Monday, 17 February 2014

Aksu-Zhabagly Canyon – Freezing Cold and Incredibly Beautiful

{that’s me in the middle, contemplating a skinny dip}

Our second night in Kazakhstan was spent camping in the Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve.  One of the joys for me of overlanding is the camping. It usually means you're staying somewhere incredibly pretty where there are no other accommodation options.  It usually means some down time and it usually means sitting around a campfire late into the night, looking at stars and sharing stories and moments.

Aksu-Zhabagly NR is an example of this. We could have spent another night in the nearby homestay with a day trip to the park but we wouldn't have been the same.  We wouldn't have had the opportunity to hitch a ride from Uzbeki farmers in their big old Kamaz log trucks. That’s probably a story for another time though.

The title of this post could be a little misleading though. After unseasonably cold weather in Kyrgyzstan (ie. an unexpected foot of snow), the little pocket of Kazakhstan we were in was gloriously warm. T-shirts and shorts warm in fact.

After riding up top into the park and setting up camp, there was nothing but free time.  Most of us opted to hike down into the canyon and we were well rewarded for our efforts. A select few of us even decided to have a dip in the river. A swim in a snow fed river. I'm pretty sure those that didn't venture into the canyon could have pinpointed the moment we first jumped in, such were our shrieks. Heck, you could have probably heard us wherever you were.  That said, we jumped in and out several times, shrieking as we went.

Moments like that are just good for you right? Any favourite pictures?

{looking east from the top of Aksu Canyon}

{looking west from the top of Aksu Canyon}
{Down in the canyon, the frigid water}

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