Located 40 km (25 miles) only south of Bishkek, the natural park of Ala Archa offers spectacular glaciers, waterfalls and high summits.
The surface of the park covers more than 200 km2 in the Kyrgyz mountain range Tian Shan. Its summits climb from 1600 m (5249 ft) to 4875 m (15994 ft) altitude with its highest peak called the Semenov Tian Shanski Peak. Ala Archa is the ideal playground for a multitude of activities, including hikes, horseback riding, skiing and of course mountaineering.
Back in history
The Ala Archa National Park was built in 1976 to protect the important fauna and flora residing on its territory. The name Ala Archa means ”multicolored juniper” and comes from the great variety of trees and colors in the region.
This magnificent reserve is home to many animals, among which grey marmots, wild goats, deer, Ibex, wolves. It’s also one of the only places in the world where you might just get lucky enough to see a snow leopard in its natural habitat.
Discovering the Ala Archa Valley
The Ala Archa National Park, with its succession of picturesque valleys filled with tall pines and spruces, its waterfalls, sources and trout rivers, is the perfect place to get a bowl of fresh air at the outskirts of Kyrgyzstan’s capital and in the depth of wilderness.
At the park entry, you will see signs with a large variety of hikes. Three among them are very popular. Although they all present different difficulty levels, they are as breath-taking one as the other. You can choose your path according to your time, your abilities and your desires.
The first is a 4 hour hike that borders the river. The second will bring you up to a beautiful waterfall. It will take around 5 hours of intensive walking, with 700 m (2296 ft) of elevation. The third, with its steep and difficult passages, will take you the full day. It is suggested for experienced hikers. This path and its 1200 m (3937 ft) of elevation will take you up to the Ak Sai glacier where you’ll have an unforgettable panoramic view on the ice and the surrounding summits. The Ratsek hut, where you can spend the night or set your camp for a longer stay, is a base camp for professional alpinists who attempt to climb the technical peaks that tower over 4500 m (14764 ft) of altitude.
If you’re not keen on walking, you’ll find a cozy place to lie down and relax, breathe in fresh air and calmly look at the landscape. In summertime, Ala Archa national park is a great place for picnics and different hobbies.
How to get there ?
From Bishkek, you can take a marshrutaka (mini bus) that will take you to the park entry. But there are still around 12 km left to walk to the base camp. The easiest option is to take a taxi from the capital, which will drop you off at the beginning of your hike.