March 18 - March 27 2021

Tajikistan Buzkashi and Persian New Year Tour

Dushanbe to Ancient Sogdia
and the Fergana Valley

See Buzkashi, Central Asia’s 'most dangerous sport',
and travel to Tajikistan over the Nowruz Persian
New Year.

From 2,200 USD per person

Please apply by 13th March, 2021.

Tajikistan Buzkashi and Persian New Year Tour

Dushanbe to Ancient Sogdia
and the Fergana Valley

See Buzkashi, Central Asia’s 'most
dangerous sport', and travel to Tajikistan
over the Nowruz Persian New Year.

From 2,200 USD per person

  • Overall

    Travel to Tajikistan over the Nowruz Persian New Year and experience Buzkashi ('goat-pulling' on horseback sport), ancient history, and breathtaking scenery.

    As a crossroads of Central Asia and the Silk Road, Tajikistan has a rich and vibrant culture bringing together Persian, Greek, Turkic, Mongol, Russian, and Soviet culture throughout the ages. Beginning from the capital Dushanbe, the centre of modern Tajik culture, we'll explore southern Tajikistan and set out across the countryside to find Buzkashi - goat pulling. Watch as hundreds of horse riders work in teams and as individuals to pull a goat carcass through a goal. Dubbed the 'world's most dangerous sport', Buzkashi is a sight to behold!

    We'll then head north over the beautiful and rugged Fann Mountains in the footsteps of Alexander the Great and Babur, the first Mughal emperor, on the way stopping at the large Khoja Obi Garm Soviet sanatorium - a gigantic Bond villain-like hideout - and the crystal clear waters of Lake Alexander. You'll then pass through the 5 km long Anzob tunnel before reaching the Sughd region, once ancient Sogdia at the mouth of the Fergana Valley.

    This tour will be led by expert tour leader Rich Beal, who has extensive experience planning and leading tours throughout Tajikistan and Central Asia. Because of Rich's 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)!

    Looking to travel the Pamir Highway? See Koryo Tours' Pamir Highway Mountain Crossroads Tour in August from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Dushanbe, Tajikistan on the M41 Highway through the Pamir Mountains.

    Please see below for the Buzkashi and Persian New Year Tour highlights, itinerary, and additional information.

    Highlights

    • Travel north across the stunning landscape of the Fann Mountains
    • Experience Buzkashi (goat-pulling), Central Asia's most dangerous sport
    • Explore the ancient Sogdian culture and the history of the Fergana Valley, crossroads of the world and once the farthest outpost in Alexander the Great’s empire
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 10
    1. Thursday 18th March

      Arrival day in Dushanbe

      AM

      • This morning is a free morning for settling in, exploring and acclimatising while we wait for the whole tour group to arrive on different flights.

      PM

      • After our initial pre-tour meeting and briefing, we drive to the Hissar fortress. This massive fort is said to date back to Cyrus the Great (600BC) and to have been captured 21 times by invading forces. The restoration may be a little excessive, but it has a lovely museum that offers a gentle introduction to this fascinating country - a great chance to learn about the country's history and catch up with local people.

       

      • Upon our return to Dushanbe, we will stop by a local school to photograph an impressive statue of Lenin

      Meals | Lunch and Dinner.

      Overnight | Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe. A new hotel located within 5 minutes walk of the central city. This comfortable hotel has beautiful rooms located on a designated floor with free laundry facilities, kitchen area and reading room. Breakfast provided a buffet-style in the main restaurant area.

    2. Friday 19th March

      Dushanbe City Tour

      AM

      • We begin our day with a morning tour of Dushanbe both by car and by foot, visiting the following locations: 
         
      • Victory Park | Built-in 1975 commemorating the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, this Soviet-built monument offers excellent views of Dushanbe. 
      • Rudaki & Somoni Avenues | are two main streets in Dushanbe which were formally known as Lenin street and Putovskiy street. These grand avenues were renamed in the early 1990s after the poet Rudaki and the ancient king Ismail Somoni, lined with a mixture of past Soviet architecture and modern Tajik grand buildings.
      • Rudaki Park | is a beautifully laid out park with a grand statue of the poet Rudaki, located opposite the brilliant national library building. 
      • Ismaili Somoni Monument | This fantastic statue of the ancient king stands on the former site of Lenin. Somoni's crown atop this impressive monument contains 10 kilograms of Tajik gold making it even more attractive. 
      • Mehrgon market building | With many of the cities old market places now closed in Dushanbe's drive for modernization we visit one of the new areas where local people travel to buy fruit and vegetables as well as other necessities. 

