Tajikistan Itinerary for One to Four Weeks
Updated May 2022 One to Four Week Tajikistan Itinerary was originally written in February 2019
For being the smallest in terms of the landmass of the Central Asian nations Tajikistan packs a lot into its borders. I have gotten a lot of requests from travelers for itineraries for Tajikistan. Many are shocked at the suggested amounts of time to see the country.
Transportation can be haphazard, roads are windy, tumultuous, and barely existent in some areas and weather can hold things up a bit, leading to long travel times.
A comfortable amount of time to plan for Tajikistan is one month for those wanting to take on the Pamir Highway, Wakhan Valley, Fann Mountains, Fergana Valley and get in a couple of good treks. While in theory, you could cover most all this ground in 4 days (Osh–Murghab–Khorog–Dushanbe–Khujand), you’d spend your entire trip in a car and your only free time would be spent peeing and sleeping.
For those with limited time, you can plan 1-2 week itineraries for the Pamir Highway, a weeklong trip to the Fanns from Samarkand, or a few days spent in the Fergana Valley, based on this itinerary.
If you’re just in the planning stages, I recommend picking up a copy of Bradt’s Tajikistan guidebook, which I have found to be useful on my early trips to the country.
I’ve listed this Tajikistan itinerary in order of those that plan cross into Tajikistan from Osh or Tashkent and start their adventure with Khujand and end it with the Pamir Highway as a loop back to Osh, Kyrgyzstan. This itinerary can easily be reversed or piecemealed together for those on shorter times.
Note that visas are typically issued for 45 days. I have spent nearly one year in Tajikistan over several trips but still have many blank spots on the map.
Start here: The Tajikistan Travel Guide
- TAJIKISTAN ITINERARY TIME ESTIMATES
- Must See Khujand
- Where To Stay In Khujand
- Get Out Of Khujand
- Must See Istaravshan
- Where To Stay In Istaravshan
- Get Out Of Istaravshan
- Must See Panjakent
- Where To Sleep In Panjakent
- Getting Out Of Panjakent
- Must See Fann Mountains
- Where To Stay In Fann Mountains
- What To See In The Yagnob Valley
- Where To Stay Around The Yagnob Valley
- Getting In/Out Of The Yagnob Valley
- Must See Dushanbe
- Where To Stay In Dushanbe
- Getting Out Of Dushanbe
- Hisor Day Trip From Dushanbe
- Looking to get off the beaten path in Khatlon Province?
- Where To Stay In Qala i Khumb
- Getting Out Of Qala i Khumb
- Where To Stay In Rushan
- Getting Out Of Rushan
- Where To Stay In Jizeu
- Getting Out Of Jizeu
- Must See Khorog
- Where To Stay In Khorog
- Getting Out Of Khorog
- Must See Ishkashim
- Where To Stay In Ishkashim
- Getting Out Of Ishkashim
- Sleeping At Zorkul
- Getting Out Of Zorkul
- Where To Stay In Alichur
- Must See Murghab
- Great Side Trips From Murghab
- Where To Stay In Murghab
- Getting Out Of Murghab
- Where To Stay In Karakul
- Getting Out Of Karakul
TAJIKISTAN ITINERARY TIME ESTIMATES
Khujand: 1-2 Days (travel time to Istaravshan: 1 hr 30 min)
Istaravshan: 1 Day (travel time to Panjakent: 5 hrs)
Panjakent: 1 Day (travel time to Artuch: 2 hrs)
Fann Mountains Trek: 2-10 Days (travel time to Dushanbe: 4 hrs)
Dushanbe: 2 Days (travel time to Kalai Khumb: ~8 hrs)
Kalai Khumb: 1 Day (travel time to Rushan: 2-3 hrs)
Jizeu Trek: 2 Days (travel time to Khorog: 2-3 hrs)
Khorog: 1 Day (travel time to Ishkashim: 3 hrs)
Ishkashim: 1 Day, though some may opt to spend several days in the Wakhan Valley between Ishkashim & Langar (travel time to Langar: 5 hrs)
Langar: 1 Day (travel time to Zorkul: ~4 hrs)
Zorkul: 1 Day (travel time to Jarty Gumbez: ~3 hrs)
Jarty Gumbez: 1 Day (travel time to Alichur: ~3 hrs)
Alichur: 1 Day (travel time to Murghab: 1-2 hrs)
Murghab: 1 Day (travel time to Karakul: 2-3 hrs)
Karakul: 1 Day (travel time to Osh, Kyrgyzstan: ~12 hrs)
Welcome to the Tajik Fergana Valley. For those coming from Osh, Kyrgyzstan, and Tashkent or Kokand, Uzbekistan this will be your warm welcome most likely (some will opt to spend a night in Isfara or Konibodum).
