"Naryn Oblasty: Tash Rabat and Lake Song Kul" Naryn Oblasty by Eish

Naryn Oblasty Travel Guide: 24 reviews and 61 photos

Tash Rabat caravanserai between Naryn and Torugart

This is Shell Ultra City of the ancient Silk Road (for those non-South Africans: a gasoline station highway rest stop). For a 1000 years people have been using this jailoo (pasture) to rest and recuperate after an arduous and death-defying trip over the mountains from China. This very pasture has been used as a sanctuary for people who lived like we did for a brief period of time. As I wrote my diary there, I could see a Kyrgyz family weaving felt, chickens huddled together to stay warm, beyond that horses and yaks grazing, more yurts, then the stone building of Tash Rabat itself.

Our host's hospitality was superb. I was spat on (accidentally) while standing in the rain at night, smelling the fires (they burn yak dung). Seriously though, our every need was cared for as if we were nomads travelling through their pasture.

At 3000m, I could feel some effect of the altitude: mild nausea that passed quickly, and some breathlessness as I tried to carry my daughter on my shoulders and sing at the same time. After a few days, we had acclimatised enough to play high altitude soccer, although my son preferred to read Asterix in the yurt, while my daughter tried really hard to feed blue flowers to reluctant sheep.

Lake Song Kul

Our driver, Yuri, told us this was a place of unexpected magic. He also compared it to Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World. We ascended up a hairy pass onto a plateau at 3000m with a freshwater mountain lake surrounded by peaks that seemed small from the plateau but were huge in height (3600m). Misty rain and dusk completed the "Lost World" picture.

The magic Yuri spoke about was gentle: listening to Russian rock ballads from inside a yurt, with cold cold rain falling almost contantly; seeing Bactrian camels against a backdrop of snow and not desert; being warmed by a stove fuelled on wood when there was not a tree in sight (we were above the treeline); eating a fresh white dish for supper over a single oil lamp; going to the toilet with no door and a view onto the lake. Ok, perhaps that last point is not magical.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Remote, magnificent scenery, hospitable people
  • Cons:easier if you pre-arrange, difficult to "play by ear"
  • Last visit to Naryn Oblasty: Aug 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (8)

Comments (1)

  • originalribenababy's Profile Photo
    Jan 23, 2008 at 8:38 AM

    great page :) I might possibly be getting a trip to song kol with work if im very lucky, i have my fingers very tightly crossed!

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