For the more adventurous among us (another word for crazy on this site), during a road trip through Tajikistan, there is of course the option of taking the Anzob Tunnel, also known as the ‘Tunnel of Doom’. If it makes you feel any easier about it then rest assured some also refer to it as the ‘Tunnel of Fear’ of even the ‘Tunnel of Death’!
Address: Anzob Tunnel, Ayni, Sughd Province, Tajikistan
Price: A pair of big cojones!
Opening hours: All year round (weather permitting)
So, a little background information for you. The Anzob tunnel was built as a means of connecting Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, with the country’s second largest city Khujand in the North. You see, the problem was that the usual road connecting the two cities is closed throughout large portions of the year due to snow, effectively dividing Tajikistan into two parts during the winter. The old route favoured route of cutting through Uzbekistan has been made significantly more difficult in recent years due the deteriorating relationship between the two countries. With the only option of air travel being too expensive for most ordinary people in Tajikistan, trade was being severely affected during the winter months.
The solution seemed obvious. Build a massive tunnel to cut through the mountains and avoid the problematic mountain roads, thus keeping the route open all year round. Simple right?
Contracted to an Iranian firm known as Sobir International, work on the Anzob Tunnel began back in 2003 with an estimated cost of $110 million. Sounds like a great plan doesn’t it!? So where does that ‘Tunnel of Doom’ name come from? Well, although the government of Tajikistan celebrated the completion of the tunnel back in 2006, it still remains officially closed, sort of. Let’s just say if you speak to the right construction worker you won’t have too much of an issue getting in. It could just be the getting out part that you will have a problem with and we’re honestly not kidding!
We think it’s safe to assume that the Anzon Tunnel was built on the cheap and to be honest it’s still pretty much a construction site! Although the tunnel does actually reach through the 5 km stretch of mountain and out the other side, masses of construction equipment and broken down vehicles still line each side of the tunnel. When we say ‘sides’ technically it is actually two side by side tunnels but each side is as bad as the other. There is no ventilation inside the tunnel and no drainage either, meaning clouds of exhaust gasses from Soviet era vehicles literally cloud your vision. Pools of water build into what usually appears to be a river running through the tunnel, at least a metre deep in places, causing many vehicles to stall and making progress slow at best. As if this wasn’t enough, more water gushes in from cracks in the walls and constantly drips from stalactites above.
For those of you wondering what all the fuss is about whilst holding back thoughts of ‘pah, my four wheel drive beast will make mincemeat of that’ then consider this. Large chunks of rock can quite commonly fall to the ground, becoming rather large but hidden obstacles for your vehicle to hit without you realising whilst proper cave ins are not unheard of. Speak to people outside the tunnel and they will tell you stories of breakdowns resulting in death caused by carbon monoxide inhalation in the tunnel due to the lack of ventilation. Yes, that’s right, death. Still interested in going? Thought you would be! Just remember – we at Travazzle accept absolutely no responsibility for any injuries or death that occur from your crazy adventures!