Gorges of Derbent and Kaptarkhona. Baysun adventures (part one), Uzbekistan
Hello! As announced in my previous post, I finally got to the beautiful and mysterious Baysun.
Baysun is a district in the Surkhandarya region, the southernmost region of Uzbekistan. It covers an area of approximately 3,700 square kilometers and these square kilometers are rich in incredible and amazing sights. There are mountains of stunning beauty, deep caves in which the Neanderthals once lived. On the slopes of Baysuntau (mountain range, southwestern spur of the Gissar ridge) dinosaurs roamed at one time, leaving their traces. There are also gravitational anomalies, picturesque gorges and canyons that can compete in beauty with the Grand Canyon, Martian views of the Kyzyl canyon and the aeolian city. In general, there is a lot of things here and I plan to visit these places more than once.
I first met Baysun in February of this year and in March I planned again visit this region. But, unfortunately, the damned coronavirus has made its own adjustments to my plans. Although, it would be more correct to say he did not update, but completely ditched them. But anyway, I'm here again.
When "Mysterious Uzbekistan" announced the upcoming three-day trip to Baysun, I immediately signed up. This time it was planned to hike to the summit called Khoja Gur Gur ota (or as it is called KhGG), which is 3720 meters above sea level. Remember, I lamented that my "collection" of conquered peaks is limited to only one three-thousander - Big Chimgan? Well, there is a great opportunity to enlarge my collection.
The founder and leader of "Mysterious Uzbekistan" named Sharof secretly told me that a surprise was prepared for me and I could easily increase my "collection". There was invented a separate program for me and three other participants. This program provided for climbing not only Khoja Gur Gur ota, but also two more three-thousanders - Chal (3570m) and Khoja Buz Barak (3920m), which "Mysterious Uzbekistan" dubbed KhBB. But the ascent was planned for the second day of the tour and on the first day we visited the majestic and beautiful gorges of Derbent and Kaptarkhona.
We arrived from Tashkent to Derbent station in the early morning. Here an old acquaintance of Choraka, with whom we visited last time, was waiting for us.
We had to drive through the gorges, and then, on "UAZs" (it is a model of Soviet and Russian military off-road vehicle) already climb up the mountains on complete impassability. Derbent greeted us with a very beautiful sunrise.
Soon, our "iron horses" rolled onto the platform in front of the station. We scattered all our belongings in the cars and started off. The first in line was the Derbent Gorge or as it is sometimes pronounced the Darband Gorge. Translated from the Tajik language, "darband" means "closed gate". Once there were detachments that defended Baysun from enemies, including the detachments of Alexander the Great. Well, now an excellent road has been laid here, which is convenient not only to drive, but also to walk.
Therefore, we unloaded at the entrance to the gorge and continued on foot.
Here is the burial place of Khojimoy-ota, a local saint. Nearby there is a cave with an underground lake. Located in the depths of the Derbent Gorge, the shrine is surrounded on all sides by huge vertical rocks. We were in the cave with the lake the last time and so I decided not to go there, but I climbed onto the rock ledge located above the lake and did not regret it - a beautiful view of the rocks opened up from there.
By the way, somewhere in these places lived Roxana - the wife of Alexander the Great. Some historians suggest that he played his wedding in Derbent.
Time and wind carved bizarre patterns on the rocks of the gorge.
On the way, we met a local inhabitant - a toad, which, apparently, also decided to make its own ascent.
We walked leisurely along the winding gorge ...
... and soon came to the entrance to the second gorge - Kaptarkhona.
Literally "Kaptarkhona" is translated as "dovecote". On the walls of the gorge, the wind carved depressions in which pigeons nested. I don’t know where they went now, but some birds continue to hide their chicks here.
While the organizers were preparing breakfast for us. Although, it would be more correct to call it a late lunch, we went to explore the gorge. During my last visit it was wet and snowy and then we quickly ran a couple of hundred meters deep into the gorge and came back. This time the weather made it possible to walk through the gorge calmly and slowly.
