Wild camping

Yangikala Canyon

Yangikala Canyon

The Yangikala canyons run down to the Caspian in the west of Turkmenistan. They are deep fissures of multicoloured rock layers with buttresses of fluted chalk. The colours are other-worldly, from tangerine through pale gold to pistachio, particularly at dawn and at sunset. We reached this strange place after a four-hour drive from the coastal port of Turkmenbashi, through yet more trackless desert, where shepherds mind their herds of camels and nomads pass from summer encampments to take shelter for the winter in mud huddles of villages. We spent three days walking, taking photographs (yes! photography allowed!) that unfortunately don’t remotely capture the scenery, and poking about for fossils. Our companions built fires and raked embers to boil the little black teapot and barbecue the shashlik. They smoked intently, and drank a lot of vodka. ‘Vodochka’, they crooned affectionately. Life’s hard in the desert.

Boiling the kettle

Boiling the kettle

Wild camping was as camping always is: delight spiked with plenty of discomfort. The days were sunny and cool, nights windy and bitterly cold. The US military sleeping bags lent to us for the excursion were good and warm, though.

Camels in the desert

Camels in the desert

4 thoughts on “Wild camping

  1. The colours of that rock formation are incredible! Thank God that common sense seems to prevail in the case of photographs there! It looks hard, lonely and inhospitable – certainly not my choice of a holiday, but I can also see the fascination of it. With me it would be sand dune after sand dune – endless desert! I do hope your trip is satisfying something deep in your soul, Rosie. Keep those posts coming because you are opening up a world to me that I almost didn’t know existed.

    Rosemary K

  2. How were the bed bugs Jane? My experiences of travelling in the USSR as was, seemed to pivot on the number of bed-bug bites one endured at each different location. Perhaps things have changed.

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