Mountain Roads, Waterfalls and Walnuts

After leaving our fine B&B in Karakol, we started driving back to Bishkek – the starting point of the road to Osh. We’ve read that the road between Bishkek and Osh (in the south of Kyrgyzstan) is one of the most beautiful ones in the world. After an extra day in Bishkek, on Thursday we started driving from Bishkek down.

Within an hour after leaving the capital the mountains started looming. White mountain tops again, nice villages along the way (donkeys, horses, flower gardens, little stalls with fruit, etc). And soon the road indeed took us through amazing passes, high (sometimes rainy) peaks and sunny valleys. Our first stop along the route was in Toktogul, a relatively large village at the shores of the Toktogul Reservoir. Another almost unreal blue-colored (artificial) lake. We stayed in a simple hotel where we sat outside for a local dinner and where the locals, after around 9 pm, gathered for karaoke. The Blue Beast was parked in the middle of the dance floor and we tried getting some sleep in a room where it was above 30 degrees with the roaring karaoke songs as background music.

IMG_8540 Fruit bert

Dag 1 weg Ttg 1

Pretty tired still, we continued our lovely route south the next morning. And we quickly knew that the scenery we saw the day before was overshadowed by what we saw on the second part. The road along the shore of the Toktogul Reservoir was absolutely stunning and after that the road started to follow the course of the Naryn River, a turqoiuse-colored wide, meandering river in between high mountainsides. Around every corner of the pass we had to stop again to make pictures. The river continued for quite some kilometres until the road suddenly diverted from it and in no time we were driving in a kind of deserty area – dry, sand everywhere, hardly any green areas. A huge contrast.

IMG_8550 Dag 2 weg

IMG_8561 IMG_8565

IMG_8556

Our final destination that day was the village of Arslanbob, famous for its walnut forest (the biggest in the world) and two beautiful waterfalls. We had to make a detour of about 40 km from the Bishkek-Osh route to get there. Funny thing was that the pictures of Arslanbob, in the travel books, showed white mountain tops, streams of melting water, rocky roads and green forests/trees, etc… Driving in what seems a real desert made it hard to imagine that within 40 km we would be in another, completely different scenery again. But it was true!

We don’t know how and when it happened, but at a certain point we turned a corner and there were the mountains, streams and trees. The village is nice and almost fairytale like. The best places to spend the night in villages like Arslanbob are in ‘homestays’ where you sleep in the house of a local family that takes care of you and cooks for you. We were very lucky with our family – they had an amazing garden with flowers, many chickens (and even more family members), a super large room and even a hot shower. Dinner was great and we needed an early night.

Homestay 2 Homestay 1

The next morning the family was disappointed that we would leave already. Even asking us if we didn’t like the homestay as we were already leaving after one night. We guaranteed them that we enjoyed it a lot and they were wonderful hosts. Then we left for a hike to the ‘Large’ waterfall. We could drive up quite a distance and then parked our car in an open field from which we would do the rest of the trail by foot. At a certain point we had the choice between two tracks leading up to the waterfall and I think we choose the wrong one. It started off nice and easy, not that steep uphill, but it changed in a matter of seconds when we hit the mountainside along the waterfall. Rock climbing almost vertically upwards, not looking back (nor to the left where the cliff went straight down), looking for the track sometimes, not seeing any other people (made us think that they probably knew that was the ‘wrong’ track). It was scary, really scary, but when we finally reached the top, the view of the 80 meter high waterfall was great and even greater was the fact that we could take the ‘right’ choice track back down :-).

Gr WF Gr WF Bert

IMG_7320

There was also a ‘small’ waterfall in Arslanbob, and although Bert had had its fair share of waterfalls (and climbing up to see them) that day, I insisted we took a look at the small one as well. To the small one we could even get closer by car, leaving only a 15 min walk to get there. The path to this waterfall was much more exploited with kiosks with souvenirs along the way and little children playing with the falling water while eating cotton candy. We stayed there for maybe 2 min, took a picture, went back to car and left Arslanbob to continue our route for the final part to Osh. This part of the road was nice, but nothing special. It took us a couple of hours to reach Osh where we arrived in the afternoon.

IMG_7325

And here we are, in Osh, the second largest city of Kyrgyzstan with a good vibe (what you might not expect after the riots in 2010). We have a private apartment here, in an old Soviet building (dark, not very colourful and basic), but with two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, bathroom etc. We visited the park and a nice beer garden yesterday evening and are using today for emailing, shopping, visiting the bazaar (one of the most famous ones along the Silk Route), etc. Tomorrow morning we will get our GBAO, the permit necessary to drive on the Pamir Highway. We will leave directly after and are ready for a new country – we will enter Tajikistan if all goes well, at a border post on an altitude of 4200 m.

 

3 Responses to Mountain Roads, Waterfalls and Walnuts

  1. Astrid

    Wat een geweldige reis maken jullie. Leuk om te zien hoe mooi het landschap is, onverwacht mooi !

  2. Yoyo

    Hi Mirian, it was like a reading a great book for your travel blog. i am happy to know that you have already back home, i sent you messages many times by we chat, but without your reply,you do not use it any more?your bank card is still here, waiting for your reply.
    Yoyo

  3. frugal living

    Would love to constantly get updated great blog!

Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>