The Sheep Head Trail

I decided to go for a 5 days trekking in the Pamirs starting from Bulungkul, a village 15 km from the main road. I started hitchhiking from Murghab which was not so difficult as there is about 1 vehicle per hour. I got 3 pretty Gaz-66 trucks in a row. Last one was going to the place I was aiming to so I didn’t have to walk the 15 km.


Bulunkul is a pretty 4-houses 1-yurt settlement. I don’t think more than a couple of vehicles a week go there so big, big luck I had.

Bulungkul lake
Bulungkul lake

Next morning I started my walk and cheated fro about two hours as a friendly local was going on my way and took my bag on his donkey Makar. He wanted to take me to his yurt but it was too far…


On the first night I slept in a gorgeus valley by a river and decided to shorten the trek to 2 days after considering a few things: didn’t have many warm clothes, my shoes were broken (main reason), my Chinese supermarket $15 tent didn’t look very reliable in case of adverse weather conditions, the fear to get lost in the mountains with no one around, the prospect of spending 5 days feeding on biscuits and apples… Next time more.


On the 2nd day took me almost 2 hours to find a spot to cross the river safely. Later on I would meet two girls with many goats and sheep going in my direction so I joined helping with the herding and they invited me to their home in Bachor, another tiny cozy village. The company of crazy goats always cheers me up and brings a lot of childhood memories.

My friends
My new friends
More friends
More friends

The dinner was an unusual luxury at this point: potatoes and onions. They had an old TV where I could enjoy the new generation of Russian cartoons, a 3D evolution of this:

Next morning the man of the house asked me to stay longer while holding a sheep and making a sign with his hand on the animal throat giving me to understand that he would slaughter it in that case. I heard the same happening to other tourist in this part of the world but wasn’t expecting it at all. If a guest stay more than one night they may decide to sacrifice an animal on his honor and he should stay till the meat is finished. The best parts are offered to the guest, that means the head with the eyeball that are considered a delicacy.

Man of the house

In remote parts of Central Asia this is quite common, especially among nomads. Apparently Mongolia remains the main destination on the sheep head trail. I will spread some more  writing about Central Asian interesting traditions in next posts.

In this trail you can forget about banana pancakes, smiley people and smoking joints in hammocks while watching Friends or any kind of Western commodities like showers or toilettes. Instead expect old bread that you may need to soak on tea, kumus, sleep in a mat on the floor of a yurt and faces marked for a hard life. It’s tough to travel but no doubt you will be regarded with extreme hospitality and witness a genuine lifestyle… and lots of vodka drinking, of course.

While in Indonesia I was taking cigarettes to offer people who help me here I am carrying biscuits and fruits.

Back to the trip, I was going to walk about 20 km form Bachor to the main road when I had another fortune strike and a soviet van picked me up, again I think no more than a couple of cars go on that track per week. You may think I am very lucky but for me this happenings were not just mere coincidences. They are the result of my prayers to the Flying Spaghetti Monster who cares for hitchhikers unlike other God who is more keen to pederasts.

After the previous days in the remote Pamirs the town of Khorog seemed like London to me, they even had internet there. I went for one night to a village with some sulphuric hot springs, icelandic style with a soviet-muslim touches. On the way there I was dropped at a checkpoint where the police officers game me food and got me a lift. In the car a girl invited me to stay at her garden, as usual, dinner and breakfast included. The springs were great and the surroundings amazing.

The History of the Comunist Party in the Soviet Union in Russian. Found in a vania in Bulungkul. A great read.
The History of the Comunist Party in the Soviet Union in Russian. Found in a banya in Bulungkul. A great read.

2 thoughts on “The Sheep Head Trail”

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