This is Tajikistan’s second city. Wealthier in general than much the rest of the country, being spared the scars of the bloody 90’s Tajik Civil War thanks to the natural protection of the Zeravshan Mountains.
Must See Khujand
- Kamoli Khujandi Park
- Panjshanbe Bazaar
- Masjid Jami Mosque & Medrasa
- Khujand Citadel Ruins
- Ismail Somoni Monument
- The largest Lenin statue in Central Asia
- Khujand Theatre & Sughd Museum
Plan your visit to Khujand: The Khujand Travel Guide
Where To Stay In Khujand
| Booking.com |
Get Out Of Khujand
- Istaravshan: Head to Yova (Ёва) Bus Station, commonly just called Kamoli Khujandi (take marshrutka #3 or marshrutka #33 to Yova, 3 km southwest of Khujand, 2 TJS). Minibus #314 departs for Istarvshan, 4TJS, 1.5 hours. Otherwise, take a shared taxi for 15 TJS per seat.
- Panjakent: Like Istarvashan, head to Yova bus station. From here get shared taxis to Panjakent for 120 TJS, 7 hours.
- Dushanbe: Head to Yova bus station. Shared taxis depart to Dushanbe for 150 TJS per seat, 6-7 hours. Dushanbe bound shared taxis also depart Abreshim bus station northeast of Dushanbe. Abreshim is reachable by marshrutka #55, 2 TJS.
- Osh: Head to Isfara Avtostanitsa (5km southeast of Khujand, take marshrutka #3A from Panjshanbe Bazaar, 2 TJS). From Isfara Avtostanitsa take minibus #301 to Isfara, 15 TJS per seat, 2 hours. Minibus #301 only leaves at 10 am, so get there early. From Isfara take a shared taxi for 150 TJS to Osh from the bazaar, 6 hours.
- Kokand: Like Osh and Isfara, you’ll need to head to Isfara Avtostanitsa. From Isfara Avtostanitsa take minibus #328 for 15 TJS per seat, 1.5 hours. Minibus #328 goes to Kanibodum en route to Kokand for those looking to explore here before crossing the border.
- Tashkent: From Abreshim bus station (take marshrutka #55, 2 TJS) take a minibus (ask around, I’m unsure of the number) to Tashkent. 50 TJS and 5 hours.
Formally named Ura Tyube, Istaravshan is a miniature Samarkand. With over 2500 years oh history this is where you’ll find the most Silk Road architecture in Tajikistan.
Must See Istaravshan
- Abdul Latif Sultan Medrasa (Kok Gumbaz)
- Mug Teppa
- Shahr e Kuhna
- Hazrat i Shah Mosque & Minaret
- Chor Gumbez
- Hauz i Sangin
- Sary Mazar
- Istaravshan Bazaar
Plan your visit to Istaravshan here
Where To Stay In Istaravshan
- Gostinitsa Sadbarg, which I recommended from personal experience.
Get Out Of Istaravshan
- Panjakent: Head 100 meters south of the bazaar for shared taxis for 120 TJS per seat, 5 hours.
- Dushanbe: Shared taxis depart from the south end of the bazaar for 100 TJS per seat, 5 hours.
