Altyn Arashan (translated as “golden spa”) is a high mountainous gorge located on the eastern part of Terstkey Ala Too moubtain ridge, near Karakol town which must be included in your tour in Kyrgyzstan. This gorge is one of the most popular destinations, due to its unique nature, hot springs, spruce forests, and amazing views.
Since the Soviet times the gorge was recognized as object under government protection due to a big diversity of its flora and fauna. Its status of natural reservation is received in 1963 and keeps it to this day. This is one of the few places in Kyrgyzstan where the relict forest from the Tien Shan spruce, which grows in such numbers, has been preserved. The hot springs of Altyn-Arashan are also widely known. They are located at a record height of 2600 meters and have a healing effect, due to the content of radon and hydrogen sulfide in the water, maintaining a high temperature all year round. Indoor pools have been built on some springs, while others are still “wild” to this day, located in swimming pools or grottoes hollowed out in stones.
In Altyn-Arashan there are a huge number of tourist routes. This place is used as a base camp for radial exits, as a transfer point on the way to Ala-Kul lake, Ak-Suu gorge or to the valleys of Karakol and Jeti-Oguz. You can use car rent service to get to Karakol and continue exploring routes on your own.
In order to get there you need to book local transport, UAZ (tabletka) or old Russian military truck (vahtovka). In its lower part, Altyn-Arashan is a narrow canyon with a large degree of elevation, and a turbulent river, which in summer can flood the road. In the upper part, the gorge expands significantly and becomes a kind of high mountain valley, with a very smooth drop in height. So you need local transport in a lower part, while in the upper part you can walk as much as you want and come back to the starting point to drive back to Karakol.To get to Karakol from Bishkek, you can rent a car or if you booking a tour, ask your providers to include it.