Ala-Archa Canyon is a storybook destination of gently flowing rivers, lush valleys, alpine forests and snow-capped mountains. Little wonder that this well-known gorge, which stretches through Ala-Archa National Park in the Tian Shan Mountains, is one of the most treasured places in all Kyrgyzstan, containing discoveries such as the Broken Heart boulder, Ak Sai Waterfall and Tepshi Plateau. The largest canyon in the region, Ala-Archa Canyon is an easy drive from Bishkek, making it an ideal daylong escape from the city crowds and clamor.
In the morning a driver and guide will pick you up from your Bishkek hotel and drive to Ala-Archa National Park (40km, 1hr). Surrounded by snow-covered peaks and the banks of the Ala-Archa River, enjoy a hike through Ala-Archa Canyon.
You’ll have the option of choosing one of the following routes for your hiking expedition:
Alpine camp (2200m) – Broken Heart (2380m) – Tepshi Plateau (2460m)
Beginning at the Alpine camp, you’ll climb through a mountain forest to reach Broken Heart, a huge rock cracked down the middle that does indeed resemble a broken heart. From this vantage point you’ll have a panoramic view of the canyon and of the distant Ak Sai Waterfall.
A short distance and easy trek from Broken Heart will take you to Tepshi Plateau, a large meadow that provides the perfect spot for a picnic lunch, mountain goat spotting and some peaceful respite before beginning the descent back to reality.
Difficulty level: Beginner
Distance: 1.8 kilometers one way
Total Duration: 3-4 hours
Alpine camp (2200m) – Broken Heart (2380m) – Tepshi Plateau (2460m) – Ak Sai Waterfall (2665m)
Beginning at Alpine camp, you’ll hike through Broken Heart and Tepshi Plateau (see above) before continuing the climb to Ak Sai Waterfall. This stretch of hike includes crossing a large mountain stream and continuing a steeper ascent through pine forests before reaching another valley, where you can admire the 35-meter-high waterfall up-close. Relax before the waterfall, enjoy a picnic lunch and feast your eyes on the heavenly scenery surrounding you before you begin the return trek.
Difficulty Level: Medium
Distance: 3.2 kilometers one way
Duration: 5-6 hours
Return to Bishkek in the afternoon. End of Ala-Archa Canyon Day Trek.
Total Duration: 6-8 hours