Style: wildlife watching / safari
Difficulty Level: Easy
Location: Jilikul district, Khatlon Province
Distance: 170 km from Dushanbe
Length: 3 days
1 person – 752$
2 people – 467$ per person
3 people – 373$ per person
4 people – 373$ per person
5 people – 357$ per person
6 people – 328$ per person
Price includes: All meals-2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners | Transportation from and to Dushanbe | An English speaking guide | Nature reserve rangers services | Camping equipment – tents, utensils, stove etc. | Camera Traps | Watching scopes and binoculars
WHY IS IT BETTER TO BOOK WITH ANCOT?
- All the tours listed here have been developed exclusively by ANCOT
- Tours listed are built upon many years of experience in wildlife conservation and management
- The pricing policy is established on the priority conservation needs and long-term sustainability of tourism
- If you are looking for a wildlife tour in Tajikistan, book it with professionals, from whom you can learn so much, what you will probably never learn and experience by booking with regular commercial tour operators
- You may find similar wildlife tours with cheaper prices. However, you will not benefit wildlife conservation by using a cheaper way
Spotting and observing endangered Goitered Gazelles and Bukhara Deer, Bird watching, Learning the floodplain forest ecosystem.
Being only 170 km away from Dushanbe, Tigrovaya Balka Nature reserve is the closest place from Dushanbe to see an abundant number of wildlife species. Located in South Tajikistan on the confluence of Vakhsh and Panj rivers the reserve’s ecosystem consists of floodplain forests or “Tugai” and semidesert biome surrounded by cultivated fields. The Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve is the largest and most outstanding example of this habitat type in Central Asia. The reserved derived its name from Caspian Tigers who once sheltered in the area, in fact, the last tiger was seen in the reserve in 1953, and now they are extinct in the world. The original prey of tiger, Bactrian Deer, and Goitered gazelle however survived and can be easily spotted today in the reserve. This tour is designed for wildlife lovers who seek to experience wildlife in its natural habitat. The activities on the trip include mostly aerial and land scanning including the forest and desert areas, bird watching, camera trapping, and short hiking.
Day 1: Dushanbe – Tigrovaya Balka
Day 2: Tigrovaya Balka
Day 3: Tigrovaya Balka– Dushanbe
Association of Nature Conservation Organizations of Tajikistan (ANCOT) supports the conservation of wildlife in areas managed by people from the local communities. These organizations – being it local NGOs or small family businesses – are rooted in the local communities and aim at providing benefits to the whole populations of the areas where they are active. Through the revenues generated from tourism, we motivate these local communities to protect their natural recourses and wildlife. Thus participating in this tour you are contributing to the conservation of endangered wildlife species and their habitats in Tajikistan.
Day 1: Dusanbe – Tigrovaya Balka Nature reserve
Elevation loss: 400m / 1312ft
Driving distance: 170km/106mi
We start off from Dushanbe early in the morning heading south to Jillikul town along Vakhsh river. The Nature Reserve’s main entrance is just 7 km south of Jilikul. Upon arrival, we register our names at the entrance and meet with the reserve’s ranger who will be assisting us on our trip. Most of the rangers of the reserve are people from surrounding villages who grew up working in the reserve. Before continuing into the reserve we will visit the reserves museum, where we will learn about the history of the reserve and its ecosystems. We will also look into the map of the reserve in the museum to learn how to navigate in the area. After entering the reserve we will drive 15 km to a rangers hut called Darya-Kul, where we load off our belongings and have lunch. After the lunch, we will drive into further south into the reserve to a place called Korolevskya Dacha or King’s resort. With more than a dozen water bodies in the reserve, we will start our wildlife watching with birds. The bird species we shall see will depend on the season of our tour. We shall see many water birds, predators like Eagles, Hawks, and possibly Falcons as well as many passerine birds. Closer to the evening we will drive into the forest to spot Deer. By the dark, we will be able to see Jackals and wild boars. After the dark, we will return to our lodge and have dinner before going to sleep.
Day 2: Wildlife watching
Driving distance: 100km/62mi
One of the main species that we shall be concerned about on this trip is a Goitered Gazelle. This species is almost extinct in the reserve due to habitat fragmentation that happened in the last 3 decades and still going on. However few survived due to good protection by the reserve’s staff. In the past, we were able to spot four individuals and by continuous monitoring, we will be able to tell the population growth or decline tendency. After the Gazelle sighting, we will drive to the steppe area to spot Hawks and Buzzards. For the Lunch we will drive to Korolebskaya Dacha again, to be closer to our next sighting area. After the lunch, we will drive down closer to the sandy semi-desert area to spot Pheasant and if we are in the migration season of Bustards, the Macqueen’s Bustard. We will drive back to our lodge at dark again after deer more deer sighting today.
