Up Biking and hiking in Kyrgyzstan (July 23 to August 24, 2013) Slideshow

4 weeks in Kyrgyzstan: 4 days bike tour from Karakol south of Issyk Kul across the Ala Too Range to Mayda Adyr in the Enylchek valley. 9 days trek on the Enylchek glacier up to the Khan Tengri Base Camp. 9 days bike tour along the south shore of Issyk Kul, and then to Koshkor and the Song Kul altitude lake.

Some Impressions of the country
After Georgia in 2011, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in 2012, this is our third year in “Sovietistan”. It is yet a different country with different people, different culture, and different landscapes but also here Russian is the most useful language to know; it remained an official language of the country, not everyone speaks Kyrgyz, a Turkic language. There are Uzbeks in the South, Uyghurs, Dungans, … Uzbek and Uyghur are closely related Turkic languages, where the Uyghurs mainly live in the Chinese Xingjian region, whereas Dungan is a mandarin dialect spoken by muslims of Chinese origin … and this is just a small part of the puzzle.
Fortunately, Monique speaks well enough to survive easily everywhere, and even a bit more; and from time to time, we meet Russian alpinists speaking German or Kyrgyz students exercising English. In general, the Enylcheck trek and at the base camp is more international than anything we have seen in previous years … but don’t imagine the Everest trek, you’ll meet no more than one group and perhaps some individual trekkers per day, and some days no one. The south shore of Lake Issyk Kul has certainly seen better days when all of Russia came here for summer holidays, but the Kyrgyz families are still there. We had been told that Song Kul is full of tourists but except for a couple of motor bikers, we only meet Kyrgyz weekenders and herders
We have been told “biking is extremely dangerous; they drive as if they would ride horses” … which is not completely wrong. When they can, they are rather polite, but a toot is meant to be followed by immediate action, if you don’t adhere to the “rules” you are in danger. But they also do not really know what a bike is about … there are some bikes and the youngsters have them, but they still seem to “grow up riding horses” … and then “ride” cars.
The country is much more Russian than the ones we have visited in previous years; many left of course, but many had been here since generations and stayed here after independence. On the other hand, you really feel in Asia, even if “original Kyrgyz” are said to be Siberians with red hair and green eyes, today they have almond eyes and dark hair but don’t like if someone says they look Chinese … the overall result is a beautiful blend.
Most Kyrgyz are Muslims but some say “they have taken from Islam what you can carry in a saddle bag”, and there is something to it, at least in the North; we didn’t even notice Ramadan and we saw less Islamic headscarves than back home. In Bishkek, a young woman dressed in the Muslim way tells that she’s from Uzbekistan but lives here as there it is forbidden to dress that way … and a bit later “ I don’t like Turkey, there you cannot even go to a café and have a beer with friends” …
Officially it’s the second poorest country of former Soviet Union after Tajikistan. Industry and mining came to an almost complete standstill after independence, only the Kumtor gold mines are still exploited jointly with the Canadians and represent 40% of the country’s export. Over half of Kyrgyzstan's population is engaged in agriculture and herding, then there is some tourism. Nevertheless, the roads are full of nice cars, and we have been told that here they are imported legally (which is not the case in Tajikistan); of course there are also good old Ladas but not so many.

Notes: I will try to add some maps with some of the GPS traces

Puis une excuse à tous ceux qui préfèreraient un album en français. Mais la plupart de ceux que nous avons rencontrés en route ne sauraient rien en faire …


Topographic map of Kyrgyzstan

Modified: 1/2/14 11:13 AM

Topographic map of Kyrgyzstan


Our circuit in Kyrgyzstan

Modified: 1/2/14 11:09 AM

Our circuit in Kyrgyzstan: (1) from Bishkek to Karakol by taxi (2) from Karakol to Enylchek/Mayda Adyr by bike (3) Trek from Mayda Adyr to Khan Tengri Base Camp (4) from Karakol to Kotchkor, Song Kul and back to Kotchkor by bike


