28th May – Chundzha to Karakol Kyrgystan

In the morning Michael, David, Henk & Ian fit a new fuel pump and the radiator fan that Simon brought from the UK for Dash B. The radiator fan is a different model than the one on the car so the boys adapt it by drilling new holes and with  some washers and it fits OK.  After breakfast we head off for a 198 km drive to Karakol in Kyrgyzstan, so we have a border crossing today.

We across the open plains with snow capped mountains in the distance.  In Kazakhstan it is very common to see men riding horses and in particular riding them to round up cattle & sheep.

We turn off onto a very corrugated dirt road towards Charyn Canyon.

We only go about 3 km and Dash B radios in that his car is still having the same fuel issues and is stalling, so the new facet fuel pump has too higher pressure the same as the one that was replaced this morning.  He drives around the problem and keeps going.  Another 10 km down the road he radios in that his new radiator fan has disintegrated, so we all stop and have our morning tea.

It only takes about 40 minutes and the old radiator fan is put back on and we continue on to the Canyon.

Charyn Canyon is a small version of the Grand Canyon and the rock formations and colours are beautiful.  A big storm is coming so we hurry back to the cars just in time.

We drive out of the canyon on a different dirt road before turning onto a bitumen road and we have a very scenic lunch stop.

The dirt road deteriorates into quite a bad dirt road and our speed is dramatically reduced however the scenery is breathtaking so we don’t complain too much. There are snow capped mountains in the background with rolling green hills in front, horses with foals and cows, not a good time for our camera battery to go flat. We need to make the border by 4:30 pm as it closes at 6 pm so we keep our stops to a minimum.

We make it in time and the Kazakhstan border officials are very friendly and wanting to take photos, which is a surprise at a border crossing as cameras are usually not allowed.

We are processed very smoothly out of Kazakhstan and proceed to the Kyrgyzstan side where they are not so welcoming.  When one of the team picks up their camera one of the officials speak to him sternly and asked to see the photos so he could delete any he’d taken, which he hadn’t.  One of the girls went to the toilet on the border and took a photo of the view looking away from the border crossing and she was very quickly stopped, her phone was taken and the photos were deleted. An interesting introduction to Kyrgyzstan.  However the processing of the paper work for the cars & our immigration processing is very efficient, we meet our guide Akay, who has been waiting for 3 hours for us, and we proceeded on our way.  All up the border crossing took us only about 1 hour, which is pretty good for 16 people & 8 cars.

The road is an appallingly bad dirt road, but the scenery is just wonderful.

We pass yurts and mobile caravans as the farmers bring their cattle up to the alpine area for the summer months.

We also pass several trucks loaded with bee hives.

We have a quick driver change & stretch stop as it’s getting late and we still have away to go to Karakol.

We arrive at Karakol at 7 pm, check in, have a freshen up & head off to get some local currency so we can buy dinner.

It’s been a long day and we have also lost 2 hours as we had to put our watches back 2 hours when we entered  Kyrgyzstan.

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