29-Aug-2006 -- This was the first confluence I tried to visit in Kyrgysztan.
Unfortunately my attempt was not succesfull. The good news are though,
that in principle the confluence is accessible. The confluence lies
14,7 km north of Toktogul, a small town whose claim to fame is its
famous son Toktogul Satilganov (whence the present name of the town) still one of the most revered folk singers Kyrgysztans. It is situated at the
shore of the huge reservoir created by the Kara Köl dam 20 kilometers
down south. The power plants along the dam system downstream are
supposed to have the capacity of creating 1,2 gigawatt energy, and are
in fact controlling a big percentage of the kyrgysz water resources who
are used to irrigate the fergana valley and with it a significant part
of the Uzbek agriculture. Clearly one of the major sources of discontent
and jealous bickering between the two states.
According to the map I bought from Geoid in Bishkek (1:200 000), the
point is right behind a unnamed 2700m peak on a saddle at an altitude of
2400m. The shortest route would be to attack the confluence from the
flanks (e.g. climbing the slope to the east. But this would not be very
wise because the flanks are not only very steep, but consist at least in
part of gravel and loose rocks (landslides are a common problems with
kyrgysz mountain roads), which makes them hazardous.
Before the mountains lies a belt of soft hills which meander in north
from an altitude of 1100m to about 1600m at which point the massive
starts (they look like giant fingers groping towards the lake. There are
no trees or other megaflora, just sun scorched dried grass and
occasionally some bushes.
At this time of year there is almost no water, and the rivulets marked
in the map are down to a trickle or have drowned completely. Apart from
that are most of them are polluted from agricultural use.
I made a brute force attempt, that is hiking the whole distance from
Toktogul. On the way I learned that there are some gravel tracks winding
in the valleys between the hills, connecting some small farms with the
main road. If I had used the small road that starts in a small village 2
east from toktogul on the main road, I could have driven within 6km
distance of the confluence.
The best time to visit this confluence is autumn or spring. In summer
the temperature rises quickly above 36 degrees Celsius, and there is
nothing to shade you from the sun. I couldn't guzzle the water down as
quickly as I sweated it out, and there was almost no possibility to fill
my flasks (the local farmers are happy to help out if you ask). The
really hard part are the last 6 km to the confluence. Within little more
than one kilometer the altitude rises from 1600-1700m up to 2200m above
sea level. It was manageable without climbing gear (although real good
shoes are recommended), but very exhausting. I came within 3,8km
distance of the confluence before turning around (had to be back before
nightfall). On that day my odometer showed that I walked more than 30
kilometers that day. I needed two days for recovery and re hydration
which made a second attempt impossible. Visiting this confluence is a
rewarding experience, if you happen to be in the area -try it. I am
happy to provide any information I can give if you contact me