One of the days we had in Bishkek we decided to head out to the nearby Ala-Archa National Park for some hiking. Archa means “many groups of Juniper trees” of which there are 4 types within the park. It is only 40km away and it was absolutely perfect weather to enjoy the scenery and get some exercise.
Decided to do the Waterfall Track (2hrs one way) with the possibility of continuing to the glacier, depending on ice/snow. The information panel at the entrance to the park pegged it as a low-medium demand hike, so off we set expecting a nice, not-too-strenuous walk.
It’s actually a fairly steep hike up to the waterfall. Perhaps the low-medium rating was more relevant to the mountain climbers who originally used the area as an alpinist camp and training ground.
That said, it was really beautiful – with gorgeous views up the Ala-Archa river valley initially.
Followed by even more gorgeous views up the other valley leading to the waterfall and glacier.
We came across some Eurasian Lynx on the way up
But unfortunately, the only snow leopard we found was this concrete guy at the entrance.
When we reached the waterfall, it turned out that it was too snowy/icy to actually climb up to the plunge pool (and hence waaaaaay too snowy/icy to head to the glacier without crampons etc), so we sat in the stand of pine trees at the base and ate lunch and explored the river in the immediate area.
Took my time trekking back down, stopping off for about an hour at my favourite viewpoint to take it all in
Then took a quick walk up the first part of the Ala-Archa river valley trail while waiting for our transport to leave at the agreed time.
Have to admit, it wasn’t the most spectacular walk I’ve done in the past year or so, but it was a lovely day out and great to get some hiking in! Oh – and the sign translations were great too 😊