Last Updated on April 7, 2020 by

A collection of my best photos of Tajikistan that will hopefully inspire you to travel there someday.

Almost everyone I know has never heard of Tajikistan. And yet, having just returned from Tajikistan from my second WildJunket Tour, I cannot believe what the world is missing out on.

Yes, it can be challenging to travel Tajikistan; Yes, it’s not always 100% safe there; and yes food hygiene can be an issue too. But Tajikistan is truly blessed with some of the most inspiring, high-altitude landscape in the world. Over 90% of the country is covered with mountains. Everywhere you go, you’ll find multi-hued lakes, monstrous snow-peaked mountains, and high passes.

Needless to say, any trip to Tajikistan is an adventure. For visitors tolerant of a few travelling hardships (outdoor loos, cold water, potholed roads), the country more than compensates with a rare glimpse into life on ‘The Roof of the World’. Here are some of my best photos of Tajikistan that will hopefully make you curious about this spectacular yet under-explored country.

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Pamir Highway

Tajikistan is home to one of the world’s best road trips – the Pamir Highway. It is the second highest international highway (after the Tibet Highway), and it’s a bone-crunching 2000km switchback through the western arm of the Himalayas.

The route has been in use for millennia, and it used to form one link of the ancient Silk Road trade route. There’s an ongoing debate on where the Pamir Highway begins (some say it’s Mazari Sharif in Afghanistan, some say Termiz, Uzebkistan). All sources, however, agree that the highway ends in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

These days, it’s still used by industries to transport products and goods across the borders in Central AsiaMostly unpaved, potholed, often flooded and one-car wide, it’s an experience not to be missed for modern-day travelers.

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photos of tajikistan - pamir highway

photos of tajikistan - pamir highway

photos of tajikistan - road signs on the pamir highway

photos of tajikistan - pamir highway

photos of tajikistan - the rocky pamir highway

photos of tajikistan - marmots along the pamir highway

photos of tajikistan - driving along turquoise rivers

photos of tajikistan - a typical bridge along the pamir highway

Wakhan Corridor

Another major highlight of Tajikistan is the Wakhan Corridor, a narrow strip of territory wedged between the Pamir Mountains and the Karakoram range. The Wakhan Corridor runs along the natural border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and it’s dotted with picturesque villages, nestled in fertile plots of intensively cultivated land and half-buried under fruit orchards. From the Wakhan Corridor, the Hindu Kush Mountains in Pakistan are in clear view.

In the 19th century, the corridor acted as a buffer between the Russian Empire and the British Empire. Today, it is a remote and hard-to-reach area with a small population of just 12,000 people. The Wakhan Corridor on the Afghanistan side is said to be a trekkers’ paradise and it’s the only officially safe part of Afghanistan.

While we did cross over to Afghanistan, we only stayed in a village outside Sultoni Ishkashim for just one night. It was an eye-opening experience (to be shared in my next blog post!) and it definitely made me want to spend more time in Afghanistan in future. 

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photos of tajikistan - Afghanistan in full view

photos of tajikistan - Yamchun fortress

photos of tajikistan - climbing up the fortress

photos of tajikistan - yamchun fortress

photos of tajikistan - jumping for joy

Bulunkul

Bulunkul is a shallow, freshwater lake in the GBAO (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province) of Tajikistan where the Pamir is located. The lake covers an area of 3900 hectares but dense vegetation covers most of its surface. It’s 1.5km from Yashikul, an even bigger and more beautiful lake. These fresh-water alpine lakes, situated over 12,000 feet above sea-level, are surrounded by dense vegetation, wetlands, sand and pebble plains.

There’s a village that goes by the same name, Bulunkul, located right next to the lake. Bulunkul is known as the coldest point of Tajikistan. It’s a remote and desolate village that’s sparsely populated. Amidst the clusters of houses in the village are abandoned Soviet trucks and yurts that the Pamiris use for cooking and protection from the cold.

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photos of tajikistan - the drive to Bulunkul

photos of tajikistan - stunning mountain landscapes

photos of tajikistan - bulunkul lake

photos of tajikistan - a small lake where we stopped for a picnic

photos of tajikistan - Yashikul

photos of tajikistan - Yurt in Bulunkul

photos of tajikistan - yurt

photos of tajikistan - yak in bulunkul

photos of tajikistan - beautiful bulunkul village

photos of tajikistan - bulunkul, coldest village in tajikistan

photos of tajikistan - our dinner at the homestay

Dinner at our homestay in Bulunkul

Khoburubot Pass

On our way back to Dushanbe from Kalai Khum, we took a different route and drove the Khoburubot Pass (also known as Western Pamir Tract) instead. This high-altitude pass stands at 3,252m high and goes through the most picturesque river valley and gorges.

We were really surprised by how different the landscapes looked on this route. The harsh and arid landscapes we were driving through for the past two weeks were now replaced by green fertile soil and lush vegetation. It felt like we had traveled through continents to get to this eden.

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photos of tajikistan - lush green slopes of Khoburubot Pass

photos of tajikistan - green landscapes

photos of tajikistan -landmines

Warning of landmines!

Hisor Fortress

About 15km west of Dushanbe stands a historical fortress built around 2,500 years ago.  The main arched gates were built in the 16th century, and have now been completely renovated. Hisor Fortress used to be the residence of Bek, a deputy of the Bukhara king. The main gate features two cylinder towers and a lancet arch between them. This type of architecture is typical for most of Bukhara buildings built in that era. Today, most of the fortress has been artificially restored. Only a small part of the original building remains.

What I loved about the Hisor Fortress wasn’t its history, but rather the atmosphere. During our visit, there were so many locals hanging out in the area. It seemed to be wedding season during our visit — we spotted at least 6 wedding couples who were parading in their shimmering gowns and getting photos taken for their big day. Many local men were eager to get photos with us, though women were a bit more apprehensive. I’d definitely recommend making a daytrip here from Dushanbe if you get the chance.

photos of tajikistan - group of girls at Hisor Fortress

photos of tajikistan - Hisor Fortress

photos of tajikistan - wedding couple at Hisor Fortress

Dushanbe, Capital of Tajikistan

Like most capital cities in Central Asia, Dushanbe isn’t anything worth writing home about. Meaning ‘Monday’ in the Tajik language, Dushanbe t was named this way because it grew from a village that originally had a popular market on Mondays. These days, it’s flourished into a city of around 800,000 people.

Despite being rather spread out, Dushanbe is quite a leafy city, built around parks, lakes and fountains. Not a bad place to get acquainted with Tajik culture and history or decompress after a few weeks on the dusty Pamir Highway. Some places worth visiting are the Tajikistan National Museum, Dushanbe Bazaar and the Dushanbe Flagpole (second tallest free-standing flagpole in the world, at a height of 165 metres).

photos of tajikistan -dushanbe

photos of tajikistan - dushanbe bazaar

photos of tajikistan - dushanbe spices

photos of tajikistan - bread at the bazaar

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Did you like what you saw? Did my Tajikistan photos make you want to travel there someday? Read my detailed Tajikistan travel guide if you are interested in learning more about the country. Let me know if you have any questions below.


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photos of tajikistan