Discover Tajikistan Tour

5
Days
Khujand, Istaravshan, Penjikent, Seven Lakes, Dushanbe

Tajikistan is a land that simply invites discovery. From the city ruins of Sarazm and Penjikent to the natural wonders of Seven Lakes and the Fann Mountains; from the mystifying Anzob Pass to the imposing Hissar Fortress, this land is brimming with well-kept secrets of antiquity and divine beauty.
With the Discover Tajikistan Tour, you’ll get an excellent 5-day taste of the history, culture and nature of this marvelous land. Your journey begins with a border crossing from Uzbekistan into Tajikistan and continues through the cities of Khujand, Istaravshan, Penjikent and Dushanbe to explore fortresses, mausoleums, city ruins, museums and bazaars. The tour also includes an overnight stay at Seven Lakes (Haft Kul), where you’ll drive through mountain passes, visit a remote village and rest before the calm mountain waters.

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: Uzbekistan/Tajikistan Border “Oybek” – Khujand
 
Your tour begins when the driver picks you up at the Uzbekistan - Tajikistan border crossing known as “Oybek”.
Drive to Khujand (70km, 1hr), which with over 2,400 years of history is one of the oldest cities in all of Central Asia, and an ancient Silk Road city. Take a city tour of Khujand with your private guide to its greatest sites:
  • Khujand Fortress: First built in the 5th century BC, rebuilt in the Middle Ages and again reconstructed in recent times, the Khujand Fortress was once one of the most impenetrable castles in Central Asia.
  • Historical Museum of Sughd: Housed in the Khujand Fortress, this museum brings the region’s history to life with moving depictions of Alexander the Great’s conquests and unusual artefacts preserved from the territory of historical Sughd.
  • Mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin Khujandi (dates vary/12th century): This impressive two-story mausoleum commemorating Sheikh Muslihiddin, a 12th century ruler and poet, is situated in a memorial complex that includes a mosque, towering 20-meter minaret and an assortment of lesser mausoleums.
  • Payshanba Bazaar (Thursday Bazaar): Walk about this bright and colorful oriental market, rumored to be the best in Tajikistan, where you can sample fresh fruits and mingle with shoppers from Khujand and the surrounding villages.
  • Somoni Park: A welcoming stretch of land and popular gathering place for local residents, Somoni Park displays a prominent statue of Ismoil Somoni, plus fountains and bright mosaics that depict the city’s history.
Tour Duration: approximately 4 hours
Overnight in Khujand.
Day 2: Khujand – Istaravshan – Penjikent
 
Depart Khujand in the morning for the ancient city Penjikent (260 km, 4-5hrs) via Istaravshan.
Arrive in Istaravshan for your guided city tour of Istaravshan’s most popular sites:
  • Istaravshan Bazaar - housed chiefly in a 3-story building, it’s impressively large and authentic.
  • Hazrat Shah Architectural Complex (18th- 19th centuries) - includes Hazrat Shah Mausoleum, Khudayar Valami Mausoleum and Namazgah Mosque. Admire the brightly painted ceiling and learn about the family of Hazrat Shah, whose brother Kusaim ibn Abbas is buried in Shah-i-Zinda in Samarkand.
  • Mug Teppe - this renovated fortress perched atop a hill marks the location of one of the oldest habitations in Istaravshan and provides a great overlook of the city.
Complete the drive to Penjikent.
Overnight in Penjikent hotel.
Day 3: Penjikent – Seven Lakes
 
In the morning your driver and guide will pick you up from your hotel to start your day tour of ancient Penjikent and Sarazm, which will include:
  • Republican Museum of History (Rudaki Museum), which has eight exhibition halls on archaeology, nature, history, culture, lifestyle, Tajik customs and the life of Rudaki, the founder of Tajik-Persian classical literature
  • Central Mosque and Olim Dodkhoh Madrasah, originally from the Middle Ages and rebuilt in recent times, it now serves as the city’s main mosque and a popular gathering place for locals
  • Penjikent Bazaar – a bustling bazaar at the junction of the city’s main roads, complete with all the standard goods and Tajik souvenirs
  • Ancient Penjikent (5th century BC), a labyrinth of walls and passages decorated with amazing murals, the site includes foundations of houses, Zoroastrian fire temples, a cemetery and reconstructed living spaces.
Drive to the settlement of Sarazm (15km, 15min). A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010, this archaeological site bears testimony to the development of human settlements in Central Asia. The sprawling ancient city is divided into three sections and still holds intact structures of palaces, temples, altars, homes, city walls and paved roads.
Tour duration: 4 hours
Continue the day with a drive to Seven Lakes (Haft Kul) in the Fann Mountains (70km, 1hr to first lake), where each lake has its own name and color, accentuated by the beauty of the cliffs encircling each one.
Go for a stroll around a nearby village, taking photos along the way.
Check-in to the mountain guesthouse. Overnight at Seven Lakes.
Day 4: Seven Lakes – Dushanbe
 
After breakfast at the guesthouse, you’ll stop at each lake, about a 10-15 minutes’ drive apart from one another, to take photos and learn about each lake’s history and unique characteristics:
  • Lake 1 - Nezhigon (Eyelashes)
  • Lake 2 - Soya (Shade)
  • Lake 3 - Hushyor (Vigilance)
  • Lake 4 - Nofin (Central)
  • Lake 5 - Khurdak (Baby)
  • Lake 6 - Marguzor (Tulip)
  • Lake 7 - Hazorchashma (Thousand Springs)
Stretch your legs with a 30-40-minute hike along a mountain stream between the sixth and seventh lakes, the latter of which is situated 2300 meters above sea level.
Drive to Dushanbe (270km, 5-6hrs) through the Anzob Pass, which runs 3400m above sea level and is considered the best viewing point for the Fann Mountains.
After check-in to your Dushanbe hotel, free time in the afternoon.
Day 5: Dushanbe
 
After breakfast, your guide and driver will meet you at hotel reception for your private Dushanbe city tour, beginning with a drive to the sites at Hissar Historical and Cultural Reserve (30km, 50min/25km, 45min):
  • Hissar Fortress (15th century/16th, 17th-19th centuries), where the impressive gates of a castle, once the home of a Bukharin emir, still amaze with their stateliness
  • Kukhna Madrasah (17th century), a spacious religious school that functioned until the early 20th century, it now contains a small history museum
  • Khistin Caravanserai (19th century), an unusual caravanserai constructed of burnt brick.
  • The site also includes a mosque and an additional madrasah.
Drive back to Dushanbe to continue your tour with excursions to the following:
  • National Museum of Tajikistan, housed in an artsy 4-storey building and holding more than 40,000 expositions on Tajikistan’s history, nature and art, including a 12-meter statue of Buddha discovered on Tajikistan territory
  • Haji Yaqub Mosque (19th century), Dushanbe’s landmark mosque that can hold up to 3,000 people
  • Rudaki Park, a beautifully manicured park filled with fountains, flowers and foliage, with a tasteful monument of Rudaki in the center
  • Gurminj Musical Instruments Museum, dedicated to celebrating and preserving the musical heritage of the Tajiks and Pamiris through a collection of national instruments, music lessons and periodic concerts.
  • Ayni Opera and Ballet Theatre (1940s), whose gorgeous outer décor is accentuated by the pristine lawns that surround it.
  • Statue of Ismail Somoni, a classy tribute to the founder of the Tajik people which towers 25 meters high in the city center.
  • Mehrgon Market, one of Dushanbe’s newest attractions, this large indoor bazaar is housed in an ornately designed and decorated atrium.
Tour duration: approximately 5 hours
Transfer to airport. End of Discover Tajikistan Tour.