a guest post by Elisa and Marc from Dusty Backpacks
This day trip will take you through a vast valley full of glorious rolling hills, nomads, hidden caves and – if you‘re lucky – a bunch of friendly locals. Welcome to Jeti Oguz- a fairy-tale spot in the heart of Asia!
What is it and why you need to go
Kyrgyzstan is one of our favourite countries – it is basically one big mountain. Full of beautiful valleys, gorges and wonderfully friendly people. Kyrgyzstan should be on everyone’s travel itinerary, this day trip included. This day trip summarizes everything that is good about Kyrgyzstan and gives you a nice taste of what is to come during your stay there.
Jeti Oguz is a big valley very close to Karakol and therefore is a perfect day trip from the city. The valley gets its name from an impressive, red rock formation “The seven bulls” – Jeti Öguz in Kyrgyz. Underneath this rock formation there is a very tiny village and that’s where the trail begins, leading you into the gorgeous valley, where nomads live in the rolling hills and herd their animals.
Before we did the epic 3 day Ala-Kul trek, we spent a few days in Karakol. On our second day in there we went to one of the trekking offices to get more info about Ala-Kul and they recommended Jeti Oguz to us for a little day trip. The weather that day was great so we decided to go for it. It is only about 30-40 min drive from Karakol so it’s perfect!
A day trip to Jeti Oguz
Before starting any adventures it‘s necessary to fill your stomachs! So, into the bazaar we went to search for some food.
The food bazaar in Karakol
The bazaar in Karakol is unlike the other bazaars in Central Asia. It is basically built out of shipping containers, due to its proximity to the Chinese border. This gives it a very interesting, different look. It was wonderfully chaotic, full of food and fun. Hungry for lunch, we found this lovely place in the heart of the bazaar, packed with locals. At first there were no tables available, but the friendly people there quickly made space for us and we ordered a BUNCH of food. It was delicious!
The taxi to Jeti Oguz
After the great lunch we ventured over to the shared taxi stand. Immediately the drivers came eagerly up to us and asked where we wanted to go. It didn’t take long to arrange a car to drive us to Jeti Oguz and while driving there we agreed that he would also wait for us there and drive us back – perfect!
The Seven Bulls and the Broken Heart
The driver dropped us off in a tiny village which is overlooked by the seven bulls, this iswhere we started the walk. The Seven Bulls is a formation of red rock, but we were unable to see them – maybe it was just the lack of imagination (or vodka). Before arriving at The Seven Bulls, you’ll see the Broken Heart rock formation. It kind of looks like a heart split down the middle and is the foundation of many heartbreak folklore. The red colour of the boulders in the middle of the green grass make them stand out a lot and make the surroundings look very impressive.
The start of the route
When in the village, it is not very clear where to start. But after a while we found it, just follow the river that flows through the village and you’ll be on the right way 🙂 First you walk through a narrow valley, next to the river. On the way there we came across a path marked with white rocks, leading to a mystery cave, it’s always fun to visit a cave. So, we followed it for a while and found the hidden cave – was it made by elves or trolls, who knows! Inside was not a lot, but it would be an ideal spot for an evening campfire. We turned around and followed the main trail.
You also don’t have to worry about bringing a full water bottle, there are freshwater springs everywhere! This adds into the feeling of being in a fairy tale and as we found out, the landscape in Kyrgyzstan is like something straight out of Lord of the Rings. From the small village we walked on for about 1.5 hours in a narrow alley next to the river. Then, a big valley opened up its arms and before us was a paradise.
Like in a paradise!
All around us were animals grazing, horses, sheep and cows and their herders chasing after them. It was so very peaceful and green with yurts scattered around. We walked up one of the hills to get a better view. Took a few moments just to take in the beauty of the valley. Watching some local nomads herd their animals.
In the surrounding area are also a bunch of waterfalls well worth exploring. It would have been perfect to take lunch up there and have a little picnic while surrounded by animals and nature – next time! As we were there kind of late, we decided to head back at this point, but it is definitely possible to spend more hours in this paradise before turning back to Karakol.
The friendly locals
What made this day tour even better is that when we were on our way back we ran into a group of locals having a picnic. They were so so so happy to see us and tried offering us vodka, but they were surprised to see that they drank it all! Then, with our very poor Russian and their limited English we found out their names, where they were from and who was dating who! After the introduction, what ensued was an elaborate photoshoot with all of us, lots of laughter and shared bread and candy. It was a hilarious experience and a great example of how unexpected things can happen when you go a bit off the beaten track!
It is definitely possible and advisable to do this lovely day trip without a guide. If you are in some doubt, go to the local trekking office and ask them for adviceand they will help you.
You can either take a marshrutka there (nr. 355) or find a (shared) taxi that is willing to drive there – we decided to opt for a shared taxi as it was the 3 of us.They both leave next to the bazaar very central in Karakol, you can find the exact location on Maps.me.
We paid 900som (11USD) for the 3 of us for the drive there and for the driver to wait 4 hours while we walked. The Marshrutka is a lot cheaper, but then you would have to find a ride back into town after the walk. The drive is only about 30-40 minutes from Karakol and is on a nice paved road.
It is also possible to use Jeti Öguz as a starting point for the Ala Kul trek, instead of a day trip. This would take you to Ala Kul late and ending in the lovely hot spring village, Altyn Arashan. Starting here will add about 2 days to the trek.
Get more impressions from the video below:
Who we are:
We are Elisa and Marc, two amateur adventurers sharing stories from our dusty backpacks! Elisa comes from Iceland, the land of ice and fire. While Marc comes from the land of cheese and tulips, the Netherlands. We met in Maastricht (NL) while Elisa was studying there. Sharing a passion for traveling we decided to sell all our belongings and set out on anoverland adventure through Russia, Central Asia and Iran. Before flying towards Nepal, India and SEA. Read more about our adventures in our blog Dusty Backpacks!
Check some travel books about Kyrgyzstan:
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