The Arslanbob forest is one of the largest along the rocky cliffs of the Babash-Alta Mountain. This natural barrier borders the village named after it. It is deemed to be the country's largest forest of walnut trees, and has become a place of pilgrimage in Central Asia.
According to scientists, the age of Arslanbob forest could exceed 50 million years, and its origin would probably date back to the Paleolithic era. It is said that Alexander the Great went there to hide and rest with his troops. He would then have brought the famous walnuts back to Macedonia and Greece, walnuts that are now known as Gretski walnuts.
Strolling through the Arslanbob forest
From Arslanbob, head off for a day trek in the forest. You will pass through a pretty waterfall before reaching the forest located at an altitude of 1600 m. The Arslanbob forest stretches over 10 kilometres wide. Around the pastures of incredible colors, you are invited to refresh during hot summer days. Caves within the mountain promise to share a centuries-old mystery: a blue lake with crystal clear water. Throughout the day, you will be accompanied by an active fauna. Between the herds of horses or cows breeding in the wild, butterflies by the hundreds, and grasshoppers, life here is very present and seems to flourish like nowhere else. With luck, you could even catch a glimpse of a raccoon or a deer.
The walk is meant to be quiet in addition to the magnificent landscapes. On the road, you cannot miss the enjoyment of a picnic near the waterfall. For centuries, the inhabitants found it ideal to come and chat at the edge of the stream, sheltered from the heat by the hundred-year-old trees. Blue waters flowing through whitish stones with forest and mountains as backdrop offer a bucolic picture for a lunch break. Throning at the heart of the region, Peak Babash-Ata (4,490 m), always covered with a snowpack, will give you a magnificent view throughout your stroll. Along the way, countless trees and shrubs will protect yourself from the sun with their shade. Some walnut trees are hundreds of years old and reach 30 meters high. They are strongly established with their trunk of 2 meters in diameter, and can yield between 200 kg and 400 kg of fruits per year. The dense forest is crossed by several paths that will allow you to stroll freely while enjoying the smell of fresh wood and natural vegetation. Some growers have assigned parcels of land for maintenance and crop preparation in the coming months.
For the foodies, October can be the best period to go to Arslanbob and taste walnuts. The landscape displays magnificent warm autumn colours, and the forest reveals all its wealth. People of this region will be happy to make you taste their walnuts when the harvest returns. You too can help with the fruit harvest by giving farmers a hand.
How to get there?
The Arslabob forest is easily reached on foot along hiking trails from the village of Arslanbob. There are collective taxis that leave from Bishkek to Arslanbob. A taxi leaves the station as soon as it is full. The journey takes about 8 to 9 hours.