Sights of Kyrgyzstan
Ala-Archa National Park
Ala-Archa translated from Kyrgyz language as variegated archa. Archa is local name of juniper. The gorge got its name because of numerous bushes of archa, covering the slopes. Because there is a great diversity of archa in the gorge, of different colors and shapes, it gives a feeling that the gorge is varicolored. The national park, located at an altitude of 1500-4895 meters above sea level, 41 km from the city Bishkek and occupying an area of about 20 thousand hectares, includes all the landscape and climatic zones. The same name river flows in the gorge. The beautiful landscape and richness of flora and fauna in the park allows used for hiking, recreation, and leisure all year round.
There is an amazingly beautiful valley called Chong-Kemin between Kungey Ala-Too and Ile Alatau ranges that stretches more than 100 km from east to west. The river in the valley also called Chong-Kemin and it flows into the Chu River where the Boom Gorge starts. It is a well-known destination among white water rafting and kayaking enthusiasts. The valley covers the territory of Chong-Kemin State Nature Park. The park is the habitat of animals such as roe deer, alpine ibex, argali, martens, ermines, rock partridges, snow leopards, deer, Turkestan lynx, golden eagles, saker falcon, and bearded vultures. There is also the mausoleum of Shabdan Baatyr in the park.
Highland Alai Valley is located in the southernmost area of Kyrgyzstan. This tectonic depression bounded on the north and south by Alai and Trans-Alai ranges, respectively. It is located 2240-3536 meters above sea level; the average height is 3000 meters. The valley stretches 174 km from west to east. The width varies from three to 40 km. The area is 8400 sq.km. Despite its cold and dry climate, the valley is rich in succulent summer pastures. It is home to various wildlife, including partridges, snowcocks, foxes, Alai red marmots, bears and mountain goats.
Sary- Chelek Lake
The lake Sary-Chelek is located 500 km from Bishkek and 300 km from Osh, in the territory of the Sary-Chelek State Biosphere Reserve. The lake lies on the boundary of At-Oinok and Chatkal ranges, at an altitude of 1940 meters. The lake covers an area of 507 hectares, has length of 7.5 km, and depth of 234 meters. It is the second and third deepest lake in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia, respectively. The coastline covered with dense forests and rocky places in some areas. Sary-Chelek fed by several mountain rivers. The water temperature in summer does not exceed 19 °C and in winter ranges from 0 °C to 4 °C. The literal translation of the name “Sary Chelek” is “yellow ladle.” As legend goes, the lake received its name from a beekeeper that was tending beehives near its shore. He found the honey’s yellow shades so captivating that he named the lake “yellow ladle.” Of course, some people think the origin of the name comes from the reflection of the golden leaves that decorate the trees in autumn, making the water’s surface look as if it has a brilliant, gold veneer. The Sary-Chelek State Biosphere Reserve (area 23.8 ha) is included in UNESCO’s international network of nature reserves and was established to preserve the flora and fauna of the walnut forests and alpine landscapes.
The well-known Alamedin Gorge is located 30 km from Bishkek, at an altitude of 1800-2000 meters above sea level. Juniper, birch, black currant, common cockle, rose hips, and sea buckthorn are just some examples of the area’s rich flora. The river that flows through the gorge also called Alamedin. Going farther up through the gorge, you can see steep cliffs that look like ruins of ancient fortresses. There are also the peaks Aitmatov (4650 meters) and Kyrgyzstan (4860 meters) which always attract tourists’ attention. The gorge Alamedin is famous for its hot mineralized springs, and there is a small spa resort based on.
Too-Ashu is a high mountain pass 135 km from Bishkek city, on the main highway, linking the northern and southern regions of Kyrgyzstan. The altitude of the pass is 3400 meters above sea level. The road is serpentine and views from it are truly breathtaking. There is the ski resort on the southern slope of the Too-Ashu, which is popular among skiers and snowboarders in winter season. Beyond the pass begins Suusamyr Valley.
The waterfall Abshyr Ata is located 70 km from the Osh city, in the valley Abshyr-Sai. The valley lies at the altitude of 1500-2500 meters above sea level. One has to walk about 3 km along the river and through the gorge to see this unique creation of nature. A powerful water flow breaks out from a hole on a steep cliff (1.5-2 meters in diameter) at a height of 12-15 meters. The low-mineralized waterfall water has healing properties.
