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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)

Taldyk pass Kyrgyzstan

In 2012 I took the epic journey across Central Asia and into China, following Alexander the Great to the Jade Gate in China.

One of the most draw dropping journeys was in Kyrgyzstan and the Pamir Highway. Stopping at many places and looking at the Untouched Earth. The mountain Passes were stunning.

Taldyk Pass is a high mountain pass that separates the Fergana Valley from the Chon-Alai. The pass located in Osh Region, 160 kilometers south of the city of Osh.
The Taldyk Pass is one of the most popular passes in Kyrgyzstan. The height of the pass is 3,600 meters and it is a kind of gateway to one of the highest and most beautiful roads in the world – the Pamir Highway.

The northern slope of the pass is famous for its steep serpentine, from which spectacular views of the Ferghana valley are opened. The first road here was laid at the end of the XIX century and this event was an important landmark of one of the most interesting colonial confrontations of the Russian Empire and Great Britain for control of Central Asia, called the “Big Game”.

A rare feature of Taldyk is that it is open all year round, despite the high altitude. On the roadside, through the pass you can see a monument built in honor of Yuri Frantsevich Grushko, an engineer who participated in the design and construction of the road

Posted by TheJohnsons 00:11 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Tagged sky view nature landscape travel mountain green grass scenery blue valley panorama summer beautiful aerial himalayas highway road scenic high central trip asian rocky path asia tourism outdoor windy pass himalaya alps outdoors andes dramatic valleys kyrgyzstan background pamir yaks curve graze winding curvy taldyk serpentines taldok Comments (0)

Arslanbob to Bishkek and the Tuu Ashuu Pass (Kyrgyzstan)

The epic journey in Kyrgyzstan didn't finish in Arslenbob, but continued on our way to Bishkek.

Through some of the most desolately beautiful World. One of the most exciting and scary tunnel journeys I have ever done, is the main Bishkek-Osh road, which passes over a number of high mountain passes – Tuu Ashu (Flag Pass) crosses the Kyrgyz Range at 3588 meters, but a tunnel under the pass means that vehicle do not have to climb right to the summit.

The Tuu Ashu pass is kept open all year round – it is such an important route – the only route between the North and South of the country for much of the year.

Other passes over the Kyrgyz range are closed right until the height of summer .

The scenery I am sure you will agree more than makes up for it, and always I felt like an intrepid explorer doing this journey.

Posted by TheJohnsons 04:17 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Tagged mountains sky snow water view nature landscape scene canyon travel mountain lake grass river adventure scenery clouds valley panorama summer way no beautiful wild hill national rock road person summit scenic high land spring central rocky asia gorge tourism outdoor pass shan peak cloud outdoors silk colorful environment range kyrgyzstan background Comments (0)

The Wakhan Valley

This is a longer than my usually video but documents the stunning Valley and mountains of the great Pamirs and stunning views of the Hindu Kusch. A road totalling 440 km it covers the full journey along the Wakhan Corridor of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

All the images were taken with my Canon 1100D and my two lenses the Canon Kit lens 18-55 mm and the Tamron 70-300mm(which I used mostly for this journey)

Welcome to my pictures from the Wakhan Valley. This was a journey through some of the most breath taking, unspoilt places on this Earth in 2012.

We picked up our car in Dushanbe and took the Wakhan corridor to Khorog and then onto mugharb, then the epic crossing to Osh in Kyrgystan. This is a longer than my usually video but documents the stunning Valley and mountains of the great Pamirs and stunning views of the Hindu Kusch. A road totalling 440Km

General info: Courtesy of; https://againstthecompass.com/en/wakhan-valley-tajikistan/ A guide to the Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan The Wakhan Valley is a mountainous region which belongs to the Pamir and Hindu Kush ranges, most of it being part of northeast Afghanistan.

For centuries, the Wakhan Valley was an important principality of the famous Kushan, a great empire which extended from southeast Tajikistan to the Ganges Valley itself in India. For this reason, despite being a very mountainous area, in the valley you find several fortresses located on the top of very high hills, offering the most epic and impressive views ever.

Historically, the region served as a division line between west and east Asia, so the valley became an important Silk Road route as well. In the 20th century, it also marked a clear border between the Soviet Union and the British Empire. With all this historical context, its incredible landscape, and awesome people, the Wakhan Valley is the ultimate adventure and a place you can’t miss in your journey through Tajikistan. By the way, even though most of the valley is in Afghan territory, the Lower Wakhan is located in Tajikistan which, unlike the Afghanistan Wakhan Corridor, is very easy to visit with just a bit of planning, a little money and following the advice shown in this comprehensive guide to the Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:08 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains sky water desert view wildlife nature park hiking landscape travel mountain river rocks clouds valley panorama holiday summer way life beautiful countryside hill day stone farm wilderness highway road shore cliff sunny flood asia tourism outdoor wallpaper corridor altitude riverside tajikistan pamirs wakhan afghanistan panj pamir khorog badakhshan wachan Comments (0)

Tajikistan


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

Tajikistan-Introduction

Well to be honest we ummed and awed about going to Tajikistan, If I remember rightly we spent three days in Tashkent(over a weekend) deciding what direction we wanted to go into next!(we always knew Tashkent was a bit of a crossroads for us)I know you are wondering why we had not planned all our trip from start to finish, the idea was that we had a date pretty fixed (Turkmenistan’s fault) up to that point, and as we all know visas are not so flexible, they all want a start and finish date, and either a “where are you going next?” or a “Have you got an exit?” paperwork first. We knew we wanted to go Kyrgyzstan try and get through to China and we had to get our Kyrgz visa and Tajik in Tashkent if we were (see visa section). What we wanted at this point was a degree of flexibility. Well reasons debated were – Visa & its cost, cost, our own physical abilities, what we wanted to see etc.