Bishkek (July 24-27, 2013)

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We stay in a nice guesthouse , a quiet and green harbor in the noisy city. We stay a few days to wait a forgotten sleeping bag to arrive by DHL, to finalize the preparation of the bikes, to get used to the heat, to organize the Enylchek trek – unsuccessfully, and we decide to just go … and simply to take it easy and relax …
We have the chance to pass at the right place and the rigght time for the opening ceremony of the annual International Festival on “Dialogue of Cultures” (of Central Asia) with traditional costumes, dances, music … and also a Central Asian designer show exhibiting mainly fashion from Samarkand. It is a wonderful occasion for taking out the camera, it is just a pity that the light conditions aren’t a bit better.


Karakol's Mal Bazaar (July 27-28, 2013)

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Another preliminary round, first by taking a marshrutka (shared taxi) to Karakol, south of Issyk Kul (meaning warm lake) at 400km from Bishkek. It’s just 8 euros per person (we pay for 7 because of the bikes) in a beautiful air-conditioned van, the weather is beautiful with splendid views on the mountains (but we never stop). Karakol is the place where we see most tourists, it is a starting point for many trekkers and alpinists heading for the nearby Ala Too Mountains or the more remote Tien Shan (Celestial Mountains) where we go.
Sunday, early in the morning, we visit the weekly mal bazaar (animal market) which seems to be reserved to men, where we learn more about caring for horses and which is a great occasion to see the typical Kyrgyz felt hats – supposed to imitate Khan Tengri Peak -- and also modern shaped felt caps … because they are more practical.


Karakol - Enylchek - Maida Adyr by bike (July 28-31, 2013)

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Day 1: 45km of almost flat terrain from Karakol to Ak Bulak
After the mal bazar we are finally on the road. It starts gently through fields and small villages, with thunder always rumbling somewhere in the mountains and a bit of rain from time to time. In Ak Bulak (should mean something like “white spring”) we leave the road, the plain and civilization and start climbing on the mining road cross the Ala Too Range (the road has been rebuilt in the eighties just before independence and closure of the mines) … but before that it’s time for the first camp a bit outside Ak Bulak.

Day 2: A bit more than 20km and 800m up to Kokija
In fact, there are a few more kilometers on asphalt, but there is no village anymore, just a few isolated houses and almost no traffic. At lunch time, we reach a beautiful open valley ground with a picnic place and views on grazing grounds, yurts and snow-covered mountains. Soon a family from the valley arrives to celebrate an anniversary; they install a huge picnic table covered with doughnuts, different kinds of salads, roasted liver, a big pot of cream, a samovar for the tea, and a Beshbarmak, the national mutton dish, slowly simmering in a big pot. Of course, we are invited … and of course, we do not go much further anymore this day; we say goodbye towards the end of the afternoon, just before the Beshbarmak … and the vodka. But we drink our first kumis, fermented horse milk which is appreciated by every Kyrgyz … for our untrained stomachs it’s a bit tough ( more on kumis here ).

Day 3: not even 20km and 900m up to just below the pass
The day starts with a steep climb and a halt at a yurt where we get a big bowl of kumis with delicious homemade bread, again served with thick cream. We also see that the electric wires leading up here are an illusion; they are used as the clothesline of the yurt! We are now above the treeline without a spot of shade. After a day full of steep climbs, we stop on a beautiful meadow just below the pass and below a huge watchtower, apparently used for hunting the Marco Polo sheep (we hear some shooting, followed by noise up in the scree).

Day 4: almost 80km and only a few short climbs (2-300m) to Mayda Adyr
After a good night, we arrive quickly at the Chon Asuu pass (3822m) with breathtaking views on Tien Shan. Follows a day of mainly downhill ride, first through green pastures, and then trough drier and drier, sometimes narrow, sometimes a bit wider gorges. The river is first crystal clear and after meeting the main Sary Djaz River it gets brown and muddy. We meet a group of cyclists who come down from there and from Karkara accompanied by 6-wheel driven military trucks. They say that one wouldn’t want to do that fully packed. Finally, we reach Enylchek, an ancient mining town where lived 5000, now almost a ghost town, just a few kids from Karakol who are here for summer holidays! It’s already late, and we have another 15km facing headwind up the Enylchek River to reach the first alpinist camp Mayda Adyr.


