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Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008
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Ala Archa

One of the sights often quoted as a “must not miss” highlight of a visit to the Kyrgyz Republic is Ala Archa.  Ala Archa is an alpine valley about an hours drive from the centre of Bishkek.  The spectacular scenery, with steep wood covered mountain slopes, makes a favourite spot for the local citizens for a “day out” or a picnic. 
The Ala Archa National park was created in 1976 by Government decree and occupies about 120,000 hectares.  With snow-covered peaks, steep forested slopes, picturesque water meadows of the fast-flowing, noisy Ala-Archa River.  It is sometimes closed when there are official visitors.
The Ala-Archa gorge has more than 10 large glaciers, more than 50 mountain peaks (with 140 classified mountaineering routes of various levels of difficulty/complexity), and 30 mountain passes. The national park is also rich in flora and fauna - with over 800 species of plants, 160 species of birds and about 170 specials of animals.  It has Marco Polo sheep, wolves, bears, lynx, boar, eagles, and snow leopards.  The hills are lined with Spruce and Juniper woods.
When you arrive at the park, you will have already risen oven a kilometre above the city.  The base camp is several kilometres from the main gate and is at an altitude of 2100m above sea level. 
In the park you can find a small Nature museum and the Presidential Yurt.
Trekking to almost 5000m is possible, although most people stay near the lower reaches that are often used for picnics.  Although there are others, the three main routes which are used by trekkers are: to the Ak-Sai Canyon – follow the signpost along the track to the left of the gate at base camp which leads to Karona Peak (4692m) and the Ak-Sai Glacier; to the Adygene Gorge  - cross the footbridge over the river to the right of the gate at the base camp and climb the slope of the valley, the trail leads past cemetery for “fallen” mountaineers, before continuing to the Adygene glacier; and following the course of the Ala Archa River up the main canyon, along a jeep track for 18 kilometres to a ski base.
It is possible to visit and simply relax or to organize light walking, 1 or 2 day's trekking – or horse-riding.

Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Travel guide#10/2008

Discovery Kyrgyzstan Travel guide #10/2008

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