- Khujand: Take marshrutka #6 from the bazaar to Avtovokzal 3km north of town. Shared taxis depart from the Avtovokzal for Khujand for 25 TJS per seat, 1 hour. Though, sometimes you can find Khujand-bound shared taxis at the bazaar, just ask around.
Panjakent is a great jumping-off point for those headed to explore the Fann Mountains and will likely be the first stop for those crossing the newly reopened Panjakent-Samarkand border crossing with Uzbekistan. The most interesting attraction in Panjakent will be the area commonly referred to as Ancient Panjakent. It’s an excavation of a Sogdian City from Tajikistan’s pre-Islamic times.
Must See Panjakent
- Ancient Panjakent
- Rudaki Museum
- Panjakent Bazaar
- Kainar Ato
- Alim Dodhko Mosque & Medrasa
Heading to Panjakent? Check out my Panjakent Guide and plan your visit
Where To Sleep In Panjakent
Centrally located and owner Safar is extremely knowledgeable and helpful
| Booking.com |
Umariyon Hotel is upstairs from a minimart and is conveniently located. The staff is welcoming but only speaks Tajik and Russian.
Getting Out Of Panjakent
- Artuch: Shared taxi depart near the bazaar for 60 TJS per seat. Once out front of the bazaar just start saying Artuch to passerby and you’ll usually be directed towards the waiting cars. 2 km east of the bazaar there is a bus station called Panjakent Avtovagzal. From the Avtovagzal there are 3 minibusses per day (9:30/12:00/14:15) for Artuch Village in the Fann Mountains for 50 TJS for the roughly 2 hour ride.
- Haft Kul: Shared taxis leave from outside the bazaar in the mornings for 50 TJS per seat. Plan for about 1.5-2 hours drive time. A minibus leaves for the Haft Kul from the Panjakent Avtovagzal for 20 TJS, ask around to verify departure time.
- Dushanbe: Shared taxis depart Panjakent Avtovagzal for Dushanbe for 140 TJS per seat, 5 hours.
- Khujand: Shared taxis leave from the Panjakent Avtovagzal for 120 TJS per seat, 7 hours. Minibusses depart here as well for 15 TJS per seat.
- Istaravshan: Shared taxis depart near the clothing bazaar on Rudaki typically before 10 am. Expect to pay about 100 TJS for the 5-hour trip.
Going to Uzbekistan too? Check out my two week Uzbekistan & Tajikistan itinerary to plan your trip
Personally, I don’t think a trip to Tajikistan is complete without a trek in the Fann Mountains. This region of the country is unbelievably beautiful and relatively easy to access. Many routes crisscross these mountains on old shepherd trails still in use today.
More serious mountaineers and rock climbers will find heaps of summits here as well.
Treks of varying difficulty are possible here from more simple overnight opportunities to treks lasting several days.
For those with extremely limited time, consider an overnight or long day trip to Iskanderkul from Khujand or Dushanbe, or take a short stop when traveling between the above two cities.
Everything you need to know: Fann Mountains Trekking & Travel Guide
Must See Fann Mountains
More info: Trekking In The Haft Kul
Where To Stay In Fann Mountains
These are all homestay and alplager-style camps. Expect to pay $10-20 USD per night including dinner and breakfast.
- Najmaddin Homestay Haft Kul (recommended from personal experience)
- Vertical Alovaddin Camp
- Hazratcho Homestay Yakkakhona (recommended from personal experience)
- Artuch Alplager
- Dilovar Homestay Sarytag (recommended from personal experience)
- Shazud Guesthouse Iskanderkul (recommended from personal experience)
- Turbaza Iskanderkul
Planning to visit Iskanderkul? Check out the Iskanderkul & Sarytag Travel Guide
Not far from the Fanns on the other side of the main highway sits the Yagnob Valley. Here it is possible to trek varying lengths visiting Yagnobi villages.
