The Romit Valley
Leaving Dushanbe on the M41 east and taking the left fork in the road at Vahdat will bring you to the Romit State Nature Reserve, created in 1959, 70km to the east of Dushanbe. The reserve's mountain slopes, thickly forested with birch, mulberry, wild fruit and nut trees, are home to more than 100 species of birds and, in their upper reaches, there are alpine meadows with a gorgeous carpet of springtime bulbs. It is largely an unspoilt valley with woodland, thermal springs, mountain streams and a good variety of birds and animals. Should you wish to try your hand at fishing, there are significant numbers of trout in the Kafirnigan River.
Reserve is reached by taking the main road east to Vahdat (Kafirnihan), a small post-industrial town. From Kafirnihan the road goes north through a broad fertile valley with peasant plots taking over from the abandoned factories, market gardens and trout farms. There are abandoned Pioneer camps and the Yavroz sanatorium, where it is possible to stay. In the west the word "sanatorium" denotes a place for sick patients, but in Soviet times the word was used more for a place where workers could relax.
In the summer months it is possible to trek to from Romit to the Takob Ski Resort in two days. The route includes one pass and goes through the picturesque Obi-Safed Canyon with its traditional aylok (shepherds' camps). Golden eagles are a relatively common sight, and so are Tugai deer and fat, fluffy marmots.
At the village of Romit there is a turning to the left up a path through fields and homesteads to pastures beyond. The people practise subsistence farming. There is no rubbish, and nothing is wasted, e.g. brambles are not burned, but used to protect saplings and put on top of stonewalls to make them more stock proof. Cows eat vegetable peelings and cow dung becomes kitchen fuel.
The path follows the stream up a gently sloping valley through delightful woods and pastures. There is a good chance of seeing marmots and golden eagle. The walk is about two hours before the valley becomes very narrow, with the path crossing the fast flowing stream at frequent intervals. Further up the main valley there are excellent paths and better chances of seeing some wildlife.
The Romit valley is a good place to come to experience being in the mountains, but without it being too testing on the legs and lungs.