Roadtrip through Western Kyrgyzstan

Wonderguide by

team tripsteer

Roadtrip through Western Kyrgyzstan

Emerald water reservoirs in the valleys and snow-white rugged peaks, magical lakes and desert landscapes, places that hold evidence of historical eras. Check the full guide:

QR code
Use QR code to view online version
Powered by Wonderguide


Image - Bishkek
team:The best place to start a trip to Kyrgyzstan is in the capital Bishkek. It has more than 1 million inhabitants. Very few international flights arrive to Bishkek Manas International Airport (FRU): you can travel via Istanbul or Antalya, Kuwait, Dubai or Sharja, Almaty. The city is located at the foot of the Tien Shan (Ala-Too ridge), and the beautiful mountains can be seen when you step out from an airplane.
Image - Ala Too Square
Ala Too Square
team:These are mainly buildings and monumental art of the Soviet period. Near Ala-Too Square, there is the Parliament and the History Museum with a monument to Manas. This is the main hero of the epic of the same name. It is included in the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage masterpieces and in the Guinness Book of Records as the most voluminous epic in the world. The work mainly recounts the exploits of the legendary warrior. Nearby, you can check out Panfilov Park and Oak Park, and behind the Historical Museum, look at the only Lenin monument preserved in all the capitals of Central Asia (former Soviet republics).Bishkek has many excellent examples of Stalinist Empire architecture. For example, the House of Unions (207 Chui Avenue), the Kyrgyz National University (547 Frunze Street), the Opera and Ballet Theater (167 Sovetskaya Street), the Union of Artists (108 Chui Avenue), the Youth Theater (230 Abdrakhmanov Street), the Ministry of Culture (230 Pushkin Street, 78), the International University of Kyrgyzstan (255a Chui Avenue), the “Soki-Vody” pavilion (53a Erkindik Boulevard), the “Ala-Too” cinema (187 Chui Avenue), the main building of VDNH (303 Chingiz Aitmatov Avenue).
Image - Osh Bazaar
Osh Bazaar
team:The main focus of Kyrgyz color is the bustling Osh bazaar. It is convenient for everyday shopping, shopping for a long trip around the country, or shopping for edible souvenirs before leaving for home.
A gift for you!

Limited offer

Gift from team. Get a discount off all experiences!

Sign up now and get a discount off any experience of your choice.

To-Ashu Pass and Toktogul Reservoir

All of Kyrgyzstan is located in mountainous terrain, and even the capital Bishkek is 800 meters above sea level. And literally in 120 kilometers after leaving the city to the southwest toward Osh is a three thousand-meter pass To-Ashu. The Bishkek-Osh highway connects the two largest cities of the country – the official capital in the north and the southern capital. The road is of good quality, although there are small gravel sections in places. But the views on the route are delightful. Around you will find snow-white mountain peaks over 4,000 meters and many places where you want to stop for pictures (for example, here – 42.365433, 73.816756, with a particularly spectacular view from the top of the pass to the serpentine).

Image - Toktogul
team:After coming down from the pass, we stick to the road that leads west and head toward the town of Toktogul. The town itself is not remarkable – it is a former worker’s settlement, named after the Kyrgyz folk poet Toktogul Satylganov. However, next to it there is an impressive attraction – the water reservoir of the same name, formed in the 1970s on the Naryn River. A huge water reservoir is located at an altitude of about 1,000 meters. The reservoir is surrounded by stony mountains and the contrast of blue water and yellow-brown mountains looks impressive from the highway (41.799023, 73.204080), which skirts the reservoir from the east and south sides. The hydropower plant is a strategic site. The road from the town of Kara-Kul leads to it, but you can’t drive up close: almost immediately behind the exit is a checkpoint.
Image - Toktogul Reservoir
Toktogul Reservoir
team:The Toktogul Reservoir appeared after the hydroelectric power plant was built. The road from the town of Kara-Kul leads to it, but you can’t get close to it: the hydropower plant is a strategic object and almost immediately after leaving the town there will be a checkpoint On the slopes of the mountains along the Naryn River there are many apiaries. And in the vicinity there are many shops where they sell honey. The local honey is notable for the set of herbs and plants from whose pollen the product is made – sage, thyme, clover, dandelion, cloverleaf, mint, oregano, St. John’s wort and others. Locals say that such a blend is found nowhere else in the world. The second edible attraction is the river trout, which is bred in the farms located on the Naryn River. The fish is brought to numerous local cafes where it can be tasted – usually grilled.

Tash-Kumyr hydropower plant and the Sary-Chelek reserve

Kyrgyzstan is a country not only of beautiful Tien Shan mountains, but also of incredible scenic lakes. One of the most spectacular is in the north of the Jalal-Abad region. From Kara-Kul we continue along the road to the south. The highway leads along the Naryn River, which for about 40 kilometers to the town of Kyzyl Beit is quite wide and of an unusual blue color.

