Yurt and Sky by Yannick Cocard
In the summer of 2022, my friends and I were driving in the remote areas of central Kyrgyzstan, trying to reach an alpine lake where we planned to spend the night, Song-Kul, located at more than 3,000m (1.8 miles) above sea level. Kyrgyzstan is a relatively small former USSR country nestled in central Asia, with a rugged and mountainous territory. To give a better idea about its remoteness, no other country in the world is more landlocked than Kyrgyzstan, being more than 2.600km (1.620 miles) away from the closest ocean. This of course affects in a significant way the climate of the region we were in, with extremely cold winters and relatively warm and dry summers. Or so we thought.
After a 4-hours long bumpy ride across the mountains, we finally made it across to the plateaux where Song-Kul is located. From our elevated position, the lake was visible in the distance, and our mission was now to seek hospitality in one of the many yurts, big tents used by the nomadic populations of Central Asia. Although the weather had been sunny up to that moment, as we approached the lake we experienced the unpredictable nature of the weather in that region, when we suddenly saw very concentrated rains visible within a few hundred meters.
Dark clouds then quickly gathered above our car, unleashing a heavy rain that turned the dirt road into a mud pool, making driving almost impossible.
The raindrops pounding on the roof of our car sounded more like bricks falling from the sky. What struck me about that situation was how concentrated this rain storm was. With thick clouds hovering just above our heads, it seemed they were following us and leaving the rest of the sky relatively clean. In these difficult conditions we had no choice but to stop our car and wait for the rain to pass, so we parked the car on the side of the road.
Fortunately this did not last long, as the dark clouds gave way to an amazing scenario, with incredible colours painting the immense plains. The yurts on the side of the road came back to life, with people peeking out from them and resuming their activities abruptly interrupted by the rain.
As evening approached, it was also our last chance to find warm and dry accommodations, otherwise we would have had to spend the night in our small tent on the wet grass. So we hit the road again.
The more we moved forward into the plain, the more we were amazed by such an empty and minimal panorama, that at the same time could be so rich with many different astonishing views.
Eventually, we were lucky enough to find the accommodation as some locals kindly hosted us in their tents, even offering us dinner. However, after such a long day the surprises for us weren’t over yet, as just before going to sleep, we had the privilege to witness one of the most beautiful night skies we had ever seen in our lives.