Kirghiz hideaway                             Population: 2,500

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In 1982, not long after the military coup, a group of Kirghiz refugees from Pamir in Afghanistan were resettled in a village now called Ulupamir, 30km northwest of Erciş, after an interim sojourn in Pakistan.

Today they still live here and tend their flocks in dismal block housing albeit set amid the most glorious mountain scenery. The women weave kilims on horizontal looms and still wear traditional Kirghiz costume for day-to-day life although the men seem to save theirs for the colourful festival that takes place here every June.

Their poignant story is told in Ben Hopkins’ 2006 documentary, 37 Uses For a Dead Sheep.

You should not, perhaps, expect too much of Ulupamir which has no rubbish collections, and where the arrival of a stranger is likely to lead to questions from armed village guards and speedy referral to the nearby military base. Provided you’re carrying your identification documents, though, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Afterwards you could continue north to Ilıca where the piping hot waters of a small spa may be housed in depressingly ugly concrete but are still good for a quick soak.

Note: Ulupamir was affected by the 2011 earthquake that hit Erciş. Since then I have not been able to discover if anything has changed in the village.

Transport info

Ulupamir is not served by public transport. To visit without your own car you would need to hire a taxi in Erciş.200 DSC01537


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