The Boom Gorge is located in the north of Kyrgyzstan, in the provinces of Issyk-Kul and Chuy. It is on the only road that joins the Eastern and Western parts of Kyrgyzstan. The gorge, which stretches for about 30 km (18.6 miles) in length, is home to a road and a railway from the capital Bishkek to the jewel of Kyrgyzstan, Issyk Kul Lake. On the way to the lake, make sure to go for a hike in the fabulous arid scenery of the Boom gorge, for example up to Konorchek Canyon.
Back in history
The canyons were formed between 1.5 and 2 million years ago.
The name "Boom" means "evil spirit". The gorge was given this name due to the misadventures that it presented to anyone who tried to pass through. In 1850, a Russian explorer named Pyotr Semyenov was the first who tried to cross it. It took him 21 days to cross the gorge and it was deadly for some members of the expedition.
It took 22 years before a road could finally be built in the tracks of the explorer in 1871-73. Then, a path was cut following the contours and the sinuous course of the river Chuy.
A monument was erected in memory of exodus victims in 1916 near the entrance of the Boom Gorge. That year, tens of thousands of Kyrgyz people perished in the gorge, fleeing the deadly revolution against the Russian Empire.
The road is now secured but regular falling rocks may close it for a couple of hours.
Discovering the Boom gorge
The Boom gorge, pronounced boh-ohm, offers superb hikes, mainly to the Konorchek Canyon.
At the entrance of the gorge, the only source of water is a perfect place to rest from the long trip before exploring the gorge and discovering its mysteries. You will be able to see the beautiful river Chu, which somehow has made its way through this arid, almost deserted landscape. The region could unquestionably be used for filming western or science fiction movies thanks to its red, orange and yellow dry landscape.
Walls were installed in order to protect and limit the landslides on the road. Nevertheless, despite these precautions, the road may be closed and blocked for several hours.
The river also allows adrenaline lovers to try rafting. Many say that the section of the river downstream from Krasniy Most to Kemin is one of the best rafting spots in the country.
How to get there?
To get to the Boom gorge, take a bus to anywhere in Issyk Kul or Kemin. There are also collective taxis that leave from Bishkek to Cholpon-Ata. The journey will last approximately three hours.