      PM

      • National Museum of Antiquities | this museum gives us a more in-depth look at the complicated history of Tajikistan and the surrounding countries.
      • Botanical Gardens | Popular for wedding groups as well as housing a vast range of Central Asian flora.
      • National Tea house | For end-of-day relaxation, this was once the largest tea house in the world, now been remodelled as an entertainment facility for local people. it houses a cinema, bowling alleys and various shops. We can still visit to view the amazingly intricate work carried out in its construction.  

      Meals | Breakfast and Lunch.

      Overnight |  Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe. 

    3. Saturday 20th March

      Anzob Village and the Varzob Valley

      AM

      • After breakfast, we drive out of Dushanbe following the Varzob River north to the stunning Varzob Valley along the way we pass scenic lakes, stunning geological formations, and bizarre palatial residences of the Tajik elite. 
      • Our destination for the morning is the small village of Anzob, where we join our friends for some traditional Tajik hospitality at their home. For those who wish to, we can hike into the mountains for amazing views of the surrounding valley.

      PM

      • Upon our return to Dushanbe, if there are any local events such as holiday wrestling, dancing or singing, we will stop making the most of our time.
      • Late afternoon is left to free time for your explorations and adventures in Dushanbe - holiday decorations would be up by now and a lively atmosphere on the weekend can be expected.

      Meals | Breakfast and Lunch.

      Overnight | Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe. 

    4. Sunday 21st March 

      The Buzkashi, Tajikistan and Central Asia's most exciting and dangerous sport

      AM

      • Today we go to see the most remarkable sporting event imaginable – Buzkashi! Is a flamboyantly violent and aggressive game played by hundreds of men on horseback, wrestling over a goat carcass to try to score goals with it. It merely has to be seen to be believed, the photos you will get will blow the mind of anyone you show them to! Please note that we may have a long drive as the location of this spectacular event does change from year to year. The aim is to arrive when the game is in the throes of setting up watching the competitors arrive. We will stay until the end to make the best use of our time for photography and enjoyment.

      PM

      • The day will be spent at the sports fields, in addition to Buzkashi, there may be wrestling and dancing giving us the opportunity for mingling and people-watching considered to be the friendliest people in all of Central Asia. Snacks and drinks are often available for sale as well as an incredible day is assured.

      Meals | Breakfast and Lunch.

      Overnight | Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe.

    5. Monday 22nd March

      The Fann Mountains and the surreal Khoja Obi Garm Spa

      AM

      • After a later start today we will 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.

      PM

      • Once settled in a full range of ‘treatments’ can be enjoyed here, from radon baths to massages, leeches to swimming, or simply explore and relax. One of those large Soviet-era buildings that are hard to find these days; you will love this experience!

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

      Overnight | Khoja Obi Garm Spa, Fann Mountains. The rooms in this Soviet monster are a little more basic and older, although warm and comfortable. Use of many of the health facilities included along with some free time to explore this surreal complex late into the evening (if you’re brave enough.)

    6. Tuesday 23 March 

      Drive to Khujand, farthest extent of Alexander the Great's empire

      AM

      • This morning we bid farewell to our villain's lair and drive onwards to the northern city of Khujand, passing over. Through the Hissar Mountains, the route itself is part of the adventure including a drive into the 5km long Iranian-built Anzob Tunnel. On the way, we will stop at Iskander Kul – Alexander Lake –where Alexander the Great himself stopped for lunch during his advance through Central Asia.

      PM

      • We continue and cross into the Fergana Valley – the ancient crossroads of cross-continental trade and home to some of the great cities of the Silk Road, Arriving in Khujand (previously known as Leninabad) we'll stop at a giant Lenin statue at a hydro-electric dam. Communism personified!

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  

      Overnight | local hotel in the city.

    7. Wednesday 24th March

      Explore Khujand

      AM

      • A day of exploration today as we first stop by the traditional Panjshanbe Market one of the largest in Central Asia. We immerse ourselves in local life while trying to pick up a bargain or two buying everything from local snacks to Soviet memorabilia.
      • Opposite the market sits the beautiful Sheikh Muslihiddin Mausoleum and Mosque. This complex erected on the Tomb of Muslihiddin Khudjandi the sixteenth-century building allows us to learn a little more about Islam in central Asia while also marvelling at the ancient carpentry from inside the main prayer hall.  
      • Before lunch, we have one more stop to visit the Khujand fortress, this Silk Road fortification has been in situ for over 2500 years in its many forms. Its current build includes a fascinating museum looking at the history of not only the area but the whole region.

