There are so many travel stories and moments and details I want to write about and share and for so long, I just haven't known where to start. Rather than staying silent, I might start at the start. Not Nepal or leaving London, but the trip through Central Asia. It was on this trip I decided I was ready to leave London. I resigned on my first day back in the office after this trip and despite all I’ve seen since, I think it was this trip that has had the biggest impact on me.
Kyrgyzstan hadn't necessarily been on my to see list for a long time before I went there. When I'd first toyed with leaving London, going overland through Europe & Asia along the silk route was one of many ways I was considering. In a moment of haste after an average day at work, I paid a deposit on a trip from Istanbul to Beijing with Dragoman and then went on with my life. Soon after making that payment, I was offered a great opportunity at work (one that has made things many times easier back here in Melbourne) and realised I didn't want to leave London quite so soon. Rather than loose the not insubstantial deposit, I transferred to a much shorter trip that I could fit into my leave; Mountain Kingdom of Kyrgyzstan*. I decided that a few weeks in Central Asia with a bit of free time at either end of the group tour would be perfect.
Despite having read up a little on the itineraries and things (things being the DFAT and UKFO warnings to make sure my travel insurance would be valid), I still didn't really know what to expect of Kyrgyzstan. Heck, it took a decent amount of practice to be able to spell the place.
A year on, I still don't really know how to explain Kyrgyzstan. It's up there as one of the most naturally beautiful countries I've been to. It's geography often reminded me of Switzerland and of New Zealand. Snow capped mountains were seemingly always the backdrop, except for when we were up amongst them and they were the star of the show. Crystal clear lakes reflecting the blue skies and a glacier or two as well. It’d be worth a trip to Kyrgyzstan for the landscapes alone. And did I mention we were there during the autumn? So add rainbow coloured leaves to the crystal clear lakes and snow capped mountains.
And the sky. You so often read and hear about the African sky but I’ve got to say Kyrgyzstan’s was no less impressive. Camping in the mountains and the valleys, we were covered by a blanket of stars. Often, we’d spend a few hours after dinner lying down counting shooting stars. I saw more in one night than I’d seen in my entire life until that point (11).
As well as the beauty of the land, there were the people. The people I was travelling with and the people we met as we went. But that’s another story for another post.
For now, I’ll leave you with some of the many landscape photos from this incredible Central Asian country.
*The route we took was slightly different, heading north into Kazakhstan due to instability and unrest in the Fergana valley, Osh and the Uzbek/Kyrgyz border. Our route was Bishkek – Alla Archa – Chong Keming – Karakol – Altan Arashan – Karakol – Tup Kol – Cholpon Ata – Chaek. We were greeted with some unseasonably early snow which meant not getting up to Song Kol and whilst that was a little disappointing at the time, that’s the nature of overland travel.
Also worth noting with overland trips, especially in this part of the world – it involves a lot of camping. Suits me to a tee, especially when you get to camp in such stunning places. Most of the pics above are taken from our campsites or short walks from them.
I’m not the only one that’s a fan of this trip though, here’s another review