The roof of the world

Tajikistan was a real adventure! But before we headed for the beautiful but cold mountain area of Pamir we had some great and relaxing days in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.

Arriving to Tajikistan you sometimes wonder if you just entered the world of Aladdin. The women wear colourful clothes often made of velvet, accompanied by a gold decorated scarf fashionably tied around the head together with the hair. And the men are sometimes wearing a decorated small hat on the head. Although, in the capital a lot of the young men and women are well dressed in suits or fancy clothes.

We had the good fortune to stay with a Swedish friend and her Tajik flatmate when visiting Dushanbe. They had a place in the city centre and helped us by answering all kinds of questions about Tajikistan. We also did some nice activities together like the Sunday hike, the quiz night, Friday night clubbing and a concert at the Opera House. When we both suddenly got sick they kindly let us sleep on their sofa for another week. Thanks a lot for the stay Amanda and Mira!

Our main destination in Tajikistan was the Pamir. Pamir is one of the world's highest mountain areas with peaks reaching over 7000 meters and a big plateau just under 4000 meter. It is for this reason called the roof of the world and is hosting the second highest highway in the world. The road however is not exactly a highway similar to autobahn in Germany, no it is more of a gravel road sometimes changing into asphalt with wholes. But entering the Pamir was astonishing!

The first day we spent all day driving uphill along the turquoise blue river Panj, which constitutes the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. It was fascinating observing the people in the villages across from us - schools, road constructions and everyday life. And the scenery was amazing! Everyone had told us that it was too late and too cold to visit Pamir this season, but to our knowledge November is spectacular with the autumn leaves, the clear skies and the fresh snow on top of the mountains.

We had decided to do some hiking on our own since all the tours mainly focused on being inside a car or just quickly hike back and forth to a beautiful place. We wanted to spend a couple of days just being out in the nature, as we use to do in Sweden. So we basically just picked a valley from Google Maps, one of the few where we could find an uninhabited green area with enough space for our tent. It was a lucky pick, and we spent four days and three nights at this beautiful valley.

At the end we knew that we needed to go by car one way or another to be able to cross the Pamir and arrive in Kirgizstan. So we booked a driver to take us from Khorog to Murghab in three days, with public transport you will get there in one day for one tenth of the price but you will miss all the beautiful places on the way, and no “photo stops”. Out of pure luck we meet two French girls travelling the same route as us, willing to split the cost of the car and the driver. We visited three hot springs, a frozen geyser and a couple of lakes. We also went on a marco-polo-sheep-safari, unfortunately we didn’t see any, but we saw a heard of ibex! Try image-googling “marco polo sheep” and “ibex goat”. And of course we saw jaks, cows, goats and sheeps.

Album of Tajikistan:

Even though it was sunny and no snow if was often around minus 10-15 degrees in the mountains. We stayed at small home stays where dinner and breakfast was included. Their life is quite simple, no running water in winters, no heating just a stove in the room your sleeping in, no showers or hot water if you don’t boil it first, the toilet being a hole in the ground somewhere outside. Soup, porridge and fried potatoes were the most common meals we got during those weeks. In the Pamir we were happy that we had brought so much warm clothes, good sleeping bags and a lot of snacks.

With the breathtaking average speed of 34 km/h for the whole trip we finally managed to reach the other side of the Pamir Mountains. It took us 12 days, of which 42 hours was spent in a car, to travel from Dushanbe to Osh, but it was amazingly beautiful and we would really recommend it!

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Jasmijn Sybenga | 2017-01-27 16:02:17
Wauw your pictures are sooo beautiful!:)

Elisabeth | 2016-11-24 16:20:33
It sure looks beautiful and must have been somting extra ordinary, but we were a bit concerned when you were travelling along the border to Afghanistan. It felt good when you reached Osh. :)

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Design: Johanna Lakso | Updated: 2017-07-30 in Stenungsund