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Kok Moinok | The Trending Canyon

This winter, the local tour operators are booming with business.  Trips to Ara Kol Lake and Kok Moinok Canyon are selling out every weekend.  A relatively easy drive from Bishkek, these fascinating canyons provide blissfully colorful backdrop for selfies and photo ops.  They also provide a brief respite from the snow and ice of the usual winter scene.  On top of all that, there are countless rocks to climb, crannies to wiggle into, channels to follow, and vistas to behold.  Visitors walk with bated breath through each serpentine curve of the route, wondering at the drippy rock structures and waiting for what lies around each turn.


The canyons are formed from a yellow-red sandstone, eroded over the eras by spring flooding and summer thunderstorms.  The region is often significantly warmer than other areas of northern Kyrgyzstan, likely due to the lower elevation and sun-absorbing color of the rock.  

Hiking and climbing in the canyons is magnificent.  Forget hours of “when will we get there?”  Within 10-15 minutes you can begin to wander on the meandering path, pulled ever deeper into the maze that extends back for several kilometers.  Climbing is possible, but requires careful attention, as sandstone crumbles easily.  Personal safety and concern for preserving the site should both be kept in mind.  

Kok Moinok links into the neighboring Konorchek canyons, also impressive in their formations.  It is only in the last few years that this area has gained popularity with locals as a tourist destination, and so historical information or local knowledge is still scarce.  The magical vibrance of such an “undiscovered” space is carried over from another linked canyon, Skazka, which has attracted visitors for some time on the south shore of Lake Issyk-kul.  Skazka, or fairytale canyon, is over 130 km away from Kok Moinok, but the resemblance is unmistakable.  

As weekend tour groups to this area are the trending interest, visiting on a week day is encouraged.  During the winter months, the narrow channels can still harbor a chilly wind, despite the lack of snow.  In the summertime, the shady, cool channels are a respite from the intensity of heat that beats down from the sun.  In any circumstance, be well prepared with appropriate gear, and most certainly do NOT forget the camera!

by Ruby Mitchell, Online Content Editor @ White Leopard Travel Co.

Want to capture pics of this place?

Get in touch with us to organize a 2 or 3 day photo tour around Lake Issyk-kul. Shots of Kok Moinok Canyons and other behind-the-scenes areas can be yours for the taking! We fill up a car with a few other photo enthusiasts and then set off on our journey, ready to stop whenever you see a shot that you need to take. Follow our Facebook page or send us a message to get more info about these tours!

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