Ala Archa National Park is a corner of mountains, clean air and green space right near Bishkek. It is located in 40 km from the capital city of Kyrgyzstan and it takes only about 1 hour to get to this tour destination.
Ala Archa National Park is well known for archa – juniper tree and its whole territory is rich for this unique plant. They say archa forests are sacred so it is not allowed to chop them because the gods live in there. It is possible to see archa at 1500 m altitude and higher. According to the scientists it can grow in valleys as well but nowadays does not for the man-made causes, it means they cut them out on the plains. Archa is important for Turkic people, the Kyrgyz included. They fumigate their house with its branch on the day of Nooruz fest as well as when family get flu to kill the viruses because archa has bactericidal properties. You can also see its branch at the entrance right above the door. This is used to protect the house and family from bad evil spirits.
Of course, archa is not the only plant you can see in the gorge. There are more than 600 species of higher plants, including 70 species of trees and shrubs, about 50 species of medicinal plants, a lot of honey plants and tannins.
As for the fauna of Ala Archa National Park there are Arkhar, Siberian roe deer, Capricorn, wild boar, roe deer, fox, wolf, hare, badger, ermine, porcupine, marten. Among the birds – stone partridge, chilli, chamomile, and ular are common. From the Red Book animals there are Turkestan lynx, snake-eater, golden eagle, Kumai and Saker Falcon, from rare species – snow leopard and vulture.
As the Park is at the altitude from 1600m and higher, it is much cooler there in summer. So even for the locals this is a real hideaway from the heat, furious city life rhythm and issues. They travel with family and friends, have a walking around and enjoy BBQ. There is asphalt road for those who prefer a light walking, a trail going to the panorama view of the gorge and to the waterfall for advanced hikers. It is worth noting that this is a popular destination for alpinists since USSR times. There is climbers shelter and cemetery.
I really love visiting Ala Archa in summer with my family. And I am so happy to have an opportunity to enjoy time spent with beloved ones, breathing the clean air filtrated by archa, listening to the river noise and basking in the sun… If you have a day off in Bishkek – I do recommend you to travel to this amazing gorge!
You are welcome too, dear Kyrgyzstan traveler!