Murgab comprises more than half of the land area of Gorno-Badakhshan. The name means “River of Birds” in Persian. The majority of population of Murgab is Kyrgyz.
Most of Murgab district is semi-desert high plateau and is traversed by the Pamir Highway from the Koitezek Pass (4,271m) to the Kyzyl-Art Pass (4,336m), Ak Baytal (4,655m) – the highest vehicle crossing pass in former USSR.
Murgab contains the longest mountain glacier in the world, the Fedchenko (more than 70km); two of the highest mountain in the Pamirs: Ismoili Somoni Peak (formerly known as Communism Peak, 7,495m) and Independence Peak (formerly known as Lenin Peak, 7,134m). The highest mountain in Pamirs, Muztagata (“Father of the Ice”, 7,546m) and Kongur (7,719m) are just across the frontier in China.
Murgab also contains the four biggest lakes in the Pamirs: Kara Kul, Sarez, Yashil Kul and Zorkul.
On the north shore of Yashil Kul, close to the mouth of the Katta Marjonai River, there are pre-historic stone circles and several Saka (Scythian) burial sites a little further up the valley. Traces of ancient mining settlements (11th century AD) can be found in the area. At the eastern end оf the lake are the remains of a caravanserai and a hot spring at Sumantash (Bekbulat).
Some additional and interesting highlights of Murgab:
- The Alichur Valley- the jewel of Murgab district, dotted with yurt encampments throughout the summer;
- It is in the distance reaches of the Murgab valleys that you are likely to see Marco Polo sheep, ibex and if you are truly fortunate, snow leopard;
- 11th century silver mining settlement of Bazardara;
- Interesting petroglyphs representing chariots in Ak Jilga;
- Beautiful clear pool with fish, revered as a holy place by the local Kyrgyz and known as Ak Balik (“White Fish”);
- Jarty-Gumbez, with hunting camp and hot spring;
- Shakty cave with the rock paintings (early Neolithic period) and many others…