Going to Kyrgyzstan

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  • So, in the middle of August I'm leaving for a trip to Kyrgyzstan. I'm gonna share some thoughts here as well as the inevitable angst over what gear to take. I went to Tajikistan a few years ago and I had an amazing time. The views were like nothing I'd seen before or after and the same goes for the hospitality shown by the locals. Taking the opportunity to share some photos from that trip. I'm hoping Kyrgyzstan will be the same thing, with some more careful planning, maybe even better.

    A few things went wrong in Tajikistan:

    1. I took far too much stuff. This made the cycling a bit boring and a real chore up the mountains. This time I'm only taking the essentials.
    2. Not really my fault but Turkish airlines lost the bike on the way over there. So I ended up sitting in a hotel room in Dushanbe for 5 days waiting for it to show up. This screwed up my schedule bad. This was only a 2 week trip... It didnt help that I also had to do a 1 day jeep trip along the Afghan border to Khorog to get started on my route. This time I'll try out Aeroflot and minimize off bike transport.
    3. 32mm Paselas aint enough in this part of the world. Not even close. Also, the pump I brought was so shitty I couldn't get high enough pressure in them leaving me with numerous pinch punctures. This time I'll be on as wide mtb tyres as my bike can take.
    4. It was a bit lonely. So this time I'll bring a couple of friends.

    I've made a route. It's up the mountains of course why else go there. Its gonna be tough but I'm trying to keep the milage low to allow for rest days and unplanned excursions. Any tips and ideas are welcome. Feel free to share if you've done something similar.

  • this is wicked. can't wait to hear more about what you take and where you go and all the adventures you have on the way!

  • What are Tajikistan Roads like?

  • Pretty bad. At least in the Pamir region where I was. This region is pretty isolated from the rest of the country and the poorest part too. The tarmac is fine until you end up in a hole as big as the bike. But for most of the time you'd be happy if its rough gravel road. All part of the fun though! This time I'll be prepared. The 'road' below was pretty bad. The camping spot one the best I've had though. About 4500m up.

  • I hope I can deliver! I'll update on the bike and everything else later on.

  • I can see why you're going back!
    Looks very beautiful.

  • Bravo sir - what made you go in the first place?

  • best new cp thread!!

    what kind of bike will you use for the trip?

  • That drive to Khorog tho... 24hrs on cliff edges with the same driver the whole time, guzzling some packet of powder to keep himself awake. Terrifying.

    I crossed into Afghanistan (running, not cycling) and had a few problems with swollen rivers where I had to climb some distance up a mountain to cross them. Did you have any issues like that?

  • Everyone who's been there seemed to rave about it. I followed a bunch of blogs and Instagrams from people doing long journeys by bike around the world. When asked about highlights of their trips everybody comes back to this part of the world. For a long time it's been a dream of mine to do a long tour. I've come to realise it's not gonna happen anytime soon though so now I'm going straight for the highlights :)

  • Yeah that drive was pretty sketchy.

    I was there in September, so quite late in the season. I guess this helped with water levels, on most of the crossings I didn't even have to get my feet wet. This time I'll bring a pair of sandals though...

    Then you crossed the border in Ishikashim I guess? I biked down there along the border, kids on the other side of the river shouting and laughing. Good times. Did you go any further than that? Beyond Ishikashim I mean. I've read some very cool looking trip reports from guys trekking in the Wakhan. Would love to do that one day.

  • :) I'll be on my Genesis Vagabond. It's current state:

  • Striking photos - (OT) what camera do you carry on the bike?

  • Have a nice trip in Kyrgyzstan!
    Kyrgyzstan is perfect for cycling too, and don't forget to visit Issyk-kul👍🏻

  • Thank you! I brought my Sony A6 with the kit lens. I'm hoping to be able to finally upgrade it for this trip but I have a feeling my budget wont allow it. A Sony A7 or Fujifilm X-T1 would be nice though. There's more of my photographs here if anyone's interested: http://alexanderkirkhoff.se/

  • Yeah, the route we are planning on end by the shore of Issyk Kul close to Tamga.

  • Fascinating. Will follow with interest!

  • Amazing! subbed

  • Yes, went into Ishkashim and ran up the Wakhan Corridor for a few days. Got quite sick, so didn't get as far as I'd have liked. Still, great experience and you could just rock up in a village and ask them to put you up for the night. Then all the village menfolk would come round and stare at you for a few hours.

    Strangely, got detained/arrested (not sure which) by the army on the way back through Ishkashim. Still no idea why, but they seemed quite cross for a while.

  • $€¥^

  • Sounds great! Closest thing I have done is in the Gobi desert, Mongolia - lived out there for a few months not long ago.

    I don't know if it's an issue, but if you're struggling to find good maps of the area, I may well be able to help - either from private collections or places here in the UK. Let me know!

  • Wow. Sounds like quite an adventure man! Do you have a report and or pictures online? I'd love to see it. Maybe its not possible any longer but I've read that if you know the right people you can cross the Wakhan and then into Pakistan or the other way around. Sounds like fun to me but I'm not so sure my wife would agree.

  • Hi, I'm from issyk-kul. I live in the States right now.
    August is the great time to go. The weather will be nice (a bit hot), but fresh ripe fruits and veggies. Gorgeous views!!!!
    Enjoy! If you meet locals say 'salam' (hi)! And 'rahmat' (thank you). ;)

  • PM sent. Reckon going into Pakistan should be quite possible - borders in that part of the world exist more on paper than reality. I think I may still have the email address of a mountain guide somewhere if you want it.

  • Thanks for the offer! I got this Gizi map, I dont know if its any good or not but it made route planning alot easier. Online resources are quite bad. I got a few pdfs of old Soviet military maps but they just confused me so I never used them.

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Going to Kyrgyzstan

Posted by Avatar for scottparsley @scottparsley