I think I am too small for my luggage…..
We started by car and drove a few kilometres to a car park in Bokonbaevo.
A small car arrived there, the doors opened and a loud whistling noise was immediately heard. Two men got out of the car and they had an eagle with them. It wore a mask and when it does that, it whistles loudly. We had already heard this during an eagle demonstration in the camp for another group. When you take the mask off, he doesn’t make a sound anymore, but actually wants to take off immediately and spot prey and hunt. The men were father and son, father was the eagle hunter, the son had specialised more in falcons but had not brought them with him. Father spoke a little English and told us about the eagles, how they are stolen from the nest and then they get used to each other and train and what an intimate relationship they have, etc. After 20 years, the eagles are released back into the wild to start a new family (they are very monogamous).
Then you have the chance to hold an eagle and have it take a photo of itself. When you jerk its arm, it spreads its wings. Unfortunately, the moment was not captured.
I am not particularly enthusiastic about animals and could actually have done without an eagle encounter. However, it is in many tourist programmes and I thought I should definitely go and see it for myself. My enthusiasm continued to be limited. I really don’t know anything about animals and I can’t say whether it’s good to preserve such a tradition, which almost died out during the Soviet era and is now being revived by tourism. There is no “need” for it, but of course it gives the eagle hunters quite a good income. My uneasy feeling was strengthened by the chapter about eagle hunters in the book “Sovjetistan” von Erika Fatland, of whom I am a big fan. She describes her 2 encounters with eagle hunters before 2014 (when her book was published) as rather pathetic and indeed not tradition but based on pure money-making. But who knows?
Afterwards we drove further into the mountain world behind the Issyk Kul. The road changed from tarmac to track and at some point the car stopped, another came, took our luggage and Ute and I were told to walk. We did that for 1 hour at the most.
The destination was a specially set up yurt camp near Temir Kanat. There were 2 sleeping yurts (1 was already dismantled), 1 dining yurt, 1 cooking yurt and 1 toilet/cold shower stone hut. It was run by an elderly dear couple (she used to be a librarian) and a shy granddaughter was also there.
It was close to nature, more comfortable than camping, had a great view of the valley and hiking possibilities. We climbed a mountain slope from which there was a really great view and stayed there for a long time.
I liked it there very much. A mountain landscape like I had never seen before, height, vastness, joy in my heart. And then we had a whole day where we could walk around! It started with a slight discrepancy – there was also a man with horse/s in the camp, or rather he was only there temporarily. He was apparently supposed to accompany us (on his horse) and carry the picnic. That was not at all what we had in mind and we refused. However, he still rode in our direction, always a little bit away from us – but after a longer pause he was no longer to be seen. Later there were 2 x 1 riders in the distance – no idea if it was him. Otherwise we saw no people, dwellings and only a few animals.
This hiking day was one of the most beautiful of this trip. I liked this landscape very much. You could walk here and there and you were not in danger of getting lost, because everything was clearly laid out. And what was especially nice: the variety of flowers! I guess there were at least 50 different species with blooms. I only took one photo:
And here are more pics of this hiking day
Also we found some mushrooms:
And there was a dead animal which seems to lack the bones:
On the way back there was thunder and rain and a trackless stretch through very tall vegetation where my shoes got all wet. But then the sun came out again quickly and we were soon back at camp.
We both really liked it there and I think you can also go on a longer trekking tour there. There were also some car tracks and I would have expected nomadic yurts here, but there were none. There were only traces of something standing in at least one place.
I had reconciled myself to making an organised trip – especially because we were now obviously going to and would go to places I would never have ended up otherwise.