12th November 2018
From endless high altitude alpine lakes to dreamy meadows filled with hundreds of wildflowers, breath taking 7,000-meter peaks, and huge landscape contrasts, Kyrgyzstan is home to some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable.
So now Imagine an immense steppe and a sparkling crystal lake with rough snow-capped mountains in the distance a scattering of yurts and horses running wild - Welcome to Lake Son Kul.
But Lake Son Kul’s beauty isn’t a pleasure handed to you on a platter – you must earn it; the access roads gambol along a river in a gentle, nearly unnoticeable climb. Steeper and steeper, the bends narrow into hairpins until all that is left is a void far below.
Once there, any thoughts of urban life are left far behind and for the duration of our stay we bathed in the sights and sounds of the natural life around us.
While it has a thriving tourism industry, most of the yurts around the lake belong to ordinary Kyrgyz people.
A shepherd’s life is a simple but hard existence – the families have few possessions and live entirely off their livestock. They arrive each year in May when the snow has melted and the roads are clear to pass to escape the heat and enjoy the cool crisp mountain air. After 6 months, when their herds are fatter and the winter starts to set in, they return back to their villages.
There is no phone signal and electricity such as it is powered by a generator for just 4 hours each night to light up with yurts... apart from the odd rumbling of a vehicle as it arrives at the camp, the only sounds to be heard are bleating sheep, punctuated by peels of laughter from boys no older than 7 playing a game of chase on steads big enough to take any large adult. Already such skilled horsemen, boy and horse moved in a unison so natural it was hard to know where the boy stopped and the horse began.
The yurts are small and cozy adorned with colourful rugs and braiding. The beds were piled high with blankets and the log burner was crackling away. After a sumptuous dinner of salads, stew and piles of biscuits we wrapped up to head out of our toasty warm dining yurt into the crisp cold evening air; the sky was completely clear, unblemished by electricity and full of a trillion stars and after a mesmerising 10 minutes we all headed to our felted walled homes for the night.
With temperatures dipping to freezing overnight, the next morning we were torn between the warmth of the sheep’s wool blankets and the smell of coal from the yurt stoves, hinting at hot tea and coffee…
We all gingerly stepped out of our hot yurts the next morning....and in silence we all stood and soaked up the vision before us….we were hundreds of miles from civilisation, 3000 metres above sea level, surrounded by mountains and pastures with flocks of sheep and goats grazing all beside one of the largest most pristine crystal blue fresh water lakes expanding as far as the eye can see, under a clear cloudless sky – what’s not to love ?… and so!….led by our local guide and encouraged by all the group and a very enthusiastic driver! Yoga became the routine start of our days in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.