7-night tour exploring unknown Tajikistan and run in
the AIMS certified Dushanbe Half Marathon. Marvel at
its scenery, discover its history and meet the friendliest
people we know!
From 1,700 USD per person
Incredible yet relatively unknown, Tajikistan indeed an astonishing country that should be visited.
Sitting in Central Asia, it not only has a fascinating history as a former Soviet bloc country but the friendliest people you will ever meet and the most incredible breathtaking scenery.
This tour will not only get you there to experience all of this, but to also join in the local Tajik celebrations for their 'Day of the City' running in the 2024 Dushanbe International Half Marathon - an AIMS certified race. Learn more about the marathon and Tajikistan at www.rundushanbe.com
This tour will be led by one of our most experienced tour leaders, Rich Beal. Rich has led tours all over the world since 2004 and has personally designed and researched all our Tajikistan tours. Because of his close connection to the country, his fellow Tajik guides and friends like to joke that Tajikistan is his third home (China and Mongolia being first and second)!
Thursday 18th April
The tour group meets at 13.30 in the hotel reception for an orientation & introduction meeting.
We'll meet the marathon preparation committee operatingh under the City Mayor of Dushanbe in the Olympic committee of Tajikistan, sportsmen and Olympic games participants. Our special guests will include an Olympic champion and the first female boxer from Tajikistan who brought the country home an Olympic medal!
Overnight | Hotel Vatan – newly built and with an excellent location. This comfortable hotel has beautiful rooms located on a designated floor with free laundry facilities, kitchen area, and a reading room. Breakfast provided a buffet-style in the main restaurant area.
Friday 19th April
We begin with a half-day walking tour of the sleepy capital of Dushanbe, including Victory Park, Rudaki Street, Dushanbe Flag, Monument of Ismaili Somoni. We will also follow the route of the Dushanbe Marathon. Along this route, we will learn about the development of the city over the years. From its ancient origins to the Soviet-era (when it was called Frunze), to modern-day Dushanbe
This afternoon is free for further exploration or training for tomorrow’s big event; we have secured the use of Dushanbe’s premier gym should you wish to work out and get ready for the adventure ahead!
Overnight: Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe
Saturday 20th April
Today is our main event! We make an early start to arrive in time for the surreal yet great Dushanbe International Half Marathon! This race gives an excellent opportunity to run with local athletes and amateurs, winding through the city, this event will be unique – medals and prizes for finishers and winners!
After the morning’s exertions, you deserve some rest! Therefore the afternoon will be free for relaxation or further exploration with your tour leader visiting the nearby local market for some local flavours and experiences.
We also expect celebrations in some local parks to mark the City Day Holiday. So we will find them and join in, the most welcoming people in the world will show you a good time on this occasion – be ready for some socialising and great photo opportunities too!
Overnight: Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe
Sunday 21st April
The tour continues as we depart Dushanbe and follow the Varzob river into the mountains, driving up through the Varzob Valley where we will stop on the way for photos of this scenic area.
Our goal for this morning the small village of Takob. Upon arrival, we will hike for 30 minutes through this hamlet where we will visit a local family whose home has fantastic views of the surrounding area
We will have lunch given to us in the local Tajik way; sitting on the floor. You will lose count of the number of courses!
We continue our drive through the mountains until we reach our destination; the Khoja Obi Garm Spa, a massive sanatorium built into the mountainside above natural hot springs – like a James Bond villain’s lair meets the hotel from The Shining! An authentic relic of the USSR days.
A full range of ‘treatments’ can be enjoyed here, from radon baths to massages, leeches to swimming, or simply explore and relax. This is one of those large Soviet-era buildings that are hard to find these days; you will love this experience!
Overnight | Khoja Obi Garm Spa - the rooms in this Soviet monster are a little more basic and older, although warm and comfortable. Included are many of the health treatments along with enough free time to explore this surreal complex late into the evening (if you’re brave enough.)
Monday 22nd April
We begin with a long drive from the health resort over mountain roads out across the Fan Mountains working our way up through the ‘Tunnel of Death’ – an Iranian-built long road tunnel burrowing under he mountains, the nickname overstates the danger. Still, it can be nerve-wracking, although it is very safe in reality.
We stop along the way from breathtaking shots of this beautiful mountain range. Our destination is Panjikent. We will make a detour en route to visit the tomb and Museum of Rudaki – (Panjikent is the birthplace of Abu Abdullah Rudaki, considered by many to be the father of Persian poetry)
This afternoon we have a historic tour of ancient Panjikent, viewing ruins of the Sogdian town founded in the 5th century and finally abandoned in the 8th century by the Arabs after their conquest of the region. Foundations of houses, a citadel city bazaar, and Zoroastrian fire temples are all visible as we walk around this UNESCO listed site. Dinner tonight will be a traditional style in a beautiful local home.
Overnight | Sugd Hotel - this locally owned and run hotel is a small guest house with comfortable rooms, beds and warm showers. The owner is always happy to engage guests in conversation, often sharing the travel stories of his visits to Europe.
Tuesday 23rd April
This morning we bid farewell to Panjikent but not before a stop as its exciting and colourful local market. Driving out back to the Fan Mountains, we will stop at an old Soviet Cognac factory, we have the opportunity to sample its produce and photograph this large partially abandoned site.
We drive along small mountain roads past local villages, abandoned factories, and past stunning views. We eventually arrive at the remote and secluded Iskanderkul (Alexander Lake – named after Alexander the Great).
We have the option of hiking or relaxing by its beautiful shores. The lake sits at an altitude of 2195 metres; a stunning turquoise gem in the heart of the Fann Mountains.
Overnight | Local village homestay - we stay in a small village house at the base of one of the soaring mountains. there will be some time for light hiking or exploration (recommended!)
Wednesday 24th April
After a relaxing morning for photos, further hiking or sleeping, we return over the mountain pass to Dushanbe.
We should arrive back into the capital mid-afternoon. You can make the use of your free afternoon for some last-minute sightseeing into one of the history museums, local shopping or browsing one of the remaining Soviet-era antique shops.
Overnight: Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe
Thursday 25th April
End of tour. All group members will be taken to the airport for their flights as we bid each other a fond goodbye after this eventful epic journey!
Extensions are possible – please speak to your Tour Manager to discuss options.
We're unable to take you on one of our tours if you do not have medical insurance that covers the destination in question. Issues of isolation and infrastructure where we go mean it would be irresponsible of us to do so. We can provide this if you do not have it — or you can use your own.
Please apply by 1st April, 2024.