Phil, Bekbolot, Shailoo, Ismail, Emma and Volodya are on their way to Karakol valley, two cars packed with food and other supplies. They will be setting up base camp for slot 2 and return on Sunday to Bishkek. Writing this, I am at the Futuro hotel waiting for two more expedition vehicles to be delivered and preparing to leave on Sunday morning.
After a lovely last night dinner on Saturday (21 July) with slot 1 at Supara restaurant located a few kilometres outside of Bishkek Bekbolot, Volodya, Phil & I went to Ala Archa National Park for a day visit on Tuesday (26 July). What was supposed to be a short, easy walk turned out to be a 9 km hike up to a waterfall with spectacular views on the way. The entrance to the National Park is only about 25 km from the city center of Bishkek and is worth a visit if you have some spare time.
On Wednesday Phil and I, accompanied by Ismail, went to Ananyevo at Issyk Kol lake for a visit of the NABU rehabilitation centre. Three snow leopards, a lynx, three golden eagles and a black kite are currently hosted there. The centre is located in a remote place in the mountains. Buildings include a wooden hut – the ranger’s home – a few stables, enclosures and a tiny stone house for staff and guests sleeping over (which does not happen often as the centre is not open to the public). For some of the animals it is a temporary home to recover from injuries (such as the Pallas’ cat that was released back into the wild two weeks ago). For others, such as the snow leopard Alsu who has lost a paw from being trapped in a foot snare, it has become a permanent residence.
We went along with the ranger feeding the animals early in the morning on Thursday (28 July), had ‘chay’ (tea) at his hut and arrived back in Bishkek after a five hour drive in the early afternoon.
Friday (29 July) was our shopping day. Emma, Volodya, Phil and I very efficiently tasked shared at Frunze supermarket: Filling two baskets at a time (Emma & I) paying & loading the car (Phil & Volodya) while the next baskets were being filled. We were done in under four hours! 😉
So, now it is time form me to say goodbye. Thank you again to everyone who has contributed and helped to make this expedition happen. It has been a great pleasure to be out in the field with team 1 and also to continue working on the ground together with the NABU staff. Thanks for your hospitality, support and good humour!
Dawai teams 2 & 3 – I hope you’ll enjoy your time in the Tien Shan as much as I have. May the sun shine for you for the next four weeks!
All the best