Tajikistan is a country known for its harsh climate and rugged mountains. One of the poorest in central Asia, the country has been making great strides toward a free market democracy and has recently become a viable travel option after the civil war from 1992-1997. Further progress is expected as Tajikistan joins the World Trade Organization and NATO.

What to do

The Pamir mountains, near the Afghanistan border, are one of the country's main attractions. The mountain range offers the chance to hike, climb, trek and even ski. You can also hunt sheep through the mountains and see Karakol Lake, which sits frozen for 6 months each year. The Pamir highway is also one of the most rugged treks of central Asia and if you decide to embark on the journey you should be prepared for everything from snow to devastating heat.

The capital and largest city in Tajikistan, Dushanbe, has several markets, museums and other attractions for the independent traveler.

Getting there

Tajikistan is part of the former Soviet block so many of the transportation connections take you through Moscow or elsewhere in Russia first. Flights also originate from Istanbul. Trains and vans and cars offer transport into the country from surrounding countries and a ferry from Afghanistan is an unreliable way to get in to Tajikistan.

Where to stay

Hotels are generally soviet-era accommodation and operate on price scales independent of their quality. New, western style hotels are beginning to pop up, but are more expensive than the older hotels. If you don't want to stay in a hotel or want a different experience, there are guesthouses and home stays throughout the country. Also, if you end up hitchhiking with someone, it is common for that person to offer you hospitality and a place to stay for the night.