Trek Mayda Adyr - Khan Tengri Base Camp (August 1-9, 2013)

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First part
We leave our bikes at the Camp and take our backpacks, which we carry on the bike like a pannier, for 9 days to trek along the Enylchek River and then Glacier to the Khan Tengri base camp just 1400m higher (as for all names there exists a variety of spellings, for an overview on the glacier see here ). Except for the 2 first ones, the altitude gained at the end of each day is little compared to the never-ending ups and downs. We take some food with us, but we rely on getting a meal at most camps, we have been told that this should work. But indeed, the camp guardians are not supposed to host individual travellers, only Aksai groups; but how could they refuse when they have food, moreover it provides them some “pocket money”, they ask you to “pay what you want”; but why Aksai sells only complete packages, including guides and porters? We don’t want that, we just can’t carry food for 9 days.

Day 1: 22km of flat terrain to At Jailoo, simply meaning “next to the pasture”
The road goes further to At Jailoo, and we are told that “there may be a car going up, or maybe not”, thus we start walking. There are some pastures on the way, but very few, there are enough pastures closer to inhabited places. In the afternoon, the sky gets more and more threatening and the packs heavier and heavier, but we can finally guess the camp. And then, just 3 kilometers from the goal, a minibus arrives with 3 Russian alpinists planning to climb Pik Nansen at the lower part of the glacier. A German trekking group arrives in the night, with the result that there is no breakfast for us … but Galia, the camp guardian, is very embarrassed and makes us getting up an hour before the group so that we can get some bread and tea, and don’t leave hungry.

Day 2: 19km of still flat terrain to the camp at the glacier toe
Today we have to pass the main difficulty of the trek, we must wade through the At Jailoo Stream early in the morning … but even then, the water flows very fast and the muddy water doesn’t allow estimating the difficulty. We are very happy that our Russian friends go first, to find out that the water is less deep than it looks like. We just get very cold feet. But soon there is a second difficulty; we must cross twice a large arm of the main river or try to avoid that by finding a way in the slope above the river … which is the option we choose. Fortunately, our Russian friends are there to “clear the path” through the thick and prickly brushwood, not sure that on our own we would have been brave enough to insist; it’s really bad terrain, and an occasion to learn swearing in Russian, but after almost 2 hours, or even more, we are through. The afternoon goes quietly chatting in German … except for a few smaller streams to cross, some by jumping, some by taking off the shoes. We arrive at the camp before the real rain.

Day 3: about 10km to the Glina camp, meaning “clay camp”
This is the first day on the glacier; first not very visible but mostly a moraine, but then there are also huge crevasses and glacier lakes … and some more streams to cross. They are less difficult for us than for the (pretty novice) porters of the German group. The group has a guide but the porters are supposed to find their way on their own. They follow us, and our walking sticks bring finally everyone on the other side. The Glina Camp bears well its name, in wet weather it’s a real mud camp, and in the early evening it starts raining. It’s comfortable to eat together with the group in the kitchen tent.

Day 4: less than 10km to the Merzbacher Observatory
We start well after the others in order to let dry the muddy tent. We succeed, but this short walking day starts grey and rainy. An hour before the camp, we arrive on a large green meadow, which is surprising at that place. Also the camp is on a large meadow, situated where Enylchek forks into a North and South branch. The curious Merzbacher Lake, that suddenly empties once a year ( here is a paper on that lake ), is on the North, whereas we follow the southern branch. It is a beautiful place where the university of Potsdam has an observation station ( some info ). It is almost crowded here! Two organized groups, and four young Austrians who arrived over the Tuz pass.