On the way, I came across a rock that resembled someone's face. See - two eye sockets and a huge mouth?
We walked a little more and decided to go back.
On the way back, an unfortunate oversight happened to me. We crossed the stream and I stepped on a stone covered with slippery mud. My leg slipped and I splashed into the stream, hitting my knee painfully. The stupidest fall, practically out of the blue ... But it played a role the next day. Which one? You will learn about this from my next post. I'm getting a little intrigue. :)
After eating at the entrance to the Kaptarkhona gorge, we plunged into our UAZ and went to the mountains. Our path ran through the village of Machay. Rather, there are three of these villages - Lower, Middle and Upper. On the way, we had to pick up a hunter who would brighten up our diet with local game. I would like to tell you about him in more detail, because the next day he helped me out a lot (I continue to escalate the intrigue :)) He is a real hunter who hunts, not to decorate his home with some stuffed animal or to replenish the collection of trophies , or just shoot at the beast for fun, but for survival. If they managed to shoot a hare or a quails, it means that his family will have dinner. Failed, then the family is hungry. Like all hunters, he has incredibly sharp eyesight and an easy and quick gait, managing, in seemingly unusable shoes, to walk tens of kilometers in the mountains a day.
But back to our trip. In Nizhniy Machay there is a more or less asphalt road, which, however, is washed away by mudflows almost every year. Above, instead of a road, there is a knurled dirt road, which is considered the main street in the village. Our "UAZs" drove along it, throwing clouds of dust on a few passers-by.
At the exit from Upper Machay we stopped for the drivers to inspect their cars, pull up, pump up everything they needed - after all, ahead of us was a "jeep-tour" on complete off-road. While the drivers were poking around in their cars, we got out to stretch our legs. As it happens in villages - we were immediately surrounded by local kids. Against the background of thin, lean and sunburned children, a plump boy stood out, importantly riding a donkey. As it turned out later, it was a boy from Termez who came to visit his relatives in the village. Well, a graphic picture about a rich "urban" who came to the "poor village".
By the way, while we were waiting for the drivers, I was thinking about life in the village. And their life is clearly hard and not rich. For the most part, they have adobe houses with a minimum of amenities. At best, there is electricity from time to time, but it seems to me that it is constantly turned off.
And against the background of these houses, the local school stood out very much - a solid two-floors building. All the best for children, well, that inspires optimism ...
By the way, besides school, this analogue of a medieval castle caught my eye :). It stood out very much for its architecture.
But now, all the bolts will tighten, the wheels are pumped up and it's time for us to continue our journey.
The next few hours we climbed up the mountains. The loaded "UAZs" were straining their engines, but they bravely climbed up.
And now, after three hours (to be honest, I did not time it), we arrived at the place of our base camp.
The organizers began to set up tents, we helped them as much as we could. Or, at least, we tried not to interfere. :) Having offered help three times and received a polite refusal three times, I climbed the surrounding hills with a clear conscience to take pictures of our camp from all sides.
And so, the tents are set up. The fire is lit and there are already big pots on it, in which something is being cooked. By the way, I would like to separately note the "gastronomic component" of the tour. The guys from "Mysterious Uzbekistan" are very fond of delicious food and therefore often take all kinds of delicacies on such trips. This trip was no exception.
While tents were being set up and dinner was being prepared, we sat at an impromptu dastarkhan (the table), drank tea with sweets and discussed the upcoming trip. After a delicious and hearty dinner, as well as a little briefing, we scattered around the tents. Tomorrow was a difficult day. Our group, which decided to storm three three-thousanders in one day, had to get out no later than three o’clock in the morning and walk quickly in complete darkness for almost two hours before dawn.
I fiddled around in my sleeping bag, anticipating how great my "collection of mountain peaks" would grow. But, as they say, if you want to make God laugh, then tell him about your plans. But more on this in the next post (this is still whipping up intrigue) :)