Silk Road 17: Lenin Peak & Turpal kul, Kyrgyzstan

By Ali Karim
This post is part of a series called Silk Road Kyrgyzstan Sept 2019
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Silk Road 17: Lenin Peak & Turpal kul (lake), Kyrgyzstan, Sept 2019

After a great few days exploring Osh , it was time to move on towards Tajikistan. So early the next morning, Erali arrived with his brothers Ahmadali and Sherali, who were going to be our driver and guide for the next 7 days on our drive through the Pamir mountains into Tajikistan.

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan With Erali and Ahmadali (right) of Destination Pamir; at start of our drive through Pamir mountains in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
With Erali and Ahmadali (right) of Destination Pamir; at start of our drive through Pamir mountains in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

We started driving south from Osh after saying goodbye to Erali, the organizer of our tour. These 3 are brothers, and run tours over this region. Before leaving Osh, Ahmedali stopped and topped up on Petrol (42 Som/liter; or 57cents) and on Compressed LPG (20 Som/liter or 29 cents); our Toyota Landcruiser was dual fuel purposed. Gas is relatively cheap here, and I suspect it is due to the close proximity and trading relations with Kazakhstan, which has vast oil reserves and production.

A short while outside Osh, the brothers stopped at roadside food/fruit stands where they stocked up on fresh vegetables and fruits etc. Upon asking why; I was informed that in Murghab (Tajikistan) our 2nd stop on the trip, nothing grows, so all vegetables and fruits are brought in from outside.

Information
Nothing grows in Murghab so People stock up Fruits and vegetables from outside Osh.

Chinese goods do come in, but are clothing, shoes, household good, equipment, building materials etc i.e. basically everything except fresh foods. This should be interesting.

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Fresh vegetables roadside stands
Fresh vegetables roadside stands
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Lots of fresh fruits also
Lots of fresh fruits also; melons galore

We drove towards Sary Tosh in southern Kyrgyzstan, and below are some scenes along the way

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Traffic jams were frequent, caused by animals being herded on the road
Traffic jams were frequent, caused by animals being herded on the road. Being mostly nomadic, horses, cattle, sheep, goats etc are precious.
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan We came across many such humble abodes, which we were told were the summer homes of the nomads that grazed their animals here over the summers
We came across many such humble abodes, which we were told were the summer homes of the nomads that grazed their animals here over the summers
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan We had now started climbing up from Osh (3,159 ft) to 7,838 ft
We had now started climbing up from Osh (at 3,159 ft) to 7,838 ft here, on the way to Sary Tosh
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan More nomad summer homes doting the hillsides
More nomad summer homes dotting the hillsides; roads were good
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Sheep traffic jams
Sheep traffic jams
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Nice colors of the river, with varying landscapes
Nice colors of the river, with varying landscapes
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Farming where flat lands were available
Farming wherever flat lands were available
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Picturesque villages seen from the higher grounds
Picturesque villages seen from the higher grounds; complete with multi-colored landscape

Views of the picturesque mountainous area here

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Young nomad herders
Young nomadic shepherds
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan We keep climbing, Taldky Pass at 11,860 ft
We keep climbing; Taldky Pass at 11,860 ft
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Good roads snaking up the mountains, still climbing
Good roads snaking up the mountains, still climbing
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Cattle feeding on the mountainsides, I could not see much vegetation
Cattle feeding on the mountainsides, I could not see much vegetation
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Markers like these were common, usually at tops of passes
Markers like these were common, usually at tops of passes
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan More remote nomadic living, snow-capped Alay mountains looming behind
More remote nomadic living, snow-capped Pamir-Alay mountains looming behind
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Sary Tosh town, with the mighty snow-capped Alay Mountains in the background
Sary Tosh town, with the mighty snow-capped Pamir-Alay Mountain ranges in the background

We arrived in Sary Tosh, where we stopped for lunch at one of the 2 small cafeterias’ here.

Information
The Road Trip is very picturesque and we get many instagramable pictures.
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Typical houses in the town of Sary Tosh
Typical houses in the town of Sary Tosh
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Graveyard with markers in Sary Tosh
Graveyard with markers in Sary Tosh
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Conditions becoming basic, bathroom at the café in Sary Tosh
Conditions becoming basic, bathroom at café in Sary Tosh
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan The small café we stopped at was quite busy, with European tourists
The small café we stopped at for lunch was quite busy, with a European tour group
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Lunch at Sary Tosh was soup, bread and tea
Lunch at Sary Tosh was soup, bread and tea

After this lunch, we drove westwards towards Sary Mogul; some scenes along the way

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Mosques were found in every little village
Mosques were found in every little village
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Peaceful grazing and coal mining in the valley of the Alay mountains
Peaceful grazing and coal mining in the valley of the Alay mountains

We arrived in Sary Mogul, a small town, and turned left off the main road, going south, on dirt roads, towards the Pamir-Alay mountains, that form the border with Tajikistan.

