Tajik National Park
New regulations and a system of fees have been established for access to the Tajik National Park in Gorno-Badakhshan, not making life easier for travellers. The boundary of the park and its sub-areas is unclear and inadequately signposted. According to the regulations the following visitor fees apply:
- GBAO National Park (10 somoni per person/day);
- protected forest, historical and natural sites inside the national park (20 somoni per person/day);
- protected wildlife areas within national park using
i) vehicles (10 somoni per day) and
ii) trucks (25 somoni per day); use of recreational areas, ecological tourism, mountaineering and sport inside national park (10 somoni per person/day);
these figures are converted from data on the English official form. It is far from clear which areas are considered protected forest sites, wildlife and recreational areas and no authoritative detailed map exists. To quote, ".. .implementation of paid services (for the purpose of recreational activities, scientific information, publishing and advertising and other activities inside the national park) according to the legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan (10 somoni per person/day)...", so take this to mean that travel writers/journalists must pay an extra 10 somoni and hide your notebook. Fees can be paid through a local travel agency to the National Park administration in Khorog at 96/1 Soibnazarov Street; Tel: +992 3522 29123; Mobile +992 93 581 3390; E-mail: [email protected]. National Park staff (gamekeepers) should be asked for proof of identity.
As noted above, fees are payable for National Parks. However, beware of scams: some unscrupulous individuals pose as Park rangers at places where there is definitely no National Park and try to collect much higher fees. Some border guards and local police may try the same trick. The lack of clarity concerning boundaries and definition of special areas in the National Park is a virtual invitation to corruption. Ask for documentary proof that an individual is authorised to collect fees and threaten to go to the police - again, bluff is a good weapon. The form in question is in three parts: on the left in English, on the right in Russian and in the centre the schedule of fees - ask to see a copy as proof of the identity of anyone asking for a fee.
Finally, beware of scams on exit from Dushanbe: some corrupt officials at the airport try to extort money from tourists claiming that they have not registered with OVIR (this is not the same thing as the GBAO permit). If they have been in the country for thirty days or less, travellers with a tourist visa are NOT required to register with OVIR. Claiming a fine from tourists on these grounds is therefore illegal and should be vigorously refused, threatening if necessary to report the official concerned to the head of airport immigration or the Agency for State Financial Control and Combating Corruption.