This area is inhabited by the Yagnobi people who still speak an ancient form of the Sogdian language and practice ancient traditions and rituals. The easiest way to access the Yagnob Valley is by getting on shared taxis departing the bazaar in Sarvoda in the afternoon back to Margib.
What To See In The Yagnob Valley
There are several hiking routes that can be taken on in the Yagnob Valley. You will likely spend a night in Margib, the stunningly beautiful village that most being their adventures into the Yagnob Valley from.
Where To Stay Around The Yagnob Valley
There are a few homestays in the Yagnob Valley. There are three in Margib, but in other areas usually only one. It’s not unusual for people to invite you into their homes, though do plan to give some money for their hospitality as this is a very difficult area to carve out a living.
If you plan to trek, I’d strongly advise carrying a tent.
- Margib (we recommend Veretok Homestay, from personal expereince)
Getting In/Out Of The Yagnob Valley
Margib is reachable by taxi hire in Sarvoda for about 300 TJS, cars can be hired in reverse as well. The journey from Sarvoda takes roughly two hours. There is a shared taxi on most days between Sarvoda and Margib as well, though it may end up leaving you to sleep a night in Sarvoda.
Plan to pay 50 TJS for the shared taxi.
Plan your visit: The Yagnob Valley Trekking & Travel Guide
Welcome to the busy capital city of Tajikistan. Though it’s not the most fascinating capital in the world there’s still enough there to warrant stating a couple of days.
Dushanbe gained its name from the Persian word for Monday. Until it was named the capital of the Tajik SSR in the 1920s by Joseph Stalin it was just a small village home to a popular Monday bazaar.
Get the most out of your time in the capital: Check out my Dushanbe City Guide
Must See Dushanbe
- Rudaki Park
- Bayrak (World’s Tallest Flagpole)
- Ismoil Somoni Monument
- Rudaki Monument
- National Museum
- Lake Komsomol & Park Melodezhi
- Green Bazaar
- Kokhi Navruz
- Mevlana Yakub Charki Mosque
- Victory Park
- Ayni Ballet & Theatre
Eat your way across Dushanbe: The Best Restuarants in Dushanbe
Where To Stay In Dushanbe
Getting Out Of Dushanbe
- Istaravshan, Panjakent & Khujand: Head to Cementzavod Stand just north of Dushanbe, reachable by marshrutka #3. Shared taxis will cost Istaravshan/Panjakent/Khujand 100/140/150 TJS for the 5/7/6 hour journey.
- Pamir Highway Destinations: For destinations between Dushanbe and Khorog head to Badakhshanskaya Avtostansiya, located about 1km south of the Sheraton Dushanbe at 149 Nazrshoev Street. Expect to pay 300 TJS for a seat in a shared taxi to Khorog and expect travel time to be anywhere from 14-20 hours. For those who want to break up the journey plan to travel to Kalai Khumb (170 TJS) or Rushan (220 TJS). Marshrutka #8 will take you to the Badakhshanskaya Avtostansiya from the Green Bazaar. Arrive between 5 am and 9am after 9 taxis fill slowly. There’s a chaikhana where you can grab breakfast as you wait for your taxi to fill.
- Hisor: Head to Zarnisor Bazaar, just west of Dushanbe to grab a shared taxi bound for Hisor. The journey is about 30 km and 30 minutes and a seat should cost 5 TJS per seat.
- Qurgonteppa: Qurgonteppa is a city in the southeast Tajik province of Khatlon. Head to Vaghzal Qurgonteppa south of the city center for shared taxis. 2 hours by shared taxi, 30 TJS per seat.
Hisor Day Trip From Dushanbe
Hisor is an easy day trip from Dushanbe, sitting about 30 km west of the city. Built in the 18th century Hisor Fort was badly damaged by the Russians in 1924.
Highlights of Hisor include the mosque and madrasa. The entrance fee is 10 TJS.
