A Travellerspoint blog


semi-overcast 12 °C

Because of the delayed time schedule since the Tajikistan border mess we have now an extra day before the Chinese border as it is closed during the weekends and we couldn't make before Friday. So we divide the remaining 80 km from Sary Tash to Irkeshtam (border China) into two days taking into account the very poor road and possibly bad weather. This also allows a little extra time on Saturday morning for a car excursion 50 km downwards the Kyzyl-Suu to catch a view of Pik Lenina (7134 m), second highest point of the snow-covered Pamir mountain range. This mountain range is visible all along the road to Irkeshtam.
The nighstay is the highest of the entire journey: camping at 3400 m altitude and even some very light snowflakes in the morning. We rearrange our luggage to be sent to Europe with our car that will turn back at the Chinese border.

Pik Lenina

This is the road that leads to China - and to China only

Camping at altitude 3400 m

GPS and photos: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=25139

Posted by Lent 03:23 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Comments (0)

Silk Road - highest point

Over the Taldyk pass 3620 m

semi-overcast 10 °C

Elevation profile Taldyk pass

The pass leads to the Kyzyl-Suu drainage basin, which forms a wide east-west extending valley plain at 3000-3400 m altitude. Before entering this completely tundraic environment, you need to climb the Taldyk pass at 3620 m, both the thin air and the gradient being the main challenges. And on the top of course a very strong and chilly wind, not inviting anybody for a long stay.
After this downhill to the village of Sary-Tash at the crossroads to Tajikistan and China.


Serpentines winding up to the Taldyk pass

GPS and photos: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=25205

Posted by Lent 03:04 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Comments (0)

Up the Karadaja valley

View Route Olympia - China on Lent's travel map.

From the pass down to the town of Gulcho on 1600 m the road is in reasonably good shape, which it tends to be a few kilometres before and after each village. From Gulcho upwards the valley slopes are treeless but fell-like green and an excellent study terrain for landforms of mass wasting in the soft reddish marl-type bedrock and the thick river sediments: screes, solifluction, thalys cones and the like.
Wild camping for the chilly night a few kilometres upwards from the village of Kichi-Karakol. The low air pressure at close to 2600 mtres altitude makes itself felt in frequent breath cathing.

Poor road conditions on a rainy day


Camping at 2600 m altitude. Guess what the brown heaps are.

GPS and photos: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=25211

Posted by Lent 09:05 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Comments (0)

To the Chigirchik pass 2406 m

semi-overcast 25 °C
View Route Olympia - China on Lent's travel map.

Enclosed premises for camping near the city centre in Osh, but the gate unlocked: during the second night the thieves came and stole shoes, helmets, air pumps and camping gear. Nothing valuable, but everything irreplaceble in the middle of Asia.
The road to Irkeshtam starts from Osh with a fairly gentle rise, but the asphalt ends right outside the city. The first 60 km are under reconstruction, making cycling a dusty business. The serpentines up to the pass are not yet affected by the road works, but rotting asphalt with plenty of sizeable holes and gravel is a choice between bad and worse.
The pass area is settled with yurts. On the pass itself we found the only solid building - in yurt style - just big enough to squeeze in 20 people with their matresses and sleeping bags for the rainy night.

Kilometres cycled: 66.8. Height metres climbed: 1437

Yurts in the Chigirchik area

GPS and photos: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=25234

Posted by Lent 05:12 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Comments (0)



sunny 30 °C
View Route Olympia - China on Lent's travel map.

Commerce in Osh in 1906 (Photo from Mannerheim collection)

Commerce in Osh May 20, 2008

Last night crossing the border to Kyrgyzstan, a three hour procedure that compares favourably with border formalities in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. They didn't even screen our luggage. The city of Osh is located right behind the border, geographically still part of the Ferghana valley but already at close to 1000m altitude. Thinking positively, 1000m less to climb to the Taldyk pass at 3615m on the upcoming crossing of the Tien-Shan during the next eight days. (It took Mannerheim and Pelliot three months for the same journey but of course they had other business to attend to in 1906.)
So our stay in Kyrgyzstan is short, but Osh is a really lively town with a huge bazaar area and food choice is wider than it was in Uzbekistan - writing this after the first pizza I have had in two months.
Tour management is now busy to sell our support vehicle (Mercedes Sprinter) as it can't be taken into China and everybody has been requested to revise personal luggage and prepare for an indefinite number of kilometres after the Chinese border with all luggage on bike! The time schedule is now to set out into the mountains tomorrow Wednesday May 21, cross the border to China on Monday 26 May and arrive the following Wednesday in Kashgar.
The passes on the way are Chigirchik (KG, 2406m), Taldyk (KG, 3615m) and Karabel (CN, 2931m). We expect very poor road conditions. In fact the entire way up to Irqesh Tam is remainder of the Cold War between the USSR and China. So conditions are really little better than what Mannerheim experienced a hundred years ago...

Rest day in Osh/Kyrgyzstan: preparing for crossing Tien-Shan

Posted by Lent 07:21 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Comments (1)

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