Journaling The Journey

3 Zen Day-Hikes near Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Dushanbe Day-Hikes

Tajikistan is the perfect country for nature lovers.  93% of the country is covered in gorgeous tall mountains!  There are so many famous multi-day hikes here.  However, what if you are in the capital – Dushanbe and want to get away from the city and the unfortunate pollution here? 

We have found 3 picturesque day-hikes that will take you away from the concrete jungle and transport you to the stunning and verdant nature of this country.

#1 – 7 Bridges Hike – Varzob

Donkeys on the 7 Bridges Hike
Donkeys on the 7 Bridges Day-Hike

The 7 Bridges Hike is just 30-40 minutes (26 km) north of the capital.  We took a taxi from the Hyatt, which cost us $7 USD + tip to the Varzob Center.

You can also catch a marshrutka from the Varzob Bazaar and travel the 22 km from the bazaar in a minibus.  For instructions about the marshrutkas check here.

This is an out and back trail that has 2 bonus waterfalls that you can visit along the way.  The trail crisscrosses 7 bridges and is a loop trail.

The road to the trail starts in the center of Varzob.  There is an obvious main road in the center of the village that leads to the west (right side of the road that you are dropped off at).  About 1.6 km (1 mile) west of the village is the parking lot for the hike. 

Therefore if you are taking a taxi you can take it to the start of the trail.  You will see the first bridge and the start of the hike right from the tiny dirt parking lot.


The first waterfall is right after the 2nd bridge.   Count bridges as you go up and take a left (north) up the small creek next to the 2nd bridge.  It takes about 15 minutes of rough scrambling on what can barely be called a trail until you arrive in a shady nook with a very nice waterfall. You can then hang out at the waterfall or go back and continue further up the main river.

The second waterfall is right after the 5th bridge.  You will first notice it as you are walking in the valley after the 4th bridge  You will be on the left side of the main river and the waterfall will be flowing on the right side of the river.  

Once you cross the 5th bridge turn right on the animal trail and follow it for about 200 meters until you reach the picturesque and very powerful (in the spring) waterfall.

Day-Hikes hike hikes
7 Bridges Hike – the Valley

Stats and Getting Back

  • Length: 17.7 km       
  • Elevation Gain: 605 meters
  • Average Time to Complete: 5.25 hours
  • Easy- Moderate (due to the elevation gain)

PRO-TIP: The trail does not have any shade, so bring a hat and sunscreen.  You will have access to the river for water (if your bottle has a filter).  

For the way back just do everything backwards.  Our taxi was double the price on the way back, but it was getting late and we didn’t want to wait any longer. 

There is an unofficial taxi stand in the center of the town (where you will come out of onto the main “highway”).  The ladies in the small store can help flag down a taxi as well.  The marshrutkas can also be found here (they usually wait to be full to go back into the city).  

#2- Leilakul Hike – Ziddi Valley

Leilakul Lakes Hike Day-hike
Leilakul Lakes Hike – Trek Tajikistan

The Leilakul Hike offers a full day of hiking through the gorgeous Ziddi Valley.  This hike is a bit more complicated to get to, so we used a guiding service. – Trek Tajikistan.  This organization is very knowledgeable with taking travelers on multi-day hikes as well!

The highlight of this tough but beautiful hike are the Leilakul Lakes situated at an altitude of 3400 meters.  Folks are picked up from their hotel in the capital in the morning (08:00) and driven to the village of Ziddi, which is the gateway to the valley of the same name. This journey takes 1.5 hours and is quite scenic.  The road takes you directly north from the capital city.

Leilakul Lakes
Leilakul Lakes – Trek Tajikistan

From the village, you continue by car over an unpaved road for another half an hour to the start of the trail.

The first part of the hike goes up through the verdant Ziddi Valley, passing the Khoja Sanghok Shrine – a spring of mineral water, until eventually reaching the Leilakul Lakes.

After a lunch break at the shore of the lake, the trail descends along the river with many nice viewpoints on the way down.

At the end, you will have to gain some elevation to get back to the car near the village of Kuktëppa and start the journey back to the capital.

Leilakul Hikes Day-Hike
Leilakul Lakes Day Hike – Trek Tajikistan
  • Length: 26 km       
  • Elevation Gain: 1080 meters
  • Average Time to Complete: 8 hours
  • Moderate to Difficult: The hike is physically demanding due to the distance and the considerable elevation changes. The trails are of medium difficulty. The path can be narrow, especially along the river. 

PRO-TIP: The trail does not have much shade, so bring a hat and sunscreen.  

#3 – Gusgarf Waterfall

Gusgarf Waterfall day-hikes hike
Gusgarf Waterfall

Gusgarf Waterfall is a beautiful place located in the mountains 21 km north of  Dushanbe. The hike to the waterfall is difficult and requires a good level of fitness.

To get to the trailhead, take a marshrutka from Tsementzavod to the turnoff to Gusgarf. From there, walk a couple of miles through the village up the road until you reach the turnoff for the trail. You can also hire a driver to take you through those couple of miles to the trailhead.

The hike is well marked and starts off through houses and dachas, and then winds through a beautiful forest stream. After about a mile, the trail heads straight up Pioneersky Pass for a beautiful view. The climb is a scramble, so be prepared to use your hands and feet.

Once you reach the top of the pass, head down the other side and cross the river. Continue hiking for another 1/2 mile or so downstream. You’ll hit a shallow gorge/stream bed filled with red rocks. Even though it seems a little treacherous, turn left here and go down.

Once you’ve made your way through some slippery rocks and trees, you’ll find the waterfall hidden behind some rocks. It’s very tall and impressive. The waterfall can be accessed in other seasons, but it’s best to visit in the spring, when the water is flowing at its fullest.  This is an out and back trail.

  • Length: 7.1 km       
  • Elevation Gain: 629 meters
  • Average Time to Complete: 3.5 hours
  • Moderate to Difficult: The hike is physically demanding due to the scrambling that is required to get to the waterfall


It’s amazing how polluted the capital of this country really is, when 93% of it is covered by breathtaking mountains.  Why is that?

Well, most of Tajikistan’s environmental problems are related to the agricultural policies imposed on the country during the Soviet period. By 1991 heavy use of mineral fertilizers and agricultural chemicals was a major cause of pollution in the republic.  

Today, Dushanbe is a hot spot of polluting industries, such as cement and coal power plants, as well as smaller workshops and waste-burning sites.

Our 6 days here, would not have been pleasant had we not found these terrific places to explore in nature – and so close to the capital!


Varzob Village puppy
A puppy I found in the Village of Varzob on the way from the 7 Bridges Hike

Tajikistan is one of the most mountainous countries in the world!  The breathtaking nature here is a terrific getaway from the over polluted capital.  

It is such a contrast to it’s very weird and much flatter in elevation neighbor – Turkmenistan.

We hope that you enjoy these trails and are able to explore some of them yourself.  Have you visited any of the treks of the Stans?  We would love to hear about your experiences here.

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