Altyn Arashan means "Golden Spa". This splendid valley is located about 10 km from Karakol in the north of Kyrgyzstan. Famous for its splendid landscapes and hot springs, the Arashan Valley also offers a very nice hike.
During the Soviet period, 25 snow leopards were trapped in the Altyn Arashan Valley. They were then shipped to zoos around the world. It is only in 1975 that Moscow cancelled any collection and prohibited hunting in this area. Since then, the region has witnessed a slow respawn of the snow leopard population, with about 20 of those big cats today.
Altyn Arashan Valley
Although access is a tad difficult, Altyn Arashan situated at an altitude of 3,000 meters is really worth seeing. This great Green Valley inhabited by nomads and wild animals reveals postcard scenery with snowy peaks including the Palatka peak which rises 4,260 meters high. Its natural hot springs earned a serious reputation among travelers.
Hiking in Altyn Arashan Valley
Altyn Arashan is highly coveted for its hiking opportunities close to Karakol. Although trekking is somewhat difficult in some places, the surrounding landscape is enough to reward all the efforts. The starting point of the hike is located at the southern end of the town of Teploklyuchenka, which is more commonly called Ak-Suu, about 12 km east of Karakol. The first part of the trek will make you walk along the Arashan River. Surrounded by pine trees on the hillside and by large flowery pastures, the trail begins gently through unspoilt nature. Only a few kilometers further, the snowy peaks appear to reign supreme in the whole valley. The landscape is striking. The journey can be difficult in some places, with a rocky road that gradually climbs upwards. But when you arrive at the summit, you will have a magnificent view of the snowy peaks of Mount Palakta. During your ascent, you may be able to see mountain goats, deers, groundhogs or even bears and leopards if you are very lucky. In addition to all that, it is payback time at last: a well-deserved relaxing time in the hot springs!
Altyn Arashan Hot Springs
The resort has several natural hot springs. Small basins and small sheltered huts were installed for intimacy. The swimming pools are built to welcome the natural sulphurous water renowned for its healing properties. A certificate is pinned on the door of each cabin boasting the curative properties of these waters and detailing all the ailments they can treat. The water reaches temperatures close to 50°C and will make an excellent reward for your strenuous day’s walking. Sleeping there is possible: there are 2 lodges with simple dormitories. Many prefer to pitch their tent or sleep under yurts at home.
How to get there?
The starting point for the hike is at the southern end of the Ak-Suu(Teploklyuchenka), approximately 12 km east of Karakol. To get there, take the marshrutka number 350 of Karakol. Then, you just need to tell the driver where your destination is and he will tell you when to get off. When returning, take the same marshrutka. With Kirghiz' What?, we can organise a Quad tour of 5hours, going to the Golden Spa of Altyn Arashan.