If heading to Hisor Fort from Dushanbe on public transport grab Marshrutka #8 bound for Zarnisor Bazaar for 1.50 TJS. Once you get dropped at Zarnisor, look for a marshrutka signed for Хисор for 3 TJS per seat. Once you arrive at Hisor, walk across the street and get in a shared taxi to Hisor Qala for 2 TJS. Alternatively, you can hire a taxi for the return trip including waiting on you for 150 TJS.
Read up on how to visit Hisor Fort by public transport
Nurek Reservoir is a lake created by the damming off of the Vakhsh River. The dam is the second tallest dam in the world.
Nurek Reservoir is a scenic area and you can even rent houseboats out here. For those heading out on the Pamir Highway from Dushanbe, you will pass Nurek Reservoir if you’re taking the southern route (most common).
You will likely break for lunch here in Kulob on your first day on your trip out on the Pamir Highway from Dushanbe. Kulob is Tajikistan’s third-largest city and the largest city in Khatlon Province, the most notable site to see is the nearby Hulbuk Fortress and the Mir Said Ali Hamadani Shrine.
Looking to get off the beaten path in Khatlon Province?
Qala i Khumb
Qala i Khumb (also spelled Kalai Khumb) is a scenic town at the confluence of the Obikhumb and Panj Rivers. I definitely recommend an overnight here to break up the long journey between Dushanbe and Khorog. Grab dinner at Oriona Chaikhana right along the river.
Where To Stay In Qala i Khumb
- Roma Jurayev Guesthouse $20 USD/night, single with shared bathroom (personally recommended). There’s also a great family-run homestay just across the river.
- Karon Palace | Booking.com |
Getting Out Of Qala i Khumb
Shared taxis depart from the shared taxi stand about 50 meters east of the Qala i Khumb Mosque on the main highway.
- Dushanbe: 170 TJS, 9-12 hours.
- Rushan: 70 TJS, 2-3 hours.
- Khorog: 130 TJS, 3-8 hours.
Plan your stay with the Qala i Khumb Travel Guide
Rushan is a village along the Pamir Highway and the jumping-off point for adventures into the Bartang Valley. Some will opt to skip Kalai Khumb and take a shared taxi from Dushanbe to Rushan and then continue onto Jizeu and other destinations in the Bartang Valley the following morning.
Want more adventure in the Bartang? Read my Bartang Valley Guide for more
Where To Stay In Rushan
- Homestay Mubarek
- Rushan Inn Guesthouse
Getting Out Of Rushan
Just 100 meters west of the Vamardara River on the main highway is the shared taxi stand for Dushanbe and Kalai Khumb bound shared taxis. About 10 meters east of the river is the taxi stand for cars headed towards Khorog. About 500 meters east across the highway from the Sodirot Bank is the shared taxi stand for cars headed up the Bartang Highway.
- Jizeu: 120 TJS for a seat on a shared taxi to the cable bridge to Jizeu. 1 hour.
- Khorog: 50 TJS for shared taxis, 20 TJS for minibuses. 1-2 hours.
- Dushanbe: 250 TJS shared taxi. 10-12 hours.
Jizeu is probably the best overnight trek in the Pamirs and Tajikistan. From Rushan, the trailhead is about 23 km up the Bartang Highway, about 6 km past the village of Bargu. The concrete blocks of the cable bridge to Jizeu are clearly marked with the village name.
About 2 hours of trekking from the bridge will bring you to the lower village of Jizeu. Jizeu is comprised of about 14 homes divided into an upper and lower village in a scenic valley along clear pools of water. 7 of the homes second as homestays.
You can expect to pay $20 USD per night including meals, though it is possible to camp just outside the village. More treks can be arranged to Ravmed Valley and beyond from Jizeu.
Learn more about Tajikistan’s best overnight trek in the Jizeu Trekking Guide
Where To Stay In Jizeu
- Lola Homestay: $20 USD/night per person including meals (personally recommended)
Getting Out Of Jizeu
For return trips to Jizeu, it is easiest to pay the money for a chartered taxi to pick you up at the bridge at a designated time to head to Rushan (200 TJS) or Khorog (250 TJS). There is a minibus that makes the journey down the Bartang leaving Basid at 7 am to Rushan and on to Khorog. Timings can be haphazard and your chances of missing it are relatively high.
