ABOUT Tajikistan is nestled between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to the north and west, China to the east, and Afghanistan to the south. Mountains cover 93 percent of Tajikistan's surface area. The two principal ranges, the Pamir Mountains and the Alay Mountains, give rise to many glacier-fed streams and rivers, which have been used to irrigate farmlands since ancient times. Tajikistan is a newly-independent republic on the southern tip of Former Soviet Central Asia. Beautiful and remote, Tajikistan has much to offer to the mountaineer, the hiker and the independent traveller in search of remote locations and unusual cultural experiences. There are opportunities for alpine mountaineering, rock climbing, hiking, horse or camel riding, historical exploration, cultural experiences or simply relaxing among dramatic mountains and lakes. Following the trends of other Central Asian countries, visas are increasingly easy to obtain, particularly for nationals of wealthy countries. This policy is designed to stimulate tourist activity in Tajikistan. The big change has been the abolition of OVIR registration for tourist visits under 30 days. Letters of invitation are no longer needed on arrival at Dushanbe airport, but are needed to prearrange a visa from the UK and US embassies. Visas have to have applied for in advance at Tajik embassies or may be purchased upon arrival at Dushanbe airport. However due to a recent change in the law, these visas are now only available to citizens from countries with no Tajik embassy. To save time you can complete and print a form before arrival. It is best to use the Tajik form, bring two passport photos, a handful of photocopies of your passport and cash. The process takes around 10 minutes. Tajikistan is a stunning place, and there is plenty to do, from the Silk Road mystique of places like Khujand and Istaravshan, to the stunning, untouched mountain scenery of the Pamirs and their accompanying allure of unclimbed peaks and virgin trekking routes. Fan Mountains could be a good alternative to the Pamirs. They are easy to reach and provide good trekking options.
CLIMATE The average temperature range is 23° to 30° C in July and -1° to 3°C in January. In the eastern Pamirs, the average July temperature is 5° to 10°C, and the average January temperature is -15° to -20°C.
BEWARE There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks cannot be ruled out and could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers. Armed incidents continue between border forces and drug traffickers along the Afghan border. Dushanbe is relatively safe, but there have been occasional muggings and petty crime against foreigners. Women should avoid going out alone at night, and may suffer harassment even during the day. There have been instances of sexual assault, including rape, reported. This has included suspected use of ’date-rape’ drugs targeting foreigners. Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended. You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK. Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Don’t accept lifts from strangers or passing acquaintances at any time.