Image - Naryn River
Naryn River
team:Next on the way are two more hydroelectric power plants on the Naryn River. The first is Kurpsai (41.497625, 72.364856), it forms a single cascade with Toktogul and was built almost simultaneously with it. Thirty-five kilometers further along the highway, in the town of Tash-Kumyr, coal is mined and also electricity is produced at the second hydropower plant – Tash-Kumyr. It is located right at the entrance to the town.
Image - Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve
Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve
team:Officially, the construction of the Tash-Kumyr HPP has not yet been completed, although the plant reached its design capacity back in 2001, 16 years after construction began On the way to the Sary-Chelek reserve there will be a small section of unpaved road, which you can easily pass in a car. From the fork to the shore of the lake of the same name is about 40 kilometers (reference point – 41.873896, 71.978780). The scenery around is picturesque. Lake Sary-Chelek is one of the largest in Kyrgyzstan. It is elongated in shape, so it looks great surrounded by mountains – as if squeezed by them. Even in the summer, it can be cool here: the lake is located almost 1900 meters above sea level. Nearby are three other lakes – Ol-Kyol, Kyla-Kyol and Chacha-Kyol. From the nearest hill (41.870749, 71.985428) there is a cool panorama.You can come here for half a day to admire the road and the views of the lakes. Or you can stay for a couple of days in a guest house in Arquita (15 kilometers from the lake) or in a tent. There are hiking trails in the vicinity, which are marked in the Organic Maps app. There are about 30 guest houses in Arquita. It is prohibited to pitch tents on the shore and swim in the lake, because Sary-Chelek is a protected area. The territory of the reserve, especially the lake shore, is patrolled. Although “a place for swimming” and “camping site” are marked on google maps.

Waterfalls and nuts in Arslanbob and Kyrgyz health resort – Jalal-Abad

The high-mountain village of Arslanbob (1600 meters) is located in a dead end, there is no through road through it. It is known first of all for its walnut forests, with which a curious legend is connected. Alexander the Great visited these places during his expeditions to Bactria. He liked the walnuts and took them with him to his homeland, where they began to grow. The walnut forests growing around Arslanbob are very old indeed – some of the trees are about 1,000 years old.

Image - Arslanbob
team:The high-mountain village of Arslanbob is located at an altitude of 1600 meters – it is known primarily for its walnut forests, where some of the trees are about 1,000 years old. In addition, the village is famous for two picturesque waterfalls. The small one (35 meters, 41.345949, 72.937047) is located in the village, you just have to go down the streets to the Arslanb-Su river gorge, there are signs on the streets. The small waterfall is located right in the village of Arslanbob, you just need to go down through the streets to the gorge of the Arslanbob-Su river A long waterfall (80 meters, 41.378960, 72.936544) gushes down from the surrounding mountains. You have to walk about a kilometer from the center of the village and climb the mountainside until the road ends in a cliff. The trail is easy to find – the place is quite touristy and there are cafes and souvenir stores. From the slope of the mountain, in addition to views of the waterfall, there is a panorama of Arslanbob and the surrounding peaks. Curious fact – in the 20th century, in Soviet times, in the walnut forests of Arslanbob was acclimatized and bred a raccoons. You might be lucky enough to meet a couple.
Image - Jalal-Abad
team:Jalal-Abad (100,000 people) is the third largest city in Kyrgyzstan. There is a city of the same name in Afghanistan. They were closely related in ancient times, when they were near the Great Silk Road. Historically, the settlement originated near the healing springs on Mount Ayub-Too. The springs are located on the left bank of the Kugart River valley. The locals have always known about them, but they were studied in detail only in the 1880s. First, an infirmary and bathing hut were built here, and then, during the Soviet era, a therapeutic sanatorium was founded. The water from the spring is poured for sale, it is sold in all local stores under the brand name “Jalal-Abad”. Its therapeutic properties are focused on the treatment of diseases of the digestive system.

Osh – the southern capital of Kyrgyzstan

On the way to Osh you can stop in Uzgen. Despite its small size, it is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia with a history of more than 2,000 years. Uzgen was one of the capitals of ancient dynasty of Karakhanids – Turkic state of 10-12 centuries. From those ancient times a beautiful mausoleum of the Karakhanid dynasty and a minaret more than 40 meters high, left from a mosque of the same era, have been preserved in the center of the city.

Image - Osh
team:In the heart of Osh stands the sacred Suleiman-Too Mountain, Kyrgyzstan’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. An Ethnographic Museum dedicated to the history of these places was opened on the slope of the mountain Another attraction of the older periods are the numerous petroglyphs found in the caves of Mount Suleiman-Too. Unfortunately, local residents treat such heritage rather carelessly, and many cave walls are scribbled with modern scribbles, and real petroglyphs are very difficult to find. Finally, at the foot of the mountain there is a new mosque of the same name, Sulaiman-Too.On the embankment of the Akbur River there is a park named after Alisher Navoi, where it is nice to take a stroll in the summer heat. The Central Market has a mix of goods and cultures from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. Uzbek ceramics, Tajik textiles and Chinese clothes.

Wonderguide map

  1. Bishkek
  2. Ala Too Square
  3. Osh Bazaar
  4. Toktogul
  5. Toktogul Reservoir
  6. Naryn River
  7. Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve
  8. Arslanbob
  9. Jalal-Abad
  10. Osh

Like these tips?
High Five team