Arslanbob Walnut Forests
The walnut forests of Arslanbob are a rare masterpiece of nature with their beauty and diversity of plant species. This picturesque area is located 50 kilometers north of Jalal-Abad city. The territory, with an overall area of 608,500 hectares is home to 130 different tree and shrub species. The most common plants are walnut trees, providing 200-400 kg of fruit per year. A common legend says that Alexander the Great came to these lands in 329 BC and was so delighted with the taste of the nuts, he brought them back home and cultivated them, later spreading them all throughout Greece.
Burana Tower is located near Tokmok in the medieval city of Balasagun (9th-14th century), the capital of the Qarakhanid Dynasty, also spelled Karakhanid, Turkic dynasty and the birthplace of the famous poet of the Middle Ages Yusuf Balasaguni, author of the poem "Blessed Knowledge." The tower built in the first half of the 11th century as a minaret of the mosque. The mosque destroyed in time, and the minaret partially destroyed by the earthquake in the 15th century: today the height of the tower is about 25 m, although its original height reached 45 meters. The archaeological and architectural museum created in the open air based on the legendary Balasagun.
Korona (Crown) Peak
Korona (Crown) Peak is one of the most picturesque peaks of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too mountain range. It is popular with climbers from all around the world. The peak is located at the top of the glacier Ak-Sai, in Ala-Archa gorge. Its height is 4860 m. The name of the peak Korona is not casual: six mountain towers resemble the majestic crown of a medieval ruler if view from afar, that gave the mountain its name (crown in Russian). The towers are so steep that snow does not stay on their tops and walls, which gives a special splendor to the landscape opening to the tourist.
Kel-Suu Lake is located in the Naryn province, in Kakshaal-Too range of Inner Tien-Shan, located at an altitude of 3400 meters above sea level. It is quite close to the Chinese border. Surrounded by high rocky cliffs, the lake formed because of large rock fall that blocked the narrow channel of the river. Kel-Suu stretches for more than 12 km and is 2 km wide. The depth varies, depending on the season of the year - reaching the maximum depth towards the end of summer because of the melting snow and ice in the mountains. The water in the lake is fresh and exhibits a greenish color. One can experience the lake in its full beauty by going for a ride on a motorboat.
Mausoleum of Shah Fazil is a part of the Shah Fazil Historical and Architectural Complex. The complex is located in the Gulistan village of Ala Buka district. The mausoleum is the burial place of Mahmud ibn Nasir (nicknamed Shah Fazil, fair shah), who came from the Kara-Khanid dynasty that ruled in the 10th-12th centuries. The height of this pyramidal structure is 15.5 meters. The structure consists of a step drum and tall dome resting on it. The interior of the building decorated with ganch carvings (the art and technique of carving on ganch, containing a high percentage of gypsum, lie in its ability to harden quickly. Ganch treated in a complex way, the main processes of which are: kilning, purification, and mixing up gypsum powder to which gum added.) of bright colors.
Suusamyr is one of the largest alpine valleys, located at an altitude of 2000-3200 meters between the Kyrgyz Ala-Too, Suusamyr-Too, and Djumgal-Too ranges. It stretches more than 150 km from the west, starting from the Ala-Bel Pass to the east, up to the Kokomeren River. The entire surface of the valley covered by thick lush green meadows. Being the birthplace of Kojomkul, the greatest kyrgyz wrestler of the 20th century, Suusamyr is one of those places in Kyrgyzstan which come to mind when one thinks of jailoo, kymys (made from mare's milk), paragliding, skiing, and heli-skiing.
The mountain Aigul-Tash is located at the entrance of the Kara-Bulak village. It is home to an amazingly beautiful flower which red and yellow petals endemic to the area, called aigul, that blooms in April. According to legend, a maiden named Aigul was unable to withstand the news that the man that she loved had died in battle, and threw herself off the cliff of this very mountain. When spring came, wonderful flowers started growing in the places where the maiden’s drops of blood had fallen. People named the flowers Aigul and the mountain Aigul-Tash, after the maiden. The flower is listed in the Red Book.
The historical caravan-saray Tash-Rabat (caravan-saray (Persian کاروانسرای - "Kārvān-Sarā", the palace on the trade route, the rest house). A large public building in the Near and Middle East and Central Asia, in cities, on roads and in uninhabited places, serving as shelter and stop place for travelers, usually for trade caravans) is located 110 km from Naryn city, in the gorge of Kara-Koyun at an altitude of 3200 m. This architectural monument of the 15th century is on the Great Silk Road. In the Middle Ages Tash-Rabat was a haven for traders and travelers along the road, connecting the Fergana and Chui valleys with Kashgar.
Chon Ak-Suu Gorge
Chon Ak-Suu Gorge (also called the Grigoriev Gorge) is located on the northern shore of the lake Issyk-Kul, on the slopes of Kungei Ala-Too, covered with lush green grass and pine forests, 60 kilometers from the city of Cholpon-Ata. The gorge is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Issyk-Kul. Three beautiful moraine lakes are among the main attractions of the gorge.
