A country divided by a plethora of cultures squeezed within its borders, Tajikistan descended into bloody civil war in the 90s, eventually leaving over 50,000 dead. These days the war’s a thing of the past, and foreigners are once again free to explore this little known corner of Asia, home to on of the continent’s most epic road trips and plenty in the way of isolated mountain scenery.
Dushanbe, the striking tree-lined capital, sits amongst a stunning mountain backdrop and lacks any of the bustle that travelers have come to associate with Asian capitals. A stark contrast to a decade ago, when the bullets were flying, but now the damage is covered over it’s a relaxing city experience where you can drown in the sugar of the locally made colas and snack on signature dishes like nahud sambusa (a chick pea samosa).
Grab a home stay along the paths of the Pamir Highway, a road lined with snowy peaks, high altitude lakes and sensational scenery. It’s a little remote, but that’s the draw, along with the chance to ogle the views and munch on krutob, the rural staple made up of bread, yoghurt, onion and coriander. Another cultural immersion opportunity comes in the form of a yurt stay on Tajikistan’s plains, a different but equally fascinating experience.
The remote Wakhan Valley is half Tajik, half Afghanistan, and all stunningly beautiful. There are Buddhist ruins galore and more of those special views that Tajikstan’s slowly becoming known for, including views of the magnificent Hindu Kush. If you’re more of a city person, Istaravashan is hardly a metropolis, but it is home to an exotic market, gorgeous architecture, and even fewer tourists than the rest of the country.
There’s a certain sense of melancholy to Tajikistan, a country that’s struggling its way up the slope after some seriously hard times, but it’s picturesque, different and well off the beaten track: more than enough for most.