Pretty much all travelers on the Pamir Highway will end up in Khorog. It’s a great place to relax for a day or two on your journey. I personally have spent a lot of time in Khorog as I’ve used it as a base between treks into the Pamirs.
Khorog has a well-educated population largely thanks to the development by the Aga Khan Foundation, so don’t be surprised when youngsters stop you on the street or in the park and want to practice their English skills with you.
For those wanting to hire a chartered taxi for the journey between Khorog and Osh, Kyrgyzstan (I recommend it as it’s the best and most versatile way to travel the Pamir Highway, though more expensive). Head to the PECTA office inside Khorog Central Park to get a list of drivers and even look on the message board for other travelers to share the cost of the trip with.
Those wanting to visit Zorkul Lake should go into the PECTA office and pick up a Zorkul permit. If planning to visit anywhere in the Tajik National Park (much of the Bartang Valley, Bachor Mountain Lakes, Fedchenko Glacier) you can grab a permit at PECTA as well.
After cruising along the Panjakent River to Khorog with constant glimpses into Afghanistan many will get the urge to cross the border and visit. The Afghan Wakhan is the only safe place to visit in Afghanistan and can be reached by a border crossing near Ishkashim.
There is an Afghan Consulate here in Khorog that will usually issue visas the same day (I got mine in 30 mins in 2017). Learn in this post how to get an Afghan Visa.
Must See Khorog
- Khorog Central Park
- Khorog Botanical Garden
- Khorog Bazaar
- Regional Museum
- Truck On A Plinth Monument
Plan your Khorog stopover: The Khorog Travel Guide
Where To Stay In Khorog
$7 USD/night, dorm bed
| Pamirlodge.com |
Lal Hotel Dorm
| Booking.com |
Do Nazarbeg Hostel
| Booking.com |
| Booking.com |
Getting Out Of Khorog
- Dushanbe, Rushan & Kalai Khumb: Walk to the taxi yard on the west side of the Khorog Bazaar. Rushan/Kalai Khumb/Dushanbe taxis will cost 50/80/300 TJS and take 1-2/3-8/14-20 hours. Most taxis depart in the morning so get here before 10 am.
- Wakhan Valley: For shared taxis bound for Ishkashim and beyond to Langar walk across the footbridge that crosses the Gunt River just behind the Khorog Bazaar. a short walk along the trail beyond the river will bring you to the Wakhan and Shokhdara taxi stands. Shared taxis typically leave in the morning. A ride to Ishkashim (3 hours) should cost about 45 TJS and to Langar 7 hours) about 120 TJS. Those planning to cross the border to Afghanistan will need to ask to be dropped off 3 km before Ishkashim to walk across the border post.
- Murghab: Shared taxis will leave the taxi yard next to the bazaar. Shared taxis will ring in around 150 TJS for the 8 hour journey.
- Shokhdara Valley: This little-traveled route between the Gunt Valley and Wakhan Valley is an adventurous alternative in the Pamirs. Shared taxis will leave from the Shokhdara taxi stand across the footbridge over the river next to the Wakhan taxi stand.
This hot spring en route from Khorog to Ishkashim is worth a stop for those traveling by their own transport. It’s a secluded pool created by mineral deposits.
Most people bathe in the nude and there are gendered hours (Men: 4:30-7:30 & 15:30-16:30. Women: 8-12, 13:30-15:30 & 16:30-17:30). The entrance fee is 10 TJS per person.
Garm Chashma is about 20 minutes off the main highway at Anderob Village. A chartered taxi from Khorog and back will cost 150 TJS.
Ishkashim is the largest village in the Wakhan Valley. While there isn’t much to see it’s a good stop for the night of you’ve taken your time meandering from Khorog.
