70 inspiring photos of Western Tajikistan

Considering travel to Tajikistan or Central Asia? Yeah, you’re making the right decision—let these photos of Western Tajikistan inspire you to get that ticket! Includes a healthy smattering of tips on travel and trekking in Tajikistan.

 

Traveling to Tajikistan is guaranteed to be an off the beaten track Central Asian adventure—let these photos of Tajikistan convince you. Click through for a photo guide to Western Tajikistan, including Tajikistan's Fann Mountains, Dushanbe, and various lake treks and historical places in Tajikistan.

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For adventurous travelers, Tajikistan’s got it all.

Gigantic mountains covering more than 90% of the country. Busy bazaars, ancient mazars, and then some from the Silk Road era. Forward, friendly people always ready for a good chat. Hardly any tourists to speak of, let alone fight with for views.

What more could you ask for?

But don’t take my words at face value. Here are 70+ photos of my recent ventures through western Tajikistan to prove traveling to Tajikistan is definitely one of the best decisions you can make in the coming year.

70 photos of Western Tajikistan because it’s stunning AF

Overview of Kulikalon Lake in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

My favorite view from my blogger trip in Western Tajikistan: this pass overlooking Kulikalon Lake, which means “big lake” in the local language.

Man standing next to Kulikalon Lake in Tajkistan

Why yes, it is, in fact, big.

Girl standing on a rock during sunrise in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

Waking up for sunrise is usually difficult… but not when we were camping in the Fann Mountains.

Sunrise over Alauddin Lake in Tajkistan's Fann Mountains

How could you say no to sunrise views like this?

Man trekking through Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

See, the Fann Mountains are the highlight of Western Tajikistan, and a paradise for trekkers. There are endless routes of varying difficulties…

Guitar lake in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

… more lakes than you can shake a stick at…

Trekker by a lake in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

… and hardly any people, even in summer.

Trees in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

Not bad, eh?

Sheep and goats walking in the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan

Though there aren’t many humans… there are sheep. And goats.

Herd of sheep and goats walking in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

Lots of them.

Herd of sheep and goats in Tajikistan

Lots and LOTS of them.

Man standing in front of Kulikalon Lake in Western Tajikistan

The lake trek around Kulikalon and Alauddin Lakes is one of the more popular treks in the Fann Mountains…

Blue hour over Alauddin Lake in Western Tajikistan

(For obvious reasons.)

People sitting by one of the Haft Kol in Tajikistan

… but the trek/track along the Haft Kul is another popular tourist route.

Car driving to the Haft Kol in Western Tajikistan

The Haft Kul, which means “Seven Lakes” in Tajik, are only several hours’ drive from the western town of Panjakent.

Road to the Haft Kol in Tajikistan

The dirt road to the Haft Kul is rocky and winding…

Village alongside one of Tajikistan's seven lakes

… but the views are undoubtedly worth the bumpy ride.

Man walking a donkey in the Haft Kol

An extra treat: the villages lining the road to and past the Haft Kul are almost as scenic as the lakes themselves.

Local shepherd girl in Haft Kol, Tajikistan

Like most places in Tajikistan, the locals are also sweet.

Girl catching escaping goat in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

(Until it comes time to herd their flocks, that is.)

Girl standing in front of the fourth lake in Tajikistan's Haft Kol, Seven Lakes

Visitors can camp virtually anywhere around the Haft Kul, but many tourists choose to stay at the 3 Juniper Branches homestay near Nofin, the fourth of the seven lakes pictured here.

Fresh fruit spread at a Tajikistan homestay

The homestay is like a slice of simple paradise: seating by a trickling brook, cozy beds, and fantastic spreads of fresh local fruit when in season.

Woman selling apricots by the road in Western Tajikistan

(Did I mention the fruit scene in Western Tajikistan is fantastic? Because it is.)

Trekker in Tajikistan

All this and more awaits people willing to go trekking in Western Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains.

Trekker at Alauddin Pass in Western Tajikistan

But trekking in Tajikistan isn’t quite like trekking in more developed countries. There are some things you should know before you go.

Trekking route in Western Tajikistan

Trails in Tajikistan aren’t marked, so it’s easy to lose your way.

People near lakes in Western Tajikistan

… even in seemingly open places like this lake valley near Kulikalon! Always make sure to use maps, apps, or a local guide.

Sunset view from Artuch base camp in Tajikistan

Guides can be hired through tour agencies, or on the spot in places like the Artuch camp at the start of the Kulikalon lake trek.

Man washing dishes in Alauddin Lake

If you’re trying to be bougie, you can also hire people from these places to help set up camp and cook your food.

Alplager in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

Accommodation while trekking is generally restricted to tents, though there’s the occasional “alplager” where you can stay in wooden cottages, a remnant of the Soviet Era.

Donkeys carrying trekking gear through Western Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

Donkeys are the most common method of transporting camping and trekking gear in Tajikistan.

Young boys riding donkeys in Western Tajikistan

They’re also everywhere in Tajikistan.

Porter warming himself by the fire in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains at sunrise

When hiring donkeys to transport gear while trekking, the donkeys come with a driver who helps to load and unload them. If you’re lucky, they might also double as a local guide!

Donkeys grazing at sunrise in Western Tajikistan

You can rent a donkey in Tajikistan for around US$15 per donkey per day.

Donkeys and owner walking in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

The $15 charge includes the donkey’s driver.

Men singing around a campfire in Western Tajikistan

Beware, the donkey drivers might lasso you in to singing around the fire at night! (Come prepared with songs in your native language, or risk a loss of face.)

Donkey driver walking along Alauddin Lake in Tajikistan

The men and their donkeys will come with you as far as you trek, then return to their starting point once your trek is over.

