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22 July 2014 / leggypeggy

Three years later I make it to a Kyrgyz waterfall


Kyrgyzstan countryside

In search of a waterfall

No one should accuse me of rushing into things—at least not when it comes to things (namely me) going up and especially me going down slippery paths. Whenever we scramble along gravelly, muddy or just plain steep terrain, I swear a lot and regularly remind Poor John that the chances of me falling are slim, but the consequences of me falling are great. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do me much good. By the time I say the words ‘the chances of me falling’, he has shot ahead about 50 metres with his head and shoulders hunched forward and his hands clasped behind his back. If you follow this blog, you will know this stance.

Kyrgyzstan countryside

Near the beginning of the uphill

Of course, my pleadings are in the hope that one day he’ll stay close by and offer a helping hand or a willing shoulder. Instead I have to foist myself on other men or women who seem to be steady on their feet and who make the mistake of staying anywhere near me. So all this explanation is a lead-up to my second stab at reaching the waterfall near Jeti-Öghüz (more about this soon) in Kyrgyzstan. My first stab was in 2011 on our London to Sydney overland. That year, the group set out with a guide who swore he knew the way (but didn’t). They (not including me) got there in the end with a lot of detours, missed turns, and slipping and sliding in the mud.

Kyrgyzstan countryside

Farther up the hill—a bit

I intended to make it to the waterfall, but back-tracked across a small (but raging) stream to keep Lin company. She had tried her best to cross that stream, but the slippery rocks were just too daunting. I sympathised and (if I confess) wasn’t all that keen to slog up the muddy hill before me. It had been raining steadily, and it might still have been drizzling. Fortunately my memory is a little foggy on that count. But the others pressed on because the guide said the waterfall was only 30 minutes away from where I turned back. Not true. Lin and I waited more than an hour (more like two) for the group to return. After no sign of them, we headed back to the village to have lunch. We’re supportive like that. In the end, the group took so long to return that Lin and I actually became quite worried, but a couple of hours later we saw them trudging along the path towards us.

Kyrgyzstan waterfall

As waterfalls go, this one is not all that impressive or am I just hard to please?

Poor John’s first words were You would have hated it. Very slippery and muddy! Norman (Lin’s hubby) had a more colourful story. He found the path to be especially slippery and dangerous (so yes, I would have hated it). He said he struggled to make progress UNTIL he looked up and saw Poor John, with his hands clasped behind his back, powering up the hill. Norman said I thought if Poor John could do it, so could I, so I clasped my hands behind my back and powered up the hill.

near Jeti-Öghüz, Kyrgyzstan

Our camping spot in 2014—in that big green patch. Can you make out the truck and our tents just to the left of the trees? We’re about halfway up to the waterfall

So fast-forward to 2014. We’ve camped at Jeti-Öghüz again and much, much closer to the start of the walk. In fact, we’ve knocked off about two hours of walking on the flat and lower hills. The sun is out, Poor John sort of remembers the way and I have plenty of time to make a second stab at it. So Nicola, Poor John and I set out. Poor John reckons the waterfall is about an hour away.

Kyrgyzstan settlement

A small settlement near Jeti-Öghüz

Kyrgyzstan general store

A local store with a resident falcon

We strolled through a couple of small settlements and crossed a couple of rough timber bridges. Then we hit a really, really steep bit where even the goats were struggling. Mind you the three-legged goats were having more trouble than the four-legged ones. Okay I’m stopping here, I said. I don’t like going up and I know I’ll hate coming down.

near Jeti-Öghüz, Kyrgyzstan

Nicola takes a break in a steep (it’s steeper than it looks) and gravelly bit. She’s picking out a sheep for the barbecue (just kidding)

But then we saw a couple of other walkers quite high above us (even people we knew). They were striding confidently along the right (almost level) path. So I relented and kept going up until we reached the path that wasn’t quite so challenging. There were plenty of other scary spots, but Andy was with us by then (rather we were with him) so he became my convenient ‘crutch’ for the rest of the walk. And we made it to the waterfall, which we all had to admit was only just worth the effort. The views, on the other hand, were well worth the trouble. I nearly went over a cliff just short of the falls. We came upon a group of Kyrgyz men who had spent their morning drinking vodka at the falls. They were leaving—stumbling up the hill—as we arrived and desperate to have their photos taken with us.

Kyrgyzstan hillside

The merrymakers approach. The white-shirted one nearly sent me over the edge

As they rushed towards us, a jovial but very wobbly fellow lurched forward and nearly pushed me over the edge. Luckily I already had a death grip on a tree stump. So I made it to the waterfall—AND BACK. Funny how coming back was so much easier. I only swore a couple of times.