Well I just want to say I am so glad we did, it’s a “no brainer” really! On all counts,Tajikistan meets all our concerns and then some. We have been absolutely wowed by the North, the SevenLakesof Shing, or their official name the Margozar Lakes, the stunning FanMountains, which no one should miss if they have time in their itinerary.

The first part of our stay in Tajikistan we did independently from Khojand [Khojand-travel-guide-1358665] –Istavarashan-Pendjikent. We booked our Northern,Fan Mountain trip through ZDTA in Penjikent, who managed to organise us transport and a guide in one hour. Be aware that we ended up with a private car and NOT a 4x4 as advertised, which did prove to come up short on more than one occasion. If you do book with them (yes we did email in advance but got no reply) be firm and insist on a 4x4. Their guide was superb and a credit to the company and gets paid way to little compared to other guides.

We visited six out of the seven lakes, stayed in some lovely homestay with some genuine and very hospitable peoples. They will be reviewed separately.

We stayed at Hamsafar Homestay/Guesthouse in Dushanbe, we arranged this through ZDTA, but had already had it in our sites of places to stay when we were researching Tajikistan. A creditworthy stopover for any traveller.

We had also decided that we would like to travel through the Wakhan corridor, down to the Afghan market at Ishkashim(which the Taliban managed to scupper), and through the Pamirs, we started in Dushanbe-Kala-I Khum-Khorog-Wakhan Valley-Bibbi Fatima Springs-Langar-Alichur, before finding that Angela did actually suffer from altitude sickness which hit her at 4,200mtrs, and having to make a hasty detour to Murghab(yes we had already stayed at 3,600mtrs at Alichur [Alichur-travel-guide-1193157] without incident), but remember at the higher altitudes smaller hundreds of mtrs makes a big difference to the body. So Murghab it was and Angela recovered well enough for us to spend two nights here before our progress onto Osh.

We booked this part of our journey through Pamir Guides with a Mitsubishi Pajero, more than man enough for the terrain we encountered. We delighted in the hot spring at Bibbi Fatima and thoroughly enjoyed our first stay in a Yurt at Alichur, where we enjoyed Yak Yoghurt and cream,(unpasteurised) and yes it is lovely, saw Yaks being milked etc. The scenery of the Wakhan and Pamirs is stunning, waterfalls, Snow topped mountains of the Hindu Kush, coupled along with desert environments, Geysers and abundance of wildlife made this a fascinating place to journey through. That is why I am only doing this short section of Blog; I will upload the pictures will I know will speak for themselves! I will add short editorials to accompany some of them.

Posted by TheJohnsons 00:11 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains sky architecture sunset view nature park landscape monument culture history traditional travel mountain trekking town lake city soviet building famous panorama holiday summer beautiful country hill top national stone skyline tourist scenic central destinations evening asia tourism historic state landmark peak wallpaper structure freedom government symbol tajikistan dushanbe pamir Comments (0)

The Fann Mountains

During my Silk Route trip across Central Asia I spent some of the best time I had in Tajikistan. In the North there are the Fann mountains and the seven lakes of shing, which are stunning. Here in this show you will see my view of these awesome mountains form my stop in an unmapped village called Sargob. Breathtaking views ans stunning blue skies (yes they really are that blue!) are worth the effort. Unlike most of the mountain ranges in Central Asia, the Fann showcases a unique blend of barren and verdant outlooks. Nestled amidst high mountains you will come across traditional villages and picturesque green meadows, turquoise lakes, gurgling rivers, and scenic valleys. Tajikistan is a paradise for mountain lovers, and as the Fann range is only a few hours driving from the Tajikistan capital, Dushanbe, you can combine trekking with an immerse cultural experience. On a footnote the music entitled "fond memories" was a perfect match and did remind me along with the images of "fond memories" of my time there.

Posted by TheJohnsons 23:40 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains sky snow water view nature park hiking landscape scene travel vacation mountain trekking lake green adventure sport scenery blue panorama summer beautiful top national rock stone road scenic high central destination reflection natural asia tourism recreation outdoor peak extreme tajikistan background pamir tranquil mountaineering terrain fann Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Tha Abandoned ships at Moynaq

One of the most profound journeys I took was from Nukus to Moynaq in Uzbekistan. To the last port on the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan, which is a sea no more. The desolation caused by the overfishing and redirection of the "inland sea" left this desert of a town like something from the wild west movies. And still even more stark it has happened in as many years as I have been on the planet. After visiting the ships graveyard, I was able to visit the "Cannery" where the fish was processed on mass for export mainly to the Ukraine.

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:54 Archived in Uzbekistan Tagged sea desert boat nature landscape ship cemetery lake soviet ecology waste panorama sand port ships dead bark graveyard change warming shipwreck dry asia environmental salt wreck global rust environment climate ruin arid disaster rusty uzbekistan abandoned kazakhstan ecological carcass apocalypse wreckage catastrophe desolation moynaq devastation aral rusting desertification dryness Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Ürümqi

In 2012 I crossed from Kyrgyzstan in the the Western corner of north China, along my one month journey across China, I stopped at many places and this is a quick snapshot of one of my favourite Chinese Cities, Ürümqi. A very big city that has managed to keep hold of it's historical architecture and modern buildings in an eclective mix. Along with three amazing and beautifully landscaped parks along with their own historical buildings which have been made central features to value them and where they can be appreciated by many.

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:26 Archived in China Tagged art people trees sky snow architecture view nature park landscape traditional street travel mountain lake urban scenery city china blue white building panorama summer hill day office skyline tourist cityscape reflection asian natural beauty asia image tourism chinese outdoor landmark cloud skyscrapers outdoors modern skyscraper xinjiang urumqi uyghur artificial 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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