Day 5: 14km to the Komsomoliets Camp on the glacier
All others visit the Merzbacher Lake; but as the lake is empty, we decide to leave the crowd behind. It’s the first day that we leave the side moraine and progress really on the glacier: “at the big stone with the sign, turn left, traverse the white moraine, and once you are on the black moraine you continue straight until the camp” … that’s the theory; first, we never find this big stone, and once on the black moraine --- after some adventures --- there is no “straight”; there are crevasses to walk around all the way long, and the path is not well marked, the best is to stay on the ridge … as long as this is possible. The last hour is great, we walk on ice and the camp guardian, has marked it so well, you could find it in the fog. It’s a beautiful day with great views changing all day long; especially on the south side where several huge glacier valleys flow in, and new summits appear when passing by. At the camp -- Komsomoliets is the name of the glacier flowing in at that place -- we are alone with Dima and Natalia, the two guardians who do this job for the first time … and find it a far too lonely place

Day 6: 14km to the Dikki Camp
Dima explains us the way to the next camp, “follow the moraine, and then turn left, the camp is a bit off the main glacier on the Dikki glacier”. For a while it’s rather easy, just plenty of ups and downs, sometimes the path is quite well marked and sometimes not at all … anyway there are many cairns, some of them probably old ones. It’s a beautiful day, and only one glacier flowing in from the south, the huge “Proletarskii Turist Glacier”. In the afternoon we get the first view of the magnificent Khan Tengri pyramid.
When it gets time to “turn left to the Dikki camp”, there is not a single mark, the glacier between us and the camp is quite ascending with deep crevasses all over the place; without a well-marked path, there is no way crossing here --- just an hour before sunset. We decide to continue for another kilometer to reach the camp passing on a flatter and less tormented part of the glacier. Probably, we should have turned left even further down, but this is a safe way; we arrive just at sunset at the camp. There are several persons arriving from the base camp. And there are two Spanish alpinists coming down from one of the summits above the camp, not even 5000m but impressive … the ridge above the camp from the trekking peak Pesni Abaya to Neru is absolutely fantastic. We are now at 4000m, the nights are cold.


Trek Mayda Adyr - Khan Tengri Base Camp (August 1-9, 2013)

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Second part

Day 7: 9 speedy kilometers to the Tien Shan Base Camp
In the morning, the weather is still good, but it is clear already that this will change, and it changes before noon. It’s the only moment where the summit of Pobeda (“Victory Peak”, in Kyrgyz “Jengish Chokusu”, with 7439m the highest peak of Kyrgyzstan) at the end of the Dikki glacier is almost free of clouds. The guide insists that we should go with the Spanish guys … nobody is in hurry, and we leave just before eleven. It’s a short and fast trip to the base camp … if you know the way. We follow the GPS trace of Felix and José, that’s easy, and they even play the gentlemen when it needs a big step --- they are now suddenly in hurry, they have to be at the camp for lunch. Without the GPS, this would have been another story, again impossible to follow the cairns, there are too few of them, Felix tells us that the first time, a few years ago, it took them many hours climbing up and down the steep crevasses, he would never do it again without a valid trace in the GPS.
We are not allowed to stay at the Aksai camp, it’s full, and they have no food left. We say goodbye to our Spanish friends and literally run over to the Tien Shan camp together with Sacha, the guardian. This camp is much quieter, closer to Khan Tengri, and the sky clears up again in the afternoon.

Day 8: a day at the base camp
It rains in the night, and suddenly it gets quiet … not really a surprise, we wake up in 20cm of fresh snow. Later in the morning, the sun comes out, and we have beautiful views on Khan Tengri, and also on the South side towards Pobeda and the crests above the Dikki and Zviozdovska glaciers. At lunch time, we get “bania”, in the “highest sauna of the world” as they say, it’s unbelievable. In the afternoon, I go for a tour on the glacier in the direction of Khan Tengri advanced base camp, together with two Germans who walked up the glacier as we, and want to climb Khan Tengri … but the weather forecast for the entire week is discouraging. In the afternoon, the sky suddenly blackens again, and we go back before reaching the camp, a few hundred meters from the Chinese border. The camp is now almost full, several climbers are back from attempts of Khan Tengri, but nobody reached the summit, the conditions are too bad, too much wind, too much fresh snow. We meet Aysel, the “crazy soloist”, a Kurdish girl living in US, who tried to reach Khan Tengri alone because her companions fell ill at Pik Lenin.

