Rivers and lakes of Tajikistan
The Pyanj (panj, panzh) is one of the most important rivers in Central Asia. It is a glacial river, silty and opaque, originating from the glaciers of the Pamir mountain range, and formed by the confluence of the Wakhan and Pamir rivers near the Chinese border. Also, it serves as most of the border between Afghanistan and the republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan before joining the Vakhsh River to become the Amu Darya, the greatest Central Asian River.
Once a tributary of the Aral Sea, Soviet engineers diverted its water for cotton production, creating the famous "Aral Sea disaster". The section through Tajikistan is especially scenic, flowing through a sheer canyon along much of the route (mostly in Gorno-Badakhshan), with severe rapids up to class VI. Further on, it flattens out and has a slow, meandering course as it crosses the deserts of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as the Amu Darya.
Being the physical border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, some sections are heavily patrolled by the military (less so in GBAO), and access may be restricted. Some sections also have mines remaining from Soviet times, which are mostly marked. However, travel near the river should be done only with caution, with the assistance of a local guide. Many bridges have been built across the river into Afghanistan; at Khorog, Ishkashem, and Langar in GBAO; Nizhni Pyanj, Tem and the new "Friendship Bridge" at Darwaz in the west.