View of the Fann Mountains from inside a van

… then it’s time to cry as you leave the trek. Or get stoked for your next mountain venture!

 

Planning a trip to Tajikistan? Let these photos of Western Tajikistan be your travel guide. Includes epic photos of the Fann Mountains, the Kulikalon Lake trek, culture in Tajikistan, ancient sites in Tajikistan, photos of Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe, and more. Click through for a photo treat!

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Man walking a cart through the Panjakent Bazaar in Western Tajikistan

But enough about mountains! Tajikistan isn’t ALL mountains (… okay, only 93% of it is).

Woman in the women's section of Panjakent Bazaar, Tajikistan

… buzzing bazaars…

Soviet architecture in Dushanbe, Tajikistan's capital

… immense brutalist architecture…

Man cooking tandoori samsa in Panjakent, Tajikistan

… all kinds of unique (if simple) foods…

Man selling dried fruits and nuts in the Panjakent Bazaar in Tajikistan

(one more photo of foods because Tajikistan’s snack game is strong and I love food)

Boy riding in a train in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

… and then some!

Sogdian ruins of ancient Panjakent in Western Tajikistan

It also has ruins more than a millenium old, like these Sogdian ruins of ancient Panjakent.

Man in front of mausoleum of Mohammad Bashoro in Mazor i Sharif, Tajikistan

And this 11th century mausoleum to Mohammad Bashoro, a hafiz (person who can recite the Quran) who settled in this town of Mazor-i Sharif.

Details of tombs inside the mausoleum of Mohammad Bashoro in Western Tajikistan

Just look at the detail work on the tombs of the mausoleum’s carpenters.

Caretaker walking in mausoleum of Muhammad Bashoro in Western Tajikistan

Typical Tajikistan: not only did the caretaker show us around, he also treated us to tea and snacks afterwards!

Man standing in the Rudaki mausoleum in Tajikistan

There’s another beautiful—if less ancient—mausoleum a drive away from that of Bashoro: a recently renovated mausoleum for the poet Rudaki, considered one of the founding fathers of Persian poetry.

View from Hissar Fort in Dushanbe, Tajikistan at sunset

Some things in Tajikistan look ancient, but aren’t quite. An example: the 18th century Hissar Fort outside of Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital.

Hissar Fort view outside Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Though the fort’s foundations are old, most of it is new—it’s still in the process of being renovated.

People walking in Hissar Fort outside of Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Nevertheless, the fort and nearby 17th century madrassa make a good day trip from Dushanbe…

Women sitting outside Hissar Fort in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

… and are perfect for people watching.

Blue hour and moon over Iskanderkul Lake in Tajikistan

Another chill day trip from Dushanbe: Iskanderkul Lake. If you’re willing to make it an overnight trip, you might get to see the lake under the moonlight like this!

Person relaxing by Iskanderkul Lake in Tajikistan

But even if you don’t stay overnight, it’s all good—the water is impossibly blue and beautiful during the day.

Women walking through a tunnel of arches in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Of course, there’s plenty to do in Tajikistan’s pleasant capital if you don’t feel like venturing out of the city.

Hyatt Hotel next to the Navruz Palace in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Both old and new.

People shopping in the Mehrgon bazaar in Dushanbe, Tajikistan's capital

One photogenic highlight is the Mehrgon Bazaar in northern Dushanbe.

Bird's eye view of the Mehrgon Bazaar in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

A replacement for the capital’s Green Bazaar, you can buy everything from spices to vegetables to home products within its halls.

Interior of the Rohat Teahouse in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

The Rohat Teahouse on Rudaki Avenue is another picturesque place to while away the hours over tea and traditional food in Tajikistan’s capital. You can either sit inside this hall or in a columned open air area.

Kurutob being served in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

If you’d prefer to dine on traditional food in a more low key setting, I recommend trying kurutob from Olim Restaurant in Dushanbe. Made from strips of bread, yogurt, herbs, and vegetables, kurutob is, hands down, Tajikistan’s best national food.

Man looking at art in the National Museum of Tajikistan in Dushanbe

I’m not much of a museum person, but the top floor of the National Museum of Tajikistan contains a fantastic assortment of very quirky, colorful art from local artists.

Fountains in front of Independence Monument in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

But above all, my favorite pastime in Dushanbe was simply hanging out in its plethora of parks, like this square around Independence Monument.

Men sitting by fountain in a park in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Numerous, walkable, and flower-filled, they’re a peaceful way to pass the time.

Locals walking in fountains in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Oh, and fountains. Fountains for days.

Rudaki part entrance at night in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

If you’re pressed for time, Rudaki park is the biggest and most impressive of all the parks.

View of the Palace of Nations from Rudaki Park in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

… and offers good views of the Palace of Nations, where Tajikistan’s President works.

Women walking Dushanbe, Tajikistan's streets at night near the Somoni monument

But, of course, everyone is different, and what catches my eye might bore yours! The best thing you can do is dive into Tajikistan and see for yourself. Don’t forget to report back and let me know which tickled your fancies the most!

 

Convinced to travel to Tajikistan? Here’s what you need to know before visiting Tajikistan.

 

Planning a trip to Tajikistan? Let these photos of Western Tajikistan be your travel guide. Includes epic photos of the Fann Mountains, the Kulikalon Lake trek, culture in Tajikistan, ancient sites in Tajikistan, photos of Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe, and more. Click through for a photo treat!

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Yay transparency! This publication/activity is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs Activity in Central Asia. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Lost With Purpose (that’s me!) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. Don’t worry, all the photos and rambling and drooling over food is most definitely from me.

Alex Reynolds

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

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