Where ‘Great Game’ spies and explorers once ventured, Tajikistan's awesomely dramatic highland landscapes are now testing playgrounds for hardy climbers, trekkers and adventure travellers. Nascent rural homestay programs mean you might stay in timelessly photogenic rural villages hosted by gold-toothed, white-bearded patriarchs in iridescent joma robes. The people, predominantly Persian- rather than Turkic-speaking, are enormously hospitable but little English is spoken and rural transport is so irregular that you will probably want to fork out for a rented 4WD.
But the marvels of the Wakhan Valley, the starkly beautiful 'Roof of the World' Pamirs and the breathtaking lakes and pinnacles of the Fan Mountains all contribute to making Tajikistan arguably Central Asia's most exciting destination.
Tajikistan: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Central Asia guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip...