Ala-Archa Nature Park
|Ala-Archa Nature Park|
|Location||Chüy Region, Kyrgyzstan|
|Area||164.8 square kilometres (64 sq mi)|
The Ala-Archa Nature Park (Kyrgyz: Ала-Арча кыргыз мамлекеттик жаратылыш паркы, Russian: Государственный природный национальный парк Ала-Арча) is an alpine national park in the Tian Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan, located approximately 35 km south of the capital city of Bishkek. Established in 1976, it currently covers 16,485 hectares.
The nature park is named after the river Ala-Archa which flows through it. In Kyrgyz, the archa, which gives the river and the park its name, is a bright or many-colored juniper which the Kyrgyz people have traditionally held in special esteem, using smoke from its burning wood to chase away evil spirits. However, the archa is not supposed to be planted near the home, because it is believed gradually to sap the energy from human beings living close-by.
The park covers about 165 square kilometers, and its altitude ranges from about 1,500 meters at the entrance to a maximum of 4,895 meters at Semenov-Tian-Shansky Peak, the highest peak in the Kyrgyz Ala-Too Range of the Tian Shan. There are more than 20 small and large glaciers and some 50 mountain peaks within the park. The total area of the glaciers in the park is 53.6 km2 (20.7 sq mi).
Two smaller rivers, the Adygene and the Ak-Sai, originate from these glaciers' melting waters. The Adygene gorge is a wooded valley with waterfalls, springs and abundant trout.
The park includes the gorge of the river Ala-Archa and the mountains surrounding it.
Mountain climbing is a popular activity within the park, which offers several peaks in the 4000m class:
A small reservoir on the Kargay-Bulak river was built to study the Amu Darya trout. Other wildlife includes the very rare snow leopard (in Kyrgyz: "ilbirs") on the alpine meadows and snowfields above 2,500 m elevation, wild goats, roe deer and marmots.
A park camera photographed a snow leopard for the first time in May 2017.
The park is a destination point for weekend picnickers, hikers, horse trekkers, skiers as well as mountain climbers looking for ice, rock and mixed routes. The park is open year round, although the most popular season is late summer and early fall. Every May 1, hundreds of people camp out in the valley and climb Mount Komsomolets for the Alpinada festival.
There is a nominal fee for entering the park. Past the gate, the road continues 12 km to a small collection of buildings, including one newly renovated lodge. At the end of the road, up a trail to the left (East), lies the Ak-Sai Glacier, where remains of a Soviet climbing base indicate the high quality mountaineering within the park. The Soviet climbing base (Ratsek Hut) has been recently improved and is acting as a base for rock climbers. The region's most famous peaks rise from the Ak-Sai glacier, including Korona Peak (4860m) and Free Korea Peak (4740m). To the west of Ala Archa Valley is a trail to the Adygene valley where a climbers' cemetery is located. A third main trail continues down the center of the Ala-Archa valley for 10 km to an old, now abandoned, ski area and numerous other 4000m peaks.
- "Ala-Archa". protected planet.
- "Аларча улуттук табият паркы" [Alarcha National Nature Park] (PDF). Кыргызстандын Географиясы [Geography of Kyrgyzstan] (in Kyrgyz). Bishkek. 2004. p. 304–305.
- "Specially protected natural territories of the Kyrgyz Republic". Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Specially Protected Natural Areas. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
- Camera traps in Ala-Archa national park record snow leopard for first time, Akipress.com, 6 May 2017
- Hayes, Patrick. "KYRGYZSTAN" (PDF). kewguild.org.uk. Archived from the original (pdf) on 19 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
- "Ala Archa - Central Asia Guide". Central Asia Guide.
- Sam Blum, This map shows every country's most popular tourist attractions, Thrillist.com, 21 December 2016