Hot Springs of Altyn Arashan
After two nights in the yurt camp in Jeti-Ögüz it’s time to continue traveling. We drove back to Karakol on the same bad road as we came here. Especially the bridges were a challenge and at some of them we needed to adjust the pieces of wood, the bridge was built with, so our truck was able to drive over them.
On the way we also drove by the small village of Jeti-Ögüz. The place is famous for its hot springs but we won’t visit the springs here but in Altyn Arashan which is our destination for tonight. There are also interesting rock formations in Jeti-Ögüz called Seven Bulls. They consist of red rocks and have a number of small peaks.
In Karakol we needed to say goodbye to Emilie since she needs to go back to Bishkek to deal with her Chinese visa application. While she had already submitted her application a couple of days ago, they first wanted to see the Kyrgyz group visa she is traveling on in Kyrgyzstan and not just a photocopy of it. So we arranged with the help of our local agency that the original group visa gets handed in at the Chinese embassy. After they have seen it they now request Emilie is getting an individual visa for Kyrgyzstan before they will issue her a Chinese visa. Therefore, she needs to travel back to Bishkek and apply for a Kyrgyz transit visa which is the cheapest one available.
In Karakol we also needed to change vehicles since our truck isn’t able to drive up to Altyn Arashan. So we hired some kind of military truck to drive us up there. It cost 5,000 Som (107.3 USD) for going there and coming back. Before jumping on the military truck we quickly packed a daypack since we didn’t wanted to carry our big bags up the mountain. The cook group also went shopping since we will need to cook our own food up there.
The drive up to Altyn Arashan was really bumpy and very much fun. It was amazing to see this military truck driving along what it no proper road but more a hiking trail which is partially steep. There was no traffic caused by other cars but from time to time we needed to stop because a herd of sheep was blocking the road.
Also interesting about the military truck was me finding a sticker of Luca. He’s a Dragoman leader who travelled all over South America, Africa and Asia. Wherever he goes he seems to leave his sticker behind which I could find at the weirdest places all around the world such as in this military truck. Because he’s so well known by now he’s even shortlisted by the travel magazine Wanderlust as guide of the year 2012. I also heard the story that Luca ones got lost in the mountains and wasn’t able to use a compass. But I’m sure he’s a great guide ;-) although I never met him in person.
It took maybe two hours or so to drive up to Altyn Arashan situated at an altitude around 2,400m. It’s basically a couple of houses lying remotely in a beautiful valley of snow covered mountains and a stream in the middle of it. Here we will be camping for one night. Altyn Arashan is mainly known for its hot springs and as soon as I have put up my tent I went to soak my limbs in the hot water. There were three different pools which were all kind of basic but nice. The largest one could fit 3-4 people and was so hot that I only could sit in it for 5 min.
After a self-cooked dinner we had a little party in the dining room. The cook group had not just bought food but also a few bottles of vodka. They all cost around 70 to 90 Som (1.5 to 1.9 USD) which is very cheap. I somehow wasn’t in the mood of drinking and just had a couple of soft drinks. After a while I regretted it since I was sober while everybody else was pretty much drunk. Have you every observed drunk people? They are all kind of childish which you can only bear if you pissed as well.