The Boom Gorge is located in 112 km from Bishkek. It is natural gateway connecting the Issyk-Kul basin with Chui valley. The length of the gorge is 22 km. The section of the Chu River in the Boom gorge is a very attractive destination for fans of rafting and kayaking.
This “moon” (“ai” means “moon” in Kyrgyz language) lake is located on the northern slope of Turkestan range, about 3000 meters above sea level. This small "moon lake" lies in the captivity of steep rocks and you can admire its beauty only from afar. The lake has two streams flowing into it and lake covered by ice in winter.
The lake Son-Kol is located in the southwestern part of the Naryn province, within a basin between the Son-Kol-Too and Moldo-Too mountain ridges, at an altitude of 3016 meters. It is the second largest lake, after Issyk-Kul, with a surface area of 278 sq.km; length is 29 km and width is 18 km and a depth of 14 meters. Mountain streams are flow from mountain hollows, ridges and peaks into Song-Kol, where the Son-Kol River originates; it flows into the Naryn River. The spacious meadows around the lake have been using as summer pastures by nomadic shepherds since the ancient times. Shepherds drive their cattle here during the summer months.
Jety-Oguz gorge (Seven bulls)
The picturesque Jety-Oguz gorge is located 28 km to the south-west of the town Karakol. Its name translated from the Kyrgyz language means "seven bulls". The name is symbolic, because there is a 35 km long wall of seven huge red-brown cliffs resembling ranked furious bulls standing together. Especially romantic look has the rock "broken heart" located at the entrance to the gorge. Jeti-Oguz is also famous for its hot springs with water enriched with radon and hydrogen sulfide. In the place they hit out of the ground, at the altitude of 2200 m, there built health and fitness resort. The famous waterfall Maiden Tears is located in the valley of Seven Bulls, Jeti-Oguz, at the altitude of about 2500 m. The height of the waterfall is about 40 m. This waterfall is not like the others. Water in the form of many streams falls down the steep rocky rapids and breaks into the millions of drops. It really looks like tears rolling down the cheeks of a beautiful maiden.
Konorchek сanyons are on the eastern part of Kyrgyz Ala-Too range. These are magnificent monuments of nature, formed over several million years by natural forces such as the sun, wind, and waters. These huge lumpy boulders take on forms that resemble ancient castles, churches, modern buildings, and animals. The altitudes of some canyons reach 300 meters. An extinct volcano called Segizhan Shokny (about 2.5-3 million years old) is another attraction that compliments the canyons
Karavshin Gorge is located at Turkestan range. This marvelous piece of nature contains cliffy mountains, fast flowing rivers, clean spring waters, and green meadows. It is a great place called "the Asian Patagonia" because of with its green meadows, fast streams and strong winds resembles the South American steppe. The mountains are composed of strong granite, limestone and sandstone. Now unique and unexplored Karavshin attracts more tourists and fans of extreme sports.
The lake Chatyr-Kol is located between the At-Bashy and Torugart-Too ranges, and situated at an altitude of 3530 meters above sea level. The dimensions of the lake are as follows: length - 23 km, width - 11 km, surface area - 170.62 sq.km, depth - 20 meters. The water surface covered with about a meter thick layer of ice in winter. In the spring, the lake filled with streams of mountain rivers, which flow down from the glaciers. The southeastern shore of the lake is swampy, while the northern shore is rocky. The shore of Chatyr-Kol is a habitat of various species of animals and birds: wild ducks, mountain geese, snow leopards, marmots and (Capra ibex) ibexes. The lake is a part of the Karatal-Japyryk State Reserve.
Barskoon Gorge is located on the southern shore of the Issyk-Kul Lake, above the Barskoon village, 90 km from Karakol city. A river with the same name runs through it. The length of the gorge is about 10 km. It is famous for its beautiful waterfalls with unique names, such as “Tears of the Leopard”, “White Beard”, “Splashes of Champagne”, and “The Bowl of Manas”. The first astronaut Yuri Gagarin visited this place in 1965, and enjoyed its beautiful landscape. Two monuments installed in his memory later. The road that leads to the well-known Kumtor gold mine passes through the gorge. This road was once one of the branches of the Great Silk Road, which passed through the Barskhoon city, a thriving medieval city in the 8th -13th centuries on the site of today’s Barskoon village.
