Jety Orguz Mountains - "Seven Bulls"

Kyrgyzstan mountain ranges and passes. Kyrgyzstan recreation

25 km South West of the town of Karakol is a lush valley with some striking red sandstone rock formations (the "seven Bulls" from which the valley takes its name).

There is a legend on how the rock formation was created. A Kyrgyz Khan stole the wife of another, who sought advice from a "wise man" about how he could reap his revenge. The wise man was reluctant to give advice but in the end relented, telling the Khan that he should kill his wife and give the body to his rival - "Let him own a dead wife, not a living one".

The Khan made his plans, and at a funeral feast arranged to sit next to his stolen wife, and as the last of the nine bulls were being slaughtered as part of the ritual, he took out his knife and stabbed her. From her heart gushed blood and other fluids, which carried away the bulls down the valley and where they came to rest and became these cliffs.

As you approach the valley, you pass another rock formation which resembles a "broken heart", and legend says that this is the heart of a beautiful woman who died of a broken heart after two suitors killed each other fighting over her.

These two rock formations have become symbols of the Issyk Kul region, and are favorite images for photographs and paintings. In the village is an ancient cemetery and several barrows (burial mounds).

Not far up the valley is the Djety Orguz sanatorium, built in 1932 - and the sight of the first meeting between Presidents Akayev and Yelsin in 1991 after the abortive coup in Moscow. About 5km south of the Jety Orguz sanatorium is Dolina Svetov (Valley of the flowers), which is ablaze with color from May - when there are multitudes of poppies - throughout early summer. There are reported to be petroglyphs here - but no one seems to know exactly where. There are often yurts set up here which can offer accommodation.

In the valley is the Djety Orguz State Zoological reserve. Nearby is the village of Jele Debe - where Eagle hunting demonstrations can be organized. Trekking permits are necessary in the valley.