Enchanting KeralaExperience the vibrant culture and serene landscapes of enchanting Kerala.
As we lumbered over the boulders to crest the top of the ridge on the so-called road, we knew why we had bumped around in the 6WD truck to reach this point. The view was spectacular – snow was quite low down this year which added to the spectacle. Cattle and horses were being moved down valley as the winter has arrived early this year – we were lucky – the forecast was for snow, but the day was mostly clear, a cool breeze, and just a shower of rain to make our picnic lunch an inside picnic. Some of our group soaked in the hot pools and some walked a short way up the valley before heading back down to the milder temperatures in Karakol town.
Karakol was a Russian military outpost founded in 1869, but quickly grew in the 19th century after explorers came to map the peaks and valleys separating Kyrgyzstan from China. In the 1880s Karakol’s population surged with an influx of Dungans, Chinese Muslims fleeing warfare in China. Nowadays the peaks and valleys are popular with trekkers and serious mountaineers.
We’ve visited two mountain valleys close to Karakol – Altyn Arashan and Jety Oguz. The entrance to the Jety Oguz valley is guarded by the Broken Heart rock and the Sevel Bulls rock formation, established in 1975 as a national monument.
In this valley a Golden Eager Hunter demonstrated how his eagle hunts – an impressive sight to watch this magnificent bird swoop down from the hill side and scoop up his prey.
Lunch at a a yurt camp and a pleasant walk up the grassy meadows – horses, sheep and a few cows were enjoying the last of the summer grass before heading down to lower pastures for the winter. We are leaving sleepy Karakol tomorrow to drive to a homestay in Kochkar, then an overnight in a yurt close to a 15th Century caravanserai at TashRabat before heading down to the edge of the desert and Kashgar. It will certainly be a change of pace.
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