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What to see in Karakol-Kyrgyzstan

Located at the crossroads of Central Asia, the city of Karakol in eastern Kyrgyzstan is a fascinating gateway to the region's diverse history, cuisine, and nature. Many unique cultures contribute to the town's culinary history and cultural heritage: Kyrgyz, Tatar, Russian, Dungan, Uighur, Kalmyk, Uzbek, and more. And with both the Tian Shan Mountains and Lake Issyk-Kul nearby, you'll discover limitless outdoor adventure .

This video will show you through some of the more "local" things and places I visited whilst there. Bearing in mind this was photographed by me back in 2012.

I hope it gives you a flavour of the place....

Posted by TheJohnsons 08:26 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Tagged mountains trees sky architecture water view nature park hiking landscape culture temple religion scene travel church mountain green tree river adventure scenery blue valley building panorama summer beautiful heritage wild hill national rock old scenic forest central natural asia ancient tourism historic outdoor landmark peak outdoors alpine kyrgyzstan kyrgyz karakol Comments (0)

The Big Year Out- Jeti Oguz


View The Big Year Out & Photos of us & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.

large_1842667_13461539308537.jpgJeti Oguz

What is Jeti Oguz? I thought to myself when I first heard it being banded about as a destination. Well I can tell you now some of the most amazing and beautiful places I have seen so far inKyrgyzstan. Our drive took us approx 20km outside Karakol [Karakol-travel-guide-1019301] before veering off to the right and entering a much rougher road than we had previously experienced in this region. As we drove through the very wide valley we saw the high mountains in the distance both sides. Stunning! We noticed as we came into the narrower part of the valley the extreme red sandstone colour of the hills around us. Much like the Red sandstone found in ranges in theUS. Our carrier stopped just around an area called the broken heart formation, for obvious reasons the two large chunks of red rock looked like a broken heart, in two pieces (pics).large_1842667_13461539311268.jpg Behind us looked like some very nice hills, in front of them by the roadside were a collection of mobile beehives and vendors selling natural honey harvested in the summer season only. Next to these were a couple of Bird of Prey “Hawkers”. These were not your real traditional Hawkers, but ones that were “hawking” on the tourists. Takai warned us that if we started taking pictures they would start asking for money. I chose along with the rest of the group to ignore them and walk after our guide who informed us that we had a quick twenty minutes to walk to a lovely vantage point where we could photograph the “broken heart” rocks and view the vista around us. He was right, the view was great and we got some lovely shots of the rocks.large_1842667_13461539314161.jpg

Onwards we went, about another 150mtrs to our main walk in this area, the Dragon back Gorge. We were altogether in this walk and I was wowed by the sheer redness of the crumbling sandstone. A small stream worked its way through with us and we passed Kyrgyz folk with their Yurt and horses. Using the natural shape of the cliff breaks to create sheep pens. Newly fallen giant boulders reminded us that we should be careful of the fragile rock walls around us. Along this bit of the valley I did see and picture some flora and fauna, but the main event was the gorge.

When we reached nearly the end of the bit we could do, our group split into two, our guide, Talai took the other group and they started to climb what looked like a very steep ascent to the hill in front of us, whilst Angela and I walked back round with Talai’s dad, who coincidently started all the tours Takai does now.large_1842667_13461539322999.jpg We got back to the vehicle after about 30mins and crossed the road to take a closer look at the raging river that banked the other side of the road. A rest was welcome for my back at this point. About 30mins after that we spotted the second group coming over the hill approx quart of a mile ahead, so got back into the car to pick them up.

We continued along the road for a few kilometres when we stopped at The Valley of flowers (no flowers now as they flower during spring and early summer). Talai walked us up to a stunning view point which was quite steep in places, but as I looked back about half way up I could see the climb was worth it. As I reached the top I could see the huge rolling Jailoo below us with a huge linear forest of pine trees planted in between two large camps of Yurts.large_1842667_13461539321717.jpgDragon Back CAnyon with our group for scale, stunning rock formations here.This was planted for Gagarin by the Russians as he used to visit this valley to help him acclimatise after his visits in space. How nice (depends on your point of view) these trees are all in rows back dropping some beautiful mountains. To the left is a huge Jailoo pasture which had several Yurt camps and plenty of horses to match and on the right of the trees is another Yurt camp with a break before the mountain where you can walk to a waterfall. We all stopped for half an hour to catch our breath and then made our way back down to the vehicle. Picnic time! Except Talai had forgotten the tomatoes and cucumber, so our salad was a bit sparse. Takai took the group off to the waterfall; I stayed behind with his dad as A. my back had had enough and B. I could see the very large black rain cloud, I think Takai could too. I spent some time taking pictures walking through the Pine forest. Sure enough I was right, after about half an hour Angela returned with the rain on her back, and it poured.

We returned through the valley to the homestay and everyone agreed that they had had a lovely day.

