impressions from the trip

Besh-Tash Nature Reserve

Kyrgyzstan

Introduction

"Retreat" has lately become quite a trendy word. Many people organize picnic's and camping trips with different outdoors activities away from crowds of people.

But my story is about something different. There I realized that you can plunge into the wild, have insights into the culture of a different nation and also reset your mind, forget about all the city fuss, work, nervous people always hurrying somewhere.
horse ryding in Besh-Tash nature reserve

Day 1

That's how our trip to Kyrgyzstan went. I travelled there with my man. The day before the beginning of the trip we walked around Bishkek on our own, observing local people, looking at buildings and roads or their absence.

The next day we set off to the mountains, and after a 4-hour long drive and a couple of high mountain passes behind us we reach the destination. That's how Besh-Tash tour begins.
trekking and tourists in Besh-Tash nature reserve
A summer pasture or "jailoo" is located at an altitude of 2,700 m. in the valley of the Besh-Tash river. There are horses nearby; cows and goats graze a bit further away, and all this is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We lived in a guest-yurt; it was a real big yurt with carpets, embroidered ornaments and a tunduk (which is an opening on top of a yurt). Our hostesses were very kind but busy with every-day manual work.
horses in Kyrgyzstan

Day 2

The next morning I learned that nothing makes you feel more awake than washing your face with mountain river water. After that we went on a walk in the mountains.

The first meters up weren't easy, we felt elevation change, it was difficult to climb up, we got shortness of breath, but then the body started to get used to new conditions and the walking became easier. Taking trekking poles paid off the very first day because without them the hike up would have been impossible (even though some said they were for amateurs).
happy tourists and their guide
In the mountains you forget all the irrelevant thoughts, your mind is no longer occupied with work, there is only you and your fears, you even stop comparing yourself with others. New fears kick in, like fear to fall, not to jump over a stream, to trip over a stone and wet your feet, to fail to reach the top.

To tell the truth, I was expecting to feel much more excited up there when we reached snow covered areas, but you probably experience such strong emotions when you go up fast in a cable car. When the way up is slow and gradual you don't experience rush of emotions.

Each step gets you closer to the top and then a smile touches your face and lights up your eyes, but this feeling doesn't come at once.
hiking in the Talas mountains
First, you fight your fears and a tempting idea to give it all up and "wait for the others on this rock over here", because you know that it's going to be more awesome up there.

Alex helps a lot here making short stops when it becomes too hard, but at the same time he doesn't let you relax too much until you are no longer able to go further. That day we reached two mountain lakes.

The sun was playing hide and seek disappearing behind the clouds and then appearing again, and every time the reflection of the sky in the water gave it a new shade of blue. The way down was much easier unlike the first way up.
The Besh-Tash River

Day 3

The next day we had a long proper hike up. We reached snow point and were very close to a snowy peak, but the further way was impossible without special equipment.

On our way up we saw Heart Lake, but you can only see that it is heart-shaped when you climb higher. It was the most amazing hike up, even though at first the body resisted every step. We crossed stone fields, steep allium slopes (a lot of onion or allium species grow there). In the middle of a rocky ascent I realized I couldn't go any further, I was afraid and tired, but the desire to reach the top was stronger than everything else.
foggy Talas Mountains
Something magical happens here: the process of walking absorbs you, you live in the moment, your adrenaline level rises, you feel your body and find the balance. After a certain moment you realize that leaping from one stone to another is not very difficult and the mountain that seemed so steep isn't that steep anymore.

Standing on top of the ridge, I was a little dizzy, but I felt like on top of the world almost where clouds are. After climbing a little higher to a less steep hill you see a snow-capped peak within easy reach, a little heart-shaped turquoise lake far below if the sun is out, and herdsmen' pyramids dividing two adjacent summer pastures.

The way down was long and difficult, luckily we managed to pass the heaps of rocks before it started to rain heavily, otherwise wet slippery rocks would have caused some troubles. Also Alex masterfully made weather forecast; he estimated the time when the rain would start by the clouds.
Lake Heart in Besh-Tash

Day 4

The next day we had a scheduled rest and a horse-riding trip. My horse was a rather phlegmatic one. When I got used to it, I asked if I could bring the horse to a gallop. They gave me a fast black horse, but this time I rode with a horseman sitting behind me. He masterfully made the horse gallop.

It was a fantastic experience, I felt what it was like to rush at full speed when the wind whistles in your ears; it was like flying, we were taking off the ground as one single living being with every leap. No car ride can give you the same experience.

Well of course all this comes at a price: my buttocks and feet reminded me of the ride for a while with slight pain, but the unforgettable sensations were totally worth it. I couldn't but wonder how did they manage to spend weeks in the saddle.
horseback riding

Day 5

In the morning the sun was shining again but it was colder. We went to mountains. The weather changed and so did the air pressure, that's why (probably because I'm hypotensive) I felt like I was being pushed to the ground, I was sleepy and didn't want to move, but this time once again the mountains were stronger than me and their power drew me ahead higher and higher.

We reached another mountain lake with Alex climbing up along a river in test mode. This ascent was quite difficult for me, there were many rocky slopes. Several times it seemed that there it was, our goal, the summit of the mountain with a lake hidden there, but reaching the top we realized it was just another false summit with no lake there but a narrow fast-flowing mountain river sometimes covered with snow crust.
mountains in Kyrgyzstan
There in the mountains it's still spring; snows are melting, primroses are starting to bloom, and here in Moscow it's July already. Crisp fresh air, unity with nature, a new perspective of the world — there is everything which is so lacking in the city. We sat on the top for a while, came closer to the lake and started our descent on the other side. It was easier of course, like skiing only without skis. It would have been much worse and more difficult without a guide.
hiking to a mountain lake
There in the mountains it's still spring; snows are melting, primroses are starting to bloom, and here in Moscow it's July already. Crisp fresh air, unity with nature, a new perspective of the world — there is everything which is so lacking in the city.

We sat on the top for a while, came closer to the lake and started our descent on the other side. It was easier of course, like skiing only without skis. It would have been much worse and more difficult without a guide.
Mickey Mouse Lake

Days 6 and 7

Then it was time to leave, but I didn't feel like going away, leaving the mountains and going down, I didn't want to see crowds of people hurrying somewhere, but it wasn't the end of the trip yet, which was good news.

We were heading to Talas with its Manas museum. My boyfriend and I also went to Issyk-Kul after that (Alex didn't accompany us there, but he gave us some advice on where to stay).
flora of Kyrgyzstan
It's very dangerous to go to mountains on vacation, because returning to Moscow you feel at zero altitude and have an urge to go back.

Daria, July 2018.

Link to Besh-Tash Nature Reserve Tour.
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