Nomads of Kyrgyzstan

Descending to Osh

The descent from the Tajik border to Kyrgyzstan is amazing. Mountains in all kinds of different colors. In the background one of the highest mountains of the Pamir, Lenin Peak of 7,000+ meters. Along a river we set up camp together with John and Fern from England. Several times we cycled a part of the Pamir Highway together. After setting up camp we take a dip in the cold river. In the evening we sit together and take a look in our ‘food’ bags. John has pasta and a carrot. We still have some tomato paste and an onion. It will be a feast! 😉

Mountains in different colors

Camping with John & Fern

Beautiful descent along yurts and cattle

The next morning we have a strong tailwind. We even go down a little bit. We cycle along green grasslands with yurts, nomad families, large herds of horses, yaks, sheep and goats. In the first village we exchange some dollars for Kyrgyz som. We couldn’t be happier when we entered the little shop. We found fresh bread, cheese, eggs, sausages, chocolate spread, real chocolate bars. John cooks the eggs on the sidewalk of the shop. And we go back inside to buy more. Also for lunch and dinner of course. We continue with our bags packed with food. We cycle to Osh in about three days, the second city in Kyrgyzstan. Usually downhill except a big pass halfway. Until a man with a small van offers us a lift on the ascent. Okay.. because he insisted so much 😉 . He drops us off at the top and without pushing the pedals we roll the last kilometers to Osh.

Views on the way to Osh

A break at the Brio

The last three weeks we dreamed about Brio. A trendy restaurant with western food, where all cyclists end up after the Pamir Highway.. Of course, we will go there during the rest days that we have planned in Osh. We also stay often in our hotel room and watch some series. Twice a day a trip to the Brio: hamburger with fries, baked potatoes with chicken, pancakes, salads and even a proper cheesecake! It’s special how much we enjoy the food. As if we have not had some good food for months. After five nights we notice that we’re spending way more money than when cycling. Time to continue..

Through the Kyrgyz mountains

From Osh to Jalal-Abad we decide to take a lift. The road is busy, cars drive dangerously and we are in a bit of a hurry. It doesn’t take long before we are picked up by a small van. There are three men inside. The oldest man, who is in the back with us, asks if we are a couple. Of course we answer yes, and then he asks, ‘do you have a baby?’ When he hears my answer, the man shakes his head and asks, ‘and how old are you?’ I answer ‘I’m thirty years old.’ The man shakes his head even more. ‘And where is her ring then? And her jewelry?’ I laugh a little uncomfortable, but he is dead serious. He takes his phone and points to January 2019 in the calendar. ‘Then. A baby!’ he says insistently. I nod approvingly..

The road from Jalal-Abad to Soň-Köl

After Jalal-Abad we leave the paved road behind us. The road usually consists of washboard; small hills that were created by fast driving cars. We constantly search for a good path to cycle over. Not only climbing is difficult, also descending over flat sections is difficult.. This means long days of cycling and usually a maximum of 50 kilometers. Despite the bad road, it is wonderful to cycle here. Little traffic, beautiful camp spots everywhere and every evening we are able to bath in a river. Perfect. We climb up to about 3,000 meters towards lake Soň-Köl. A place where many nomads live in summer. As winter approaches, we see the first families already leaving for lower-lying areas or the city. We pitch our tent between the yurts and cattle.

Wonderful cycling along small rivers and yurts

Camping on the shores of Soň-Köl Lake

The World Nomad Games

In a total of ten days we cycle from Jalal-Abad to Issyk Kul lake, where the World Nomad Games start a few days later. An event that is known as the Olympic Games of the nomads in mostly (Central) Asian countries. The activities take place at two locations, in the big stadium and in the Charyn valley. In the stadium we see the national sport of Kyrgyzstan: Kok-Boru. A kind of polo (ball game on a horseback), but with a dead sheep instead of a ball.. There are also special types of wrestling to see, such as wrestling on a horseback and arm wrestling. Cultural activities take place in the valley. We see a huge variety of traditional costumes, traditional music, theater and cooking competitions. But also games with eagles, falcons and dog races. The highlight was the great atmosphere. We are curious about the local people, but they also about us. A great end to our adventure in Central Asia. On to a completely different country, with a complicated language and interesting culture: China!

Kok-Boru team of Afghanistan

Horsewrestling

Mouth guitar concert (Temir Komuz)

Cooking competition with fitting music

Eagle-hunting

Together with the ladies

Traditional clothing

2 Comments on “Nomads of Kyrgyzstan”

  1. Thank you very much for your most interesting reports. We follow them since February 2018, when you spent a night in our house (Dachgeber)Unfortunately I wasn’t at home, but my husband told me about you and your plans. We wish you all the best wherever you travel, Christine dhe Gottfried Keitel

    1. Dear Gottfried and Christine, it’s great to hear that you appreciate our little travel reports, thank you! We have good memories from the night we stayed at your home with Gottfried 🙂 We wish you all the best, Lynn & Robert

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