To the southeast of Bishkek, among the Tian Shan
Mountains, in the highlands of Kyrgyzstan lies the province of Naryn. An amazing
territory of wild beauty with snow-capped peaks, picturesque valleys, gorges
and an abundance of wildlife. Bordering China in the south, Naryn region being
the largest in Kyrgyzstan and probably the economically poorest part of the
Naryn region is not a small place - let's say it
is larger than Switzerland. Perhaps more than anywhere else, this feels exactly
"Silk Road" country with its huge open spaces, wild hills, lakes,
and the magnificent mountains.
Despite its large geographical size, the population
of this oblast is only about 250,000 - nearly all of them original Kyrgyz people,
most are desperately poor without so much of the Russian influence seen elsewhere.
It is therefore said that this is Kyrgyzstan at its most "authentic".
The climate is sharply continental, and in fact
this is the coldest part of Kyrgyzstan, Ak-Sai valley- The north pole of Central
Asia located in this province on the way to Torugart pass. Winter lasts for
6-8 months here and the temperature might easily decrease till -50 C but in
the spring and summer the mountainsides are covered with wild flowers.
Despite the cold winters and strong winds, the
Central Tian Shan has been inhabited since ancient times. This is indicated
by ancient buildings (Tash-Rabat) or their remains (Koshoi Korgon) found during
archeological expeditions. Also one of the main brunches of the Great Silk Road
crossed Naryn region to China over Torugart and San-Tash passes.