Sughd refers to the area north of Dushanbe that includes the ancient city of Penjikent in the Zerafshan Valley and the attractive city of Khojand, both of which, with their distinctive bazaars and historical sights, deserve a day or two of exploration. Khojand lies at the heart of the strategically important Ferghana Valley, a broad and highly fertile plain shared by Kyrgyzstan to the east and Uzbekistan to the west. Indeed this most northerly section of Tajikistan acts as a gateway for visitors travelling between the countries of Central Asia.
The entire area between Dushanbe and Isfara is hauntingly beautiful punctuated by high mountains surrounded by meadows and stippled with pea-green lakes. The region invites hiking of all description from an impromptu amble along an off-road track to a major trek across high altitude passes. Iskander-kul, a lake in the Fan Mountains, currently offers the easiest access to DIY activity.