Most Inspirational Moment
Opening the tent every morning to see sunshine and blue sky with a backdrop of hills or peaks was quite special. Walking for several days and seeing only our crew, nomadic farmers and their animals was wonderful. This is not yet, but likely will become, far more popular as a walking destination so it was a privilege to be able to see the natural rhythms of summer life in the mountains. The food and hospitality in some of the more remote camps was surprising, delightful and gratefully appreciated. A particular highlight was watching and taking part in the 'first' Highland Games in Kyrgyzstan - a brilliant opportunity for the group and the porters to compete together!
Thoughts on Group Leader
This inaugural trip had a few different leaders, each playing important roles. Overseeing everything was veteran trip leader Suzy who has a deep knowledge and love for the country and its mountains. The local city guides had great English and brought the local history to life. Ilya and Asa are tremendous guides, bringing confidence, competence and laughter to each day (all day). It was a really good group!
Advice for Potential Travellers
Some of the details within the trip notes were not accurate, though it was the first time this trip had been offered so the growing pains and unforeseen issues were to be expected. Not all the walks were as long as noted, but there are so many opportunities to continue to explore around the camps. Or relax and read. Or bathe in the icy rivers, swim in Issyk Kul Lake, or soak in the thermal pools. The porters are hardworking - get to know them if you can - athletic competitions do not require a shared spoken language. The camps and equipment are of very good quality and very comfortable - you do not need to bring a sleeping mat. The food is plentiful and tasty, and there are hot drinks and snacks awaiting the group upon arrival at camp every day!
I require a gluten free diet and therefore the advanced planning and discussions about the ability of local operators and their teams to accommodate such a dietary need is important. The Exodus staff were brilliant in asking the questions prior to booking. The local city guides were helpful and responsive, particularly in Karakol. The camp cooks did remarkably well in their remote settings. The lead guide Ilya even carried packages of rice cakes for me. I never went hungry but it was important that I also brought food along with me. It is also important to continue to ask questions and seek clarification along the way.