Camping in Kazakhstan

With five new tour members on board we left Bishkek and shuffled through the border into Kazakhstan with minimal fuss, apart from the press of poorly mannered humanity causing tempers to fray. Once through, we drove for hours with the Tian Shan Mountains on our left and the endless golden wheat fields on our right, swaying in the faint breeze.

We camped at the only patch of trees within sight, shielding the truck from prying eyes (no easy task for a 18ton bright yellow behemoth). The spot provided us with wood for a warm fire and a sunset that softened and shaped the ceased and weathered mountain range beautifully.
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The following day the world slid past smoothly on a straight and agreeable road. Fields, fields, fields surrounded us, extending out to infinity.

Unsuccessfully we searched for an animal market in Taraz, thus hastening our journey to the Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve. We camped at a fully serviced campsite (kitchen, hot showers), snuggled up against the dominating mountains, an icing of snow surviving summer’s bite across their crests. The sunny afternoon was delightfully soporific, the inspiring views provided fuel for many a daydream.

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In the evening it got cold again, so after dinner we retreated to an inside area were we played our favourite truck game: Black stories.

Our guides for hiking arrived unsurprisingly late the next day and we set off with a packed lunch. The guides were not optional, rather disappointingly, as one must hire them to hike. The views were lovely though and we were guided through the forbidding Kazak wilderness, along dirt roads and tracks, through thickets to shouting waterfalls and secluded, whispering pools.
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Much sign of bear was present, namely in the form of processed berries and the occasional paw print.

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This should have provided sufficient motivation for both the group to hike closely together and the guide to ensure it, but neither happened. Despite attempting to lure boars and bears out of hiding by bravely hanging back about 500m from the group, David was unable to secure a sighting of anything more dangerous than brambles. Although, on the way back a very small snake was spotted (read: nearly stepped on) and promptly shot into oblivion, with cameras.
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As the sky darkened, the stars were wheeled out on display, enticing and illuminating the imagination…

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After a sleep which took quite some climbing back out of for David (although he had to wake up early to prepare breakfast with his cook group), we trundled and bounced to a bush camp near the Uzbekistan border. Endless fields silently witnessed our passage, as we wound our way through the dry hills.

The bush camp was isolated and therefore, most excellent.

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Tamar was head chef in her cook group, and they concocted a superb coconut chicken curry in record time. The fire was prodded, added to and persuaded to burn brightly, the stars watching impressively, their timeless majesty providing the backdrop for tall tales and short stories

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Our tent. Nice view to come back to after stories around the campfire

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Rising at dawn, cool desert air welcomed us into a new day and shortly afterwards the sun waved us onward, to Uzbekistan…

By David Baird (who was inspired to write with woolly English words after reading the book ‘Heart of Darkness’ and ‘The Book Thief’)

P.S. Thanks for all the nice messages underneath our blog and the great Whatsapp messages about how you enjoy our blog. This keeps us motivated to keep on writing and taking pictures. You are all awesome!

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9 thoughts on “Camping in Kazakhstan

  1. The shift in prose style has been noted and enjoyed, it is lovely to follow your adventures and to see such different pkaces through your eyes. Fabulous although I might be just a little biased

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  2. Hej David and Tamar, Very nice to read your blogs! and how wonderful are the adventures that you experience πŸ™‚ very nice to see that the world is so beautiful, even if we can not see it ourselves. By seeing it through your eyes makes us know and enjoy πŸ˜‰ thanks for sharing! and take care πŸ™‚ Hugs Elton, Marije, Semir and Sara

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  3. Prachtig verslag en foto’s weer. Fijn om met jullie mee te reizen:-) En fijn om te kunnen appen en skypen, gelukkig maar. Dikke x van John en mama

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  4. Love the blog!
    What exactly are “black stories” that make it a favorite? im always looking for fun travel games!
    Join us in the Middle East sometime! EzraAdventures.com

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    1. Hi Ezra, thanks for your message. Glad you like our blog πŸ™‚ We would love to come to the middle east next time.

      What are Black Stories? They are fiddly, morbid and mysterious riddles and they are very addictive. Sometimes they are solved very quickly. Other seemingly simple stories turn out not to be so. The players try to reconstruct the crime by asking, guessing and fiddling about. One person, the Riddle Master, reads the card out loud and asks “Guess why?” The other player(s) must ask the right questions with only “Yes” or “No” answers.

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  5. Looks like it was one helluva camping trip. Glad you didn’t run into any bears, David. Please try not to get acquainted with any henceforth. They’re not really known to be cute in the wild. No jumping into water bodies this time? It seemed to be the theme that whenever you two step into nature, one of you gets splashy πŸ˜‰ Strange that you both are so far away. Feels like just yesterday that you were at Rotterdam Centraal saying adios. Enjoy and stay safe! Love, chinch

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  6. We loved seeing those amazing pictures of starry nights …scary pawprints πŸ˜‰ …just
    wished we were there too! Great reading your adventures! Loads of love and a Big Bear Hug from the Hague!
    Johnny, Coby, Caitlin

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  7. Geweldige foto’s weer Taam en heerlijk te zien dat jullie je dromen najagen TO P πŸ˜‰πŸ‘ take care of yourselfs xxxx

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