Day 9: the trip back to Karakol
The next morning around 10am, we will have the helicopter, promised. We hear the helicopter around 8, and everybody runs outside … false alarm, this one is for the other camp. But finally, we go. The helicopter flies all the way very close to the ground, but nevertheless, we have good views; it’s fun to traverse in 40 minutes the long way we walked up in seven days. Back in Mayda Adyr, in the green, in the heat, we jump into the truck taking everybody back to Karakol, we hesitate whether to jump out at the Chon Asuu pass, but it’s late and Monique’s bicycle first needs some repair. We stay at Turkestan, a tourist yurt camp and camping in Karakol, popular amongst budget travellers, the first night we camp, and then we get a yurt.


Karakol (August 10-12, 2013)

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Karakol (August 10-11, 2013)

We spend two full days in Karakol. On Saturday, we just relax, chat with other travellers, wash, repair the bikes and Monique needs a dentist. On Sunday, we could leave, but we decide to wait for a bit better weather, and in the afternoon when the sun comes out for a few hours, we leave for a visit of the small but instructive Przhevalsky museum. Nicolay Przhevalsky was a geographer and explorer of the Russian army who died here in Karakol; the name of the Mongolian Przewalski horse is also due to him.


South shore of Issyk Kul by bike (August 12-16, 2013)

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From Karakol, we continue by bike. We have plenty of plans, such as passing the Ala Too range by another high pass to Naryn … but we have less than 10 days left, and the weather conditions are far from perfect with heavy thunderstorms in the mountains; two Italian cyclists tell us that they come down from Ala Too where the road is almost inexistent now. Finally, we follow the south shore of Issyk Kul which has no heavy touristic infrastructure as on the Northside of the lake, rather abandoned hotels and cottage villages at some places, as a testimony of “better times” when there was still active mining industry here, and people came from everywhere in USSR for spending holidays at Issyk Kul. But it is “alive”, there are villages and small beaches almost all the way.
The road quality is variable, sometimes just perfect but often rather mediocre slowing us down even more … we tried to optimize the weight, nevertheless we carry along walking shoes for the trek, and crampons and ice axes that we have not really used – except for fighting against the brushwood and flattening campgrounds.

Day 1: 30km and a 250m climb to Jeti Ögüz kurortu
We leave Karakol in almost hot and sunny weather, on a much busier road than we expected. At Jeti Ögüz, we decide to climb up the valley to see the famous red sandstone rocks. The road is rather bad but quiet, but as we progress, the sky up there in the mountains gets darker and blacker, and we end up in a heavy rain. We find shelter and a cup of tea in the truck of a beekeeper, Giorgia, a former officer at Kyrgyz KGB who tells us everything he knows about France – which is more than we know about Kyrgyzstan; then we try a yurt guesthouse that is totally flooded but where we are invited for a meal. We finally spend the night in the “kurortu” in a real house to which we are led by a group of kids.

Day 2: 55km mainly downhill to Jenish
The morning is still grey and almost rainy and we leave late after having waited in vain for better views and perhaps an opportunity to continue upwards, the valley is told to be beautiful further up. But down at Issyk Kul the sky looks brighter. We still haven’t seen the lake shore and we try to hurry up to reach the lake at Jenish where we take the first opportunity to drive down to the beach. We find what seems to be a popular place for local families, there is a guardian collecting the parking fee --- not for bikes --- and selling cold drinks. In the evening, we are the only ones staying, and it becomes a quiet place.

