After the very very hot Uzbekistan, I was enormously relieved to finally ride into the colder and more mountainous Kyrgyzstan!
People here are very hospitable and with the little bit of Russian I learned, I was able to perform some (very basic) conversations, which always ended up in drinking a lot of vodka. Probably to drink away the awkwardness and misunderstandings during our high-end talks. The vodka here is cheap (a few dollars for a bottle), and actually … surprisingly good! Even when they offer it to you at 9 am in the morning…
Driving through the Toktogul District, I bumped upon a funky horse game.
Rugby or polo on horses with a dead goat? It exists! “Buzkashi” or “Kok Boru” is one of the most famous traditional horse riding games in Kyrgyzstan (and central Asia). Goal of the game? Try to throw the goat carcass in the goal!
There are two teams with 12 participants each, which only 4 players of each team are allowed on the field at any time. It is played in two halves of 45 minutes and looks quite exhausting!
Sometimes they hang upside down onto the horse in order to be able to retrieve the goat from the ground. Absolutely amazing!
Riding further towards Bishkek I was surprised by the amazing bitumen! The Tieo Ashuu mountain pass in Kyrgyzstan was just truly mesmerising! Great views, no cars, nice weather and perfect cornering. For once I wished I had a street bike…
Off road heaven and abandoned buildings
Since I’m in off road heaven, I decided to do a 4-day loop deep in the mountains crossing the Tosor pass, which has some notorious reviews online. Let’s see how my Belle will handle this 4000m high rocky pass! On my way to Tosor I passed by the Aalam Ordo complex near Issyk-kul lake. Constructed in 2009, It was a centre supposed to be for science, culture and spirituality. The community would live in more than 360 yurts. The former president’s vision was grand and they hoped to foster a new generation which could bring a nobel prize to Kyrgyzstan. Unfortunately it failed and is now abandoned. Yurts, fading murals and some statues are the only thing that’s left…
Climbing up the 4000 m alt. pass was hard. It was snowing, my engine was having a hard time due to lack of oxygen but I was enjoying the views and ride! Grass, gravel, rivers, mountains, snow, cold weather, difficult terrain, insufficient engine power and great views, this pass has it all! Going down the other side, I entered a lovely valley! It stopped snowing, the sky cleared a bit and from time to time the sun was able to cast her last rays onto the meandering river. This must be the perfect place to set up camp. So let’s do it and set up camp for the day!
After snowfall and rain comes sunshine, or at least for a while. The weather in the Kyrgyzstan mountains is quite unpredictable. The night before, I woke up with a nice blanket of fresh snow and now it’s back to “normal” with a nice sunny day and some rainbows ahead!
Arriving at a local hot spring, I met a local family with their children. Every time I’m surprised how happy, curious and spontaneous (and sometimes a bit shy) they are! It was probably the first time they saw a tourist on a motorcycle! After giving them some biscuits I got, they started to giggle. Now it’s time for that family picture!
Too deep to handle
River crossing after river crossing I continue my way down this fairytale valley. Knee-deep I was wading my way through the last rivers but unfortunately they became too big because of all the rain higher up the mountains. No way I’m gonna make it through this last river! A dozer had tried to fix the fort but as a result of the high current, several rocks were constantly coming loose again and it would be a suicide mission if crossing. A horsekeeper came by with his herd and guided his horses belly-deep through it. Just crazy! My steel horse wouldn’t stand a chance.
I kindly say “G’day” to some australian mates who were there on a mountain bike trip and set up camp for the night. Next day the river level did drop a bit but unfortunately not to my desires. I figure out a plan and start moving some rocks in the river to divert the water and make some kind of ford. After 30 minutes some locals started helping me and by 9 am we diverted the whole river and made a proper ford! Minutes later they get the vodka out and pass the bottle for a victory round (they also needed to cross the river with their car). Time to get that motorbike across! (hopefully in one try after that wodka…).
After these intense river crossings and high mountain passes, cruising through the Eki-Naryn Gorge and green landscapes was quite amazing and peaceful. Kyrgyzstan is one of my favourite countries concerning nature diversity and off-road possibility.
A Reunion party at 3000 m
There was a national horse game festival at the remote Song Kul lake (3000m alt.) in the middle of the mountains and I would meet there with some german and dutch friends I met in turkey. We drove together for a few weeks and I hadn’t seen them for months so it will be an awesome reunion. On the way to the lake, I came across this beauty of a mountain pass! Perfect gravel corners, endless grass fields, rolling hills, wild horses and awesome views!
During the hotter summer months only a bunch of nomad people and shepherds live near the lake. In winter it’s desolated since this place gets as cold as -30°C with even a record of -54°C!
I met up with my friends, watched some horse games (goat polo, daughter stealing, races, etc…), rode some horses with the setting sun and by surprise they were throwing an amazing bonfire party during the evening with pounding music! Who would have thought there would be an amazing lake party at 3000m with cheap beers, vodka and naked girls! Well… the latter might not be true.. But that’s up to you to figure that out when you’re traveling to Kyrgyzstan.
I am truly amazed by all the crazy and beautiful valleys I discovered in Kyrgyzstan! Green grassy fields and hills, snowy mountain tops, wild horses, peaceful river streams and endless tracks and mountain passes resulting in amazing Off roading: Tosor pass, Uch emchek Valley, Eki Narin Gorge, kok jarti Pass, Song Köl lake, Moldo Ashuu pass and many more!