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Posted by TheJohnsons 23:42 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Tagged sky desert view nature hiking landscape canyon travel mountain seven village grass tree blue valley summer beautiful hill red rock stone formation scenic central asia gorge tourism outdoor landmark shan design pattern abstract bulls range sandstone texture kyrgyzstan tian background kyrgyz kul geological karakol jeti jeti-oguz oguz issyk issyk-kul kirghizia Comments (0)

The Big Year Out- Karakol


View The Big Year Out & Photos of us & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.

large_1842667_1346155130923.jpgKarakol

We arrived in Karakol [Karakol-travel-guide-1019301] from Tamchy on Saturday lunchtime (well about2.00pmto be precise). We got the driver from our taxi to drop us off outside the CBT office which I cannily spotted on the way into the town. Well outside door open but inside door shut! Across the road we crossed to the Tourist Information office which also has great English speaking staff, success! We were asked how close to town? How much did we want to pay? Toilet inside or outside? Etc. We got directed to Teskeys (under hotel reviews). We also asked about getting about the town and we were offered a great town map which at the time of writing was 100com, which really was great value and invaluable for buses and sights, names of streets (rare here).large_1842667_13461551302629.jpgDungan Mosque, it's hard to believe that this was built using NO nails!Our other enquires were aimed at trips out to Jeti Oguz [Jeti-Oguz-travel-guide-1354514] and Altyn Arashan, the first one for the scenery and the valley of the flowers and Altyn for the natural hot springs that we had heard about. The young woman (all of the tourist info office is manned by volunteer University students) at the TIO told us all the ways we could get there by buses, or shared taxis, or private taxi, oooor taxi with guide. All with their appropriate prices. No hard sell, great. We decided that we would discuss and get back to her if needed. We walked to our homestay/guesthouse it was hot, and the side streets are not so good for pulling trolley holdalls! We found it and Takai was kind enough to come out and help us in with our bags and show us to a lovely cool room.large_1842667_13461551318986.jpg

Our first night’s meal we went to a restaurant called Kench, just a couple of streets away and mentioned in LP. Takai also gave it his endorsement so off we went. Angela had a lovely fish dish and I had a Chicken and sweet pepper dish common here inKyrgyzstan. Real “ice tea” made from cold tea and lemon wedges…so much more refreshing than tins or plastic bottled variety you commonly get everywhere in CA.

We had already decided that we wanted to go to Jeti Oguz & Altyn Arashan; we spoke with Takai as we noticed he had lots of info about tours that he arranged himself for Jeti Oguz and the surrounding area. We were clear that we were not fit enough for tough hiking; Takai said “no worries”. We spent the next day doing a town tour by ourselves.large_1842667_13461551329009.jpg We visited the mosque made with “no nails” no not a squishy caulk used for fixing skirting boards, but no nails were used in it’s construction, Dungan in style it is still a working mosque so headscarves were donned. My first taste of Chinese architecture this side ofChina!

I was particularly on the hunt for local Architecture so our next stop round town was the Russian Orthodox Church (always an interest to me as my mother is Greek Orthodox,and although I am not religious,I am aware that the two churches share many similarities). This one had originally been made of stone but destroyed by earthquake and replace with a totally timber offering. Looking at it I could see how much loving work had gone into it’s the carving and decoration (on the outside).large_1842667_13461554866487.jpgLook No Nails!Inside the Dungan Mosque, which really does not look like a mosque as we know it.I spent quite a lot of time walking round the outside and taking pics of different angles. Inside was beautiful too, with the typical saints on display and candle turns for prayers and worship. The dome had some very clear and almost new looking paintings with various saints and of course Jesus. No pics were allowed indoors as is usual with very much working orthodox churches in this region.

We left the grounds of the Orthodox Church to be greeted outside the front gate by an old colonial building, now a pedagogical society building. Very grand and with quite a nice large front garden area which seemed to be a good dropping off point for the mini buses that were stopping to let the Russian tourists get off. Further along the road behind the church, we found further examples of colonial buildings, windows ornate and many of them on the sides of these huge buildings.large_1842667_13461554863377.jpg One in particular, a wealthy merchant’s house was a very good example of Soviet style Architectural colonialism. Now a Youth Volunteer organisations training centre, you could see its former glory even in it’s so very poor and sad state. Alongside it on both sides of the street were more single storey buildings of the same era, no doubt lesser minions lived in these. We made our way back into the town centre to eat a well earned lunch with the thought of taking it easy after lunch and meandering back to the guest house, picking up money from the numerous ATMs in Karakol and some meds from the also many, Aptekas, or pharmacy.

Next day started at eight with breakfast with a set off at nine. We were being joined by four other tourists, a French couple and a Belgian couple, both in not so dissimilar age’s group to ourselves. Good company as we had all got chatting nicely the evening before. Takai’s dad was also coming with us for us slow coaches! A Mitsubishi people carrier met our eyes on the front drive; we all piled in on our first trip Jeti Oguz.

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Posted by TheJohnsons 23:41 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Tagged sky snow architecture horses view nature landscape religion scene travel church mountain lake green grass river adventure blue valley building panorama summer cathedral hill old resort animal tourist scenic forest high central asia gorge tourism orthodox dome outdoor landmark shan alpine range wooden kyrgyzstan christianity tian kyrgyz kul karakol issyk-kul Comments (0)

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