An eventful trip along the Turkestan Ridge: 2 countries, 3 languages, 4 ancient cities boasting rich cultural legacy.
Mountain trekking, unique nature, no crowds of tourists, the cultural and historical heritage of Central Asia, museums, bazaars and of course people themselves.
For those who aim at a comprehensive experience of Central Asia.
Day-by-Day Tour Itinerary
1. The Fann Mountains — Iskanderkul Lake
From Dushanbe we'll head northwest.
Montain serpentine road will lead us to the lake located in the heart of the Fann Mountains. This famous lake Iskanderkul with crystal clear cold water was named after a remarkable conqueror Alexander the Great.
We'll stay at a hospitable Tajik family's home. On a river bank in the heart of a picturesque mountain valley.
2. Iskanderkul nature reserve — a warm-up
The chirping of birds and the smell of fresh grass.
That's how we start our radial trip along a mountain river. We'll explore one of the neighboring valleys and its dwellers. If we are lucky enough, we'll see a bear.
Spring mountain nature is the best environment for physical and psychological recovery after winter.
3. Iskanderkul Nature Reserve — a climb to the summit and cattlemen's summer camp
On this eventful day we'll explore the most spectacular gorge. Walk on its hills and reach the tops.
We'll visit cattlemen's summer camp, learn first-hand about the lifestyle of mountain people and chat over a nice cup of tea.
The day will culminate in the ascent to a mountain pass (3,200 m.a.s.l.) and a long way down at the end of the day.
4. Iskanderkul nature reserve — a jeeping trip to the summit
Our host will take us to higher pastures on the Russian four-wheel drive Niva, from where we'll start our ascent to the summit (3,400 m.a.s.l.).
From the top, we'll get a breathtaking view of the valley, Lake Iskanderkul and the neighboring gorges.
In the evening, we'll have Russian bath and some warm brandy.
5. Istaravshan (Ura-Tyube)
The whole city is a large open air museum. Istaravshan is also one of the most ancient cities of Central Asia.
For over 2,500 years it has been one of the trade and craft centers. We'll stroll along the tangled narrow streets of the old town, go on an excursion to the main mosque and explore an abandoned madrasah (an Islamic religious school).
Our accommodation for the night will be at a "noble" Tajik family's home.
6. Khujand (inabad)
It's the northern capital of Tajikistan. I compare this city to the cultural capital of Russia —Saint-Petersburg (ingrad).
And they indeed have a lot in common: parks, gardens, fountains, well-educated polite residents, architectural monuments and even their own Peterhof.
And the icing on the cake will be the abundance of food in the well-known ancient market Panjshanbe.
We'll stay in a very good hostel in the city center on the bank of the Syrdarya River.
7. From Tajikistan to Kyrgyzstan
It's a long and fascinating journey from the big city to a tiny village in the southwest of Kyrgyzstan.
After crossing the border we'll notice a sharp contrast between affluent Fergana Valley and sparsely populated mountain steppes of Batken Region.
This night we'll spend at the local rural school headmaster's home and his hospitable family.
8. Batken Region
Hundreds of millions years ago there used to be a sea. But under the influence of pressure and powerful lava eruptions underground minerals were brought to the surface. Much has remained the same since that time.
That is why this place will seem like a paradise for those who are interested in rocks and different ancient fossils.
And to all the rest: "Welcome to Mars!"
This "southern capital" of Kyrgyzstan is an ancient Islamic religious center and is still an intersection of caravan routes from China to Europe.
Upon the arrival from Batken Region we'll have enough time to climb the Sacred Mountain Sulaiman-Too and explore Osh bazaar.