Must See Ishkashim
- Ishkashim Bazaar
- Ibrohim Ismoilov Museum
- Cross-Border Bazaar (has not been open in quite a while)
- Ishkashim Caravanserai
- Ostoni Zanjiri Kaba Shrine (2km southeast in nearby Ryn)
Where To Stay In Ishkashim
- Hanis Guesthouse $12 USD/night including dinner & breakfast (personally recommended)
Getting Out Of Ishkashim
- Khorog: Shared taxis depart the main highway in mornings. 45 TJS, 3 hours.
- Langar: Shared taxis depart the main highway in mornings. 75 TJS, 5 hours.
- Namadgut: Flag down a car headed east toward Langar. Most will expect 5-10 TJS.
- Afghan Wakhan: The border crossing for those bound for Sultan Eshkashim and the Wakhan Corridor is 3 km west of Ishkashim. Read about the border crossing here.
See The Afghan Wakhan Corridor In Photos
The Wakhan Valley
The main part of the Wakhan is between Ishkashim and Langar. Most travelers opt to travel between Khorog and Langar in one to two days, though for those really wanting to take in the area or do some trekking may need much longer.
Between Ishkashim and Langar, the main stops are:
- Namadgut and Khakhaa Fortress
- Yamchun Fortress & Bibi Fatima Hot Springs
- Vrang & Buddhist Stupa
- Zong & Vishimqala
- Hissor & Zangibar Fortress
To read more on traveling the Wakhan, check out the Tajik Wakhan Valley Travel Guide
Langar is something of an oasis in a wide-open valley. The village sits where the Pamir and Panj Rivers meet in the Wakhan and is largely considered the end of the Wakhan as the road twists and turns up towards Ratm here to eventually head up Khargush Pass.
Langar is also your jumping-off point for the Pik Engles Meadow trek, a nice overnight hike with astounding views of the iconic mountain.
Must See Langar
- Jamoatkhona (Prayer house)
- 6,000 Petroglyphs
- Pik Engles Meadow Trek (2 Days)
Where To Sleep In Langar
- Nigina Homestay $15 USD/night
Getting Out Of Langar
Getting out of Langar by public transport can be tricky as there is only a shared taxi heading to Khorog a couple of times a week, days and times can be sporadic so ask around. For those headed toward Khargush Pass things are even more difficult as you’ll be looking to hitch and can likely be stranded for several days.
The Wakhan Valley is best visited on chartered transport. A Khorog-Ishkashim-Langar-Jelandy-Khorog hire will likely come in at about $400 USD for the 4 day trip which can be split amongst 6 travelers.
If you do not plan to visit Zorkul on your way back to the main Pamir Highway, you’ll cross the Khargush Pass to arrive as Bulunkul and Yashilkul.
Make sure you’ve grabbed a permit from PECTA in Khorog. At the beginning of Khargush Pass, there is a checkpoint. You’ll need to show your permit here to head off the main road for Zorkul.
Zorkul is a large lake on the border with Afghanistan whose surrounding areas are part of the Zorkul Nature Reserve.
Those up to a real challenge can hike to Zorkul from Alichur.
Sleeping At Zorkul
Bring a tent as camping is likely your only option for sleeping at Zorkul unless the odd Kyrgyz yurt is sported out here and will likely invite you in.
Getting Out Of Zorkul
No public transport goes to Zorkul so you’ll need your own transport to get out here.
Jarty Gumbez is a Marco Polo sheep hunting camp and hot spring. Non-hunters can stay the night here outside of the November-April hunting season for about $30 USD/night including meals. Many who make the journey over from Khargush Pass and Zorkul will opt to stay the night here.
Those not interested in seeing Bulunkul, Yashilkul, and Alichur can make the trip to the end-of-the-world settlement of Shaimak en route to Murghab in the extreme southeast, a strategic point during the Great Game for its views into China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The predominantly Kyrgyz village of Alichur doesn’t get many tourists, so for those that do spend a night here so expect curious local kids and teens to tour you around town. Aside from a small mosque, there isn’t much in way of sites.
