As soon as Arslanbob was behind us, we had reconciled with Kyrgyzstan. We enjoyed Shoro (a barley-wheat-corn drink) at the roadside and were surprised by the scenic diversity! Green, fertile valleys alternated with barren and eroded lands. The choice of route was made easier by the stormy weather and closed pass roads.

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Countless short and steep hills led us along the Naryn River dam to the Toktokul reservoir. The view of the mirror-smooth lake with mountain panorama in the background was fantastic… as was our campsite right on the shore! The road to Ala-Bel Pass was much less busy than we had feared and led through a landscape just how we had imagined Kyrgyzstan: green high valleys with rolling hills, yurts, herds of horses and sheep. At the roadside, nomads sold dried yogurt balls and fermented mare’s milk.
On a bumpy dirt road we followed the Kökömeren River downhill through an impressive gorge. Shortly before reaching the paved road we camped in front of the red rock walls and we almost felt like being in the USA.

What we definitely wanted to see in Kyrgyzstan was Song-Kül, a mountain lake at 3016m. The only question was which road would be the best to reach the lake. From a local tour guide we received the reliable information that all access roads were free of snow. With an adventurous route in mind and plenty of provisions, we left Chaek and shortly thereafter were overtaken by a severe thunderstorm. Over a 3in1 “coffee” we reconsidered our plan and instead of going directly to Song-Kül we continued along the mountains towards Kochkor. Unfortunately, we found that we had to share the dusty dirt road for many kilometers with trucks from the coal mine.

After another stormy day, stable fair weather returned, ideal for the ascent to Song-Kül via Kalmak Pass – at 3446m the highest mountain pass so far on our trip. WOW, what a view from the pass to the smooth lake! WOW, what a magnificent campsite by the reflecting water! WOW, what a wonderful place which we shared with few other tourists in the pre-season!
Large herds of horses, cows and yaks grazed freely by the lake. The horses here are not kept for riding, but like the other animals are primarily used for milk and meat production.

David could not enjoy the downhill ride from the Moldo Pass in peace. His bottom bracket quit after more than 25000km and pedaling was only possible with a considerable amount of effort. Fortunately, we reached the valley practically without counterclimb and David could replace the defective bearing at the campsite. Luckily, we had a new bottom bracket and the right tools with us😊. For the old bottom bracket, the seal was broken, the sand of the last few months had penetrated into the ball bearing and destroyed them.

The next day, we pedaled smoothly again, except that in the Naryn Valley there was no opportunity to stop for our extended snack. Having given up hope of tea, we shopped at a grocery store and devoured our spoils in the shade in front of the store. Shortly after, the shopkeeper’s wife invited us into her sitting room: She served us bread, compote, chocolate and cookies with our tea, and we continued our journey fortified and happy about the warm hospitality😊.

In Naryn we left the main road to reach the small town of Kochkor with a round trip over the Dzalpakbel Pass (3300m). On the way we met a Polish cyclist couple, who had not done the round trip, but had continued to follow the valley and had mastered the traverse over the Tosor Pass (3900m!). Because of all the snow, we had no longer considered this option… but it would save us a detour of about 200km. We had one more night to sleep on the options for the onward journey. Once again, the unsettled weather moved us to conservative route choices along the intended loop route.
In the afternoon, as we bumped cursing over the grueling washboard road out of the valley, the sky behind us was pitch black… Later we learned that due to this thunderstorm, a mudslide had caused the north side of the Tosor Pass to become impassable. Lucky us☘️😄!

From Kochkor we rode in three unspectacular days along the Issyk-Kul to Karakol. The wonderfully new asphalt road was replaced by a long construction site (60km without pavement and with countless detours) and later by the potholed country road. However, the lake offered nice places to spend the night and the yellow-red rock formations of the Fairytail Canyon were worth a little side trip. In Karakol we found a very nice guesthouse. Here we can make ourselves comfortable for a few days, do laundry, maintain bikes, repair and clean equipment, write blog….

Yesterday we received our duplicate passports with our Russian visa. Many thanks to Romina and Nadja from Globetrotter Visaservice for the very professional and uncomplicated procurement of the visas!
And thanks a lot to Marco, Anne and Marlies from for the transport and the friendly handover! The onward journey to Russia via Kazakhstan should now be possible😊.