Tajikistan - Our third Stan

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September 14th 2016
Published: September 20th 2016
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14-9-16 Bishkek - Dushanbe - We took a short two hour flight from Bishkek to Dushanbe, our next Stan, and one of the last unexplored frontiers in the world. Upon arrival we headed 30km out of Dushanbe to the fortress town of Hissar which was once a stronghold of the Islamic guerrilla fighters known as Basmachi. The Basmachi fought a guerrilla war against Soviet rule in central Asia from 1917 and the Red Army eventually besieged the fortress.

15-9 Dushanbe's original settlement dates back more than three thousand years, we walked through the tree lined streets exploring the many of the flower filled parks which are watered by a network of canals that keep the city green in the dry harsh climate. Three students approached us very shyly to welcome us as they wished to practice their English, they were a great example of the polite and friendly people of Tajikistan. After lunch at a traditional teahouse we were treated to an outstanding performance from local dancers, their costumes and energy made their performance mesmerising.

16-9 We left Dushanbe in 4WD vehicles for the drive up into the Fann Mountains, following the Varzob River through spectacular scenery. We drove through the 5.5km Anzob tunnel through the mountains towards Iskander Kul Lake. Skirting the lake we came to Sary Tag village, located beneath snow capped mountain peaks. After lunch with a local family sitting on a platform over the river we walked along the Karakoi River gorge back to Iskander Kul Lake where we checked into small basic huts located on the edge of the lake itself, we had dinner on a deck overlooking the most beautiful setting of the lake with the high mountain peaks in the background. Olga our guide made sure everyone had lots of vodka so we were all up dancing under the stars well into the night.

17-9 We left the lake to drive north through spectacular landscapes along a winding narrow road climbing high with enormous drops to the Zerafshan Valley below. We travelled through the Shahrston tunnel, built be the Chinese and opened only on November 2012, this 5km tunnel is one of the greatest engineering feats in the world. We were very pleased to descend to the edge of the fertile Ferganan valley and felt we were lucky to have made it through the mountain roads as trucks and cars seemed to overtake on every bend. The border crossing was interesting, we had to wheel our cases about 200 metres across the Tajik-Uzbek border at Oybek, a number of cases were thoroughly searched as Tajikistan is known as a place to move drugs from Afghanistan. After customs and immigration formalities we made the two hour journey to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent and onto our next adventure

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20th September 2016

LOve reading your blog and seeing your photos. I can see you are having a wonderful trip. xxxx

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