The Rasht Valley in Tajikistan, formerly known as the Karotegin or Gharm Valley, is a scenic destination filled with flower-filled meadows, fish-abundant rivers, and snow-capped mountains, but because of its limited border access, it is a place that is discovered only by the most intrepid travelers. From the fragrant and fruit-filled valleys of Romit National Park to mysterious mountain yeti expeditions and everything in between, there is so much to discover in the unexplored region of the Rasht Valley of Tajikistan.
Tajikistan’s Rasht Valley encompasses six Tajik districts, namely Rasht, Roghun, Lakhsh, Tavildara, Tajikobod and Nurabad, across the Region of Republican Subordination of Tajikistan. It trails along the upper reaches of the Vaksh River with the towering Pamirs to its eastern side and the Zarafshan mountains to its western side. ...
As the closest Tajik-Kyrgyz border is not accessible to foreign visitors, getting to the Rasht Valley is not as easy as many other parts of Tajikistan. In fact, the valley is sort of a dead end for tourists with nowhere else to go but in and back out again. But if you put in the effort to visit this gorgeous Tajik valley, we promise you it will be worth it. Not many people make the time to go to the Rasht Valley of Tajikistan which means you will have the exceptional trekking paths, tranquil fishing rivers, and adventurous mountain biking tracks through the mountains pretty much all to yourself.
The Rasht Valley, Tajikistan featured prominently during the Tajik Civil War of the 1990s, particularly as a stranglehold in the area around the now-capital of Garm. There are many ancient battle sites in the valley and while it is a safe region to visit these days, there are many abandoned buildings that tell the tale of this tragic time in Tajikistan history.
This is perhaps another reason why the valley has been so infrequently visited by tourists in years past. However, if you book with a reputable travel company such as Paramount Journey, you will have the expertise of a local guide to lead you through this peaceful valley. And with authentic medieval villages, Pioneer camps, bubbling hot springs, and alpine forests relatively untouched by tourism, the rewards are plentiful.
One of the best things to do in the Rasht Valley is hiking or trekking through the valleys of the Romit Nature Reserve and beyond. It is a paradise for independent trekkers and mountain bikers who can create their own path through the mountains. It is the kind of place where you can find stunning scenery just about all year round. With an unusual microclimate, you can trek from snowy mountain slopes on one side of the park to lush green valleys carpeted in wildflowers on the other within the same day.
The Romit National Park in the Rasht Valley has plenty to keep you busy aside from trekking. Fishing for marinka, catfish and king’s fish – a form of trout that can leap great heights and climb waterfalls – is a popular activity here. Avid bird watchers can try their luck spotting over 100 species of birds, some of which are listed as rare and endangered in the Red Book, while animal lovers can keep an eye out for wild goats, tugai deer and the occasional snow leopard in the mountain peaks.
But the Romit Valley is perhaps better known for a much more unusual animal: the legendary Yeti. The people of the Rasht Valley have been infatuated with the legend of the Abominable Snowman and they have sent out various Yeti expeditions since Soviet times – all of them fairly fruitless. To this day, the Rasht Valley locals will tell you tales of Yeti sightings and encounters that have passed down through generations of Tajik locals. While none of these sightings have been explained, modern scientists believe they could be mysterious cavemen or even a type of mountain-dwelling monkey.
Yetis aside, other attractions within the Rasht Valley include the town of Garm, the valley’s administrative center with its bustling central bazaar, and the town of Jafr with its gorgeous botanical gardens. Do not miss the chance to soak in the hot springs of the Obi Garm Sanatorium (not to be mistaken with the similar named Khoja Obi Garm Spa near Dushanbe) that is believed to have healing properties for a variety of ailments, including everything from headaches to fertility issues.
Roghun or Rogun is a small industrial town in the Rasht Valley that is home to the infamous Soviet-era Rogun Dam. Due to civil war, flooding, politics, and financial reasons, this hydropower dam has taken over 40 years to build and even today, it has only two of the potential six turbines in operation. When it is complete, the Roghun Dam is expected to take the title of the highest dam in the world.
Last but certainly not least, there is the village of Jirgatol, the last village you can visit before reaching the Karamyk border that leads across to Kyrgyzstan. Jirgatol is a small town but the Kyrgyz nomads who live here are very welcoming. The foreigners who do make the journey into the Rasht Valley in Tajikistan are lured by the chance to stay with these mountain-dwelling nomads. Stay here and you can step back in time to an era where everything was done by hand – where the locals live an outdoor-focused lifestyle, grow their own food, tend their own cattle, and live in traditional yurts.
Whether you are looking to enjoy leisurely activities such as fishing or hot spring soaking or you want to take advantage of the excellent trekking adventures, there is something for everyone in the Rasht Valley in Tajikistan. If there is more than one activity that has caught your fancy in Tajikistan’s Rasht Valley, you can relax. You do not have to choose. Many of the valley’s top attractions can be combined with a tour with Paramount Journey. Take a look at our tours and itineraries for more information.
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