Anahita is born and raised in Tajikistan. One of her biggest passion is travelling, discovering new countries, experience new customs and cultures. Her country Tajikistan, previously known as Tajik, a Soviet Socialist Republic, is one of the most mountainous countries in the world. We asked Anahita to tell us more about travelling through Tajikistan and why travellers should put this country on there bucketlist.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, some interesting facts about yourself.
I’m a young professional on international relations and political science. I work at a foreign diplomatic mission in Tajikistan. My passion is travelling to different countries and discover new customs, places, experiences. I travelled to almost all Central Asian countries except Turkmenistan (it’s on my list of countries I must visit). Beside that I like reading books on history, culture, politics, travel blogs and fashion. Being on social media like twitter it’s a great way for me to meet like-minded people from different part of the world.
Not a lot of people knows about Central Asia or find it the easiest place in the world to travel. Especially beautiful countries like Tadjikistan. What should people and mainly adventurous travellers must know about this part of the world?
Central Asia is located in the heart of Asia. Culture of people and their way of life were influenced by great civilisations of Persian, Greek, Arab, Turkish, Russian, Chinese and other empires. Also, Central Asia was part of the Great Silk Road and trade flourished there from the ancien times. When you come to this region, you will see how an Islamic world can be mixed with Soviet style buildings and modern architecture. You will also see untouched nature of famous Pamirian mountains with great Islamic mosques and religious schools (madrassas) in ancient Bukhara and Samarqand. And more important you will witness kind and hospitable people who will tell you interesting stories about their traditions and beliefs. All stereotypes about how difficult Central Asia is to travel will be disappeared.
What is the most challenging about travelling through Tadjikistan?
The most challenging issue to travel through Tajikistan and to other Central Asian countries is regional connectivity. There is no direct flight to Turkmenistan. A direct flight to Uzbekistan was just recently opened. You can travel with your car from Tajiksitan to Uzbekistan, but roads are not well maintained. But all these challenges would be easy to solve if you have a good plan before you come to this region. Lake of Alexander, a famous Iskandarkul
Which places are a must see and why? Can you give us a short itinerary?
You must see the Fann mountains and lake Iskanderkul. The lake was named after Alexander the Great. According to some legends he lost his favorite horse in this lake. You can hire a taxi from Dushanbe to the lake. It will take about four hours to drive over there. You will see an amazing waterfall if you walk 30 minutes from the lake. Don’t forget to bring food from Dushanbe if you want to stay overnight at old Soviet bases. The water is too cold in the lake even in Summer, so you can’t swim there. But definitely you will enjoy the spectacular view of Fann mountains and lake Iskandarkul.
Is it easy to travel to the Pamir Highway by yourself?
I would recommend to hire a local guide and driver if you want to travel in the Pamirs. It will be challenging if you go there by yourself, because there is no public transport available.
What is the best time to visit Tadjikistan?
The best time to visit Tajikistan is Spring, Summer and Autumn. You can go for hunting in Winter, but there are natural disaster risk and sometimes electricity shortages.
Which advice would you give to aspiring travellers who want to discover Tadjikistan?
Tajikistan has different regions and all regions have their own traditions and cultural customs. The local people are really nice and respectful towards foreign guests. They are always happy to chat with foreigners about their culture and life.
Is it easy to get in touch with local people?
Visit local markets in Dushanbe and Khujand if you want to have a real Tajik experience. There are two famous markets in Dushanbe such as Green market and Korvon. In Khujand you can go to Panjshanbe market. Most tourists prefer to travel to the Pamirs by ignoring a very beautiful Rasht valley in Tajikistan (eastern Tajikistan). There you can see amazing nature especially in Spring. Rasht Valley, Tadjikistan
Which local dishes should our meat eaters and non-meat eaters travelers try?
It’s very tricky for vegetarians to travel to Tajikistan because most of the locals like to eat meat. But Tajikistan is very famous to grow fresh and tasty vegetables and fruits. For meat eaters I would recommend to try oshi palov, a very popular dish in Tajikistan, qurutob (special dish with crispy bread and yoghurt) and of course shashlik (kebab). Non-meat eaters can enjoy oshi palov without meat (sometimes we prepare oshi palov with eggs instead of meat) and shakarob (tasty bread with fresh vegetables).
What is your vision of Tadjikistan in 10 years, let’s say?
I’m optimistic about the tourism development in Tajikistan. Now we have introduced an e-vise system that will give all tourists a good intention to discover this unknown country and region in Europe and America. There is still a lot of work to do to improve infrastructure, service and other important sectors of economy. Nevertheless you can come and see unique people who are the only Persian speakers in Central Asia. You can experience and see their rich history as part of many vibrant ancient projects such as Silk Road. I see Tajikistan as the most attractive country in former Soviet Union in 10 years. A country with a great developed infrastructure, innovation and becoming a tourist hub in this part of Central Asia.
NB: all photo’s are from Anahita.