Murghab + Eastern Pamir
The Eastern Pamir is a true remote wilderness with an average elevation of 3,500 meters the plateau it sits upon really rings true to its nickname of the Roof of the World. You’ll find yourself amongst windswept vistas, pyramidal peaks, and semi-nomadic Kyrgyz families with yaks and yurts in tow.
Eastern Pamir Highlights
Murghab is the main ‘city’ in the Eastern Pamir, having been largely constructed during the Soviet era and named Pamirsky Post back then. It still is mostly a scattering of blue-trimmed white homes and serves as a great jumping-off point for further exploration into this lonely stretch of the Pamir.
Those that are arriving onto the Murghab Plateau as they trundle down the Pamir Highway from the west will reach the lonely village of Alichur en route. Most only will stop in for lunch here at the Golden Fish Cafe, but stay a night and you’ll be welcomed in with open arms by Alichur’s residents.
Just outside Alichur to the east, make sure and stop at the beautiful Ak Balyk Spring which is exceptionally gorgeous in the morning light and before the wind picks up and ripples its water. The spring is thought to be holy by locals so keep that in mind while visiting.
Zorkul Lake straddles the Tajik-Afghan border between Khargush Pass and Jarty Gumbez. A special permit is necessary to reach Zorkul from the Khargush Pass checkpoint which we can arrange for those wanting to add Zorkul onto their Eastern Pamir itinerary.
Jarty Gumbez is a Marco Polo sheep hunting camp in the months of November-April but outside the hunting season, they typically welcome just about any passing traveler looking for a guesthouse for the night. It is set in what feels like an end-of-the-world valley and features a covered hot spring.
Get your Great Game fantasies on here at the world’s end here at Shaimak where it’s possible to see into China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan all at the same time- hence why it was such a strategic point as Britain and Russia vied for power in Central and South Asia. Shaimak is a small village clung to the extreme southeast of Tajikistan and as such doesn’t receive many visitors.
Karakul is a salty meteor impact lake that you’ll pass on the Pamir Highway as you travel north toward Kyzyl Art Pass and the Kyrgyz border. A village of the same name sits on its shores.
For those that opt to spend a little more time here, there is a day hike that can be done up nearby Aral Yuj Peak for stunning views of Karakul below, as well as a visit to Jangjir sheep hunting camp at the lake’s southwest edge. For those looking for adventure further afield, there’s plenty to keep you busy between Shurali Petroglyphs, Kök Jar, and Gudara Village in the Muzkol and Tanymus Valleys en brought to the northern start of the Bartang Highway.
Ak Baital Pass
At 4,655 meters high flying Ak Baital Pass highest point on the Pamir Highway and is located just south of Karakul. Marco Polo tend to frequent this area so keep your eyes peeled as you make your way up and over the pass.
An overnight trip from Murghab will take you to stay in the yurt camp at Rangkul Lake near the border with China. Keep an eye out for Bactrian camels out in this remote area as well.
The valley that delves westward just north of Murghab will take you amongst rainbow-swirled mountains in one of Tajikistan’s most fabulous and not well-known areas. A strenuous day hike can be taken on from the yurt camp in Pshart Valley and bring you over Gumbezkul Pass to reach Madiyan Valley to the south.
Madiyan Hot Springs
In Madiyan Valley, cut by the Murghab River as it flows to the west, just south of Murghab leads all the way to the eastern fringes of Lake Sarez, but most who venture to Madiyan Valley don’t venture that far. A turn down the Eli Suu Valley to the south will bring you to the lovely Madiyan Hot Springs, the perfect place to rest and relax following some serious travel out here in the Eastern Pamir.