Zhabagly, Kazakhstan to Kirov Reservoir, Kyrgizstan Week 124 August 14th - 17th 2013

Since we entered Kazakhstan we've been in desert or semi-desert. Including the Kyzyl Kum desert south of the Aral Sea. To about where the cosmodrome is.

We expected to see cotton, but that was not to be.

After another patch of rough dirt road round the road works we were on concrete.

Different road building technique, different country supplying the aid or the contractor.

This looked like the Chinese.

We saw him first.

He didn't wave.

We also didn't expect to see wheat.

The harvesters are old, possibly from the Soviet days.

We saw grain silos so its a sizable industry.

We made a mistake at Shymkent. City of about one million people.

I had coordinates for where to turn onto the northern by-pass towards Almaty.

But no signposts and the gps was 6 km out.

By the time I'd worked it out we were in the middle of Shymkent

A cop hauled us over, wanted to see our documents, then took me to one side and we sat in his car.

He wanted money, I played dumb foreigner.

He got frustrated. I won..

I reverted to mobile phone internet, googlemaps and the gps dongle.

An hour later we passed this fellow and found the road east.

After about 90 km we turned off the main road towards Zhabagly.

Village with centre for Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve.

We hadn't noticed we wer driving uphill.

The village is at about 1280 m.

Said hello to the Ukrainian tour operator, who spoke good English.

He filled us in on when the park headquarters (on village main street) would be open (it was lunch time until 3pm).

Entry fee per day (about A$12) is 1700 Tenge each plus another 1700 for the ranger/guide.

Through the village we drove towards the park entrance.

Back down the hill we camped where  recommended on the river flat near the hydro outlet.

And said hello to the horse herder.

There are two valleys that give access to the park. This one near Zhabagly and the Aksu Canyon two villages (25km) to the south west.

Apparently 6km walk to the first refuge at 1700m. There and back, about A$3 per km.

Watched the sun on the mountains.

The buckets are full of water. Settling. It contains some rock flour. There must be a glacier further up.

A couple of days of rest and mainteannce.

Remember the intermittent water pump problem.

It started after the tank strap problem.

While fixing the tank strap I'd had to cut a couple of cable ties and disturbed the wiring. There was something else loose which squashed this wire to one of the pumps. It was intemittently shorting to the chassis. 

Lots of other fiddly bits of maintenance due after the rough roads.

Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve is known for its flowers.

Greig's Tulip (a fine Kazakh name!) flowers in the alpine meadows in April - May. This isn't it.

After spending the day under and round the truck I stretched my legs on a walk into the park.

Avoiding the rangers.

Following the horse trails.

After a couple of hours I was on a ridge looking across the valley.
And further up it.

Its 2-3 days long walk to get deep into the park and back.

We are on the edge of the Tien Shan Mountains which separate Kazakhstan and Kyrgizstan.

I settled for the flowers.

The vegetation is dry and prickly.

I left the gaiters in New Zealand so have sore and tender shins, and a few scratches.

And a look at our river bed campsite.

There's a hydro scheme and we crossed a couple of small river branches to park.

"Predictably" they'd risen a bit for when we left.

We now have clean wheels.

Afterour last night in Kazakhstan we set off east to Talas and the border just to the south.

A strange mixture of mechanised and manual big field farming.

The main road was rough until about 70 km west of Taras.

This was a long descent to the plain.

The Aysha-Bibi Mausoleum. At the eastern end of the village of Aysha-Bibi.

Wiyh Babazhi Katun Mausoleum just to the right.

Rose gardens either side.

The tombs of two 11th - 12th century women.

A story of forbidden love.

The veneer is terracotta bricks with deep (to us) patterns.

Like counting carriages in trains we are told there are more than 50 different brick tiles.

Very nice!

We are a bit confused at the age and preservation as it looks remarkably un-eroded.

People were praying inside so we didn't enter.

Talas is sprawling and modern.

Not sure what this building is.

We found the supermarket (it wasn't lost, we were) and stocked up. Several ATMs in the foyer, some with buttons that didn't work.

Then filled up the fuel tanks.

We avoided the center, but had to make a detour round some roadwords.
Past the power station.

We haven't got used to the Russian designed cooling towers that don't get wider at the top.

Not sure why there's no steam. Maybe because there's no smoke from the chimneys.

Our map reading was good.

Just one road out.

We found ourselves in Pokrovka, in Kyrgizstan after crossing the border.

Tomatoes for sale. We'd noticed that the Kyrgs crossing the border on foot were carrying bananas, other fruit, and bread, so fresh fruit and veggies at the roadside confused us.


there are two roads marked running south of Talas across the border. Reise maps marks the westerly  one as the A361, googemaps the easterly. Garmin only had one road, parallel to google, but about 6km out.

We don't know if there was one or two border posts...

Which partly explained why it took a couple of hours to leave Kazakhstan.

Really helpful, but seemed unused to foreigners.

An hour of slow movement just to get into the border compund.

Once inside the delay included someone walking to the Kyrgiz side to check that they would let us in - they were concerned that if not, and they stamped our exit, they could not let us back.

Kyrgizstan was relatively straightforward, the queues to leave Kazakhstan had evaporated. Though we needed help again completing the vehicle entry forms - very similar to Russia and Kazakhstan.

Our mis-navigation took us past the Kirov Reservoir.

We wondered if it was Kirov's head above the dam wall. We'll figure out who Kirov is when we have internet again.

The reservoir is relatively empty.

An obvious place to look for a campsite though.

Its 6pm at the end of a long day. 

We found a track leading towards the water and followed it until we were next to the river. A bit silty.

There's a few houses with large fences near where the water's edge would be if the dam were full.

And a couple of fishermen at the lake.

The almost lush vegetation, in the soft ground waiting to be turned to mud at the slightest hint of rain, has tenacious burrs that like socks and shoe laces.

Talas to Ala Bel Pass, Kyrgizstan Week 125 August 18th 2013

Sorry, comments closed.