While much of the Western Pamir Hwy is characterised by deeply recessed canyon valleys, alive with full-spate rivers, the Eastern Pamir Hwy by contrast is a very different beast. The lonely, high-altitude pamir (pastures) of this remarkable landscape is still and almost silent in the thin air. There are few settlements here so inevitably attention is turned from the human story to the natural world with yaks grazing mid-meadow and marmots standing on sentry duty. Tiny hardy shrubs bristle the high passes, hunkered down against the cold, while fields of sun-loving annuals decorate the lakes.
Murgab is the only town of any size in the Eastern Pamirs; with its container bazaar, friendly homestays and some fine lakes nearby, it makes a fascinating base from which to explore this so-called ‘Roof of the World’. Activities here require stamina and acclimatisation but still attract the hardy few – as demonstrated during Kara-Kul’s annual regatta.