Now that the hiking season in the Kyrgyz mountains is almost over, and the yurts are brought back from the mountains to the valleys, I thought I’d show you a small compilation of my hiking trips.
Ala Archa Valley – Ущелье Ала Арча
Close to Bishkek (30 min drive by taxi) start the mountains. The valley I went to twice is called Ala Archa Valley (which in this part is an established National Park) and is just amazing. It is part of the Tien Shan Mountains. In the pictures you can also see the special Tien Shan pine trees, that apparently only exist in these mountains. Its altitude ranges from 1500 m to almost 5000 m (4865). I just went for day trips but you can also sleep up in the mountains, where, if you are really lucky, you might even see a snow leopard as they still exist up there.
Issyk-Kul – Fairytale canyon and Djety-Oguz – ущелье-каньон Сказка и Жети-Огуз
Lake Issyk-Kul is said to be the heart of Tien Shan. With 1.609 m above sea level it is surrounded by different mountain ranges bordering Kazakhstan and more distant China. I had two outstanding trips in the Region. One was the sandstone formation Сказка which means fairytale and looks like it. Another was further away from Issyk-Kul, near the city Karakol, where we went to the village Djety-Oguz. Djety-Oguz means seven bulls in Kyrgyz because of a special rock formation. The legend says that when the wife of a Kyrgyz khan was stolen by another, a wise man gave him advice how to reap his revenge. When he was sitting next to his former wife at a regional funeral where seven bulls where slaughtered, he killed the woman whose blood became a river and swept the bulls away down the valley, where they became cliffs. In general the region is full of stories, legends and myths like that, which I can fully understand given the miraculous nature.
Son-Kul – Соңкөл
Another of my trips was to Son-Kul in Naryn oblast, which the second biggest lake in Kyrgyzstan and the largest fresh water lake. It is on 3016 m altitude and when I was there in the end of August the nights were already freezing cold. Since it is already that high, the mountains don’t seem high anymore but vast and easy to climb. Only when driving down the pass I was reminded of height of the Tien Shan mountains. It is also due to the altitude that there are no trees growing up there. It seems like one big pasture interrupted by some yurts near the lake – some writings compare it to savannah. Because of this vastness it’s easy to underestimate distances. It was still 3,5 hours from the lake to the foot of the mountains. Climbing up is worth it, though – breathtakingly beautiful!