The first geographical information about Central Asia come from Chinese travelers, around the 6th century. Much later, in the 13th century, new reports came from an Italian ambassador named Plano Karpiny… Then, 1867 : Przewalski, young Russian passioned with travel, proves the Russian Geographical Society and his senior officers that he would be a good explorer.
He persuaded the Society to sponsor his first expedition, to the Ussuri River region in the Russian Far East in 1867 (below, Irtkusk, that you might remember from my trip last September).
The results impressed everyone, the Society agreed to help financer future trips, and the army gave him the time he needed, insisting only that on his return from each trip he be debriefed first before saying anything to the Society – Making him, in effect, an army agent.
Those starting in Mongolia were devoted to finding route into Tibet. On the one non-Tibet trip, he discovered the tiny steppe-land horse that now bears his name. here below, his Kirghize guide through the region.
On the last of these trips, he arrived via the Bedel Pass at Karakol. In 1888, he was in Bishkek outfitting for its next expedition. While hunting tiger by the Chuy river he unwisely drunk the water, came down with typhus and was bundled off the Lake Issyk-Kol for rest and treatment. From here he wrote to the tsar asking to be buried beside the lake, dressed in his explorer’s clothes. He died at the military hospital a bit later – Hereunder the Karakol hospital.
So here I will be sleeping tonight, in Karakol, East of Bishkek, East of the Issik Kul Lake, not far from China and its Takla-Makan desert…