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A trail through rocky hills near Gysh in Khatlon Province
© Emily Marie Wilson / Shutterstock

Hiking in nature

Across the region, there are some beautiful opportunities to hike through the pristine landscapes in this part of Tajikistan.

Tajikistan is famed for its hiking, with most of the attention on the Fann Mountains in the northwest or the Pamir Range in the east. While it doesn't reach the same soaring altitudes as those peaks, the Khatlon Province around Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve also has some scenic trails for walkers.

One good area is around the town of Levakant, where the landscape is dominated by grassy foothills, with the Vakhsh river bringing greenery to the plains on either side. The walks here are relatively easy and are a nice way to see some scenery without the need to carry too much equipment.

But perhaps the highlight for walkers in Khatlon Province is Childukhtaron, a bit further to the east. The name translates to '40 girls' because of a legend that the iconic stone pillars here represent a group of women who tried to repel a Mongol invasion in the 13th century. The scenery is filled with the dramatic rock formations of the Hazrati Shoh mountain range, with lush green meadows between some of them, and rivers carving out paths between others. There are good viewpoints in the main part of Childukhtaron or you can take trails further into the mountains.

The incredible rock formations of Childukhtaron – © Maria Nelasova / Shutterstock
The incredible rock formations of Childukhtaron – © Maria Nelasova / Shutterstock

A plan to create a long-distance hiking route connecting these areas has been postponed. The unofficial Bactrian Trail would have gone between Childukhtaron and the Mausoleum of Khoja Mashkhad near the town of Shahrtuz. Because the entire route would have taken up to four weeks to walk, many visitors would have used it as inspiration for different sections in the region, something you could still do today even though the trail has not been finalised.