Aug 25-26 : Sary Chalek

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August 25th 2014
Published: August 29th 2014
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Breakfast today was a bit special in that we enjoyed fresh trout that John managed to finally catch in the early hrs of the morning whilst I was still asleep.

We departed our GH in the Chychkan Gorge, and proceed down thru the valley in the direction of Toktogul Reservoir on the M41. Again we experienced the sweeping mountain ranges, with the sheer red sandstone rock faces contrasting with the green of the valleys. Small restaurants were scattered along the riverside all selling the local trout, which was clearly very common in this area. Due to dry summer, the reservoir was well below normal levels. Approaching the town of Kara Kol, we became aware of the massive hydroelectric power scheme and the five dams that had been built by the Russians in the 1970's. Hidden from view because of their strategic nature, we could only imagine what they looked like, but the damming of the Naryn river created a spectacular lake for many a mile as we proceeded down the valley.

Soon we entered Tashkomur - a town was 'infamous' for its coal reserves and coal mining, but it appeared that like many other industries we've heard about, this had also collapsed after the Soviet withdrawal in the 90's.

We headed north from Tashkomur and started to climb again into the mountains heading for today's destination of Arkit - a small village in the Sary Chalek Nature reserve. Passed some interesting rock structures that looked like totem poles caused I guess by wind erosion.

This is a small typical mountain village, donkeys and chickens roam the single road that passes thru the village, the galloping horse with a young lad on board, small shops selling watermelon, ice blocks, water and vodka were scattered along the roadside, and the usual groups of wandering kids, all of whom greeted us cheerily with "hello" where are you from ??

Tuesday 26th, and today we head over the hills to Sary Chalek Lake - a journey of only 15kms but up and down a few high ranges over bumpy roads saw the journey take about an hr. Sary Chalek lake is about 7kms long, and was formed allegedly by an earthquake about 800 yrs ago, and is a beautiful setting in the forest of walnuts, pistachios, wild cherries, and fruit trees of every variety . Great place for a bracing swim which some of our team did, and a forage in the shoreline for native creatures. We saw several minks racing around the waters edge. ( or as someone unkindly remarked " 1/20th of a fur coat " )

Additional photos below
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30th August 2014

Sary Chalek
This trip is starting to sound like a gastronomical tour! Great to hear from you again after a few days off the air.

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