There are a lot of things to think about when going for a multi-day trek in the mountains of Tajikistan. It starts with choosing a trek that suits your physical shape. Knowing what to expect is vital in order to prepare adequately. Far away from civilization, you need to rely on yourself and carefully think what to bring – and what not to bring. Here you find some practical info when you decide to go trekking with us in Tajikistan.
From accessible hiking trips to extreme trekking expeditions
Easy walks are hard to find in Tajikistan. Almost any trek involves uphill hiking on rough paths and camping far away from civilization. Nonetheless, trekking in Tajikistan is accessible for hikers with different experience and fitness levels. The variety of trekking routes in the Tajik mountains is endless. As long as you are ready to challenge yourself, there is nothing holding you back to embark on the adventure.
Choosing a trek that suits your physical shape is important to get the most out of your trekking experience. We work with a grading system to indicate what physical challenges you can expect for each trek. The classification is mainly based on the total walking distance, altitudes and the trail roughness. Reducing the difficulty of existing treks however is often possible, for example by limiting the distance and vertical ascent per day, incorporating rest days, or skipping certain mountain passes. The accommodation types available also play a role in the difficulty of the treks. For instance, homestays are not available everywhere in the mountains. Check out below the difficulty levels to pick the right trek for you!
Easy treks are the least demanding for Tajik standards. Treks are short with limited elevation gain, often over difficult terrain though. The trails offer panoramic views without crossing giant mountain passes. The walking distance per day is mostly below 10 km. Nights are usually spent in homestays, so there is no need to carry heavy backpacks. The term ‘easy’ may be misinterpreted, as a reasonable fitness level is required and you need to be familiar with hiking in the mountains.
Moderate treks may involve long days of hiking between 4 to 6 hours. You will sleep alternatively in a camp or homestay. A backpack of approximately 13 to 14 kg needs to be carried to bring clothing and food for multiple days, as well as cooking and camping equipment. Altitudes, the total walking distance, and overall elevation gain are on the low side. Treks can still be very difficult for untrained persons, and we advise regular physical exercise in the period leading up to a ‘moderate’ trek.
Challenging treks are suited for people with a good fitness level. Treks take over a week with nights being most often spent in tents. The vertical height gain may be considerable per day (up to 1000 meters), while wearing a backpack weighing around 15 kg. Trekking altitudes are mostly between 2000 and 3000 meters, which is on the low side for Tajikistan. You will walk 5 to 7 hours per day over rough terrain and partly off-trail, for example over small ice fields. Although ‘challenging’ treks are not the most difficult ones, a proper physical preparation is indispensable.
Hard treks are highly demanding and require a strong physical condition. Long hiking days of 6 to 8 hours are common to cover distances up to 20 km. A heavy backpack (> 16 kg) needs to be carried over rough trails and off-track stretches over ice fields and scree slopes. Prepare for elevation gains over 1000 meters in a single day and crossing mountain passes up to 5000 meters high. Most nights — which are frigid at altitudes above 3000 meters — are spent in tents. Compared to ‘extreme’ treks, ‘hard’ treks often do offer the opportunity to stay in homestays for several nights, which gives some extra comfort and allows for carrying less heavy backpacks. Plentiful mountain hiking experience is an advantage to make it through these treks.
Extreme treks have the highest difficulty and are located in the most remote parts of Tajikistan and at the highest altitudes (above 4000 meters). The treks lead over rough terrain with possibly risky off-trail stretches. Facilities like homestay accommodations are scarce or even non-existent. Most nights are spent in tents in the wilderness. The landscape at the highest altitudes is barren and you will be fully exposed to the elements. A heavy backpack (> 16 kg) is to be carried to bring camping equipment and all food necessary for the duration of the trek. An optimal level of fitness is required as well as a willingness to push your limits. Previous specialized mountaineering skills however are not a prerequisite, as the treks do not involve the usage of any climbing equipment.
Good preparation is half the job. Apart from altitudes and walking distances, your preparation is a major factor in determining the difficulty of a trek. Get into shape, pick the right equipment and eat enough throughout the trek to get the most out of your trekking experience.
Build up your physical shape and stamina before traveling to Tajikistan. Hiking day after day with a full equipment at altitudes above 3000 meters is highly demanding for your condition. Exercise regularly and practice long hikes to start off with a good fitness level.
Pick your personal equipment wisely. Do not take unnecessary items and limit the amount of clothing. Every gram adds up to the total weight that needs to be carried over all the mountain passes. Also take a comfortable backpack to ease the strain on your back and shoulders as much as possible.
Getting in enough energy while trekking is the most direct way to make life easier. You will be burning tons of calories, which need to be replenished continuously. Staying hydrated is also vital to keep on going. Improper nutrition and dehydration can affect your performance in a negative way.