You may be hungry after seeing all those sheep in the mountains. May I suggest the lamb pilaff recipe from my cooking blog.


Leave a Comment
  1. Lin Stockley / Jul 22 2014 7:02 am

    Wow! Well done Peggy, I remember that place very well – where I stopped at the slippery rocks stream and where you joined me. I also remember the dinner we had, wasn’t it the place where we had to buy the eggs from the shop and give them to the cafe woman to cook for us, and then she charged us the menu price for them? (What a business woman!)
    All I can say is now I have seen your photo of said waterfall, I don’t regret wimping out at the stream. I will enjoy telling Norman about your direct route up there as opposed to the circular round about way that they went. What great memories you are bringing me, wish I was back there with you.
    Carry on having fun


    • leggypeggy / Jul 22 2014 12:45 pm

      Oh Lin, you remember it well. It was where we had to buy eggs and then be double charged for them! This time the rocks at the stream were completely dry, so crossing would have been simple, but we parked way beyond that so the stream wasn’t an issue. As for the waterfall—a bit of a washout. hehehe


  2. weggieboy / Jul 22 2014 8:12 am

    It looks like a beautiful country!


    • leggypeggy / Jul 22 2014 11:58 am

      Scenery-wise it’s one of the prettiest countries I’ve ever visited. Stay tuned for more posts with pics.


  3. Uncle Tree / Jul 22 2014 11:04 am

    Thanks for sharing this lovely country! 🙂 I had no idea what is was like there.


    • leggypeggy / Jul 22 2014 11:59 am

      It’s truly breathtaking. So glad you like it.


  4. Norman Gilkes / Jul 22 2014 8:22 pm

    Tell Poor John my arms are still behind my back!


    • leggypeggy / Jul 22 2014 9:27 pm

      Except, I suppose, when you are showing a thumbs up! 🙂


  5. simpletravelourway / Jul 22 2014 11:04 pm

    Slippery steep hikes are tricky these days. It always makes for a good story. We used to think nothing of tackling just about any hike but these days are just a little more cautious. Bravo for the efforts and making it this time around!


    • leggypeggy / Jul 22 2014 11:09 pm

      Ah yes, that useful word ‘caution’. It crops up in my vocabulary more often now. 🙂


  6. Kenny2dogs / Jul 22 2014 11:47 pm

    A pretty tricky trek, but surely well worth the sweat. Mmmm.. roast rack of Lamb, bring it on 🙂


    • leggypeggy / Jul 23 2014 9:35 am

      Yes, well worth the sweat and agony, oh and roast lamb too!


  7. lmo58 / Jul 29 2014 7:12 pm

    It’s a very beautiful country Peggy. Well done on getting to the waterfall too. I would never attempt anything like that. Even the words, slippery, slide, muddy make me nervous. If I didn’t know better I would swear that Poor John had abandoned you and come home. I was driving on one of the main streets in Farrer a few days ago and saw two men of an age, one of whom was channelling Poor John’s walking style.


    • leggypeggy / Aug 5 2014 2:00 am

      Trust me Louise, there are plenty of Poor John walkers out there. I have photos to prove it. Oh, and Kyrgyzstan has the most beautiful scenery. More pics soon.


  8. David / Feb 3 2015 3:25 pm

    It’s a quaint waterfall and I think you’d find it more like most waterfalls around the world. It takes a lot of those little trickles to create a stream in turn a creek and then a river. I’m not certain what the definition of each is however no doubt some scientist somewhere has come up with a GPS (gallons per second) rate that qualifies water running as a stream, creek, river, etc.
    Love the sheep and cattle. I sort of expected Yaks, not sure why.
    No pictures of PJ here is this due to his speedy pace and being several 100 yards ahead?


    • leggypeggy / Feb 5 2015 12:58 pm

      I love that—GPS or gallons per second. I hope some scientist takes notice of that brilliant suggesttion and creates a scale of running water. Too funny. Thanks. And yes, Poor John is always miles ahead of me.


  9. MichaelStephenWills / Dec 21 2022 10:58 pm

    Enjoyed the story and views. It was time well spent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 22 2022 7:02 am

      It’s a wonderful memory. A fellow blogger was there recently and his posts made me suitably jealous.

      Liked by 1 person


  1. Jeti-Öghüz is worth as many visits as you can manage | Where to next?

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