Kegety gorge stretches for 30 km along the northern slope of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too Mountain range, 75 km from the city of Bishkek and has rich flora. Tall grasslands, barberry, mountain ash, (Rosa) brier and fir forests largely contribute to the beauty of the gorge. The river Kegety, which flows through the gorge, has many streams. The largest of them is the river Kol-Tor (the right stream) which flows down through a smaller gorge with beautiful landscape. The main source of the river Kol-Tor flows through moraine passes under the ground and breaks out roaring at a certain point in a forested area. Natural and climatic features of the Kegety gorge are favorable for hiking and trekking, as well as picnics.
Manas Peak is the highest point of the Talas Ala-Too range located in its western part, at an altitude of 4488 meters above sea level. Its slopes are so steep that no snow and ice ever cling to the mountainsides. Named after the great Kyrgyz hero Manas, this peak is the symbol of independence. Because of the steep slopes to conquer this peak, can only a few lucky people with superhuman willpower.
Eki Naryn Valley
Eki Naryn Valley is located 45 km from the city Naryn, at an altitude of 2000 meters. The large and small tributaries of the Naryn River are joint here, giving it the name that means 'two Naryns.' This area characterized by meadows, pastures and pine forests. Located within the territory of the Naryn State Reserve, it is also the habitat of bears, wild boars, mountain goats and snow leopards.
The lake Ala-Kol is located among the rocky ridges of the Terskey- Ala-Too range, at an altitude of 3532 meters. It occupies an area of less than 1.5 sq. km, but its depth can reach over 70 m. This "motley lake" changes its tint depending on the weather.
Issyk-Ata gorge with the same name river is located on the northern slopes of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too Range, in 77 km to the east from Bishkek. Distinction of the gorge is not only for its gorgeous climatic conditions, but also for its excellent balneal therapy resources. Issyk-Ata Resort built in the middle of the gorge, in 1928, based on the more than fifty thermal and mineral springs found here. The healing properties of these waters have been known since ancient times, as evidenced by the picture of Buddha-the- Healer carved on a huge stone dating back to 8th century. Mountain slopes above 2800 meters covered with juniper forests. Surrounded by high slopes and cliffs, the gorge has spectacular landscape.
Besh-Tash National Park
Besh-Tash National park is 13 km from Talas city and located on both sides of the Besh-Tash river. The park, with an overall area of 32411 hectares, is home to rare plant and animal species included in the Red Book of the Kyrgyz Republic, such as (Ovis ammon) argali, Turkestan lynx, snow leopards, golden eagles, Himalayan griffon and saker falcons. The pride of the National park is the high altitude (2997 m) azure lake Besh-Tash. Osman, marinka and trout are chasing each other playfully in the lake. In addition, in the river of the same name is a rainbow trout.
Ak-Sai is a broad alpine valley located in the border area between At-Bashy and Torugart, situated at an altitude of 2900-3800 meters, in inner Tien-Shan. Ak-Sai valley surrounded by mountains, 3900-5000 meters high, covered with glaciers. Sub-alpine semi-deserts (up to 3100-3600 meters), alpine meadows, tundra in some areas (3600-3900 meters), and nival-glacial zone (above 3900 meters) are typical to the valley. The vegetation consists of short, thick grass that covers numerous swamps and lakes at moderate altitudes. Marco Polo sheep and alpine ibex are famous inhabitants of the valley.
Altyn-Arashan Thermal Resort
Thermal resort is in the picturesque Altyn-Arashan gorge, 2600 meters above sea level, with spruce forest and green meadows on the banks of the Arashan River. It was built based on hot springs with high mineral content and radioactivity. The springs contain radon and used in the treatment of diseases on nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, and the musculoskeletal systems.
Chunkurchak Ski Resort
Ski Resort Chunkurchak is a young and developing ski resort, located 30 km from Bishkek, in the picturesque Chunkurchak gorge. The main advantages of the ski resort are proximity to the city, a compact arrangement of service facilities on the territory and comfortable ski runs (piste) for beginners, making it an ideal destination for family holidays. There are four different chairlifts. Guests can benefit from facilities such as the cafe, sports equipment rental, medical center, and parking lot, all of which are available on the premises of the resort.
Gumbez of Manas
Gumbez (Mausoleum) of Manas, a medieval architectural monument, is located in Ken-Kol valley, 22 km northeast of Talas. Although well known among people and in scientific literature as the Mausoleum of Manas, the inscription on the wall reads that the tomb belongs to the daughter of one of the rulers of the Chagatai Khanate. There is a famous legend saying that Kanykei, Manas’s wife, ordered to masters from Bukhara and Samarkand to build this monument in memory of her deceased husband and that the girl’s name on the tomb was inscribed specially in order to distract the attention of the enemies. A small building built of burnt bricks, decorated with Kyrgyz patterns of applied art and Arabic inscriptions. Gumbez (Mausoleum) of Manas an architectural complex called Manas Ordo nowadays.
