A good time to visit Tajikistan
Why you should go
Despite being the poorest of all the former Soviet countries, Tajikistan is rich in travel experiences. An incredible 93% of the country is mountainous, so it has seemingly endless twisty mountain roads and breath-taking scenery, the best of which can be experienced on the Pamir Highway (the M41). It stretches for more than 400 miles through some of the most picturesque regions of the Pamir Mountains.
Perfect for those who like their adventure raw and relish the challenge of remote, rough riding, Tajikistan is a rugged, wild place and its peoples live a simple life. It’s possibly Central Asia’s best-kept secret, so experience it now.
What’s it like to ride?
Roads outside the main towns are poorly maintained and often accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles, so you’ll need good off-road riding skills.
Conditions are particularly hazardous in spring due to the risk of avalanches and landslides — many roads are only open in the summer months and, even then, you may have to ride over landslides or impromptu river crossings, though the main rivers are bridged.
Local vehicles are poorly maintained and driving standards are basic.
You’ll need to keep your documents handy for regular military checkpoints you’ll find along the way. There’s also a military presence in most towns and villages and they’ll want to know who you are and what you’re up to.
Arrive with small gifts to repay the Tajik hospitality you will encounter. Take a good first aid kit as you could find yourself a long way from medical facilities. A satellite phone is a must if you plan to head off into rural areas.
Ride the Pamir Highway through the sparsely populated mountain regions — at a height of 4655m, this is the second-highest-altitude international highway in the world. Head into the Wakhan Valley, bordering Afghanistan. Incredibly picturesque. Visit the second-century Yamchun Fortress in the Wahkan Corridor, with magnificent views of the Hindu Kush, then ride north to the hot springs. Homestays offer the opportunity to stay with a local family, but don’t expect much more than a bed, a flask of hot water, outside loo and basic meals. Shop in the Panchshanbe Bazaar in Khujand - reputedly the largest of its kind in Central Asia.
Getting your bike there
Tajikistan is not cost effective to fly a motorcycle too though Almaty in Kazakhstan is, and is a good hub for freight — you’d be looking at around £1600 one way, so we’d recommend you include Tajikistan as part of a longer tour within Central Asia.
If you don’t have the extra time, then consider renting bikes in Dushanbe, Tajikistan or taking a tour. Due to the nature of the terrain, most bike rental is for smaller, off-road enduro-style bikes. Renting a Suzuki DRZ400S can be around US$90-120 per day. Check out the Silkoffroad Motorcycle Travel Club for touring options. www.silkoffroad.kz
When to go
By far the best time to ride is from June to September, as the snow in the Pamir Mountains is at its lowest levels, giving you the best chance of the passes and the Pamir Highway being open.
The Tajik landscape is simply amazing
Despite being the poorest former Soviet country, Tajikistan is friendly and welcoming