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Across Tajikistan in 80 Photos
Updated April 2020, Across Tajikistan in 80 Photos was originally written in April 2019
In no other country (besides my home country) have I spent more time than Tajikistan. Over the last few years, I’ve spent what amounts to several months in the country and plan to spend many more there. After the four trips I have taken in the country I still feel like I have hardly uncovered any of what Tajikistan has to offer. My fascination with Tajikistan dates back to about 2004 when I first came across photos of trekkers who had completed a trek over Chimtarga Pass in the Fann Mountains. It wasn’t until a touch over a decade later I would make my first visit to Tajikistan thinking it would be my one and only, but here I’ve been each year since.
And yet, most people have never heard of Tajikistan. Even less can point to it on a map. It’s okay if this is your first introduction to the country, we all gotta start somewhere right? So here are 80 of my favorite photos from my travels in Tajikistan to show you why I keep getting drawn back here.
Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains were a popular trekking destination during the years of Soviet rule. Located in the northwest of the country it’s an easy journey to reach from Dushanbe of Khujand. In the photo is my favorite place for sunrise in the entire world, on the south shore of Lake Alovaddin. The reflections of the craggy Fann Mountains is perfection.
Good morning from Lake Alovaddin
Several glacially-fed lakes dot the landscape of the mountainous region. Pictured: the morning light on Bolshoi Allo.
Read more about beautiful Bolshoi Allo Lake
Looking out over Mazalat Pass at Peak Moskva.
Crossing a snowfield on the way over to Kaznok Pass.
Camping on the shores of Lake Alovaddin.
Wanna trek in the Fanns? Check out my Fann Mountains Trekking & Travel Guide
Just past the village of Artuch en route to Kulikalon.
Glimpses of Kulikalon from Alovaddin Pass.
More sunrise-porn from Lake Alovaddin.
Iskanderkul is a massive glacial lake along the northern slopes of the Gissar Range in the Fann Mountains named after Alexander the Great.
Planning to visit Iskanderkul? Learn everything you need to know in the Iskanderkul & Sarytag Travel Guide
Trekking through wildflowers to Mutnyi Lake from Alovaddin.
The view from the top of Chimtarga Pass just after sunset, the highest mountain pass in the Fann Mountains at 4740 meters.
Looking west from Chimtarga Pass in the late afternoon.
See more in my post about Crossing Chimtarga Pass
Peak Energia on the left, Peak Chimtarga on the right, and Chimtarga Pass right in the middle as viewed from the ascent up Kaznok Pass. Chimtarga is the tallest mountain in the Fanns at 5,489 meters.
Alovaddin Lakes from atop Alovaddin Pass. As you can see in the lower right in the photo there are many paths over mountain passes in this area. Shepherds to this day still use the trails to take their livestock to graze.
Alovaddin reflections, this time from the northshore.
Trek the Lakes Loop in Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains
Morning reflections at Kulikalon.
Views of Peaks Adamtash, Promejutochny, Mirali and Maria behind Dushakha Lakes.
It took me quite a while to track down the name of this small and narrow lake, sandwiched between the walls of Zindon Gorge on the hike up to Bolshoi Allo. The mystery lake’s name? Maloye Allo.
Solo female wanting to discover Tajikistan? You can! Read what it was like and tips for solo female travel in Tajikistan
Inside the Panjakent Bazaar as it dwindled down for the afternoon. Panjakent is a jumping-off point for many headed out for adventures in the Fann Mountains and the Haft Kul.
Plan your visit: The Panjakent Travel Guide
The morning fog lifting off of Kulikalon Lake, Fann Mountains.
Another perfect morning at Lake Alovaddin.
A photo I shot of myself using a tripod as I descended down on Lake Alovaddin from Mutnyi and a near disastrous descent down Chimtarga Pass.
Take a hike: The 10 best treks in Tajikistan
A family in Artuch village, Fann Mountains.
The meandering chain of lakes in northwest Tajikistan near the Uzbek border is the popular Haft Kul, meaning seven lakes in Tajik. The legend behind the lakes is of a man who went missing from nearby Shing village, whose seven daughters drown in their own tears after fearing him dead. Each lake represents one of his daughters.
Boys taking a break at Mijgon Lake in the Haft Kul.
Jumaboy at Najmaddin Homestay in Nofin, lake four of the Haft Kul.
Learn more about how you can trek the Haft Kul
Marguzor Lake, the 6th lake and arguably most beautiful in the Haft Kul.
Tajik girls in Kiogli Village.
Trekking into one of the winding canyons between Mogiyon and Rogich, a great side trek from the Haft Kul.
