July 15, 2013

Panj Chasma at Iskander Kul

I was wondering if the title of this post made any sense  :)  Panj Chasma means Five Springs and we visited the springs during our trip to Iskander Kul lake.

Sunny morning at Iskander Kul
A helpful tour guide at our camp center called a taxi for us.  He promised to take us to the springs, wait there until we were done and take us back home.  Negotiations took awhile but finally we all piled into a comfortable minibus and took off.  We drove half way around the lake on the dirt road that was right next to lake the whole way to the Panj Chasma (the road is that thin white line a bit above the lake on the right side of the picture).  We admired the lake Iskander Kul in the sunshine and stopped in front of the beautiful, white summer house - a president's dacha.  It was under renovation and the people working there pointed us to the springs.

Panj Chasma with president's dacha in the background
Now here is a confession.  I don't know why, but I have stopped to plan my trips in Central Asia.  Like, I knew we are going to Iskander Kul and wanted to go there.  But I had no Lonely Planet, no maps, no plans.  The tour guide at the tourist center where we stayed was a great resource; he had pictures and maps and knowledge what is around the lake area.  I heard... I didn't even talk with him ;)  

So I had zero expectations when we jumped into that minibus.  It was just fun to go for a drive and see something!  We took lunch and a diaper bag with us so we were all set for few hours.

Panj Chasma is true to its name.  There are five springs that bubble out of a rock forming a crystal clear, ice cold, beautiful spring.


Another spring

Third spring :) 
I have never seen such clear water.  Perfect place to visit on a sunny hot day!

Fourth spring
It was clean enough to drink and there was a huge white enamel mug by the water waiting for thirsty travelers!

Some of us wanted to feel the water by walking in the spring...but it was so cold that after a couple of minutes you had to get out! 
The rock that hides the source of the water was high and tempting for the kids.  The boys climbed it several times and had to be rescued only once each.  See those two blonde heads up there?  They were like mountain goats, we couldn't keep them from climbing! 

Future mountain climbers

We asked the people who worked at the dacha if we could sit and enjoy lunch under the shade of these beautifully carved wooden canopies.  We were able rent one for $5 and they brought us mattresses to sit on and some dishes.  

The setting was very beautiful: a field full of flowers, high mountains all around us and the clear water of the spring that flowed towards lake Iskander Kul next to us.  

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch for couple of hours, watching children play in the water and chatting under the shade.  

We were told to go for a walk next to a river (not sure which river, remember, I had no maps :) and we did.  We followed the rived bed for a while and took pictures of the 
steep mountain wall on the other side.  

But it was actually too hot to be really enjoyable and the kids were getting tired.  
Look at this little cute traveling bug!  

Mom, I'm actually getting a bit tired...

So women and children started a walk back to the Five Springs where our taxi was waiting. The men continued exploring and conquering the world.  

They followed the river, crossed a bridge and who knows where they would have ended up if the women and children and the taxi driver wouldn't have picked them up! 
Somewhere beautiful, I'm sure! 

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