After a fantastic couple of nights in Murgab, we had officially started the next leg of our journey with our new driver, Nurali. Everyone was feeling healthy and excited for what the rest of the Pamir Highway had to offer!
We loaded up the Landcruiser and set off. Since there are better views of the surrounding mountains and landscapes from the front seat, we had a seat-rotation system in play, and today was my turn to enjoy the views from the front…and what great views they were!
Like I said before, the best part about having your own car and driver for the Pamir Highway is the freedom to be able to stop and see different sights along the way. After a few hours of driving we pulled over to see the Neolithic-era cave paintings of a boar hunt at Shakhty, which is at 4,200m high.
These were the first cave paintings we’d ever seen and they were pretty impressive. After enjoying the views of the area, we were back in the vehicle and carrying on to our final destination of the day, Keng Shiber.
The sky was pure blue, the sun was shining, the company was great and the fact that we were travelling on the Roof Of The World was so surreal. After a couple of hours of driving, Nurali pointed and said “there’s the village we’re sleeping at tonight”.
It was nothing more than one yurt, one outhouse and 2 small buildings…oh, and one really yappy dog. Keng Shiber is a hunting base during the high season, but since it wasn’t hunting season, we were able to stay there. There was nothing around this village, and I mean nothing. Just mountains and the odd donkey walking by.
It was amazing!
We spent the late afternoon walking through the valley, taking some photos and just relaxing. The women of the family who lived there were constantly coming into our yurt to fill our stove with dung, boil water for us and give us anything and everything we needed.
Since we were off of meat for the duration of the trip, we cooked up some instant noodles, cut up some cucumbers and peeled some hard-boiled eggs, which would pretty much be the dinner we’d be having for the next 10 days!
That night, in between rounds of Yahtzee and Scrabble, we all went outside and witnessed the most amazing starry sky any of us had ever seen. Because there wasn’t a single bit of light pollution, we were able to see the Milky Way, every single star in the sky and even many shooting stars! Truly outstanding.
The next day we set off into the valley by foot. We trekked for about 3 hours before coming to the pass at 4,600m high. It was a bit of a scramble up loose gravel rocks and boulders but once we made it to the top, the views from the pass were outstanding!
From our vantage point, we were able to see the Great Pamir Range in Afghanistan and Zor-Kul Lake, which is right on the border of Afghanistan & Tajikistan. The wind was howling at the top, but it didn’t matter, seeing the lake and the mountains was superb.
Nurali was running around like a mountain goat, constantly looking through his binoculars trying to spot the “near threatened” Marco Polo Sheep, which are hunted by the local people and by trophy hunting foreigners who spend thousands of dollars on expeditions in this area. Named after Marco Polo, these sheep live high in the hills of Central Asia and huge in size and have massive spiral horns.
Finally, Nurali spotted a group of about 30 or so down near the lake! He was so ecstatic and proud of himself for finding them. We were also excited to see the rare sheep, but the 4 of us were freezing from the wind and basically just wanted to come down from the pass! After some ooo’s and aww’s of the sheep, we descended back down to the valley and stopped for a nice lunch.
The trek was about 5 hours long and just one of the many great things we would be doing on this Pamir Mountain adventure! After spending two nights in the middle of nowhere village of Keng Shiber, we were on the move again.
Have you ever seen any endangered animals or ancient cave paintings? We’d love to hear from you!
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