Hiking in Kyrgyzstan: Day Hikes From Jyrgalan

Jyrgalan is a peaceful little mountain town that until a couple of years ago was known for its coal mining and not a lot else. But the breathtaking untouched nature surrounding it has put this village on the map for hikers and tourists visiting Kyrgyzstan.

With the development of marked trail and a few good-quality guesthouses the area now has a lot to offer travellers looking to get a little bit off the beaten path and discover some of the incredible nature Kyrgyzstan is so famous for. Hiking in Jyrgalan can last a good few weeks if you bring your own tent, want to explore the yurt camps or even head off on a horse trek. But for those of us with less of a tolerance to the wilderness or who don’t carry camping equipment, Jyrgalan also provides the perfect base for taking day hikes and returning to a soft, warm bed and a good meal.

For more Kyrgyzstan travel inspiration read our 20 Awesome Things to do in Kyrgyzstan article.

 Amazing views over the Jyrgalan valley! This picture was taken in the morning at the start of one of our day hikes from Jyrgalan. Hiking in Kyrgyzstan is one of the most amazing things to do in Kyrgyzstan!

Amazing views over the Jyrgalan valley! This picture was taken in the morning at the start of one of our day hikes from Jyrgalan. Hiking in Kyrgyzstan is one of the most amazing things to do in Kyrgyzstan!

Set yourself up at Alakol-Jyrgalan Guesthouse who have the best mattresses we’ve slept on in a long time. They also have a sauna to return to in the evenings and provide all meals including packed lunches if you want one for your hike. They provide detailed information about routes and can sell you maps of the area. It’s also a great place to meet other travellers if you want to make hiking friends.

If you decide that you’d like to head off for more than a day you can hire camping gear through Destination Jyrgalan (all prices are listed on their website). For another multi day option head to Karakol and check out the most famous hike in Kyrgyzstan, Ala-Kul Lake trek.

But for now, have a read and check out some photos from some of the incredible day hikes from Jyrgalan.

 

Robber’s Canyon

Time: 6 hours (loop)

Distance: 19km

Maximum Altitude: 3100m

 This is the view from the top of the mountain, also half way of your day hike from Jyrgalan. Perfect place for a lunch break.

This is the view from the top of the mountain, also half way of your day hike from Jyrgalan. Perfect place for a lunch break.

This scenic hike is the perfect mix of uphill challenge, rewarding views and peaceful downhill. The trail starts from Jyrgalan village and heads up a picturesque valley passing a yurt camp and eventually crossing a small river. A turn to the left takes the gradient up a notch as you head up a rocky track next to a stream.

The top of this climb brings you out to grassy fields with spectacular views and serpentine trails to the top of the pass. The top of the pass is easily visible so just take whichever route gets you to the top fastest/easiest. There are plenty of points to stop for photos along the way.

From the top head right along the ridge and down the valley on the other side. There are fairly clear walking trails and at one point the village becomes visible on the horizon. The last downhill stretch is quite steep so take it slow and consider walking poles if you have knee problems. 

For more information and a detailed map click here.

 

Kok-Bel Waterfall

Time: 4 hours (return)

Distance: 12km

Maximum Altitude: 2600m

 On the way through the valley towards the waterfall, this is one of the easiest, but still beautiful day hikes from Jyrgalan!

On the way through the valley towards the waterfall, this is one of the easiest, but still beautiful day hikes from Jyrgalan!

This is a very easy-going hike but by no means lacking in scenery. It is one of the few signposted hikes in the area so look out for the bright red paint signalling the route from the town. You’ll begin by passing some old mining equipment and abandoned carriages before heading along the valley and following the river.

Although the track is uphill it’s only a gentle incline and you can see the waterfall after a short while. It’s much more impressive after some rainfall so if it’s been dry the few days before don’t expect anything huge. The best views are on the walk back down to the town with the wide sweeping valley lined with pine trees and herds of animals passing by.

For more information and a detailed map click here.

 

Chunkur-Tor Lake

Time: 5 hours (loop)

Distance: 13.5 km

Maximum Altitude: 3100m

 The hike up Chunkur-Tor lake is one of the best day hikes from Jyrgalan!

The hike up Chunkur-Tor lake is one of the best day hikes from Jyrgalan!

This hike was a new one that we tried out with our guide from Discover Jyrgalan. The start of the trek is deceptively easy with a wander over the wide plains opening out from the town. Without you realising the incline begins and you start a steady uphill climb all the way to the lake. Basically head towards the snow-capped mountains and you’ll find it.

As you approach the lake, head to the right around the steep slope to arrive at the shores of the lake. Or, if you’ve still got some energy, head straight up the steep slope for views down over the lake. From the lake you can loop around and descend along another ridge which is a very steep but quick decline. At the bottom is Big Rock which Manas (a Kyrgyz hero) supposedly ran up on his horse and leaped into the mountains. His horse was so strong it left hoof prints in the rock which you can still see today, have a look! You can also try climbing the rock yourself if you’re feeling brave!

For more information and a detailed map click here.

 

Turnaluu-Kol Lake

Time: 7 hours (loop or return)

Distance: 13.3km

Maximum Altitude: 2800m

 You will see a lot of horses on your day hikes from Jyrgalan.

You will see a lot of horses on your day hikes from Jyrgalan.

This is another hike that is easily doable in a day and can also be done as a horse trek. We were supposed to take this route on our final day in Jyrgalan but torrential rain meant the track was unsafe and hiking would have been nothing but wet and cold with views of the fog.

The loop takes you up towards the beautiful Turnaluu-Kol alpine lake and returns a different route. Some of the track is quite steep and can get very muddy so make sure you have good trekking shoes. The views on the return journey are meant to be really stunning so if you’re luckier than we were with the weather then this makes a great day hike with a bit of challenge and rewarding views.

For more information and a detailed map click here.

 

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 Thinking of going hiking in Kyrgyzstan? It’s definitely worth heading to Jyrgalan and if you’re short on time these stunning day hikes from Jyrgalan are perfect to add to your Kyrgyzstan trip. #kyrgyzstan #jyrgalan #hiking #dayhikes #trekking #travel #backpacking #centralasia

This article is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs Activity in Central Asia. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Travels of a Bookpacker and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.