Day 3: 66km of flat terrain to Ak Arsha (Kaji Sai)
This day the weather is nice over the lake but it is still dark in the mountains. It is pleasant cycling here, always very close to the water. At lunch, we stop close to Tamga in a tchaikhana at the beach, and at another beach for swimming. Then, there is one other village (Tosor), and then suddenly nothing anymore, even the traffic almost stops. In this landscape made from red sandstone, the damage of the rain of the last days is still well visible. At sunset, we cross a memorial of the famous Kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatov ; it is run-down, even destroyed, but probably still worth a small visit, but we must hurry to find water, and there are still a few km to go until the next village.

Day 4: 65km with a 500m climb over the Keskek Bel pass to Shor Bulak The beach at Ak Archa wakes up early. Already before sunrise, the first joggers and swimmers arrive, and the little village has several kafesi and small shops selling beach equipment. A few km further, at Ton, we leave the coast until the evening. First we climb on a plateau where is situated Bokonbaev, the only place since Karakol that one could call a city; it has a city center with a bazar and plenty of small restaurants. Beyond Bokonbaev, the valley starts to gently climb, and finally we reach the Keskek Bel pass followed by a wonderful, long descent, just a few meters uphill, back to the lake. Approaching the lake, we get the sun back. The landscape is extremely dry above the road and almost swampy and full of mosquitos from the road down to the lake shore; and it is time to camp. The beach of Shor Bulak is a nice place once the mosquitos sleep. The locals seem to know about this, they come for a swim in the night.

Day 5: 80km of almost flat terrain to Kotchkor (first part)
The most beautiful morning on the lake shore! Finally we see the snow covered mountains on the north and south side of the lake, but this is our last day at Issyk Kul, after a halt on another less mosquito-infested beach, we leave the lake at Ottuk by the end of the morning ….


Issyk Kul - Song Kul by bike (August 16-20, 2013)

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Day 5: 80km of almost flat terrain to Kotchkor (second part)
… from Ottuk to the end of the Orto-Tokoy Reservoir, the landscape is suddenly almost desert like, and there is also almost no traffic. We expect finding some water at the reservoir, but the reservoir is a disappointment, there is no soul in sight, no house nor yurt, the water level is extremely low, and the water canals that we cross on our way look pretty non-operational. It’s a bit depressing and hot. At the end of the reservoir where the Tchuy River flows in, and where we meet the main road from Bishkek, we suddenly enter a green valley, the contrast is surprising. From here it’s another 15km to the outskirts of Kotchkor, and a few more to the bazar. Suddenly, the wind rises, lifting up a lot of dust, and we hurry inside to have a drink. By accident – or intuition? -- we enter the “karaoke café” which seems to be the place where tourists meet, where we find information on the road to Song Kul, a GH and also a good meal.

Day 6: 60km and a 500m climb over another unnamed pass to Keng Suu (or Kek Suu)
Between Kotchkor and Song Kul, we meet both, the best and the worst road conditions of our circuit. From Kotchkor, we have more than 30 kilometers of a brand new, excellent road (it is already excellent starting from Bishkek, and it will soon continue up to the Torugart pass at the Chines border); on the other hand, the 40km of unpaved road after Sary Bulak include large portions of “ washboard road ” of the worst kind.
In fact, we start a bit too late. As long as we are on the good road, traffic is relatively low, but when we reach the awful part with roadwork, also the huge Chinese trucks arrive and create a dusty atmosphere. In Sary Bulak, the entire valley is filled with dust; it is a very busy place where most truck drivers take a rest. Another 5km further up, we leave the main road to the right on a quiet but unpaved road … in fact not as quiet as we have been told, in the late afternoon there are well 20 vehicles per hour … not 5 a day. The road starts with a short climb to a pass from which we see our road for the following day; the Keng Suu village just below the pass, and the large gently climbing Tölok valley ending at the Tölok pass and our road turning left at the end of the valley ground and climbing up to the 3400m Kalmak Ashu Pass. We camp a bit beyond Keng Suu.

