One of the most famous valleys around Issyk Kul Lake is the magnificient Jeti-Oguz. Its fame comes from the 'Seven bulls' red sandstone formation, but the gorge has actually much more to offer. Let me show you around...
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INFO & PLANNING TIPS - Jeti-Oguz
Jeti-Oguz is the name of a famous sandstone formation South east of the Issyk Kul lake and parrallel to the Karakol valley. However it is also the name of its river and of the valley it stands in.
It is one of my favorite destinations in Kyrgyzstan.
TIPS FOR TRAVEL PLANNING ADDICTS - Jeti-Oguz
Getting to Jeti-Oguz
- SouthWest of Karakol town, take the road circling the lake, the valley is clearly indicated towards the South. Half an hour drive
- From main road 5 km to the Jeti-Oguz village and 12 km to the rock formation. road in good condition
- Taxi option: 600 to 800SOM (as of 2015)
- Stop at the Broken heart on the way in and then turn around for the Seven bulls - 15 min to 30 min
- I recommend walking up the path accross the main road for unobstructed views of the Seven Bulls and to discover the Dragon gorge - 45min to 2 hours
- There is also a sanatorium where you can enjoy a hot bath. However I have not been and cannot find a good website to point you to. Sorry.
- Light for the Seven bulls is better in the late afternoon but for the Broken heart is would be better early morning. It would also be a very nice place to be for sunset as the rocks get redder.
The Broken Heart
On the way to the end of the Jeti-Oguz valley, the red sandtone will start appearing here and there on each side of the road. And at one point you will notice this huge rock in front of you that kind of ressemble a heart that has splintered down. I am not totally convinced but it is still nice (although the sun was not as a good place when I visited to take a good shot).
Of course different legends surrond the Broken Heart, all involving a beautiful girl and 2 men desiring her. Why are those legends never about a handsome man and 2 women pursuing him?
In summer, the places attracts sme nomads with their yurts and bees:
Then the road continues on the side of the sandsone formation. We stopped because it is quite nice to get a closer look at the rock and the work of erosion:
The 7 Bulls
I thought we had to drive further to see the Seven Bulls and I was getting excited because I love weird geological formations and red is my favorite color. But we stopped at the few shops nearby and there my guide Masha said 'turn around'. Yeahhhhh!!!!!
There was the incredible 7 bulls formation where erosion created more than 7 bluffs. Some say 8 others 10. Does it matter? It is relly stunning and unexpected.
To get a better view I recommend climbing the path that starts between the shops next to the public 'toilets' accross from the rock formation. See the photo on the right, there is the car track and a smaller trail both leading you to the top with some extraordinary views.
Walking extremely slow and taking lots of pictures, it took me 25 minutes to reach the top which was a soft climb. Before I show what I discovered on the other side (and you could not imagine from the valley), here are 2 pictures of the Jeti-Oguz from the top of the hill:
This is where the car tracks arrive:
And there it is, I reach the top and when WOW WOW WOW:
When I had planned my trip (in a lot of details, as usual), Jeti-Oguz had made it on the top of the my list of the things that I was the most excited about. But nowhere in my research had I discovered there was much more to it. The Bradt Guide to Kyrgyzstan does mention the Dragon gorge but very briefly and without any pictures.
So here you have it. The sandstone cliffs actually continue on the other side. And it gets really surpriseing with the red rocks on one side and the snow capped mountains on the other:
Plus on that side you can get really close to the edge of the cliff and admire the work of erosion. These big red walls are very impressive!
I walked further on the path and took this funny shot of more than 180 degrees (which shows you the path twice, I find it funny).
At the top, I also found a beautiful horse enjoying its surroundings:
Unplanned adventures always lead you to incredible moments. I am so happy that I climbed that path!
Jeti-Oguz valley of flowers
So it is with a smile on my face that I climbed back on board the minibus and we drove futher into the valley, which widens into a beautiful alpine landscape called the valley of Flowers. There I experienced my first night in a yurt! But that is for another post...
Want to see more of Kyrgyzstan's beauty?
Discover more planning information, things to do and places to see in my online Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide.
Do you sometimes wander in the paths around famous landmarks?
Tell me about it in the coments!
Thank you for the description of the Jeti Oguz visit and useful tips.
You mentioned when is a good time for photography, but what time do you actually recommend to leave Karakol for J.O. and to do a tour you did (i mean because of the photography).
Claire Robinson says
Well, it depends when you go…
You have to check sunset time in Karakol for the day you are there (easy to find on the Internet). Plan to be there at least 1h30 before that time and plan 30min drive to get there from Karakol.
Have a great trip!
Clair, thank you very much for the quick replay. Great.
Your paper is amazing, thank you so much for sharing. As I am myself also a rock climbing geek, that extraordinary red cliff appealed me big time. Do you have any idea whether this has been climbed or would you have any idea of a contact with whom I could entertain a discussion on the topic?
Thanks in anticipation!
Claire, the Travel Planning Geek says
Sorry, I have no information about climbing.
I wish you a wonderful trip!