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Published: March 2nd 2013
Kyrgyzstan: Jalal-Abad, Jalioos & Perfect Riding (part 2) – 10 July 2012 – mile 10,018
as I said in part 1 I have too many photos so here are the rest of them:
We're still climbing higher and higher through the rugged Kyrgyz Ala-Too Mountains – very gnarled and folded and colourfu. We're following the Naryn River through the hills. As part of Kyrgyzstan's hydroelectricity programme there are 5 dams along this stretch “the Lower Naryn Cascade” - this makes for enormous stretches of beautifully coloured green and blue reservoirs which provides perfect reflections of the colourful mountains. Once upon a time the Naryn River used to flow all the way to the Aral Sea.
We steadily climb a 3000m pass. At the top the sheer rock sides start to become more “gentle” with patches of greenery and wild flowers-very alpine. The higher we go the greener its gets. Instinctively this seems wrong but its obvious really. Down on the plains it 40o
C+ up here its cool so there's bound to be more grass and flowers. There are even bee hives & honey for sale.
Finally we pop out into a lush green valley filled with yurts
a warning sign
luckily there's hardly any other traffic on the road
– a jailoo i.e. a summer pastures up at 2000m. Its idyllic. There's lots of activity; some young lads having a picnic and playing football by the river, a lady doing her laundry, a family with foals tethered on the ground milking the mares. It feels like one giant village. None of the locals seems to mind when we pull up and sit by the roadside taking it all in. Some even bring their children to say hello and shake our hands.
The whole valley is littered with yurts, sometimes lots together, sometimes just one or two, sometimes a row along the roadside selling things i.e. a row of shops. Lots are selling kymys, the fermented mares milk. At one point there's a large crowd of people intently watching something so we stop and watch too. Its a game of Buzkahi (or ulak-tartysh) – sort of like polo only instead of a ball they use a headless sheep and the goal comprises a stack of truck tyres that they dump the sheep inside. They ride their horses really fast up and down the pitch and it gets quite physical as they tug and pull the sheep around. I'd read
about the game in my pre-trip research but never expected to just stumble across a game.
Its getting late in the day now and large very black clouds are gathering. We soon learn first hand why the valley is so green!! Its quite a spectacular thunder storm and it keeps on going and going. By the time we have set up camp we are all rather soggy but everyone is smiling - we're camped next to the Suusamyr River surrounded by snow capped peaks and we have had the most perfect day of riding. As we sit round our camp fire, coffee in one hand Vodka in the other, the most brilliantly bright double rainbow appears and spans the entire valley from one side to the other – a perfect end to a perfect day.
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