CHAPTER 5

Kyrgyzstan: Travels on the Synthetic Road

From the Trans-Caspian Railway terminus in Andijan, Gustaf Mannerheim travelled by horse cart to Osh, one of the oldest markets in Central Asia and now located in Kyrgyzstan. From here, he and Paul Pelliot went north to Uzgen to procure horses at a famed animal market. They stayed in Osh for ten days and then departed with their horse caravan to China. They travelled along the Gulcha River Valley, across the Taldyk Pass, into the Alai Valley and then to Irkeshtam Pass, the border crossing to China. The horse trek to the border took almost twelve days.

While Mannerheim travelled mostly by horse or horse cart, this mode of transportation is nowadays utterly antiquated. Nevertheless, I wanted to get a sense of what it must have been like to travel a century ago and so I hired a Kyrgyz guide and horseman to take me on a six day horsetrek from the town of Gulcha to Irkeshtam Pass. It was, by far, one of the highlights of my seven-month journey from St. Petersburg to Beijing.

Route Map

Click on features to view details of the route. The blue route line is my short detour to an alpine pasture overlooking the Gulcha River Valley.


View Horse That Leaps – Eric Enno Tamm in a larger map

Photo Map

Click on the icons to view photos of my trip through southern Kyrgyzstan and my six-day horsetrek through the Alai Valley region to Irkeshtam Pass, the border crossing to China.

Slideshow

Resources

For more information about Kyrgyzstan, check out these links:
Kyrgyzstan on Wikipedia
CIA World Factbook
Kyrgyzstan Community-based Tourism Association
EurasiaNet.org – Kyrgyzstan News
Kyrgyzstan Embassy in Washington, DC