Bishkek to Osh

In Bishkek we woke up to very low cloud, it was like a white-out, and rain was forecast.  In fact if we left today we would be in rain for the next three days and would probably miss seeing anything, so we decided to stay put an extra day.  The rain cooled the temps which was welcome.  When we took off the next day the clouds were high and we had no rain so we were glad we made that call.

Bishkek > Kara-kol  389km

The first 50km out of Bishkek are quite built up.  They sell LOTS of watermelons here, each stall is full and there is stall after stall, town after town, who buys them all?

We got pulled over again, a half-hearted attempt for a bribe, but ended up just a bit of a chat and he sent us on our way.

What a fabulous part of the world we rode in today, incredible scenery through the Fergana Mountains, we just loved it all day as it kept changing.

It wasn’t long before we stopped to put on extra layers.

Some switchbacks on the way up, we didn’t get the right spot to show them all, but if you open up the pic you will see the road right down the bottom.  The truck and trailers swing wide on the corners but fortunately we didn’t meet any.

Most of the road on the way up was good, some bumps in the switchback.

We got up to the snowline, and at the summit of 3200m there is a 2.5km tunnel.   We had heard about this tunnel as a couple of cyclists died from carbon monoxide poisoning a few years ago while travelling through it, as well as some other descriptions we had read in blogs.  We weren’t sure what to expect but it is dimly lit, has a good solid surface (no potholes) and very loud extractor fans, so once my eyes got accustomed to the lack of light, it was just fine.  The trucks are controlled by lights but cars and bikes can just go through.  This is what it was like for 2.5km.

Out the other side this is what we encountered.  Can you see Charlie, he was just ahead of me, about 20-30m max.  The cloud was very thick, but it wasn’t too long before we were under it.

The road on the downward side was a case of “dodge the potholes” until after we stopped for lunch, and then the road was just great.

We dropped down to a very fertile beautiful basin (Suusamyr Basin) with many communities of gers, they also had old caravans.  Many had their “driveway” entrance detailed out in white painted stones, with a circular bit in front of the gers with large colourful plastic flowers and garden ornaments – unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a photo.

This valley is still at 2000m, so then we went over another pass just over 3000m and then started descending down into the valley towards Toktogul.

We passed a long line of parked trucks, about 3-4km – a tanker trailer had rolled and was upside down in the middle of the road.  We managed to get through the mayhem by squeezing our way passed a couple of trucks, our soft luggage rubbing on them.  Cars in both directions were moving into any empty space available.


Kara-kol > Osh 291km

We spent the night in Kara-col and then the next day continued on to Osh.  First we wound our way through a gorge, but it was a bit of “get that truck” as we tried to pass the large number of trucks along this road.

One truck passing another on a blind corner, not uncommon, especially with cars.

We then travelled through market gardening type farms.

We rode alongside the Uzbekistan border – a fence, no man’s land, then another fence and you are in a different country.  When Stalin divided up the countries he made some strange decisions in this area, so the borders are quite random meaning the road has to skirt around intrusions of Uzbekistan into Krygyzstan.

Its haymaking time – this load looked particularly precarious.

When we arrived in Osh we went straight to Muz-Too Motors where we are going to get the bikes serviced.  On the way we had to take a detour around some roadworks – oh my gosh!!  The gravel and dirt side “road” was somewhat of a challenge – for starters it was only one way with traffic fighting for space in both directions.  To add to that it was incredibly bumpy, we bounced all over the place, oh I did well to keep upright.  It didn’t help when people were tooting when I got my back wheel stuck in a hole and was revving madly trying to get out!   But we got there.  Have to go back early Monday morning, hope the roadworks are complete 🙂

Our accommodation is an apartment, so very nice and it is great to have more than one room, also the host family are just lovely, it’s very central but quiet, and the bikes very secure – VIP Guest House.’



  • Sara

    Hi we arrive to Osh today. Sara

    July 17, 2017 at 3:26 pm
    • Janet & Charlie Russel

      We are leaving tomorrow morning, so depending on how you are feeling, we could catch up tonight. Where are you staying, we are in the Izum Hotel now.

      July 18, 2017 at 12:11 am
  • jenny laird

    Janet it is so much appreciated your diary. Am so enjoying reading your adventures

    July 17, 2017 at 7:30 pm
    • Janet & Charlie Russel

      Aww thanks Jenny, good to know someone enjoys it xx

      July 18, 2017 at 12:09 am
  • Tina

    Some of the potholes look like you could dump your whole bike in them …
    We’re enjoying your posts too 🙂 And it pays to see them on the PC too sometimes, otherwise I miss the videos …

    July 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm
    • Janet & Charlie Russel

      Thanks Tina, I always appreciate your feedback 🙂
      Yes some of those holes could do serious damage to the wheels.

      July 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm

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