We arrived at the Riverside Guesthouse - as planned - to find it completely booked. Luckily the garden proved to be big enough to camp in. There’s always a solution.
On her bike: “Holy crap, what a beautiful world!” Through the scenic Ks, part IIMotorcycle Diaries
As I was following Xenia and Martin to Karakol, Kyrgyzstan, I noticed that time was seemingly going faster. It was nice to share the ride for a change.
I decided to extend my stay, as it was the perfect place to take a break and catch up on social media tasks. The city was full of riders from all over the world; it was so nice to meet people with different backgrounds, but similar horizons.
After five days it was time to take to the road solo again. Back to me, myself and Chillie.
On my way to Lake Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan’s scenery began to marvel me. What a country! Every time I thought the landscapes couldn’t be beaten, the next corner would prove me wrong.
The lake didn’t disappoint me either. It’s the biggest lake in the country and the second biggest saltwater lake in the world. Looks like a sea, in fact, and it’s absolutely impressive. Stunning beauty!
I spent the night at Bel Tam Seaside Yurt Camp, in Tong. It cost me four dollars including breakfast.
The next day I headed to another high-altitude lake: San-Kul. It is the most famous one in Kyrgyzstan. There are two ways to go there when you’re travelling from the East. You can take the asphalted road along with all the cars and touristic mini-buses or the alternative twisty and narrow mountain route. I picked the latter, as you may have guessed, and it was a hell of a show. Amazingly scenic!
I was riding at 3000 meters above sea level, with an open mouth. Every 20 km the landscapes kept on getting more and more impressive. Every time you think “This is it, this must be the best of the best,” Kyrgyzstan’s landscapes will raise the game.
If Kyrgyzstan was closer to Europe I’m sure it would be full of tourists. Luckily - because it’s in Central Asia and people incorrectly think it’s a dangerous country - only adventure riders are going there. It remains a remote gem.
No doubt Kyrgyzstan is the prettiest place in the world to ride. It’s a big statement, indeed, but you do hear it from many world travellers. The people’s sympathy and friendliness make Kyrgyzstan a dream destination, and a very affordable one.
One of the best experiences I had was my stay in a Yurt tent in the mountains. It cost me 10 dollars per night, with three meals and two snacks a day included. The conditions weren’t great, but it was still much better than my own tent. It had more space and it was definitely warmer.
More important than all the convenience, you get to stay with the owners. In my case it was a lovely family with kids. We played games together, they performed some of their typical dances for us and we had all the meals together. It was a beautiful experience.
After two days it was time to take to the road again. I was sure nothing could be better than the previous ride. One more time, I was wrong. It was the most amazing ride of my life. Even more high up in the mountains, I was literally at the level where the top of the mountains were covered in snow.
After Kyrgyzstan your expectations are really high, believe me.
My last stop before crossing to Tajikistan was Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. During my stay there, I learned that to enter the Pamir Region in Tajikistan I would need a GBAO permit that can only be requested at the time you apply for the visa. Was obviously too late for me, but… there’s always a solution. The Osh Guesthouse was happy to help me for the not so small amount of 65 dollars. After two days, I had my permit.
The Tajikistan border stands on the mountains at 4300 meters above sea level. Another incredible ride, I assure you. People are advised to camp before so as to get used to the hostile environment. A very good piece of advice that… I didn’t heed!
To be continued…