This page runs through these resources for Tajikistan:
1) The best guidebook for Tajikistan is without doubt Tajikistan and the High Pamirs by Robert Middleton and Huw Thomas. Robert Middleton also runs the Pamirs website which is currently the best website going on Tajikistan. This book has great maps, for instance it includes a trekking route map for the Fan mountains. Unfortunately its size and the fact it is packed full of history means it isn’t really practical to go trekking with it. It is far more up to date than the LP guide and a lot more authoritative. It is excellent for learning about the country, culture and for planning a trip.
2) The Lonely Planet Guide to Central Asia – The Lonely Plant Guide for Central Asia always finds critics, especially for Tajikistan. Previous editions had so many mistakes it was hard to believe that an author has been there. However, this is a later edition and if you can only fit one book in your backpack – then the LP is usually it. There is now a Brandt Guide…..see below
4) The Brandt Guide for Tajikistan
The good news is that there is a Brandt Guide. The bad news is that it’s not finished yet. No that’s not actually true but reviews seem to feel that it is the case. As written by an expat, it is perhaps more tailored to expats than travellers. Many mountaineers, independent travellers and people trying to get themselves into the wilderness seem to be having problems with it. Reviewers have cited lacking and incorrect crucial details when they’ve tried to use it trekking in the mountains. Content seems to also be misjudged in terms of helpfulness for independent travellers.
5) There is a guidebooks you can pick up in Dushanbe, which can be picked up in the tourist/culture shops. One is called ‘Welcome to Tajikistan,’ apologies I cannot provide a review!
There are a number of regional maps that include Tajikistan and the surrounding countries, such as the Kazahstan map by Gizi – the latest version now has the Tajikistan southern road under construction via Kulob, which wasn’t present on the old version.
The best map to use for the Pamirs/GBAO is definitely ‘The Pamirs’ map (1:500 000) distributed by Gecko Maps ‘a tourist map of Gorno Badakhshan – Tajikistan and background information of the Region.‘ You can buy it here at Stanfords or here at Gecko (this site is in German). The latest edition is from 2011.
The best maps to use for the rest of Tajikistan, i.e the Northern and Southern Tajikistan are also by Gecko Maps and are a 1:500 000 scale, they also include some tourism information. This link to Gecko shows them all : Link
Other local maps
Murghab Eco-Tourism Association (META), in the Pamirs have very recently produced (in 2012) some useful local maps. Their aim has been to map Murghab, Karakul and Rangkul with all the key sites located on them as well as details of the home stays/guest houses and tour operators.
The maps can be viewed here and are in pdf format, just hover over the map to be able to open it:
There is also Discovery Central Asia Magazine which online provides the Tajikistan Discovery travel guide section and you can subscribe also.
Another well known magazine for the region is Steppe Magazine which is produced in the UK and covers all the Central Asian countries.
There is a lack of good websites providing practical information about Tajikistan. The best websites I have already provided the links to on the right hand bar.
The Pamirs Website is generally the best for cultural and historical information and it can give a useful overview to the country and some guidance. The man who runs the website also writes the guidebook and these isn’t a better site online. It has an updated visa section (last checked on 4 March 2011), but it sadly isn’t interactive.
To find an interactive website where you can discuss what you are doing and find out what others are doing, you really need to go to the Thorntree forum on the Lonely Planet website.
You might notice when surfing the web the Great Game’s www.traveltajikistan.com website – this is informative but really quite out of date. Great Game Travel Tajikistan is longer in business and they do not offer any services at this time.
I’m putting in here a couple of books that I have really enjoyed and that are relevant to Tajikistan or adjoining region.
* A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush – which I found quaint and entertaining.
* Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson which is frankly inspiring – and also includes his account of the Wakhan Corridor, although on the Afghanistan side. Mr Mortenson has been building many schools against the odds. There is now also a sequel!
*’The Places in between’ by Rory Stewart – It is probably the least relevant but if you like armchair adventure, it is hard to believe what this modern day British adventurer gets up to. This book is his story of walking across Afghanistan during the war.