Travel in Tajikistan: Are you a self drive or guided tour type?
Travel in Tajikistan: Self-drive or guided?
Driving the Pamir Highway is on the bucket list of many travellers. It is one of the most famous highways in the world and a must for every off-road lover. Imagine, the highest drivable pass is at 4600m surrounded with even higher peaks. What makes Tajikistan so special is its friendly people and the stunning mountains. Driving along the Afghan border and looking at the snow-covered peaks of the Hindu Kush in Pakistan is amazing and one of the highlights of the Wakhan Valley. The camel caravans make you feel like you are back in the times of Marco Polo.
When planning the trip the questions pops up: do I travel on my own or do I book a guided tour? There are different pros and cons for either way to travel. Here are some considerations to help you choose what is the best way for you to get out the most of your adventure.
What to expect from a self-drive trip?
- If you are up to an adventure then choosing the independent way could be a thing for you. Renting a car is possible from Dushanbe, Tajikistan or from Bishkek/Osh, Kyrgyzstan.
- It is very special to drive the roads of the Pamir yourself.
- The roads can be pretty bad and with steep slopes.
- You should be a good driver with some off-road experience.
- Traveling independently gives you the opportunity to plan your trip like you want it and have a flexible program.
- If you have any problems with your car, it is up to you to get it fixed.
- Tajik people are very friendly and helpful so if you have any problems, you will find help pretty easily.
- The thing that might give you the most problems is the language barrier but communicating with hands and signs is sometimes more effective than one might think.
- Border control and police officers are generally friendly with tourists but if you have bad luck then just pretend that you don't understand anything and after a while they will let you probably go without paying a bribe.
- It is advisable to have some sort of a plan where to stay overnight because you do not want to travel when it is dark because of the bad roads.
- Note that the distances are long and you need more time for it than you think you do.
- Get some snacks and drinks for the road because especially in the Wakhan Valley there are not many shops or restaurants.
- Have an eye on your tank and refuel whenever possible (gas/газ in Tajik).
- Look out for Homestays in the little villages (mehmonxona/меҳмонхона in Tajik).
What to expect from a guided tour?
- Going on a guided tour does not mean that it is less of an adventure. The adventure is just a bit more structured. Tours and guides are available all over the countries either from Kyrgyzstan or from Tajikistan.
- There are different types of tours with a variety of programs available depending on your personal preferences.
- You can book a personal tour with your own guide or join a group tour with other travellers and share the fun.
- You will be accompanied by a local guide with local knowledge about the area, the people and the landmarks which makes it easy for you to learn a lot.
- There will be a pre-defined itinerary for everyday therefore staying longer in places you like is not guaranteed.
- You don’t have to worry about food and drinks because meals and even special local dishes are prepared for you everyday.
- You don’t need to search for accommodation because it is all organised and paid in advance.
- There is no bargaining for hotel room prices needed so you don’t have to fight for the right price.
- You won’t have any problems communicating with locals while travelling with your guide because he or she knows Tajik or Kyrgyz.
- Police officers will not take advantage of you since you travel with a local tour provider and they know exactly how to handle the situation.
- The guides/drivers will handle all the paper work at the border for you and the vehicle.
- Because of your guide you will get to know locals easily and have the opportunity to see their everyday life.
- Your guide knows the history of the sights (e.g. fortresses, temples) you will see on the way through the Pamir.
- The driver knows the roads and his car.
No matter what way you choose, travelling in Tajikistan will always be an amazing adventure and we are pretty sure you are going to like it a lot. Share your thoughts and experience in the comments below.