Best time to visit Tajikistan
To tell what time is the best, one should first know what to do, see and experience. Generally, anytime is a good time and every season has it's charm and beauty, however considering the fact that Tajikistan is a landlocked mountainous country and the most used way of travel is by road, some places are not accessible during certain times in the year. The two most popular destinations in Tajikistan are Pamirs and the Fann mountains, both require driving long distances through high mountain passes. The most accessible period to drive to Pamirs and Fann mountains is from late April till mid-November, but this doesn't necessarily mean that one cannot travel there outside this period, it's just colder and with fewer options for additional activities like hiking and mountaineering available. With this in mind, I decided to break down the year and make a season-by-season guide to traveling in Tajikistan.
Winter in Tajikistan: December - January - February | Low season
Winter time is considered to be off-season in Tajikistan particularly in the mountains. But for the lovers of cold weather, white mountain views and unique local experiences winter is just the right time to visit Tajikistan. Although more difficult and occasionally inaccessible due to snowfalls blocking the road, driving through Pamir Highway is still possible even in winter.
I will not talk about disadvantages of going to Pamirs in winter a lot, they are obvious, bad roads, cold weather, limited service, but the advantages sometimes overweigh all the lack of comfort. Fantastic views, possibility to interact more with local people and being the only traveler will definitely make your winter trip to Tajikistan unforgettable.
Khargush pass which connects the Wakhan valley with the Pamir highway is likely to be closed in the winter time. If you want to visit Wakhan, you will probably take the same road back to Khorog and continue on the Pamir highway. Winter is the time when local handicrafts are being produced in the villages for the upcoming season and this gives you the opportunity to take part in the production process and learn about local customs and culture in mountain areas. And of course, winter is the time when you can witness one of the most incredible animals on earth, Argali or Marco Polo sheep's running in flocks.
Another activity worth the mention is skiing, once abandoned and without any infrastructure, Takob ski resort located some 60 km north of Dushanbe is now reconstructed and renamed as Safed Dara. Modern, multi-faceted, well-run resort has skiing, ice skating, snowmobile rides, snow inner tubing, a couple of restaurants and a very comfortable hotel which makes it a perfect detour on the road from Dushanbe to Khujand or Penjikent.
Possible activities: Road trips, Wildlife observations, Culture learning, Charity trips, Skiing
Spring in Tajikistan: March - April - May | Good Season
Spring in Tajikistan is the time when everything comes to life. March and April still moderately cold and May warm, spring season marks the beginning of the new year in Tajikistan. The most celebrated holiday - Navruz or Persian new year happening on March 21st throughout the week is an ideal time to travel here to experience the culture and take part in festivals. In villages people celebrate Navruz collectively with ladies preparing Sumanak (Traditional Navruz meal) for 24 hours, singing and dancing, and men heading to Buzkashi fields to watch, take part or make bets in one of the most fascinating sports one can ever witness where men on horseback play with headless goat carcass as a ball.
Bigger cities like Dushanbe, Khujand, Penjikent, and Khorog are amazing during this period and more and more trekking routes are doable with the possible hike to the lower altitudes in the mountains. April is a bloom time, a wide range of flowers appear on meadows creating beautiful scenery in the lowlands of the Fann mountains and southern Tajikistan. In may all the roads in Pamirs and Fann mountains are accessible and it is possible to make all the possible detours along the Pamir highway. Spring is also the best time to paraglide in Tajikistan.
Possible activities: Road trips, Culture learning, Festival trips, Photography and arts, Wildlife observations, Short walks, Paragliding
Summer in Tajikistan: June - July - August - September | High season
Summer is an ideal time for adventure travel in Tajikistan with endless opportunities for trekking, hiking, mountaineering, rafting, biking and other outdoor activities. The temperature in the cities can be too hot to withstand especially in July and August, and the mountains are a place to escape the heat.
Summer is the time when shepherds move their flocks to high mountain pastures and build aylaqs (shepherds hubs) producing all kinds of milky products till the end of the season, which gives the travelers the opportunity to meet them en route and try the freshly produced local yogurt called Jurghot.
Most of the Pamirs is situated above 3000 m, so the weather in summer there is pleasant and some of the roads in Pamirs like Bartang valley and south-east of Murgab become accessible. Two of the most celebrated events take place at the end of July in Pamirs, Roof of the world cultural festival in Khorog and Roof of the world regatta in Karakul lake. Combining a Pamir Highway journey with these festivals will make an amazing trip.
September is the time when the crops are harvested in Tajikistan, where most of the people make their living by means of agriculture and in remote villages people still use traditional ways of harvesting which is very dramatic and interesting to observe. Overall without doubt summer in Tajikistan offers everything it has to travelers.
Possible activities: Road trips, Culture learning, Trekking and Mountaineering, Festival trips, Photography and arts, Wildlife observations, Short walks, Rafting & Kayaking, Family adventures, Rock climbing, Cycling & Mountain biking, Multi-activity tours
Autumn in Tajikistan: October - November | Shoulder season
Just as other months October and November have it all in Tajikistan, except temperatures drop down and snow starts falling in the mountains. The high mountains covered with snow close the highest passes over the mountains for trekkers. This is a good time to soak in a dozen of hot-springs scattered around the country especially in Pamirs, Garmchashma, Bibi Fatima, Jelondy and Obi Garm resorts are located along or near the Pamir highway.
Early October is still warm in lower lands during the day but gets colder at nights and November is almost winter time. Glowing autumn orange color adds romantic scenery in the mountains and especially to the meadows near the lakes of Fann mountains. International Autumn handicraft fair starts in October and takes place in Dushanbe Ismaili center. Craftsmen from all over the country bring their handmade products to display and sell. This is a good time to combine a cultural trip with museum visits in cities and a road trip to the north of Tajikistan or Pamir Highway.
Possible activities: Road trips, Culture learning, Photography and arts, Wildlife observations, Short walks