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Goats On The Road By
Posted 24 Oct, 2013 | 10 Comments
Posted in: Our Story, Tajikistan, Travel Blogs

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!

murgab pamir highway

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!

driving pamir highway

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.

shakhty cave paintings

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.

shakhty cave paintings

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”.

Keng Shiber

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.

yurt stay keng shiber

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.

inside the yurtstay

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!

sheep horns pamir

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!

zong kol lake trek

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.

zor kul lake views

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.

pamir mountains

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.

trekking lunch tajikistan

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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10 thoughts on “Travelling On The Pamir Highway: Murgab to Keng Shiber – Cave Paintings, Marco Polo Sheep & Trekking

  1. I’m so glad for blogs like yours, guys. I’m way too precious (and I think I’m owning it) to sleep in a yurt, eat pot noodles for 10 days and hike 5 hours at an altitude over 4,000 metres any more, but I LOVE seeing these pictures of the places that kind of experience can take you. So…thanks for sharing!

  2. Hey Sam,
    Thanks for the comment! I’m sure there will come a day when I’m too precious to eat pot noodles, sleep on the ground and trek at high altitudes, but until that day comes, I’ll keep on enjoying it 🙂

    Cheers and happy travels

  3. We saw some cave paintings in Jordan. Aren’t they amazing to see in person? I nearly went to Tajikistan last year but just couldn’t squeeze the trip in to an already packed schedule. Someday! For now, I’ll live vicariously through you guys.

  4. I love those cave paintings! I’ve never been close to something that old – it’s amazing to think of just walking up to it.

  5. Hi, am relatively new to this site but loving it so far. My wife and I have done a tonne of traveling around Asia but didn’t make it to the stans…re the Pamir highway and Nurali do you mind if I ask how much the journey cost? And also, can you provide any contact details for the driver and his company? We’re thinking about coming over to this part of the world soon. Thanks, Paul

  6. Hey Paul!

    Thanks for the comment. We’re planning to create a Guide To Travelling On The Pamir Highway with lots of info..keep your eyes open 🙂

    In the meantime, the cost of going from Osh in Kyrgyzstan to Khorog in Tajikistan was $38/person. There were 4 of us in the vehicle, plus driver. This price included everything for us and for our driver. The journey was 2 weeks long.

    We arranged Nurali through META, which is the community based tourism board for Tajikistan (like CBT in Kyrgyzstan).

    Here is their website:
    http://www.meta.tj/

    The only thing is…we can’t 100% recommend Nurali. Someone stole a significant amount of cash from us during the trip. Maybe it was our driver, maybe it was a village member, we don’t know. But because of that, we can’t say to go with him – which is a shame because he was an excellent driver, guide and we had a great time. Wear a money belt in the Pamirs and don’t be too trusting!

    I hope this helps 🙂
    Cheers.

  7. heyo,

    when you say $38 per person, that would be per day, right? and this would be the price for the driver you arranged in Kyrgyzstan from Osh to Murghab and then Nurali from Murghab to Khorog summed up together?

    since i am planning a similar trip for 2016, but not having the abundance of time you had, i think the most i can make of the whole Osh to Khorog trip would be one week. is that also well doable or much too rushed?

    cheers
    mark

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