About Torugart Pass
Torugart Pass (Tourugart, Torougart, Torougarte) is the border check point between Kyrgystan and China. Pass was used long time ago as one of the Silk Road route and lead to Issyk Kul lake from here. Actually, entering from China to Kyrgyz Republic you can see three most popular lakes in Kyrgyziya - Chatyr Kul, Son Kul and Issyk Kul. You can also enjoy 10th century Caravan Sarai - Tash-Rabat.
View at Tourugart Pass Part 1
Torugart pass altitude is around 3000 meters. It is one of the most beatifull border passing in Central Asia. Even though it is a mountainous road and beautiful as it is, still the actual road is not very curved ans sharp.
Tourugart Pass is hard to use
Road on Chinese part is newly built. One can stay overnight in Kashgar and then early in the morning transfer to border. It takes around 3 hours. Keep in mind that due to its complication this pass is not easy to use especially during winter time (actually it is closed most of the time during winter) and early spring and late fall (autumn).
Also note that is is always closed on Saturdays and Sundays. That is why Friday and Monday is the busiest day on this path with tons of trucks going to and from China, delicas, sprinters and jeeps meeting and seeing off tourists.
Once you leave China road on Kyrgyz side is not so good. This lasts for about 100 km (most of this territory is part of what is called permafrost). On the way you will pass Customs control and two border guards posts. As you drive on you will see Chatyr Kul lake on your right. (There is a sign about water spring - do not miss it. Water there is very rich with iron and you can enjoy it for half an hour only, if it stays long you can see all iron in it dusting to the bottom) By the way this lake never warms up completely during the summer and freeses over winter - unlike Issyk Kul lake, which is always warm
Animals and Birds at Torugart Pass
If you are lucky you will see some Imperial Eagles there, marmots (gopher, suslik, ground-squirrel), golden eagles, and other wild animals. Espacially during a warm sunny day in Spring marmots like to take sun bathes and sometimes you can see them crossing there road right before your car.
Soviet Times Fortifications
On your left especially in the beginning of your 100 km you will notice a fence, which is there from Soviet Times. It is worth mentioning that for quite long time China never protected its USSR-China border and all of that was done by Soviet troops. You can also notice some holes and areas on both of your sides, which are trenches for tanks. There are also abandoned special fire points called DZOT in Russian, which is an abbreviation for Wooden Ground Fire Point. According to border protection tactics norms of Soviet times, soldiers had to keep enemy troops for about 30 minutes and then leave this spot for another one. This way border guards were prepared to keep a battle with enemy for several hours allowing major troops to back up.
View at Tourugart Part 2
As your road from the pass to good road (100 km) is turning right around At-Bashy Range (part of Tien-Shan) on the left far you can notice beginning of another range - Fergana Range, which is part of Pamir mountains. So crossing through Torugart gets you to see both major Central Asian mountain ranges - Tien-Shan and Pamir.
Tash Rabat and Son Kul
After making full turn you will see second border guards post and pretty much after another 20 km good road will start. After around 10 km of good road there will be a sign in Russian about Tash-Rabat caravan sarai. You will need to turn right and drive another 13 kilometers to reach it and one of its 4 yurt camps for accommodation. About 1 km before turning left from the main road to Tash-Rabat, there is another road turing left to mountains, this one leads to Son-Kul lake. It is really spectacular view road, yet in a very bad condition. It is advisable to use it on good 4wd vehicle or good mountain bikes and only on a dry day. However, if you keep straight at some point after two hours drive you will be in Naryn.
Torugart Pass Transfer and Rehabilitation
So, this is pretty much all there is about Kyrgyz side of Torugart pass. You can book transportation and good 4wd cars from us here Torugart Pass transfers. By the way, it is possible for a 50 seat bus to go to Torugart pass and back. And also the good news is that there are plans to rehabilitate this piece of the road in 2010.