Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008

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Southern Kyrgyzstan

WolvesKyrgyzstan is a fairytale country, fascinating and enticing by its natural beauty. And it, in the eastern way, hospitably and cordially shares this beauty with each traveler who sets foot in its abundant land. To tell all about the whole Kyrgyzstan at one go it is not practically feasible, as its nature is so diversified and its tourist industry potential is huge. Therefore, we are going to touch upon its most attractive and interesting part - Southern Kyrgyzstan. Thus...

Osh, or as it is often called "the Southern Capital", is the biggest city in the south. Good-natured, hospitable, vivid, and lively, with lots of side-streets, cozy cafes and restaurants, eastern bazaars and the main point of interest the Suleyman-mountain. This mountain rises in the very middle of the city and looks quite effectively and spectacularly against the background of lively and noisy urban life, reminding of the immediate proximity to its majestic brothers the Pamirs.

At all times the Pamirs have attracted the climbers with the complexity and thrilling variety of its well-known and yet unknown paths. Verdure, rocks, waterfalls, narrow and dangerous mountain paths, streams, snow, huge and formidable glaciers all these wonders, covered with the hat of clear blueness of the sky, form that exotic world, that inevitably and irresistibly attracts the mountain fans and travelers from all countries of the world.

This huge country in the territory of Kyrgyzstan is traditionally divided into two parts. The first part Pamiro-Alay is composed of three "five-thousander" ranges (Turkestan, Zaravshan, and Alay) stretching from east to west for more than 750 km; and the second part, certainly, includes the Pamirs represented by the huge "seven-thousander" Zaalay range a vast snowy wall that closes down the access into the central part of the Pamirs.

So, what is so special about the Pamirs? And what unique opportunities and spots of the wild untouched nature, often inaccessible, do these mountains conceal? We are going to try to list and tell about some of the most popular regions of the Pamirs.

Aksu-Karavshin a mecca for climbers and tourists. More than 35 summits here raise above 5000m. The most famous are: Aksu (5355m) with its unconquerable vertical northern wall, more than 1.5km in height, as well as such peaks as the Asan-Usan (4378m) as some fairy-tale twin brothers, Iskander (5120m), Pyramidalniy (5509m), Blok (5289m), and many others that, owing to their peaked summits and vertical walls, have given another name to this place the Asian Patagonia. The region is surprisingly beautiful and quite accessible. The juniper forests, crystal-clear rivers, bright sun, and good paths allow to feel your affinity with the nature; and a cup of fragrant tea with the flavor of a campfire will enable you to enjoy and appreciate the hospitality of the local people. There are perfect opportunities for tracking, climbing, and horse-riding tours.

The Grand Pamirs highway is a unique road connecting the town of Osh with Tadjikistan (the Kyzyl-Art pass) and China (the Irkeshtam pass). The highway runs along the route known as the Great Silk Road, on the tracks of which, in olden times, huge caravans with expensive Chinese silk were moving slowly, heading for faraway Europe. The popularity of the Pamirs highway traveling constantly rises with every passing year. And it is quite natural as there are only two other comparable places in the world: Tibet and the Andes. By the way, if you have decided to take this route, be sure to stay for a night in the yurt camp "Taldyk", at the 141st km of the Pamirs highway. To make a stop at such wonderful place is a sheer pleasure: not only that it is possible to find thickets of real eucalyptuses here, or lose the way among fir-trees, and drink the clear water of a mountain spring; furthermore, you can enjoy delicious meal and have a good rest here. The yurts are fitted out as small cozy guest-houses; and excellent restaurant meal will fill up your rest with essential comfort.

A visit to the base camp under the Lenin Peak, on the Onion Glade (the name was given due to the abundance of the wild onion), in Achiktash, will not leave you cold and indifferent. The Onion Glade is a surprising place as to its beauty! Absolutely even, huge, overgrown with high-mountainous alpine vegetation, encircled with great snowy giants headed up by the Lenin Peak (7134 m). What a color box! Takes your breath away! So often, every time after each visit of travelers, you can hear the exclamations that, of all the unique places having been attended before, this one is the most beautiful!!! And ahead there are the Travelers1 pass (4200m), and the Glade of Marmots with a captivating view of the highest part of the Zaalay range and the Lenin Glacier, and Camp 1 at the altitude of 4400m, and a great deal of other places. Recently, the region of the Lenin Peak has become very popular among climbers and travelers from all over the world. The absolute facility of access (there is auto transportation to the Onion Glade), unimaginable beauty of the region, and, notwithstanding the high altitude, uncomplicated ascent to the summit have played their part in this increase of popularity.

One more very picturesque spot of South Kyrgyzstan is in the north of the Fergana valley, in the mountains of the western Tien Shan. It is the Sary-Chelek bio-reserve with its pearl the fantastically beautiful lake Sary-Chelek, as well as immense expanses of fir-tree forests densely covering the mountain massifs. Lots of animals, unimaginable diversity of flowers and grasses, fantastically beautiful canyons of the rivers Aflatun and Padisha-ata, hospitable customs of the local people make this region very attractive to the tourists. There are fine opportunities for tracking and horseback-riding.

Discovery Kyrgyzstan #7

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