- Not to be confused with Qareh Būlāq (Afghanistan).
Qarabolaq is a tiny settlement in southern Tajikistan on the shore of Lake Zorkul at an elevation of more than 4,000 m.
Locals are Wakhi (or Pamiri) and speak an eastern Persian language.
Traditional houses in the Pamirs are known locally as Chid. The basic structure hasn't changed much in more than two and a half thousand years. The Soviets discouraged the Pamiri Ismailis from building mosques and many homes have a kind of shrine that is reminiscent of Zoroastrian practices. To visitors, unless they understand the history, they're just dirty, smoky hovels.
The roofs are flat so that yak shit can be dried up there and then used for fuel.
In older Chid, ask them to show you the pillar that represents the prophet Mohamed (Khasitan-Shokhsutun), just to the left as you enter and made of juniper wood.
In winter, the easiest route to get in is via the frozen Lake Zorkul. In summer, the stoney, grey brown valley bottom of the River Pamir is relatively easy going. The short spring is problematic because the approach then turns to a muddy quagmire. Currently there is no legal access via any of the three neighbouring countries, which would provide less arduous routes.
- Concord Peak 5,469 m (17,943 ft) which now, officially, straddles the border with the neighbouring state of Afghanistan which also has an even tinier settlement of the same name (also known as Qareh Būlāq) and from which the people of Qarabolaq in Tajikistan moved at the end of the nineteenth century before the border with what was then Czarist Russia was delineated.
- Lake Zorkul is azure blue. Ole Olufsen, leader of a Danish expedition in 1888-9, wrote in his journals that local people said the lake had loads of sea-horses that "come out of the water to graze and then pair with the horses in the fields, and this crossing is said to be very good for the breed. To venture out on these lakes is death, as the sea-monsters would immediately pull one down into the deep."
- Kashgar - Officially, the Kulma/Qolma pass between Tajikistan and China (nearest towns: Murghab and Takhtamysh via the hamlet of Chestepe) opened to non-locals for the first time since the Second World War in July 2013; let us know how much success you have in dealing with bossy local officials.