The Unknown Canyons of Kyrgyzstan
The Unknown Canyons of Kyrgyzstan
by Albert Dros

I recently explored a part of Kyrgyzstan that was very much undiscovered. For 6 days I explored the south shore of Issyk Kul lake (one of the biggest lakes in the world). As you may have seen on my previous series about Kyrgyzstan, the country has a wide variety of landscapes ranging from glaciers, lakes, high mountains and canyons. You can find it all in just this one country. For this trip however, I focused mainly on canyons, most of which were totally unexplored, even by the local population.

This series consists of a lot of aerial and drone photographs combined with night images from the (unknown) canyons that I explored during this little trip. 

1. The Night Explorer.

We found this rock during a daytime scouting session in an area that we later called Mars Canyon. This canyon has a great variety of interestingly shaped rocks. This rock being one of them. We named it ‘The Icerberg.’ I discovered that the milk way would line up in this shot in the early morning so we later went back at around 4 AM to shoot it again (scroll down)
2. The Canyon of Forgotten Rivers.

This huge canyon reaches as far as the eye can see with an amazing backdrop of 5000+ meter peaks as a backdrop. It’s really impressive. Walking on ground level will easily get you lost. We named this canyon the Canyon of Forgotten rivers because these canyons were probably shaped from all kinds of little streams that once came from the glaciers into Issyk Kul Lake which you can see on the (top) left
3. Star Wanderer.

This was again a rock we scouted during the day. The structure looks like fingers pointing up in the sky, so we named this rock ‘the fingers’. This is a star trail image taken over a period of 30 minutes.
4. Red Planet

A canyon we explored near the end of our trip. It cannot be seen from any road and is located deep into some mountains on the northwest of Issyk Kul lake. It’s size is impressive. This is just a very small part of the canyon. Look on the bottom right where you can see our SUV parked, to have a bit of sense of scale. This canyon has a wide variety of colours. It looks amazing from the sky.
5. Mars Canyon.

A daytime aerial of (we called it) Mars Canyon. This canyon has a bunch of epic shapes that we later also shot during night time. We could access it via a ‘road’, that was actually not a road but a dried up river (see it on the right).
6. Mirrored

It was the end of winter during my visit and there was still snow in some areas. The melting of the snow in these areas takes long as it’s still around -10 degrees during the night, but above zero Celsius during the day. I saw this interesting snow pattern that mirrored the rock shape in front. Taken at 12mm and getting very close to the foreground I shot this mirrored composition with the sun just peaking through.
7. End of Day

The last light hitting the ridges of the endless canyons.
8. Swirl

Sunset at the shore of Issyk Kul lake with endless shapes and canyons reaching as far as the eye can see. It was a very clear that day. You can see the huge mountain backdrop in the distance. An impressive sight.
9. Red Maze

An aerial view of Mars Canyon that offers a wide variety of canyon scenery. In this part there was still quite some snow creating an interesting contrast between the red shapes.
10. White Out

Flying the drone in extreme conditions. It suddenly started to snow while we were exploring deep into a canyon. Flying the drone and shooting some photos and videos with these ‘unique’ conditions was great to see. Luckily the drone survived!
11. Night Trolls

These canyons come to life during the night. By playing with light and shadows all these structures start to look like creatures.
12. Textures

A black & white abstract of the textures of the canyons.
13. Dragon’s Back

We found a lot of interesting shapes and textures that looked particularly interesting from the sky. This one reminded me of a dragon.
14. Galactic Explorer

The same location as picture number 1, taken during a different time of the night. We went back here because I saw that the milky way lined up with this composition around 4 AM in the morning. 
15. Pillars

Details of the shapes of Mars Canyon.
16. Endless Veins

The Endless Veins of the Canyon of Forgotten Rivers after sunset showing beautiful contrast with the red shapes and snowy mountains in the back.
17. Claws

In Skazka Canyon aka Fairytale canyon there are lots of interesting shapes along with foreground to play around with.
18. Alien Footstep

When I flew my drone over all the canyons I found lots of interesting shapes (some of them I scouted via google earth). This one reminded me of a footstep.
19. Contrast.

Red and black canyons forming a nice contrast with a swirling river / road in the middle. We used dried up rivers as roads to get around in some of these canyons.
20. Rugged

A black & white abstract of an interesting shape seen from the sky.
21. Fairytale Nights

Seeing the milky way rise in the Fairytale canyon at 4 AM was a magical experience.
22. Details

A close up shot of the details and colours of just another canyon.
23. Spider

Top down view of the Canyon of Forgotten Rivers.
The Unknown Canyons of Kyrgyzstan

The Unknown Canyons of Kyrgyzstan

A series of images from unknown and unexplored Canyons in Kyrgyzstan. This series consists of mainly aerial and night images.


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