The narrow, winding road that meanders riverside and in beguiling canyons connecting Mogiyon Village toward Rogich. The path sees more shepherd traffic than vehicles.
Istaravshan is a small city in the Fergana Valley of Tajikistan. It boasts a small handful of beautiful Silk Road architectural sites. It is by no means Samarkand, but it also doesn’t have the crowds either. This is the Abdullatid Sultan Medressa, an unfinished Timird style Islamic school.
Check out my Khujand Travel Guide for more info
Kamoli Khujandi’s ornate Mausoleum in the park dedicated to him in Khujand.
Up on a hill overlooking Istaravshan is a monstrous fortress by the name of Mug Teppe. The current construction began in 2002, but the site dates back before the arrival of Alexander the Great.
Read the Istaravshan Travel Guide to plan your visit
Hazrat i Shah Minaret next to the mosque of the same name in Shahr e Khuna, Istaravshan’s old city. Though it looks to be an old fixture this minaret was built in 2002 in commemoration of Istaravshan’s 2500th anniversary.
The Rudaki Monument at the center of Rudaki Park in Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe. Rudaki is regarded by many to be the first literary great of the modern Persian language. He was born in the village of Panjrud in the northwest of Tajikistan. Many believe he was blind, though whether it was from birth, childhood, adulthood, or not at all is still argued by historians.
Bayrak is one of Tajikistan’s claim to fame aside from the wild ride down the Pamir Highway and the natural wonder of the Fann Mountains. Bayrak is the world’s second-tallest flagpole, upstaged by Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Flagpole in 2014.
Ismoil Somoni Monument in Dushanbe’s Rudaki Park. Ismoil Somoni was the Samanid Emir of Transoxiana, which controlled parts of modern Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and a small bit of Kazakhstan that sat geographically between the Syr Darya and Amu Darya Rivers.
The intricate work on the ceilings on the main building oh Kokhi Nowruz.
Need help planning your visit to Dushanbe? Check out the Dushanbe City Guide
Looking up inside one of the many pavilions at Kokhi Nowruz.
A man chatting on his cellphone in the archway of the Parchan overlooking Bayrak in Dushanbe.
Inside Mevlana Yakub Charki Mosque in Dushanbe. This large mosque is tucked away off Rudaki Avenue a couple of blocks. Don’t be surprised if a local approaches you to give you a tour and history behind the mosque.
On my final day in Dushanbe in 2016, I was wandering around trying to find the restaurant Salaam Namaste in which I’d read rave reviews about their Indian fare. Unbeknownst to me its name was changed to The Taj Restaurant and had moved up Rudaki Avenue (don’t worry, I found and dined there in 2017 and it did not disappoint, especially after the salmonella sandwich and frequent hot dog dinners I’d endured on that trip). What I didn’t know on this date in 2016 was that it was Eid al Qurban and an elderly man who asked me the time on the street determined I looked hungry and drug me by the arm to the courtyard of his apartment to his family’s feast and celebration where I spent the afternoon laughing with these ladies.
Picturesque Savnob Village along the Bartang Valley.
Learn everything you need to know to visit the Bartang Valley
This is Upper Jizeu. This tiny village sits just a short hike from the notoriously difficult Bartang Highway.
These views can be captured just past the cluster of homes at Lower Jizeu village. This is actually a River dammed of by rocks creating these crystal clear pools, though appearing as lakes.
Looking for the perfect overnight hike in the Pamirs? Check out my Jizeu Trekking Guide
Khafrazdara Lake, a 4 day in and out hike from the Bartang village of Pasor. I saw a photo of the lake on my first trip to Tajikistan and knew I had to get there. After researching over the next winter and asking my many Tajik friends scattered throughout the country I managed to scout out the info on how to get here and have since helped a few others reach this lake.
As I continued along the meandering shepherd trails to Khafrazdara Lake I walked across loose shale rocks to eventually start happening onto open glacial pools, exposing the glacier I was actually walking uphill across to reach the lake.
Read about how you can visit the gorgeous Khafrazdara Valley
Several milky-seafoam-green pools dot the Khafrazdara Valley, created by rock dams on the Khafrazdara River.
Yaks and cattle grazing the high pasture in the Khafrazdara Valley.
Everything you need to know before visiting Lake Sarez
Schoolchildren near Darshai Village.
Morning traffic in the Wakhan.
Read more in the Tajik Wakhan Valley Travel Guide
Terraces in Vikchut Village.
Yamchun Fortress with views across the border into the Afghan villages of Khandood to the left and Yameet to the right and the mighty Hindu Kush towering beyond.