The first reservoir built in Kyrgyzstan in 1956, Orto-Tokoy, is located in Kochkor district in the Naryn province on the Chu River, at an altitude of 1700 meters. The length of the reservoir is 18 km, width 3-5 km, depth 47 meters, total surface area about 24 sq. km. and volume more than 4.7 billion m3 . The purpose of reservoir construction was the melioration of agricultural lands in Kyrgyzstan (86,000 hectares) and Kazakhstan (34,000 hectares).
Issyk-Kul is the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan, surrounded on two sides by the Terskey Ala-Too and Kungey Ala-Too ranges. It is widely believed that the name Issyk Kul in Kyrgyz means “hot lake” because the water in the lake never freezes. The name of the lake also bears religious significance. The adjective 'isyk' is phonetically modified form of the ancient Turkic word 'ydyk' that means “sacred”. This unique lake considered sacred in history. Located at an altitude of 1609 meters, the lake covers an area of 6236 sq.km and has an average depth of 300 meters (at the deepest point reaches 668 m). It is one of the largest and deepest alpine lakes in the world. The coast is famous for its exceptional landscape and particular maritime climate. It is also the largest health resort zone in Central Asia, with numerous health resorts, hotels, and private guesthouses, making it a top destination.
Kol-Tor Gorge is an offshoot of Kegety Gorge, with a river of the same name and amazing landscape. It is located 90 km from Bishkek. At the end of the gorge, a small lake characterized by its turquoise color, is the main attraction. The gorge is rich in spruce forests, herbs (sage, Saint-John's-wort, and thyme) and varieties of berries (mountain ash, honeysuckle, wild rose and barberry).
The Kirov reservoir is located in the Chon-Kapka gorge, in Talas province. It covers an area of 39 sq. km. The length of the reservoir is 25 m, 86 m height and the depth is 7 m. The construction of the reservoir completed in 1975 and the main function is irrigation of the lands of Talas province and some parts of present Kazakhstan. The coastal zone has good conditions for recreation and fishing. With a picturesque scenery, the coastal areas are ideal for fishing as well as other recreational activities.
Naryn State Reserve
Naryn State Reserve is located in the eastern part of the Naryn province. Its territory begins at the source of the Naryn River and covers a hillside forest of Naryn-Too mountain range. The total area of the reserve is about 24.969 hectares, aside from the nearby 53.388 hectares of land that is also under environmental protection. The primary task of the reserve is protection and conservation of region’s flora and fauna. It is home to 1870 plant and 50 animal species. The most commonly found plants are spruce, rowan (mountain ash), willow, juniper, (Rosa) brier and currants. Deer, mountain goats, mountain sheep, bears, wolves, snow leopards, lynxes, and martens are just some of the animals protected by the reserve. In the reserve different animals are met - (Cervus elaphus) maral or red deer, (Ovis ammon) argali, roe deer, bear, wolf, snow leopard, lynx, marten and many other.
Sarkent National Nature Reserve
Sarkent National Nature Reserve is located in the Leilek district of Bakten province. The park covers an area of 40,000 hectares and established to preserve the biological diversity of natural systems. There are animals listed in the Red Book: brown bear, snow leopard, lynx, golden eagle, (Falco cherrug) saker falcon and (Gyps himalayensis) Himalayan griffon. The landscape characterized by juniper forests. The reserve contains five different lakes.
ZiL Ski Base
Ski base ZIL is located 35 km from Bishkek in a beautiful scenic location at an altitude of 1850 above sea level. The base is well developed and is one of the favorite places for skiing for both Kyrgyz citizens and visitors. There are five operating ropeways (for chairlift) on base today. In addition, there are three cafés for 135 seats, well-developed infrastructure hotel with 19 rooms, ski equipment rental and medical center for the guests. Ski season: December - March. There is the Cantor Glacier 5 km from the ski base, located at an altitude of 3500 meters above sea level. It is to get to Cantor Glacier by all-wheel drive car. In the future on the glacier is planned installation of ropeway, and then it is possible to ski all year round.
Kyrgyz- Ata National Park
Kyrgyz Ata National Park is located in 40 km from the city Osh, on the northern slope of the Alai Range. Its territory is located at medium altitudes. Juniper forests well preserved in the park. The park has an area of 11172 hectares. This park created to preserve the flora and fauna of the Pamir-Alai mountain system. The territory of the park is suitable for outdoor activities.