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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Kyrgyzstan - 15 August, 2002



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Bush camp, Kürp-Say Reservoir N41º35.142' E072º33.427' 736 meters .
Ala-Bel Pass . . 3,175 meters .
Finish Bush camp near Kyzl-Oy N41º55.462' E074º09.461' 1,707 meters 325 km


1,203 km


Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny, warm/hot.  Cool in the shade.  Clear in the evening and night.  Cold overnight.



Another day of driving on our way to Song Kul Lake.  We have an early start, so we are up at 6 AM to pack up our tent.  But we did laze a bit in our sleeping bag to enjoy the rays of the sun rise reflecting off the canyon walls.  After breakfast, we packed up the truck and headed off for the day.  But first our morning exercise - we had to walk up the steep dirt path to the road while the truck drove up without any passengers.  Gave us a chance to take some great pictures and get some exercise.


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We drive on the road that hugs the canyon wall above the narrow, winding reservoir, passing through the numerous check points along the way.  The canyon gives way to arid, rain swept mountains.  Numerous cemeteries dot the the landscape.  We need to take the long way around as the short cut that is shown on the map apparently no longer exists.  We stop for lunch on the side of the road.


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In the afternoon we drive further into the mountains and it becomes more green and fertile.  There are valleys and rivers that are dotted with yurt huts.  It all is only marred by the constant presence of the extremely high tension power lines that carry the energy generated by the massive turbines at the many dams that dot the area.


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We reach the Ala-Bel Pass at 3,175 meters just before 3 PM.  We stop for a rest and to take pictures of the yurt huts.  The local people working or hanging out in front of the yurts beckon us over.  They want to chat with us and ask where we are from.  They immediately offer us a bowl of fermented mare's milk and kurut, small balls of dried fermented cow's milk.  Not our favorite, but we must be polite and at least try some.  It tastes as you would imagine.  They let us take pictures and then we have to head on.


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We head into a broad valley with a flat base and steep mountains in the distance.  After driving for a while, we turn off and head into a narrow valley where the cliff walls come straight down to the white water of the river that passes through the bottom of the valley.  The sky has cleared and we begin the search for a bush camp.  We see a few spots, but we want to make more progress, so we head on.


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In the end, just before 6 PM, we do find a nice spot near Kyzl-Oy along the river with a view down the valley.  We set up our tent on a patch of sand right near the river's edge.  A great camp site.  The moon is slowly growing and we watch it set over the mountain behind us.  It will be nice when it is full.  After dinner, we hang around the fire and just enjoy the serenity of the place.  The stars are very clear here.


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We head off to bed and lay back in our sleeping bag and watch the stars sparkle in the sky.  As the moon sets further behind the mountain on one side, the light of the moon slowly disappears from the mountain on the other side of the river.  We fall asleep to the rush of the nearby white water of the river.


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