Day 3: Return to Dushanbe
Driving distance: 136km/62mi
We shall start our last day before sunrise. This morning we will have a little hike through the floodplain forest to the shore of the Vakhsh River, from where we will have a good viewpoint of the other side of the river, where deer comes to drink water occasionally and watch more waterbirds in and around the small islands in the Vakhsh River. We will return to the main gate today for the lunch, where other rangers and the reserve’s administration will join us. We will share our experiences and animal sighting statistics with the reserve’s administration. The reserve is visited extremely rarely by the tourists and the academic community. The scientific staff of the reserve consists of only one person and it is very difficult for him to collect data, hence our information will be very useful for the reserve for monitoring and conservation purposes. After the lunch and discussions with the reserve’s staff, we will head back to Dushanbe. This time we will take a different road until Bokhtar town to make some bird sighting stops en route. We will arrive in Dushanbe in the evening and take you to your place. End of tour!
- All meals
- Professional and knowledgeable guides will lead the tour.
- Transportation from and to Dushanbe, including transfers from and to the airport
- Conservancy rangers services
- Camping equipment – tents, utensils, stove, etc.
- Other equipment such as camera traps, watching scopes, etc. if outlined in the itinerary
- All accommodation – Hotels, Guesthouses, and homestays
Meals: What To Expect
During the hikes: Most of our hikes include a variety of meals to nourish our bodies with enough carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. We usually have pasta, rice, sausages, cheese, oatmeal, canned lentils and beans, sugar, and bread. We also carry fresh vegetables and can easily accommodate vegetarians.
Additionally, we have snacks such as dried fruits, fresh fruits, chocolate bars, and each break will include hot coffee and tea. We can accommodate people with special dietary needs.
In guesthouses, home-stays, and restaurants (Tajik cuisine):
Tajik cuisine offers a large variety of fruit, meat, and soup dishes. The most popular among them are dishes such as Oshi palov, kurutob, Shurbo, Laghmon and snacks like sambusa and mantu. The national drink is green tea, respectively. Traditional Tajik meal begins with small dishes of dried fruits, jams, and halva, followed by soup and meat, and finished with plov. Tea accompanies every meal and is often served between meals. Besides traditional dishes, most restaurants serve Russian borsh and popular shashlyks.
Shurbo: boiled meat on the bone with chickpeas, red and green peppers, potatoes, carrots, and onions.
Laghmon: the same with homemade noodles
Oshi Palov: a rice dish made with shredded yellow turnip or carrot and pieces of meat, all fried together in vegetable oil or mutton fat.
Shashlyks: chunks or minced meat on a skewer cooked over an open fire. Vegetarian versions are often available.
What’s Not Included?
- Clothes, raingear, and footwear
- Any other expenses of a personal nature
- Tips (Always optional)
What Gear To Bring
- Personal soap/shampoo
- Personal medicines (especially against diarrhea, altitude sickness, and car sickness), most of the passes on the road are above 3500m
- High protection Sun-screen
- Sun hat
- Strong hiking shoes
- Plastic bottle for water and water purification tablets, if you intend to hike in remote areas
- Camera (Including spare batteries. You won’t believe how many pictures you will be taking and if you don’t have a proper camera you’d wish you had one)
- Trekking poles, if there is trekking involved
- Gifts (People in most of the villages in Tajikistan are among the poorest in the world, however, they will share their last crust with you to offer hospitality. Therefore it will be nice of you to bring gifts like toys and books for the children, winter clothes or cosmetics and chocolates for women and man)
What Clothes To Bring
We will email you what kind of gear to bring depending on the season. Summers are usually warm in central Tajikistan; however, if you are going up to higher altitudes (above 2500m/8200ft) you will need warmer clothing, including a sweater and windproof jacket
Due to its mountainous nature, geographical remoteness, and deteriorated roads, traveling in most parts of Tajikistan involves a lot of driving, especially to the Pamir region. We use services of experienced drivers, who have been driving at least 5 years on such road conditions. In most cases, we use 4wheel drive SUV like the Nissan Patrol and Toyota Land Cruisers. For bigger groups, we may use 4WD Vans. We’ve found that how you get there significantly influences the tone of your journey, and therefore we always make sure that your ride is comfortable with reliable transportation.
Your safety is our top priority. Only trained guides and experienced rangers will accompany you during your hike. All of our rangers and guides are local from the nearby villages, of the respective conservancy. All guides are trained to offer first aid and always carry the necessary first aid kit.
Click on this link to read answers to frequently asked questions