SHARING TAJIKISTAN EXPERIENCE
Replies: 1 - Last Post: Oct 8, 2012 11:52 AM Last Post By: ahmd
Oct 7, 2012 1:52 PM
SHARING TAJIKISTAN EXPERIENCEIt’s been some time since we have returned from the trip but I guess that our experience may still be useful to someone. Because of the unclear situation in the Pamirs we decided not to risk going there (instead we spent more time in KG). In 1w we barely scratched the surface but had a very pleasant experience, enjoyed beautiful mountain scenery (THE reason to go to TJ, not much interesting to see in towns), kind and welcoming people, not overrun by tourists and relatively cheap (but more expensive than UZ or KG). Itinerary: UZ (Sariosiyo) –Dushanbe – Penjikent – Padrud (seven lakes) – Khojand - Istaravshan – KG (Batken/Osh). It was easy to travel around on our own. Languages: knowing some basic RU goes a very long way. Food: pretty much like the rest of Central Asia - the best solution were the markets with tons of yummy fresh fruits and veg in all shapes and forms. The exchange rate for usd was 4,8tjs. LP was quite useful although a bit out of date. Would certainly love to come back to explore more of Zerafshan and the Pamirs.
Specific about the places we visited:
SAMARKAND to DUSHANBE via DENOV: took a night train Sam-Denov (42.000pp, train leaving on odd days from Tashkent, leaving Sam on even days at 2.30am, arrived to Denov at 1pm). The train was completely full, no a/c, OK during the night but hamam on wheels during the day. From Denov bus station shared taxi to Sariosiyo border (8.000pp, 40min); it took 1h30 to cross the border (mainly due to the snail pace of UZ officials); another shared taxi on the TJ side (25tjs=5usd pp, 1h30). Note that the TJ border was closed on Eid-i-Ramazon!
DUSHANBE: decided to splash out on acc., stayed at Atlas b&b (sheer luxury, 100usd for an excellent double, super breakfast, run by a nice family, Mirzo Rizo street, 15min walk from the Ayni park). Had a long walk around the town on Eid-i-Ramazon (all museums closed), good overall impression but not really much else to do after the walk than sitting in a café by the opera and fighting the heat with a cold beer.
PENJIKENT: shared jeep from Dushanbe (120tjs, 5h, smooth ride apart from the terrible unlit tunnel between Dushanbe and Ayni where roadworks were taking place as we were driving through). Checked the ruins of old Penjikent (the only interesting thing was the view), small bazaar and so-so Rudaki museum (20tjs). Stayed at ElinaGH (40usd double + dinner + breakfast; run by friendly Russian woman, good cooking, only RU spoken).
SEVEN LAKES: took a 2d trip to Padrud. Tried to reserve with Umed from ZDTA office in Penjikent via email. It looked fine on the paper but Umed wasn’t in the office once we got there (during opening hours) so we reserved – just in case – again directly with the help of Elina who made a phone call to Padrud. On the next day waited for 3hrs for the jeep to fill up and enjoyed 2h of really close encounter with the locals (12 people + all the stuff they bought in the bazaar; 30tjs pp). Padrud turned out to be a very good choice – it is located between the 4th and 5th lake and ideal starting point for a walk up to the 7th lake (7-8h return, beautiful scenery). In Padrud we stayed in Mijgon pension (run by the Boturov family) – quite basic but OK facilities. Overall it was a nice experience. On the way down we took another shared jeep (left at 5h30, this time it took 2h30 in an old uazi with – no I’m not joking – 14 other people, 5 of them kids; 15tjs pp).
KHOJAND: shared jeep from Penjikent (120tjs pp, 5h, another smooth ride apart from the dust-covered Shahristan Pass; we made it across but – judging from the number of car carcasses under the pass – many didn’t). Pleasant modern town on the banks of Syr Darya but again not much to see or do (bazaar was quite interesting), somehow it was much more “real life” place than Dushanbe (in the sense that there were no gigantic SUVs racing each other up and down the main street). Had some trouble finding a hotel – eventually found a room at Tavhid (180tjs for double w breakfast, touch of Soviet chic but quite OK, central location on Firdausi St.).
ISTARAVSHAN: half-day trip from Khojand by shared taxi (15tjs pp, 1h). Quite an interesting old town (just fun to walk around, getting repeatedly lost and asking friendly locals for help), very lively and well stocked bazaar (next to the shared taxi stand).
KHOJAND to BATKEN/OSH: the whole “operation” took us app. 8h30. We started very early from Khojand by shared taxi to Isfara (20tjs pp, 1h20). Then another shared taxi to Batken (30km, paid 39tjs=8usd for two which must have been at least double the normal price, wanted to get rid of tjs), it took us about 1h incl. the border crossing (very smooth). There are certainly also marshrutkas on this route – saw one in the Batken bus station. Marshrutkas from Batken to Osh (270kgs=6usd pp) exist BUT they go via the UZ enclaves. So we were left at the mercy of taxi sharks. In the end we agreed for the price of 900kgs pp (=19usd pp) in a shared taxi which was certainly too much. KG taxi sharks were crying their heart out about the incredibly long additional distance and terrible side roads around the enclaves which turned out to be 90% nonsense. Yes, it takes a bit longer than on the main road; yes, some sections are unpaved so it is necessary to drive slow but parts of the road between Kyzyl-Kiya and Osh were certainly much worse than any side road around the enclaves. In our case it took us 4h15 to get to Osh (without stops).
Happy travels, Bostjan & Rie
Oct 8, 2012 11:52 AM
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