My entire trip was just a series of incredible views; mountains, lakes, waterfalls and canyons! So it’s difficult to choose, but I’d probably say the snowy mountain peaks of the Tien Shan on the horizon of the extremely blue and beautiful Lake Issyk Kul. A view that you can follow as you explore the southern shore of the alpine lake.
I was pleasantly surprised by the food on my trip. I went fully prepared for a lot of fatty meats and basic meals (which is an unavoidable Kyrgyz/Kazakh experience), however I enjoyed a number of really flavoursome rice, meat and vegetable dishes, not to mention all the lagman noodles. My favourite meal was at Reina Kench Eco Farm where almost all of my meal had been grown or reared on site.
Best night’s accommodation?
You cannot go to Kyrgyzstan and not spend at least one night in a yurt. So my night at Almaluu Yurt Camp near Bokonbeyevo has to be the most unique night of my trip. It was also fun to meet other travellers as we dined together in the cosy ‘restaurant yurt’. The following day I visited a felt workshop to meet the women who had created the walls and floor of my yurt which was a real eye-opening experience and the chance to learn how yurts have served the nomadic people of Kyrgyzstan.
I did a lot of incredible hikes and exploring on this trip but meeting one of the few remaining Golden Eagle owners really stands out. Ruskin talked me through the nomadic tradition of raising and training a skilled Golden Eagle and the survival benefits for entire communities. I then got to watch his 4-year-old eagle Kara Koz (which means Black Eye) in action.
Reaching Lake Kindy, which I can confirm is just as incredible to see in real life as the photos make out! This unique sunken forest of spruce trees was formed by a landslide following an earthquake in 1911.
Any tips for travellers?
This area of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan will give you some of the most beautiful landscapes and sights you could hope to see – but they come hand in hand with some real off-beat adventure. You should come prepared for bumpy roads, long drives and some basic accommodation – all completely worth it!
Thinking I could out hike the rain at the Kolsai Lakes…I wouldn’t have skipped the hike for bad weather as it was a real adventure, but some proper hiking boots and good waterproofs would’ve been a better addition to the trip!