The Torugart Pass

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If you are in Kyrgyzstan, and want to go to China, there are some obstacles in your way. The most obvious of these obstacles are the Tien Shan Mountains, which are very high. The Torugart Pass is one of the few routes through these mountains.

Starting in Naryn, the road only leads to the pass. Although the road is very bad - dust and stones - there is a lot of traffic: Chinese trucks with containers and Kyrgyz trucks with chequered plastic over the loads going both ways.

Tien Shan mountains in the distance

Picturesque men from Koshkor

Trucks, dust and rocks

A yak

Yak shepherd The Kyrgyz nomads were collecting their herds to bring them down hill for the winter. All day we had seen them with sheep, goats, cows and horses, and then we came across a herd of yaks. We hadn't expected those, but they certainly looked tough enough to belong here.

Tash Rabat caravanserai

Short from the first Kyrgyz border post lies Tash Rabat, an old caravanserai. Some say it dates from the 10th century, when it was a Christian monastery. Others date it in the 15th century. And to add to the mystery: there are some holes that are supposed to be tunnels, leading some 2.5 kilometers away from the caravanserai.

English speaking gaid English speaking gaid ?

Next to the Tash Rabat, we stayed the night in a yurt. Although pretty cold outside (just 2 degrees Celsius), inside it was warm enough.

And when you wake up in the night and go outside, you can see a million stars. At home, we usually count about 50 on a clear night.


Sleeping in a yurt

Tien Shan mountains

Through the snow, towards China

Another obstacle in the pass are the border posts. You have to cross five of them, the first 180 kilometers from the last.

The border has a reputation of closing whenever someone feels like it. So when one of your minibusses is not working properly, there is a snow storm (luckily only for a short time) and you know the border will close the next day for a week because of a Festival Week, you get a bit anxious if you will be able to pass all the posts in time.

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