Day 7: 35km and a 1100m climb over the Kalmak Ashu Pass to Song Kul
All along the Tölok valley, the road with plenty of gentle ups and downs is really bad slowing us down a lot; there are isolated farms every few km. Once we start climbing up the pass, the road gets much better and the traffic a bit denser. There are foreign tourists --- but we never see them at the lake. There are many more Kyrgyz tourists who come here to admire the Kyrgyz nature and to buy local cheese and kumis; many encourage us with loud hellos, and a Kyrgyz family even waits for us below the pass to give us food and express their admiration.
The view from the pass is breathtaking: a vast, slightly hilly area scattered with yurts and pastures, leading gently down to the lake ... which is still far away; more than 20km, and we never reach the shore, preceded by a several km wide marshy area. Here, we meet some very rural people, and also some not speaking Russian (younger ones). We end up in a yurt almost at the altitude of the lake but still some kilometers away. The yurt is held by an energetic woman from the Naryn region; she runs the yurt alone with her perhaps 10 year old boy. In summer, she makes her living from selling kumis and cheese and hosting tourists; we have an excellent meal with salad, mouton ragout with plenty of cabbage with fresh bread and cream (also for breakfast), and we sleep in the yurt --- together with our bikes, she insisted that we should take them inside … of course, nothing would have happened to them outside.

Day 8: 55km with a 600m climb back over the Kalmak Ashu Pass to the unnamed pass
We get up very early for the sunrise, but from the very morning the sky is lightly overcast, especially in the east. The night was cold, slightly below zero, and because of the clouds, it takes a lot of time to warm up a little bit. We nevertheless take our bikes to have a look at the lake, but we cannot reach it, we have taken a road which turns out to be a dead-end, and anyway the light conditions are not appropriate for taking photos. We start our way back to Kotchkor after the (late) breakfast. Would we have one or two days more, there would be other options, in particular, riding along the south shore of the lake, and then turn either south to Naryn or east to the main road between Osh and Bishkek. The ride down from the pass to Keng Suu is much easier than we expected; just from time to time, arriving too fast (or not fast enough) in a corrugated zone, we --and the poor bikes – are shaken like rag dolls. We stop at the pass just before reaching the main road; we put up the tent above the road, right on the old road which is still visible and offers flat places but gets slowly absorbed by nature.

Day 9: 52km of downhill ride to Kotchkor and back to Bishkek
In the early morning, the road is totally empty! And even the bad portions of the road are easier downhill. It’s the fastest 50km of our tour. From Kotchkor, finding a taxi back to Bishkek is much easier than we expected; it’s enough to mention “Bishkek” to get plenty of offers. This time we have a smaller van which is filled by two bikes and two persons, so we don’t even need to wait. There is a new and shorter road – not on the older maps – to Bishkek which avoids Balyshky and reaches the motorway 30km further up. This first part on very good road could be pleasant by bike, but the remaining over 140km on the motorway aren’t of any interest – possibly quite dangerous – for a cyclist.


Bishkek again (August 21-22, 2013)

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We use the last two days of our visit in Kyrgyzstan to stroll around Bishkek. In particular, we visit the Osh Bazar and we always like to go to the park behind the Ala Too Place where the inhabitants of Bishkek come for a stroll or a bicycle tour after or in between office hours. Right to the bicycle promenade, is a little garden café which is a pleasant observation point and where we get plenty of opportunities to discuss with people passing by. On the way to the Osh market, we meet two students who want to improve their language knowledge; Gulia learns English, and her friend German. They guide us through the Osh Bazar, which is pleasant and helpful, and in the afternoon, Gulia guides us through the city, and in particular we visit the historical museum --- which could be better presented, but the Kyrgyz are very proud of their country and of their history.


Toutes les fleurs pour trouver au moins quelques noms

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La Flore d’Asie Central n’existe nulle part, pourtant avec les livres sur la Flore des Alpes on ne s’en sort pas … je suis donc preneur de toute aide


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