On your way to Murghab don’t miss Ak Balyk Spring just to the right of the highway about 12 km east of Alichur.
Plan your visit in the Murghab Plateau & East Tajikistan: The Eastern Pamir Travel Guide
Where To Stay In Alichur
- Rahima Doronshoeva Homestay (personally recommended)
Welcome to the wild-wild east. Murghab isn’t the most picturesque town but it’s set in a beautiful valley. There isn’t much in way to do or see in Murghab, so most will opt to rest their head here for the night before continuing on the Pamir Highway.
Must See Murghab
- Murghab Bazaar
- Jama Mosque
- At Chabysh Festival (late July)
Plan your stop in Murghab: The Murghab Travel Guide
Great Side Trips From Murghab
- Rangkul: Near to the Chinese border and surrounded by stark high desert scenery sits a lake with nearby sand dunes. You can visit as a day trip from Murghab or spend a night out here in one of the homestays near the lake. It’s possible to organize camel trekking from here.
- Pshart & Madiyan Valleys: You’ll need to arrange your own transport for this one. Pshart Valley is just north of Murghab with colorfully swirled mountains. Madiyan, just south of Murghab has more stark mountainscapes and a hot spring to boot. You can do an overnight trek over Gumbezkul Pass connecting the two mountain valleys.
Where To Stay In Murghab
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Getting Out Of Murghab
Shared taxis will depart from the bazaar. Many times shared taxi drivers bound for Osh will visit homestays around town in the evening looking for travelers planning to continue on and will pick you up in the morning.
- Osh, Karakul & Sary Tash: Shared taxis bound for Osh depart in mornings (about 8 am). 150 TJS, 12 hours. These taxis will make stops in Karakul (75 TJS, 3 hours) and Sary Tash (110 TJS, 6 hours) as well for those not wanting to do the entire journey in one day.
- Khorog: Shared taxis leave in mornings. 120 TJS, 7-9 hours.
- Rangkul: A shared taxi departs the bazaar just behind Aida Cafe in the afternoon each day. 20 TJS per seat.
- Qolma Pass: There is no public transport to the Chinese border crossing at Qolma Pass. You will need to either arrange transport from Murghab by chartered taxi or attempt to hitch with kamaz trucks bound for the border. Make sure and have transport to Tashkurgan or Kashgar arranged on the Chinese side because the port is in the middle of nowhere. Learn more about the Qolma Pass border crossing here.
Everything you need to know to Cross Qolma Pass between Tajikistan & China
The drive to Karakul from Murghab will take you up and over 4,655 meter Ak Baital ‘White Horse’ Pass. Keep your eyes peeled for Marco Polo sheep teetering on mountain faces and don’t be surprised if it’s snowing here even in the dead of summer.
You’ll descend down the pass and on to Karakul, a massive lake created by a meteor strike millions of years ago. The terrain around Karakul is quite barren and dusted with salt as the lake is saline. A village of the same name sits on the eastern shore of the lake with a few homestays on offer.
I recommend spending a night here between Osh and Murghab to break up the long driving day, though some will opt to only stop for lunch and continue for the border.
If you have some extra time around Karakul and you’re looking for a day hike try the South Aral Peak hike to the south of Karakul.
What to do around Karakul? Check out my Karakul Guide
Where To Stay In Karakul
- Erkin Homestay $15 USD/night, including meals (personally recommended)
Getting Out Of Karakul
Shared taxis away from Karakul can be a bit tricky and may leave you in Karakul a day or longer than you planned. Your best bet is to have your homestay call drivers that may be passing through or plan to hire your own driver.
Kyzyl Art Pass
Colorful Kyzyl Art Pass is the border post between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. From the border, it’s a relatively short drive to continue onto Sary Tash, where some will opt to stay and explore more of the Alay Valley, while others will continue on to Osh in the Kyrgyz Fergana Valley.
Read more about crossing Kyzyl Art Pass
Continuing the adventure into Kyrgyzstan? Read: The Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide
Have Any Questions About This Tajikistan Itinerary?
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