Takob Valley is located about 35 km north from Dushanbe and is most known for its hiking routes and the recently renewed ski base. The valley begins more wide almost straight from Dushanbe but starts to narrow down before the village of Pugus from where the road towards Takob village starts from before passing the president’s dacha. Driving further along the Takob river, you will see outstanding geological sights and secluded villages in a steep valley, populated by extremely friendly Tajik people.
The road also passes a factory built by German WWII prisoners and a mine that allegedly provided the uranium for the first Soviet atomic weapons. After about 8 km drive on a somewhat poor road, Takob Village is a pleasant place for walking in its small side valley. The views beyond the hamlet give unparalleled vistas over the lush green valley and snow-capped mountain peaks beyond. It is also possible to overnight in the Takob village. This is also where the road to Safed Dara ski base starts from.
The next village after Takob is called Saridorak and has a population that mostly constitutes of people that moved here from the Yagnob valley and therefore speak the ancient Sogdian language. Even further the poor road there is another village called Zumad. This village is located on a hilltop at the elevation of about 2000 m from the sea level with magnificent views over the nearby hills and mountains. The houses here are built out of stone and here as well the people mostly speak Sogdian. People here live a lot like in the old days, almost in a different world, growing potatoes and vegetables and herd animals. If it is possible, here people are even more friendly.
In these remote parts of the Takob valley, people also retain some old Zoroastrian fire related traditions like jumping over the fire in wedding. Zhoroastrianism (fire worshipping) was a major religion in Central Asia before the spread of Islam and the time of the Sogdian empire. Zumand is a starting point for attractive hikes to the Ob-i Safed Gorge. From there it is a 2-day trek to the Romit valley.
Kondara botanical gardens
Two kilometers north after the turn to Takob, along the Varzob valley, there is a turn to the west over a bridge at the village of Kondara to some botanical gardens. During the Soviet time, there was a tradition of botanical gardens that combined attractive gardens containing a wide range of flowers, plants, trees and bushes together with scientific research and with the aim of introducing new species to Tajikistan.
The best examples of these are the botanical gardens in Dushanbe and Khorog. The gardens at Kondara are somewhat rundown, but devoted staff still try to maintain some of the standards of the past. There are attractive flowerbeds and a wide range of trees and bushes and it is a peaceful place to wander through the gardens and up the small valley beyond.
Safed Dara ski resort
Safed Dara ski resort is basically the only ski resort in all Tajikistan. It is located at the heights 2200 m to 2600 m. The ski base used to be called Takob ski resort but was renamed during the renovation to Safed Dara which translates as a white valley. The old Soviet hotel here was completely renovated and reopened in 2016 and includes a restaurant with after ski. There are about 2,3 km of slopes available and 3 lifts of which one is a gondola lift.
Skiing and snowboarding equipment can also be rented in Safed Dara.
Travel to Takob Valley
A taxi can be arranged from Dushanbe to most places in the valley. Alternatively, small busses called Marshrutka regularly journey into Varzob valley from the city; there is no set schedule, but your hotel should be able to assist with the current departure point. A visit to the ski resort is best arranged in advance to avoid disappointment as it is not always open due to the changing snow conditions.
When to visit Takob Valley and Safed Dara ski base
December, January and February are the best months to visit Safed Dara for skiing. The lower parts of the valley, for hiking, are best visited from May until September.