “Samarkand- Crossroads of Cultures.”
From Samarkand, we will cross the Uzbek – Tajik border into Penjikent, Tajikistan. If interested, a buzkashi game can be arranged outside Penjikent. Buzkashi is an ancient horse sport that started among nomadic Turkic peoples played since the times of the ancient Scythians. In Tajikistan, buzkashi is played in a variety of ways. The most common iteration is a free-form game, often played in a mountain valley or other natural arena, in which each player competes individually to seize the buz (a 50kg goat carcass) and carry it to a goal. Forming unofficial teams or alliances does occur, but is discouraged in favor of individual play. Often, dozens of riders will compete against one another simultaneously, making the scrum to retrieve a fallen buz a chaotic affair. The game is quite the sight to see with absolutely incredible displays of horsemanship and athleticism.
From Penjikent, we will continue to lake Iskanderkul, a beautiful glacial lake in the Fann Mountains. Legend states that Alexander the Great stayed at the shores of the lake. Iskander means Alexander in Turkic. Guests stay at a beautiful home-stay near the lake.
From Iskanderkul, the Journey to Tajikistan guests continue to the capital, Dushanbe. A days rest in Dushanbe leads to an adventure on the Pamir Highway. We drive to the mountain town of Khorog on a two day journey along the frontier with Afghanistan. While Afghanistan may conjure images of conflict and strife for some, the border is peaceful, mountainous, and incredibly beautiful. Tajikistan and Afghanistan are separated by the fast flowing waters of the Panj river. On the way to Khorog, we break journey in a small village, staying at an old Soviet rest-stop. In Khorog, we explore the beautiful town, and learn about the Ismaili sect of Islam, headed by the Aga Khan. Much of the region beyond Khorog are predominantly Ismailis. From Khorog, we make a 3 day loop that runs more of the Afghan frontier and then turns inward back towards Dushanbe on a new road. Guests depart from Dushanbe.
The journey along the Pamir Highway and mountains of Tajikistan is one of singular beauty. Our team works across some of the most impressive mountain locations in Asia, and the Pamir Highway may be the most beautiful we’ve seen. We stop at several villages on the journey and engage frequently with locals learning about old ways of life, ancient Zoroastrian influences, stories of ancient empires, and pause for stunning vistas. It is a journey from another time. For those that love mountains and cultural explorations, the Journey to Tajikistan may top them all.
Cultural Exploration on Journey to Tajikistan
The major ethnic groups in this region are Tajik, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz. While the same Voygr Expedition leader will accompany you on your entire trip, local guides will be brought on for translation, adding cultural nuance to your journey, and bringing fresh local perspective along different points of your journey. Across Central Asia, people are incredible hospitable, friendly, and kind. You will be amazed time and again at how generous and welcoming small communities are to travelers. Engaging with locals is always an integral part of traveling with Voygr. People to people connections make the strongest memories and make the world a better place.
History & Architecture on Journey to Tajikistan
Depending on your interests, Journey to Tajikistan can incorporate a lot of history and absolutely spectacular architecture. The region is dotted with World Heritage Sites and teeming with stories of empire, the great game, and the Silk Road.
Photographers on Journey to Tajikistan
All our itineraries can be designed around photography. The cultural exploration and architectural variety of the region combined with the incredible landscapes make this a dream photography trip.
Why Book With Voygr?
Read more about Voygr Expeditions to learn about our ethics, how giving back to the communities we travel to is part of our DNA, and what steps we take to actively preserve our planet.
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