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Sary Mogul, with the Pamir-Alay mountain range in the distance
Sary Mogul, with the Pamir-Alay mountain range in the distance
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Road conditions getting basic
Road conditions getting basic

View of the majestic Pamir-Alay range; Lenin Peak is one of the peaks here

After driving 25kms south on a dirt road, we arrived at Turpal kul (lake) at an altitude of 3500m or 11,493ft. The air was rarified, and we were advised that since this was our first day at high altitude, we should not exert ourselves, and walk slowly and easily.

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Arrived at Lenin Peak Yurt Camp
Arrived at Lenin Peak Yurt Camp
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Our Yurt Camp, under majestic Lenin Peak towering at 7134m or 23,406ft above sea level
Our Yurt Camp, under majestic Lenin Peak towering at 7134m or 23,406ft above sea level. Lenin Peak is actually inside Tajikistan

 

Landscape around our Lenin Peak Yurt Camp

After getting our Yurt assigned, we took a short hike towards Lenin Peak Base Camp, before it got dark. Lenin Peak is the highest mountain peak of this range, and is actually physically located inside Tajikistan. The Tajik border line is a mere 1-2 kms climb south of where we were staying at the Lenin Peak Yurt camp in Kyrgyzstan

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Admiring nature at high altitude. These Pamir-Alay mountain range formed the border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
Admiring nature at high altitude. These Pamir-Alay mountain range forms the border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Turpal kul (lake) at our Yurt Camp, viewed from our hike
Turpal kul (lake) at our Yurt Camp, viewed from our hike
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Good old solid Soviet era 4-wheel drive transportation
Good old solid Soviet era 4-wheel drive transportation

We then went to check out our yurt and the facilities; see below

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Solar power, thanks to USAID. There was not line power or running water here
Solar power, thanks to USAID. There was no line power or running water here
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan ”Western” toilet, which was just a hole in the ground with a raised seat
Outhouse ”western” toilet, which was just a hole in the ground with a raised seat. No flush 🙁 
Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Washing and freshening sink; the small tank above the tap was filled with warm water by the staff here
Washing and freshening sink; the small tank behind/above the tap was filled with warm water by the staff in the mornings

We checked out our yurt for the night

The altitude here was 11,493ft, so quite high. We walked slowly during our hike, but we could tell the effects of high altitude/rarified atmosphere; feeling a slight headache, and Dilshad felt like she could not eat. We had started drinking mate de coca that we had brought along; we had used these on a trip to Cuzco, Peru, many years ago, and it had helped with altitude sickness; so we were not feeling too bad. The evening was not cold; light jacket was all we needed. However, it did get cold in the evening soon as the sun went down.

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Dinner that night was vegetarian for us
Dinner that night was vegetarian for us. Great food considering the remote conditions here

 

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Dining tent with an Australian couple and our guide and driver. We were the only residents here that night, as it was nearing the end of the tourist season
Dining tent with an Australian couple and our guide and driver. We were the only residents here that night, as it was nearing the end of the tourist season
Information
A traditional yurt is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by several distinct nomadic groups in the steppes of Central Asia

We went back to our yurt for the night, and soon, the staff came by and lit the stove for the night. They filled the stove with several alternating layers of burning coal and dried cow dung. The yurt became comfortably warm in a very short while, and we got ready for bed. Lighting was an LED bulb. Soon after, the stove was roaring, and there was no way to control the burn rate, so the yurt got quite hot, forcing us to shed clothing. However, at about 4AM, the fuel ran out, and since it was -10C outside, it became quite cold in the yurt, so we had to layer up again in bed to stay warm.

I suspect they did not give us extra fuel to use at night or allow us to control the stove, as we may have set the place on fire not knowing what we were doing. Sad, because it caused us to be too hot, and then too cold in the same night.

Bathroom use at night meant dressing up for the cold (-10C) outside, walking to the outhouse and doing our stuff in the cold. Fortunately, they had motion activated LED lights outside to help us find our way. Interesting experience staying in a yurt, our first ever.

Silk Road 16: More Osh, Kyrgyzstan Our trip so far
Our trip so far

Murghab Tajikistan next

This entry was posted in Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Silk Road Kyrgyzstan Sept 2019

34 thoughts on “Silk Road 17: Lenin Peak & Turpal kul, Kyrgyzstan

  • Nailla Devraj February 11, 2020 at 9:21 pm Reply

    Lovely post Ali.
    Thanks for sharing
    Nailla

    • Ali Karim February 11, 2020 at 9:28 pm Reply

      Thanks Naila; so glad you are enjoying journeying with us 🙂

  • Erali Torogeldiev February 11, 2020 at 9:23 pm Reply

    Hello Ali,
    Very good detail information about trips.
    Very good pictures as well.
    I hope this information will involve and grabs others interest in this area.

    Best wishes to you and your wife.

    Erali

    • Ali Karim February 11, 2020 at 9:29 pm Reply

      Thanks Erali. I too hope that my blogs will encourage my readers to travel the world themselves

  • Afiz Hudani February 11, 2020 at 9:24 pm Reply

    Absolutely amazing and fascinating!!! Thanks for sharing. Lots of prayers for safe journeys ahead of you both. God bless.
    Afiz and Laila

    • Ali Karim February 11, 2020 at 9:29 pm Reply

      Afiz, thanks so much for the kind words. I am so glad that you are enjoying the blogs

  • Amir Rahim February 12, 2020 at 8:22 am Reply

    Thx for sharing.

