Jeti Ögüz, Skazka Canyon, Salt Lake
We have been exploring the Southern shore of Issyk Kul Lake which has some interesting scenery. Issyk Kul Lake is the second largest alpine lake and tenth largest lake in the world by volume and sits on 1607m above sea level.
First, we visited Jeti Ögüz from Karakol as a day trip, which are some red rock formations amongst the lush scenery and alpine backdrop. Some of the formations are known as the 'Broken Heart' , 'Seven Bulls' and 'Dragon Canyon'. Additionally, the destination is also well known and highly regarded as a health sanctuary (although a bit abandoned and very Soviet looking) with its own natural mineral water source which we had a glug from.
We then took another Marshrutka (against the advice from our Italian host Memo) from Karakol to Tong where the driver didn't want to stop for us even though we specified we would like to be dropped off at that village. Given the fact the bus stopped for every man and his dog leading up to Tong, we were convinced we would stop here too. Wrong! After much shouting from Dave and some helpful passengers, we were allowed to get off next to the exit Tong sign. Phew.
The next day, we visited the Skazka Canyon, also known as the 'Fairytale Canyon'. This place is a geologist's dream! Skazka Canyon has a range of weird and wonderful rock formations as well as multicoloured stripes running across the terrain. We spent a couple hours there, first following a crest of rock that gave us views over the whole area and then wandering through gulleys formed by water, always wondering what was around the next corner. You can happily get lost in this place and easily meander back to the start point. The added bonus was getting another ride in a Lada Niva 4×4 for our taxi there and back.
For the following day, we arranged an arts & craft workshop on how to make felt, part of every Nomad's life. After several phone calls, clearly this wasn't going to happen. So it was Plan B. Two Italian women from Puglia were about to take a taxi to the Salt Lake so we joined them. A little side note that the taxi driver didn't have the best taste in music and the volume a tad too high for our ears. People come to the Salt Lake to cake their bodies with black fine clay, let it dry and then wash / swim it off in the salty lake. We did just that. Once dry, you can see the salt residue on your body and smell the minerals (sulphur we guess due to the eggy smell). Back in the car for more bad and loud music, thunder, lighting and torrential rain rolled in. Nothing new to us.