Seven Bulls, A Valley Of Dragons & A Broken Heart

Jety Oguz Travel Blog

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Me with the bulls

I reluctantly woke up just before 8am but was pleased to see that it was sunny and clear. My plan was to go to Café Zarina, where I had seen that they had rice porridge on the menu but they were closed. Another café wasn’t yet open, and the one next door still had its chairs on top of the tables while a woman was mopping the floor. I was their first customer. They didn’t exactly have a breakfast menu, and they don’t really differentiate meals here that much, so I decided to order briezol again, which is the closest breakfast-type food I could find on the menu. I added a side of buckwheat and together they made for a filling breakfast that gave me energy to start another day. 

There were no buses to Jeti Oguz so I took a taxi for about $10.

Grounds near the sanatorium
It didn’t take long to get there, as it was only 25 kilometers outside of Karakol. We drove past the actual village of Jeti Oguz to the sanatorium area where there was also a small settlement. The main reason for going here was to see the formation the town was named for. Jeti Oguz means “Seven Bulls” in Kyrgyz, and an endearing local legend has it that the area’s plentiful resources caused these bulls to grow where they now watch over the valley. The bulls are actually a series of red rock formations lined up in a row overlooking the village, and thanks to erosion there are actually more than seven. An amusing piece of graffiti found on the side of a café challenges tourists to see how many bulls they can find.
Da Bulls
The morning sun shone directly on them, illuminating them beautifully. They resemble rock formations one might expect to find in Arizona.


I walked around the grounds of the sanatorium, where several desolate buildings sat vacant and looking like they’d been abandoned for years, although they were likely just dormant for the season. Snow still covered the ground, which was immediately at the foot of a large looming mountain and therefore in the shadows. A small creature resembling a cross between a squirrel and a chinchilla ran up a tree near me and made strange clicking sounds. Its tail was flat and it had larger eyes than a squirrel. It ran too far up in the tree for me to get a good picture. There were many statues, mostly of children, but a rather short Lenin also remained near one of the dormitories.
Valley of the Dragons
Soon I saw some signs of life, especially as I neared the actual sanatorium building. 

In a nearby field I noticed the snow that covered the ground had an unusual form, looking more like shingles or crystal shards than regular snowfall. Perhaps the wind currents or additional precipitation caused it, but it was crunchy to walk on. From here the Seven Bulls stood majestic overlooking the village and a group of schoolchildren playing at a nearby playground. On the other side of the clearing, a valley continued up into the mountains and a distant snowcap was visible through the bright sunlight. An icy stream separated the sanatorium grounds from the village.

From the main road next to a small general store, a gravel road curved up a hill and promised to reveal magnificent views, so I climbed the steady incline to the top of the ridge.
Valley beyond Jeti Oguz (with interesting star-shaped light formation)
Aside from stunning views of the Seven Bulls, the mountain peaks in the far valleys and the village below, I could see that the ridge I’d climbed was another plateau between valleys. On the other side were more fascinating rock formations called the Valley of the Dragons, or Ushchelie Drakonov in Russian. Some of the formations looked like the “bulls” but were longer and dipped all the way to the bottom of the valley. It was truly an awe-inspiring vista from the top of the small ridge. Even the sound of the rushing stream was audible as if a waterfall was nearby. After taking in the scenery for awhile, I climbed back down and began walking back along the road. Since it was virtually winter, there was no reason to visit Svetov Dolina, or the Valley of Flowers, beyond the sanatorium village, but I can only imagine what the area would look like in spring.
Karakol Peak from ridge near Jeti Oguz


From the road below the Seven Bulls, the rock formations were even more grand than they appeared from a distance. On the other side of the Seven Bulls ridge, another formation revealed itself. Broken Heart is a large cracked rock formation that is actually the back side of the “bull” closest to the road. You would never know from looking at either side, though. The folklore surrounding Broken Heart has many variations, but according to one legend, two men fought over a beautiful woman, but killed each other and thus broke her heart. Another tale augments this legend by claiming her broken heart flooded the valley with blood, thereby causing the red sandstone cliffs that dominate this valley. The sun was positioned right in the crack of the broken heart, making for a serene, spiritual moment.
Broken Heart
Nearby horses grazed peacefully by the stream and a grove of pine trees. Aside from the power lines that marred the view, it was a spectacular view.

I prepared myself to walk the seven kilometers to the Jeti Oguz village, but after only walking for two kilometers, the minivan that had passed me earlier pulled over and I was spared a couple hours of walking along the remote road. At first the van had only two other passengers, but we filled up after stopping in Jeti Oguz village. When we got back to Karakol, I walked past the stadium and through the large, forlorn Panfilov Park. 

Having arrived back in Karakol much earlier than I’d expected, I decided to treat myself to a real lunch instead of the packet of cookies I got at the Jeti Oguz general store. I chose Stealth Café, which turned out to be the best meal I’ve had in Karakol.
Horses grazing near Jeti Oguz
I ordered ganfan, a dish I’d seen many times on menus but wasn’t ever sure what it was (Chinese style beef, vegetables and rice), and the popular and tasty carrot salad. I saw that they had cheap draft beers as well, and made a mental note to return for dinner. As I walked down the street after lunch, the surrounding mountain peaks appeared whiter, brighter and clear than I’d seen them since I arrived. What a contrast from yesterday’s snow to today’s delightfully sunny weather. Tomorrow I’ll leave Karakol for the lakeside village of Tamga and can only hope the weather will cooperate.
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Me with the bulls
Me with the bulls
Grounds near the sanatorium
Grounds near the sanatorium
Da Bulls
Da Bulls
Valley of the Dragons
Valley of the Dragons
Valley beyond Jeti Oguz (with inte…
Valley beyond Jeti Oguz (with int…
Karakol Peak from ridge near Jeti …
Karakol Peak from ridge near Jeti…
Broken Heart
Broken Heart
Horses grazing near Jeti Oguz
Horses grazing near Jeti Oguz
Jety Oguz
photo by: Biedjee