Half the journey is alwasy just getting there! There are several ways to get into Kyrgyzstan: by air, by train, by car; to get around inside the country is easy by car or sometimes air, but most of the mountaineering regions we travel to can be accessed only by all-wheel drive off-road vehicles. And even then, a helicopter can sometimes be the only option to access some more remote parts of the Central Tien-Shan and Djangart.
Walking time into those regions is about 4-7 days. Mountain roads in Kyrgyzstan, if they exist at all, range from well worn dirt roads between villages, to rocky overgrown Soviet tracks – untouched for the last 20 years, to faint tyre tracks up valleys or between yurts, or to absolutely no road whatsoever. There are thus several considerations when choosing vehicles: not only roominess and comfort but of upmost importance is a vehicles cross-country and 4WDing ability. For instance, sometimes river crossing abililty or clearance over rock fall becomes the main requirement, depending on where your travelling. Another vital factor is the driver’s experience in the mountains. For example, there are many river marshes and hillside bogs – “saz” in Kyrgyz.
To avoid these traps a driver needs not only route knowledge and driving experience, but know-how enough to pull himself out of a swamp as well. It’s very important for the vehicle to be equipped with all the necessary tools and recovery gear. A driver should also be a good mechanic – there’s no road-side assistance service in the mountains of the Tien-Shan! There’s not a large number of off-road cross-country vehicles equipped well enough to manage expeditions in Kyrgyzstan, but at ITMC this type of transportation and experienced drivers are available. Our vehicles are Soviet designed, thus simple, practical and most importantly strong!
Please meet our much loved all-wheel drive ‘truck buses’: