The Yagnob Valley lies just over 100 km from Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, a glorious drive along steep-sided gorges, the river to one side.
Named “Paradise on Earth” by the local people, the Yagnobi Valley is home to the Yagnobis, the descendants of the ancient Sogdians. An isolated population, they have little interaction with those around them, even in neighbouring people, and therefore have been able to preserve their traditions and language in a remarkable fashion. Although in the Soviet period many of the villagers were forcefully relocated to arid regions of Tajikistan to pick cotton, and many died as a result, they are a resilient people and the survivors have thankfully now been able to return to their traditional homelands and way of life. That dark period of their recent past is behind them.
The Yagnobis are unaccustomed to meeting strangers, and therefore understandably a little cautious, but at Paramount Journeys our experienced guides have worked hard to build up the Yagnobis trust, and in their company you will be welcomed warmly into Yagnobi homes, a rare privilege indeed. Lear more about our expedition trips here.
The rivers marking the mouth of the Yagnobi Valley are said to be as white as milk, and are just one of the marvels you will find here. The Yagnobi families are subsistence farmers, growing their livestock in the rich meadows during summer, just as they have done for thousands of years, and the women take responsibility for passing down the Sogdian language to the next generation. It is spoken today much as it was in the time of Alexander the Great.
The vegetation of this area is typically grassland surrounded by steep, mountainous terrain, with rocky outcrops and hardy plant life that is able to survive and adapt to the climatic variances.
In the valley you can see petrified forests, with massive tree trunks, branches, and vines sprawling into the mineral deposits that absorbed their organic mass millions of years ago. The geological indicators show that the region was once a lush, and most likely temperate, rainforest with hosts of vegetation species. Today in a very different climate, the villagers’ grazing stock share the lands with native animals of the area including mountain goats, bears, foxes, wolves, snow leopards, marmots and ferrets.
The Yagnob is a place where time didn’t just stand still, it was never invited in. With cultures and geography that are extraordinary and unique, this region is one that will see any visitor looking back with the fondest of memories, and unforgettable images in their mind.