Thursday, 2 May 2013

Travels in the Celestial Mountains - Kyrgyzstan

The Tien Shan Mountains are aptly named.

The range links the Pamirs in Tajikistan, The Hindu Kush in Pakistan and The Alti Mountains of Mongolia. More importantly it cuts Krygyzstan in half .

The Tien Shan Range
In the early 1990's only a difficult route through the centre of the Kyrgyzstan from Osh to Bishkek existed.  In the harsh winter of 1994 when I set up and managed Save the Children Fund's first Central Asia Programme it was easier to travel from the south to Bishkek via Tashkent in Uzbekistan then onto Chimkent in Kazakhstan and finally back into Kyrgyzstan; effectively circumventing the range.

Travel across the Tien Shan from Osh to Bishkek is one of life's great experiences.  Villagers rarely saw outsiders let alone foreigners and the welcome was always overwhelming.

SCF's first programme in Central Asia
Often the villages were completely cut off by snow in winter and eventually we borrowed helicopters to move supplies.

Travel in the Tien Shan by horse was possible but only from late spring onwards.

The range reaches to Lake Issyk Kul near  Bishkek.  Set at 1,600 m above sea level, the lake  is one of the highest mountain lakes in the world.

Image result for LAKE ISSYK KUL
Issyk Kul