Curious about the Afghan Wakhan? See it in photos
The views across into the Afghan Wakhan from Ratm village as we turned and left from the Tajik Wakhan headed for Khargush Pass.
Khorog and the Gunt River viewed from the Khorog Botanical Gardens.
Plan your stay with my Khorog Travel Guide
Qurutob is the national dish of Tajikistan. Finding it can be a little difficult, but the best qurutob I’ve found is at Kurutob Olim in Dushanbe and at Nan Melaan in Khorog (though get there before noon because they will run out). Qurutob consists of a thin bread smothered with fried veggies and then topped of with a drenching of warm and gooey runny cheese made from qurut, a dried ball of yogurt. Qurutob is sometimes made with meat, but many times is served up vegetarian.
The Pamirs & Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast
The Pamir Highway, M41 or Bam i Dunya is a wild road trip that will take the more adventurous travelers out there on the ride of a lifetime. The true Pamir Highway according to most sources begins in Mazar e Sharif, Afghanistan before crossing in to Uzbekistan at Termez. It then continues up to Denau where it turns east across the Tajik border bound for Dushanbe. From Dushanbe continuing east it goes past Tavildara and south to Qalaikhumb before continuing on to Khorog. From Khorog it follows the Gunt Valley past Jelandy to continue on to Alichur and finally Murghab. From Murghab the highway passes Karakul northbound for Kyzyl Art Pass where it enters into Kyrgyzstan and terminates in Osh.
Lonely Tsaxinkul Lake, perched in a desolate and windswept glacially carves valley somewhere between Bachor and Lake Sarez.
The Nurek Reservoir was created by the damming off of the Vakhsh River to create a hydroelectric plant. From 1980-2013 the Nurek Dam was the tallest manmade dam in the world until it was dethroned by the Jinping-I Dam in China.
Looking to explore the Pamirs? Check out my Ultimate Guide To The Pamir Highway
This sacred pond sits only a few steps off of the Pamir Highway just east of Alichur. The name Ak Balyk translates out to ‘White Fish Spring’.
A lonely yurt in the remote Eastern Pamirs somewhere between Jarty Gumbez and Shorbulak Observatory.
Looking back towards China from Qolma Pass.
Did you know you can travel directly between Tajikistan & China now? Read more: Crossing Qolma Pass
A boy in Tokhtymush in the Eastern Pamir.
Women hauling a bag to their home in Tokhtymush.
Grandpa pouring chai for guests in Shaimak.
A house in Shaimak with Ak Tash looming over. Shaimak was a strategic point during the Great Game as the Russians and British vied for power in the South and Central Asia regions. Shaimak was important because you can look into China, Afghanistan and Pakistan from the end-of-the-world settlement.
Wanna travel the wild and remote easter Pamir? Check out my Eastern Pamir Travel Guide
Lights, camera, yaktion.
A grandmother pats her grandson on the head in the doorway of the family yurt camp near Sary Goram.
Is Tajikistan safe to visit? In general, yes. Read more about how to stay safe in Tajikistan
The colorful inside of a Kyrgyz yurt in the Eastern Pamir.
Making fresh yogurt from yaks milk in Sary Goram.
The sky ablaze over Sary Goram. We arrived to Sary Goram in the later afternoon. It’s about as remote as remote gets in Tajikistan, just a few kilometers from the Afghan border from the Little Pamir and Chaqmaqtin Lake. This family took us in for the night in their yurt camp.
The shipping container bazaar in Murghab.
Plan your time in Murghab: The Murghab Travel Guide
The mineral laden swirls in the Pshart Mountains, just north of Murghab.
Ak Baital, or white horse pass is the highest pass you’ll traverse along the Pamir Highway, located between Karakul Lake and Murghab at a staggering 4655 meters.
Hundreds of puddles and pools dot the shores near Karakul, encrusted by what looks like snow-dusted ground. It’s actually salt– Karakul Lake is saline.
Make the most of your visit with my Karakul Travel Guide
It’s vast, it’s desolate, and it’s absolutely beautiful. This was my final stop on my first epic journey up the Pamir Highway before officially waving goodbye to Tajikistan and hello to Kyrgyzstan at Kyzyl Art Pass. I turned around to this– golden light beaming down onto the empty highway and shimmers of Karakul Lake and the mighty Pamirs further afield.
The rainbowey mountainscape of Kyzyl Art Pass, home to the Pamir Highway border crossing.
Everything you need to know: The Kyzyl Art Border Crossing
Want to see even more Tajikistan photos?
Check out more photos of Tajikistan in my posts linked below.