Tajikistan has just ca 8 million inhabitants (the capital Dushanbe 700 000), and although it is the smallest and poorest state in Central Asia, it is still huge compared to NL (but then, every country is huge compared to NL...). It is covered for 90% by the mountains. It borders to the south to Afghanistan, and furthermore to China, Uzbekistan and Kyrgizistan. The mountains are all but small: the highest mountain is the Somoni peak of 7495m.
The country has the doubtful honour to be the third country in the world for heroin and raw opium confiscations. The economy thrives on aluminium production, cotton growing and remittances from migrant workers. Many men are working in Russia. After its independence from Russia in 1991 there has been a civil war until 1997. Since then the country is relatively stable. It considers itself a secular state. The majority (98%) is muslim but in the countryside you hardly see a mosque and I have literally not once heard 'allah akbar' being sung from a mosque.
In Dushanbe women are not wearing headscarfs and are wearing short skirts. Outside Dushanbe you see everywhere headscarfs and women wear long dresses with trousers below them. I have experienced the people as extremely friendly and very relaxed. I did not wear a headscarf, nor a long dress. However, the Yagnob Valley and Fann Mountains are known to be rather relaxed. In the rasht valley you should be covering yourself more as a woman.
I went there to visit my partner who worked temporary in Dushanbe. We went cycling in the Yagnob valley in the North and hiking towards Iskanderkul (also in the North). The mountains there are just stunning. And this was not even in the Pamir which must be stunning as well. We drove to Margheb where we stayed overnight in a homestay. As for accommodation you will either have a homestay which is officially appointed as homestay or you simply ask where you can stay the night and are being warmly welcomed by the village.
The lovely village of Margheb in the Yagnob valley from where we started cycling (2000m)
The rough mountains in the Yagnob valley and me cycling
Beautiful view at the glacer, river and fresh green hills (ca 4500m)
Still cycling and enjoying the views in the Yagnob valley
Staying over in a small village (Mekan) at the other side of the valley is Kashi at same altitude (2500m).
The cheese 'factory' of the village: drying in open air: very tasty, strong, compact cheese is the result. The very friendly Nazar and his family received and fed us with fresh butter and about 12 eggs...
When we could not cycle further we continued hiking and climbed along the steep hill at the foot of this impressive rock. Joris climbed up for the picture...
Taking a side valley in Yagnob valley, hiking towards Garmen where we were received with very tasty cream, butter, tea, bread, and potatoes
The hand made houses of Mekan where we stayed in the sunset
The soft stones have been blown away, resulting in beautiful statues with bigger rocks on top. Cycling below can be dangerous though...
Almost alll houses were in this colour and had high roofs for all the hay. Very scenic village
The village of Mekan. Look at the fertilizers that are being dried at the houses to be used lateron for cooking.
Cycling back through Yagnob valley
From Pasrud we explored the Fann Mountains. From Alaudin lakes we went up to the Jonat pass (3860m)
Once we had concurred the scree towards the Jonat pass (3860) we had a great view towards the lakes where we would camp
Traversing to the next pass through nice little snow fields
You will not find tourists here (0) but you will find huge herds of sheep/goats and their owners who stay for summer in the mountains
Our camp at Kulikalon Lake. We were offered fresh yoghurt from a family. Just around the corner is the mountain 'Maria'
From Artuch where there was an old large alpine wooden accomodation with beds (!) (at homestays you sleep on the ground) towards the Laudan pass (2860m)
Seeing the rain going through the mountains from Laudan Pass (2860)
Waling towards Guitan (1890m). See the dry and 'green' parts with trees
When we entered the village there was a meeting of the men at the village square having a heated discussion. Again we were warmly welcomed, with tea, bread, tomatoes & cucumber, potatoes and our host made us drink a bottle of wodka. You eat on the ground and you sleep also on the ground. â€” in Moskovskiy, Tajikistan.
The view of Guitan. All handmade
A family who offered us fresh yoghurt was very interested in the pictures taken
The seven lakes
The wonderful homestay in No Fin at the seven lakes, with a great diner. We slept in a tjapsun (kind of lounge area) next to a little river with the stars and nice sounds around us.
Women washing their birkenstocks (really!) in Kiglio
one of the seven lakes. water is just blueeeee
From seven lakes we hitch hiked / used public transport towards Sarrytag and drove for 7 hours over unpaved roads in packed cars, driving through the rough and beautiful sceneray. Look how the eroded walls are changing colour
Women preparing butter, cream or other nice products
The play of the clouds never bores. This is seen from Simob.
Delivering the pictures that Joris took a year or so earlier in a beautiful village