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Of Hikes and Treks

Tiny mountain strawberries emerge along a sunny slope as the warm air cocoons our excited limbs.  The persistent dustiness of the city is gone.  Rushing water and green leaves fill our senses and for the thousandth time, I am in love with Kyrgyzstan.

Bishkek is an essential hub for the country, but thankfully, getting out of the city is relatively easy.  There are several options for places to go, many of which are possible to find on your own with either a rental car or hired taxi.  Hiring a guide or driver can also lead to exploring places that just aren’t on the map yet. 
The first rule of traveling?  Be open to the unknown.    

All around Bishkek there are places to explore, within and without of the city.  Here are a few of the top spots:



Alamedin Valley

Just south of the city, this valley is fairly easy to find with a bit of an adventurer's spirit.  The road ends at a knobby hill, clearly a site for weekend picnics and family "jailoo".  The road eventually narrows into a trail, and continues alongside the east side of the Alamedin river for several hours.  For the waterfall seeker, there is a bridge over the river at the picnic area.  Crossing the bridge and trekking along the west side of the river is the trick to eventually finding the waterfall.  A map or guide is required.

standing next to a tall waterfall and rock cliff

Ala-Archa National Park

This area is infamous in the region, and easy to find and navigate on one's own.  There is an entrance fee to the park (worth it, for the ocntinued maintenance of the road) and signs and trails are well-marked.  The views from anywhere are stunning, and it is possible to visit even during the winter, when the snow covered trees and frozen river edges add to the delight of feeling so quickly dropped into deep outdoors.

Girl crossing a snow covered green bridge

Issyk-Ata

A little further of drive, this valley to the southeast of Bishkek has lovely short hikes and an acclaimed hot spring.  It is possible to drive yourself or hire a driver, and there are two routes for finding the valley.  One is the paved, round about way, and the other a more straightforward but mostly dirt and potholes route. About the same timing on both.  Your choice!

Belodoso

Heading to the west and angling south, this little valley is also known as "Raspberry Canyon".  The tallest waterfall in Kyrgyzstan can be found here, and it's a nice place for a picnic and outdoor excursion, without too much hiking.  


two girls walking down a rock covered hill with scrubby vegetation


Chunkurchak


Directly to the south of Bishkek, between Alamedin and Ala-Archa, Chunkurchak Canyon is a second home for the outdoor sports enthusiast.  Rock climbers, hikers, and paragliders in the summer; skiers and snowboarders in the winter.  It is difficult to find much information on the area, but word of mouth and going with a guide are a recipe for a fun adventure.  The best part?  It takes only 30-45 minutes to arrive at the canyon from the southern end of the city.

three hikers walk next to the Altyn arashan river


Konurchek Canyons


2 hours from Bishkek, in Boom Gorge on the way to Issykul, there are stunning canyon formations that are worth the time and effort for interested canyoneers.  The twisty entrance to Konurchek is a fun walk, and the reward at the end is impressive.  Be sure to take plenty of fluids, wear sunscreen, and take sun protection.  This is also a HOT area, so summertime hikes are best in the morning.  

 two young women exploring through red rock twisting canyons



Ruby Mitchell

Online Content Editor @ White Leopard Travel Co and official trail tester! Always up for a hike, any day, any season.


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