      PM

      • After a local lunch, we continue the tour of the city by visiting the giant statue of Lenin (the biggest in Central Asia,) and on to the bizarre Arbob Cultural Palace originally housing the former headquarters of a Soviet collective farm. It was designed as a recreation of the St. Petersburg Winter Palace and built during the Soviet 1950s; is a fantastic local curiosity.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. 

      Overnight | Local hotel.

    8. Thursday 25th March

      Drive to ancient Panjikent

      AM

      • Departing Khujand, we retrace some of our steps back over the Fann Mountains before following a stunning river valley on to the ancient city of Panjikent. The drive is a real treat as apricot blossoms dot the countryside our only other distraction as we’re dwarfed by the enormous geological features evident in this part of the world. 
      • 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)

      PM

      • 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.

      Meals: | Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

      Overnight | Sugd Hotel, Panjikent. 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. 

    9. Friday 26th March

      Return to Dushanbe

      AM

      • This morning we bid farewell to Panjikent but not before a stop as its exciting and colourful local market. Driving out back to the Fann Mountains, we will visit an old Soviet Cognac factory, we have the opportunity to sample its produce and photograph this large partially abandoned site.

      PM

      • By mid-afternoon, we arrive back into Dushanbe where 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 unique Soviet-era antique shops

      Meals: | Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

      Overnight | Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe. 

    10. Saturday 27th March

      Departure day 

      • 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 to other regions of Tajikistan and beyond– please speak to your Tour Manager to discuss options.

      End of Tour

  • What is / is not included?

    INCLUDED

    • Airport pick up and drop off to and from Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe
    • Hotel accommodation
    • Tajiki tour guides
    • A driver per group
    • A member of Koryo Tours
    • All transportation in the country
    • All entry fees for attractions and sights

    NOT INCLUDED

    • Flights to Tajikistan Single room supplement unless otherwise specified (US $50 per night)
    • Early check-in US $50 per night
    • Spending money for drinks and souvenirs
    • Tajikistan visa fees at other embassies vary
    • Tip for the guides (approx. US $15 per day)
    • Not all meals are covered but we will make recommendations if needed
    • We occasionally have the opportunity to visit a performance which is extra
  • Notes

    **This tour will be accompanied by a western tour leader if there are over five passengers booked**

    VISA APPLICATION TO TAJIKISTAN

    It is now possible to purchase your visa online, which makes our visit to Tajikistan a lot easier. Please see the following link for more information: https://www.evisa.tj Upon booking we will help should any further information be required.

    IMPORTANT NOTE TO TOURISTS

    This tour is a group trip designed to have a good amount of free time. We will give you ideas if you want to go out exploring or just take it easy at a café. Please be on time and return to that the hotel in the evening. Please note we will be driving relatively long distances, and seats can be hard, so we suggest bringing a travel pillow/neck support – the view and experience more than make up for a little discomfort though. Khoja Obi Garm Spa - please note this is a Radon spa which has radioactive properties. There are various thoughts on whether this is good for you or not! - please read up beforehand and make your own decision. The different types of treatment with steam sauna and water jets, massage etc. It is in a beautiful mountain area and worthwhile even for those not taking the spa treatments. The Russians built the spa over a religious shrine – for those of you not taking a sauna go pop out and try and find it in this beautiful mountainscape. Massage is 60 somoni head body arms, just need to wear pants or towel provided (radon shower included if you want! ) Carry a colour photocopy of your passport with you at all times.

    USEFUL TIPS

    Taxis – In 2017 most journeys cost around 20-30 somoni but make sure you agree to a price beforehand. Segafroid Café in Dushanbe is a good place for internet, and Western food- open for billiards and ten pin bowling cost 120 somonis per hour. The Segafroid Café is about a 20 somoni taxi ride from the Hotel Lotus. Dushanbe has the world’s largest tea house open for billiards, and ten-pin bowling cost 120 per hour. Bring sun protection cream. Bring hand sanitiser and toilet paper.

    WEATHER

    Early Spring weather so bring a light jumper and jacket; however, we will be heading into the mountains so have some warm clothing also as there will be snow.

Please apply by 13th March, 2021.

[email protected] | + 86 10 6416 7544
Room A409, Jucai Building. No. 76 Caoyuan Hutong.
Dongcheng District, Beijing, 100027, PR China

中国北京市东城区草园胡同76号聚才大厦A 座409 室,
邮编:100027
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