From Karakol to Altyn Arashan

At breakfast I felt like my old self again, ready to eat what ever was set in front of me. Sylvia of course would have preferred for me to be sick to forgo our trekking tour. But there was just no way around it, I wanted to go trekking. Since I did it last year a couple of times, I got a taste for exploring a country this way.

We left most of our luggage at the guest house in Karakol and only with a small backpack (or in Sylvia’s case with her regular 100l backpack) left for the trail. First we had to pick up our guide named Edgash (or something similar) who would be our trekking guide for the next two days. No point in walking around by yourself if you have no clue where to go and one of has to be forced in a motivational way to go up.

We drove with the car to the beginning of the trek and said goodbye to Tilek. The weather forecast was a mix of sun and clouds but we hoped for the best. Anyway there was no turning around now, we were going up! From now on we were left with Edgash who right away picked up Sylvia’s backpack and carried it all the way for her! If that was not motivation, then I don’t know.

traffic in Kyrgyzstan

traffic in Kyrgyzstan

start of the trek to Altyn Arashan

start of the trek to Altyn Arashan

Altyn Arashan was about 16km or 4 1/2 hours from our starting point. Since it had rained a lot in the last couple of days the way was muddy and slippery, sometimes under water. We definitely had a challenge ahead of us. We started with sunshine but very soon the sky became dark again and we had everything from snow, to rain and cold wind on the way up. That didn’t change the fact that the landscape was heartbreakingly beautiful and I was  constantly taking pictures. I have sorted through them already and left many out, but of course there are still a lot left. So if these are too many for you, please forgive me (I’m looking at you Cat).

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

fellow travelers on the way to Altyn Arashan

fellow travelers on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

half time break on the way to Altyn Arashan

half time break on the way to Altyn Arashan

taking a short cut on the way to Altyn Arashan

taking a short cut on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

difficult trek on the way to Altyn Arashan

difficult trek on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

Sylvia in a state of exhaustion on the way to Altyn Arashan

Sylvia in a state of exhaustion on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

yellow wild tulip on the way to Altyn Arashan

yellow wild tulip on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

on the way to Altyn Arashan

After a last push (and definitely the hardest) we made it to the top and had out first view on Altyn Arashan. It looked more than inviting after the long trek up and with little houses dotted around the valley we knew that our final destination was near.

finally Altyn Arashan in sight

finally Altyn Arashan in sight

finally Altyn Arashan

finally Altyn Arashan

finally Altyn Arashan

finally Altyn Arashan

finally Altyn Arashan

finally Altyn Arashan 

Of course the guest house where we stayed was one of the furthest up, so more trudging through muddy fields to reach our final destination. Sylvia made fast friends with the local wildlife, not only the dog you can see here but also a cat we met in the lunch room whose name invoked a certain sympathy for the Third Reich. It was so grotesque to hear this name in the middle of nowhere on a mountain in Kyrgyzstan that we started calling all the animals around with likewise names. The whole thing was just so bizarre that we were laughing all day about it.

finally in Altyn Arashan

finally in Altyn Arashan

Lunch was surfed almost immediately and we got hot soup with salad. Another delicious meal in Kyrgyzstan and especially well deserved after our hike up.

lunch in Altyn Arashan

lunch in Altyn Arashan

The best part was still to come though. Altyn Arashan is best known for its hot springs and our guest house had two little spring cabins. One was for our use and while it was snowing once again, we took to the hot spring. What fascinated me that it took me about five minutes to enter the water completely while Sylvia just marched straight in. How is that possible. Maybe I am a lot more sensitive? Anyway, it was amazing. So hot but also so amazing.

hot spring in Altyn Arashan

hot spring in Altyn Arashan

We spent the afternoon sleeping and relaxing. At dinner we met two American travelers who had spent the previous night outdoor in one sleeping bag (very Broke Back Mountainup on the mountain. I shouldn’t make light of it because one of the guys was clearly traumatized and they had been very lucky to survive. But who goes on a three-day mountain tour in a never before visited area and doesn’t ask the locals if the weather forecast was okay? No wonder every year tourists are dying in the mountains. So stupid. The Americans would have been a good example for the Darwin Awards. Yours, Pollybert

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