What do you need to bring yourself when you going on a trek with us? Going out into the wild for maybe more than a week, you want to be sure to not forget about anything. Below you find what we provide and what we recommend that you bring your own. Personal needs can vary obviously, but some essentials are not to be missed! Needless to say, any of the equipment that we provide is optional – you can always bring your own gear.
Tajikistan has a land climate with hot summers and cold winters. The trekking season is in summer and runs from May to September when temperatures are most pleasant. In the mountains, daytime temperatures are usually around 20 to 25˚C in summer. In the lower regions (including Dushanbe), it can be extremely hot (> 40˚C) in summer with pleasant temperatures at night.
Trekking in most of Tajikistan is not possible all year round. Outside the main season, the conditions can be icy cold in the high mountains with trails covered by lots of snow. For the highest hiking routes in the Pamir Mountains (> 4000 m), snow may complicate trekking all the way until the end of June.
The amount of precipitation in Tajikistan varies throughout the year. During summer and early autumn, there is almost no rainfall at all. Precipitation is more frequent the rest of the year with rainfall amounts being highest in early spring. Good rainwear is a must when you go trekking outside the main trekking season in summer, especially in the mountains north of Dushanbe, including the Fann Mountains and the Zerafshan Range. The Pamir Mountains are more arid with relatively low rainfall throughout the entire year.
Tajikistan uses the Tajik Somoni (SOM) as currency. US dollars or euro are also sometimes accepted, but are not an official currency. 10 somoni equals to about 1 dollar. It can be difficult to withdraw money from ATMs with foreign credit and debit cards. Especially foreign debit cards are hardly accepted. Credit cards usually do work after some trying here and there. It can be recommendable to bring cash dollars or euros for exchange. There are many banks where dollars and euros can be exchanged.
Tajikistan is a relatively cheap country. Here are some price indications:Main dish in restaurant: 2-4 USD 0.5L of beer in a bar: 1 USD 0.5L bottle of coke: 0.5 USD 15 min taxi drive: 2-3 USD
Bargaining is common in Tajikistan on the bazaars or when dealing with drivers. Most shops, bars and restaurants are open seven days a week. Precise opening times vary.
Public transport is limited in Tajikistan. Dushanbe has a bus network that you can use to move around the city. There are also mashrutkas (smaller vans) and clandestine cars that operate fixed lines within the city. Taxis are relatively cheap. A taxi ride within Dushanbe usually costs less than 2 USD.
For regional travel, for example when going into the mountains, there are no public transport options. For this, the Tajiks mostly make use of shared cars. Each destination has its own gathering place in Dushanbe with cars departing as soon as they fill up. These gathering places are not well indicated, which can make it difficult to find out where to go precisely. Car rental options are scarce and tend to be expensive, even by western standards. In most cases, it is easier to rent a personal driver with car.
When traveling in summer, you mostly need light clothing to cope with the high temperatures. Only at night in the mountains, you need warm clothes as the temperature can drop sharply once the sun goes down.
There are no restrictions as to what you can wear on the street in Tajikistan. For example, even though Tajikistan is an islamic country, women are not required to wear head coverings. Although you can wear whatever you want, it is good to remind that Tajikistan is quite a conservative country. Especially in the mountain villages, it is considered inappropriate to wear clothes that are too short. It is good to keep this in mind, as people are usually too polite to say anything about it.
A local SIM card typically costs around 10 USD and can be acquired upon showing your passport. This usually takes 5 to 10 minutes. In the larger cities, there are many telecom shops selling SIM cards. Among the biggest providers are MegaFon and Tcell. There is no coverage in the remote parts of the mountains.
Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, although the speed may not always be optimal. Homestays in the mountains usually do not have Wi-Fi.
Tajik cuisine has much in common with the other countries in Central Asia. The staple foods are rice, bread, meat and dairy products. The Tajiks adore meat, which can make life hard if you are a vegetarian. The menu includes dishes such as plov, shurbo and laghman. Check out this page for some of the most typical Tajik dishes.
Tea occupies an important place in Tajik culture. Every meal or social gathering is usually accompanied by tea. So be prepared to drink a lot of tea when you visit Tajikistan.
Alcoholic drinks are widely available throughout the country, mainly owing to the former Soviet influences. Drinking alcohol is not extremely important in Tajik culture, but it is widely accepted. There are even local beers and wines. So no worries for those who like to go out, there are plenty of bars and clubs where you can have a drink.
Tajikistan is safe for tourists. Even at night time, it is safe to walk on the streets. It is very rare for tourists to be the target of robberies. There are generally only minor risks in Tajikistan as there are for traveling in almost any country in the world (pickpocketing, etc.).
The hospitals and healthcare system are not among the best in the world. Always make sure you are properly insured.
Before departure, always check up-to-date travel advice for Tajikistan at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your country.
Do you have a question or want more info? Contact us!
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