Leaving Osh, we headed towards Naryn which we expected to reach in the early evening. Our ultimate destination was Bishkek but we were taking our time en route.
At this point we did not have a great map and it was quite difficult to see which roads to take and what to expect when we took them! However, with Maps Me and what maps we had we set off for Naryn.
We made great timing for a few hours and thought we were going to crack on the last 200kms quite quickly. However, one half of the road we were on seemed to be under construction and after a few kilometres we were turned back by construction workers and told that the road was closed!
We decided to try another pass to scale the mountains between us and Naryn and fearlessly we went off piste! (Crazy fools).
It was not long before the road became a track but Landy was in good spirits and we ploughed on, looking slightly nervously at the huge mountains in front of us. We now we saw hardly any cars at all and very few houses, so we knew we needed to get over the mountain pass before nightfall.
We realised that Naryn by nightfall was impossible as we were only making 20-30kms an hour on dusty tracks that were getting higher and higher. It was not totally clear how many passes we needed to tackle and how steep the ascents and descents were. Needless to say there were lots and they were pretty steep and lots of zigzags.
We were also out of signal range to cancel our Naryn homestay. However much we were climbing, the altitude was lower than in Tajikistan and the highest point was probably less than 3000m.
As luck would have it, we came down to a medium sized village with a homestay at around 7pm. (Thanks I-Overlander). We really did not feel like sleeping in the car when we needed to eat and we were both tired now. Whilst we were trying to find the homestay, another pop top car was also cruising around (Austrian) looking for a bed. We found a homestay, but they decided to sleep on the road out of the village and we decided to take the beds!
Our hostess heated up our pasta and sauce in her kitchen and we had a comfortable night in a new homestay house built in the yard of their traditional home, with a standard yurt in the garden!
The next morning we thought we would probably get to Naryn in a couple of hours. How wrong we were. What looked like one big pass on the map was another series of multiple high passes and some above the snow line still. I had felt quite anxious in Tajikistan on our first high pass in the middle of nowhere when the landslide had forced us off our planned route.
Now, being more accustomed to the high altitude, it felt like less of an unknown quantity. We felt brave and more confident and we went up and up. (And then down and down!) To be fair, these tracks were wider and in better condition than most tracks we had crossed in the Pamirs.
Did I mention how beautiful the landscape was? If not I should have done, because it was stunning.
When we were on a massive downhill windy stretch, a woman with a baby flagged us down outside her Yurt and asked for a lift to Naryn. It was the next town in around 120kms and we popped them in the back. It was going to take about 3 hours, winding down the pass and on to Naryn, so a good lift.
Naryn is a god forsaken strip of a town with a friendly helpful Community Based Tourism office (CBT). The homestay we had booked had to be unbooked and with the help of CBT we found somewhere else more suitable.
We also booked ourselves on a horse riding tour up in the mountains the next day. I was a bit anxious about the description of the ride which included some very steep sections where those of a nervous disposition may need to dismount!!!