Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan - Ala Archa National Park

By Cubie - November 29, 2015

Ala Archa National Park is an alpine national park in the Tian Shan mountains about 40 km south of Bishkek. This nature reserve spans about 20,000 hectares. Mountains, rivers and pine forests pretty much sum it up.

We initially approached the hostel for the cost of getting to Ala Archa, from memory they were charging about KGS4,000 to ferry us there and back, including waiting time. We read that sometimes taxi organised by hostel could be a little more expensive comparatively so we decided to try out luck to find one on the street.

We walked out of the hostel and found a taxi driver cleaning his taxi and asked for a price for back and forth trip to Ala Archa and travelling time. After bringing out the map and confirming where we are going (no Russian or Kyrgyz language skill, remember?) We managed to negotiate it to KGS3,000. I am not entirely sure how much is the going price to be honest but we felt comfortable and he definitely did not come across as will ditch us  up in the mountains.. lol..

Mr Taxi Driver's name is Miran. Miran was the only taxi driver that did not ask for any payment half way through the drive. One thing we find interesting was that all the taxi we been on had to stop by the petrol station on the way. This would be the time where they ask for the payment so that they could pay for the petrol. Every single time. Miran included. However the difference was Miran did not ask us to pay him at this point. In fact he came back with Snickers bars and Coke bottles, one of each of us. Pretty cool taxi driver huh? :)

Entrance fee to Ala-Archa isn't cheap, we paid KGS440 including car to get up to the hilly bits. Miran dropped us off and we start our little walk.

There are two basic trails that run through Ala Archa. There are other many more if you are doing proper trek but these are basic walks.

Trail 1: Ala Archa River Trail
Distance: 1.3 km
Difficulty: Suitable for beginners, walkers, families and children.

Trail 2: Waterfall & Racek Hut
Distance: 3.75 km to waterfall; 5.75 to Racek Hut.
Difficulty: Low to medium. General hikers able to pass some ascents. Continuing to Racek Hut is more difficult and should be approached by experienced hikers and climbers. Suitable for horses, not for mountain bikes.

A three ladies group pointed out the route to river for us, probably we very much look like we couldn't cope with anything more challenging. :P

Along the way going in, we met the above said 3 ladies group on their way out and another group of family visiting from Germany, one of them was born in Bishkek. That's all, so technically we pretty much have this part of national park to ourselves.

Miran waited for us for 3 hours (I think) so we had some spare time and decided to have a look at trail no 2: Waterfall & Racek Hut, 3.75 km to waterfall and 5.75 km to Racek Hut as well. Of course, we were nowhere near the waterfall. The ascents were quite significant comparatively to trail 1.

Perfect for a lunch break
On our way back to Bishkek, Miran stopped and told us about a mountain goat. This mountain goat, not a real one, of course.

Side note: Best thing today? Woke up in the morning and then realised it is a Sunday, so I can continue sleeping!  ^^

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  1. I never knew Kyrgyzstan could be so breathtaking and mesmerizing. I just watched the latest Disney's animated, The Good Dinosaur and by looking all your photos, it looks so similar of that animation's background.

    1. Yes - Kyrgyzstan is a beautiful country. You've piqued my interest in checking out the animation.. ;)