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Destinations · Asia · tajikistan · Dushanbe · Things to do ·

Things to do

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Things to do

- A few kilometres outside the borders of the city we encounter a donkey walking matter-of-factly along the road. That's a lucky sign, say locals. Ideally the donkey should also wear a saddle - that's practically a guarantee of twice the luck. While in the best case scenario Dushanbe serves as a point of departure for the Pamir Mountains, a hint of the „mountain feel" can be experienced much closer to the city, in the VARZOB GORGE. The river itself is 72-kilometre long and its vicinity is one of the most popular recreation places among the locals. In the summer, many people go for a swim in the nearby Lake Varzob, an 11-kilometre drive from the city. The area is also home to a number of popular Soviet-era sanatoria and a ski resort. One of the country's main motorways, the road connecting Dushanbe and Khujand, is winding through the Varzob Gorge; the tarmac quality is excellent. Parts of the road, built by the Chinese, are already completed; its greatest treasure and pride is a six-kilometre tunnel through the mountains which makes the route passable in the winter as well. The living conditions of the guest workers are unenviable: we see more than twenty people spending the night in a roadside tent. The economic influence of China can be increasingly felt in the region, both in the shape of joint projects and the not-so-pleasant economic fluctuations. For instance, aluminium prices recently dropped radically - approximately for 60 per cent, driving one of the country's leading factories towards bankruptcy. The cause of the crisis is very simple: the demand for aluminium has decreased in China, Tajikistan's main export market.
The 21st kilometre of the Varzob Gorge is the starting point of the path that leads to one of the natural tourist landmarks of the area, the thirty-metre high Guzgarf waterfall. The waterfall is an eight-kilometre or approximately 2.5-hour walk. The best time for the trekking trip is April and May when spring is in full swing and mountain tulips are in bloom. Tajikistan is also rich in thermal waters, from the very hot - up to 95º C - to pleasantly warm ones, many of them contain radon and iron and are widely used in medicine. The village of Gushar, the point of departure for the road to the health resort of Khodja-Obigarm (1790 - 1960 metres above sea level), is a 42-kilometre drive from Dushanbe; you cannot see the resort from the road but once - approximately after six kilometres of the serpentine route - you finally catch sight of it, the first impression is scary, at least against the backdrop of the breathtakingly beautiful mountain landscape. The monstrosity of a building, erected in the 1970s, consists of three separate blocks, 10, 6 and 4-storey high respectively. The buildings, originally designed by a French architect and hardly touched since the opening day, still house a sanatorium; a much better choice, however, is staying at the tiny hotel at the feet of the resort: make yourself comfortable on a Tajik-style recliner and enjoy the lunchtime picnic at a table laden with fruit and national delicacies. As the meal begins, the hosts serve cold white wine (another funny side of the local economy: the wine, made from local grapes, is bottled in Russia) - for appearances sake; soon enough a bottle of vodka makes its appearance. After the first half hour you start to feel as though you had known your table-mates for a lifetime; several hours pass, and you catch yourself wondering: where did the time go?

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- TAKE A CHANCE OF VISITING ROMIT GORGE, located 45 km to the north-east from Dushanbe. Like Varzob Gorge, it is rich in thermal waters, and due to its magnificent mountain scenery much favored among local holidaymakers. The road leading there winds along Kafirnigan River and the surrounding scenery is even more intact than that of Varzob Gorge. Yet the quality of the road is worse, and in wintertime during snowfalls it becomes impassable. Romit has its climate peculiarities - in early spring, while the shady side of the mountain is still under snow, the sunny slopes splurge with bright yellow crocuses. A hatchery of royal trout is sited on the way to Romit Gorge. These fish have hardly any bones and are considered to be the most valuable (and expensive) ones in this region, the price reaching as high as 25 USD per kg. Driving along the mountain serpentines, perhaps you will notice an odd-looking rock formation, which resembles a gorilla from one side, but a lion from the other....

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- GISSAR FORTRESS, an ancient fortress 25 km outside of Dushanbe, is the only historic site near the city. It was a residence of Bukhar Emir in the 19th century. A nearby Gissar town had a population of just about 15 000 people at that time, main occupation being trade with Afghanistan, China, Arab countries and India. Once there has been a garden and a swimming pool inside the fortress and a market and a resting place for caravans - in front of it. Only the entrance arch has been preserved from those times, and a madrasa, which now houses a small museum, sited on the other side of the road. The fortress was occupied by local gangs in 1924 and finally destroyed by the Red Army. Nowadays, it is a popular spot for newlyweds who come there especially on weekends. A 500 to 700 years old plane tree spreads its branches near the fortress. Although this place doesn't really match up with rich historic heritage of Bukhara or Samarkand, it is worth a visit anyway. The most impressive is the road itself that passes by the American embassy resembling a huge factory (according to locals, several its levels are submerged below ground), vineyards and Gissar village, with its old marketplace, still much loved among locals.

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