This is how our morning started out with a visit to the spring celebration called Nooruz, also Nowruz (Persian New Year celebrated in Kyrgyzstan on 3/21/16), in the center of Naryn.
A recent visit from a German tourist and a holiday weekend gave way for a perfect chance to visit a local attraction we had yet to hike up to. We set off on this sunny Nooruz afternoon in search of some Naryn caves. We had terse directions from a local Peace Corps volunteer and figured we would get better directions from locals living at the base of the Ala-Mischuk mountain.
However, our taxi driver and another local man said they’d never heard of caves where we were dropped off, but another nice woman let us cut across her property saying that the caves were up from her southern gate at the base of the mountains. We cut across a brown plateau and were suddenly swarmed by Kyrgyz boys sporting bows & arrows as if we were in a Robinson Crusoe movie.
They were so excited to meet and speak with all of us in their neighborhood, but soon exhausted the three phrases in English that they knew. So me, being the only one able to communicate in Kyrgyz, then became the go-to interpreter as they promised to guide us up the hike. They were soon tired out and stopped at the first sign of some holes in the ground that they proudly claimed were the “caves” we were seeking.
We kept on and immediately the place took on a serene peaceful demeanor as the shouts and chatter of the boys turned to patches of snow and steep slopes.
Coming around final bend before facing sheer rock cliffs we discovered what we believed were the “Naryn Caves”.
Us two adventuresome (foolish?) boys decided to boulder up into the caves without any equipment nor experience in rock climbing!
We somehow managed to climb up the rock walls into the cave that we later argued was somewhere between 5 and 20 meters off the ground.
So far, so good… right? Well, then was the challenge of climbing back down which we we both successfully navigated separately until the last couple of meters where I decided that it would be easier to jump off than slide down the rock wall. I managed to tuck and roll off the jump (read “fall”) well enough to only sprain my ankle. Good thing the way back always seems easier and shorter as my sore ankle meant taking things a bit gingerly. When we reached our starting point we were greeted to the racing down the hill of all the hundreds of sheep that had been grazing above us. It was quite a sight to see how quickly they descended the mountains that had taken us near an hour to hike down.
Only upon returning and researching a little more compared to my friends notes and photos did I realize that we never really reached the main cavern in the vicinity. I believe we went up the wrong gully in our climb. Here are my friend’s pics of the “real cave” that I will be sure to visit again soon!
The main chamber has a spectacular skylight 40 meters above the cave floor. Side caverns extend east and west from the main chamber.