    Regards,
    Amir

  • Benita Naidu February 12, 2020 at 11:39 pm Reply

    Thanks Ali… getting thru yr new blog.
    Keep up the good work n amazing pics.

    • Ali Karim February 13, 2020 at 9:43 am Reply

      Hi Benita, so glad you are enjoying the journey with us 🙂

  • Amir Mulji February 13, 2020 at 8:46 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Altaf Hirji February 13, 2020 at 8:47 pm Reply

    Thank you so much Ali

    Beautiful pictures and lot to learn from it.

    Keep up this best work.

    • Ali Karim February 13, 2020 at 8:48 pm Reply

      Thanks Altaf; happy to hear that you enjoyed our blog

  • Mahamud Jinnah February 15, 2020 at 11:56 am Reply

    Wow, what an amazing experience. Feel jealous.

    Was the height 23000 ft(probably not) ot 11000 feet as you mention both those numbers in your commentary. 23000 is almost the last base camp at Everest!!!

    Hope you are both well.

    Take care buddy

    • Ali Karim February 15, 2020 at 12:42 pm Reply

      THanks Mahamud; glad you enjoyed this blog. We were at 11,490ft at the Yurt camp. Lenin Peak (which we did not climb) was at 26,000ft. The Yurt camp was in its shadow.
      Thanks again

  • Muslim Harji February 15, 2020 at 11:57 am Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing! Enjoying your posts…Love to Dilshad
    Love, Light & Cheers

    • Ali Karim February 15, 2020 at 12:42 pm Reply

      Thanks Muslim

  • Nick Paroo February 15, 2020 at 4:43 pm Reply

    Beautiful Mr Ali.

    • Ali Karim February 15, 2020 at 4:44 pm Reply

      Thanks Nick; glad you liked it

  • Barkat Basaria February 15, 2020 at 6:29 pm Reply

    Ali & Dilshad,

    I really enjoy sitting in the US reading all about your trips, amazing and very interesting travels y’all are having and thanks for sharing all these beautiful places around the world, love it brother!
    Y’all enjoy and God keeps you both safe all the time, Ameen!

    • Ali Karim February 15, 2020 at 6:34 pm Reply

      Wow, thanks Barkat, for the kind words. So glad you are enjoying our travels

  • Zahir Dharsee February 17, 2020 at 8:36 pm Reply

    Hi Ali – again a very good write up. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ali Karim February 17, 2020 at 11:50 pm Reply

      Thanks Zahir, for your encouragement

  • Shelifa Manji February 18, 2020 at 6:05 pm Reply

    Thanks. Enjoyed it especially the short video clips:)

    • Ali Karim February 18, 2020 at 6:11 pm Reply

      Thanks Shelifa. I have had other readers suggest more short videos of places; so I will be sure to incorporate more as I go along.
      Thanks again for the honest feedback

  • Nazmin Alani February 18, 2020 at 6:05 pm Reply

    Ali
    Enjoyed reading the trip. Very interesting and vegetation looks sparse
    Seeing a real Yurt from the inside was great. I saw a Yurt at the Aga Khan museum but it bigger and nice. They explained the the yurt generally includes beds, eating and cooking facilities.
    Since you were traveling Tajikistan, did you meet any Ismailis? Enjoy the trip and look forward to your next adventure

    • Ali Karim February 18, 2020 at 6:21 pm Reply

      Hi Nazmin, thanks for the feedback.
      Yes, the vegetation was sparse as this area is above the treeline. Our Yurt was indeed very simple; cooking was on the stove that doubled as the heater
      For the rest; stay tuned 🙂
      Thanks

  • Nazneen Adatia February 18, 2020 at 6:05 pm Reply

    Hello Ali, beautiful pictures as usual. I loved the Pamir mountains. Keep on travelling and sending us the pictures.

    Thanks again for sharing your pictures.

    Naz.

    • Ali Karim February 18, 2020 at 6:43 pm Reply

      Thanks Naz; for your feedback and encouragement always 🙂

  • Zini Kassam February 18, 2020 at 6:06 pm Reply

    Thank you for sharing,beautiful pics It is absolutely amazing 👍

    • Ali Karim February 18, 2020 at 6:43 pm Reply

      Thank you Zinat

  • Badru Walji February 21, 2020 at 7:44 pm Reply

    Ali what a trip. Amazing you could handle all this. Bravo man. I cant belive it.
    Thanks.

    • Ali Karim February 22, 2020 at 10:45 pm Reply

      Thanks Bardu, for the feedback. I am so glad you enjoyed our travels so far. We are getting older so not sure how much longer we can do trips like these that have elements of hardship

  • Barkat Khoja February 25, 2020 at 7:53 pm Reply

    All pictures are very Nice. I like all pics.
    Thanks.

    • Ali Karim February 27, 2020 at 3:30 pm Reply

      THanks Barkat

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