Except for the small fringes of the Fergana Valley, Jalal-Abad Region (See our Jalal-Abad Region Page for Silk Road Experience) is a land of mountains. There are unlimited trekking possibilities in the area, but the lack of infrastructure, except at Arslanbob, poses access problems to visitors.
Jalal-Abad has the world’s largest natural growing walnut forest, called Arslanbob, about 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of Jalal-Abad city and several mountain lakes and mineral waters. (See our page Jalal-Abad Province for the story of this ancient forest and Jalal-Abad on the Silk Road.
A biodiversity conservation program supported by the government and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is working to protect these natural resources and promote eco tourism.
The Chatkal Vally rests in the western Tien Shan Mountains in the Jalal-Abad Province and stretches out for 240 km between 2 ridges, the Chandalash and Chatkal. The Valley is shaped by the Chatkal River and contains large deciduous and coniferous forests, vast meadows, juniper thickets, and glaciers in the northern section of the valley.
The highest point is Chatkal Peak (4,503 m). Wildlife in the valley includes bears, wild boars, Siberian Ibex, foxes, deer, marmots, and snow leopards.
While Kyrgyzstan’s silk road Chatkal Valley is not often visited by many nowadays, it shows great evidence of being settled in centuries past. Archeological finds in the area date back to the Neolithic Period as well as the Bronze and Iron Ages.
For those traveling through the valley, there is a road in the northeastern section that leads to the province of Talas via Kara Buura Pass. However, due to heavy snowfall, this road is impassable during the winter.
Jalal-Abad IUCN 1a Protected Areas
IUCN is the International Union for Conservation of Nature is an international conservation and sustainability organization. IUCN is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, and education. with a mission to “influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable”.
Sary Chelek Lake and Nature Reserves amazing place for who want to hike, trek , horseback riding and enjoy nature. Both the lake and the village are a bit hidden and not so easy to access,, You will experience pristine Kyrgyz warmth and simplicity , and beautiful untouched nature.The drive north from Jalal-Abad is about 210 km and four and a half hours.
There is a daily marshrutka from Osh to Arkit around 7.30 am. You can board it in Jalalabad or Tashkomur too. It returns at 6 am.The driver also has a homestay in Arkit, and there are other choices.
This reserve is highly protected by the government, because of its floras and faunas. The lake is a biological reserve and you cannot camp there, but camping is allowed at the nearby village if Arkyt which is very close to Sary-Chelek.
Sary-Chelek (“Yellow Jar” in Kyrgyz) is surrounded by walnut and fruit forests and protected, as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The park and area comprise river valleys and settlements which flow along a winding course through almost all the territory of the reserve, in places between steep banks, strewn with boulders forming rapid cascades and waterfalls up to 3 meters high. Glaciers and permanent ice fields and high mountain lakes lie on the north facing slopes.
The lake is very photogenic and and crystal clear glacier melt. While a little cold for swimming, you will see beautiful blues and greens. . You need to go there by a reliable car. Better go there with a driver. We were amazed. I will definitely return there one day.
This stunning national park has great trekking routes. You can organize guides, horses and homestay and cabin accommodation with CBT . It is amazing to see unspoiled nature with local guides and support the community. One option for trekking and horseback riding tours is ti start in Kara Suu village. with CBT Kara Suu. They know the area well and offer 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 days tours.
You can find acommodation near Sary Chelek Lake,. One recommendation is guesthouse “English Spoken” run by Sabira. It is located in a small village Arkyt, just a step from the lake (ok, it takes 3 hours hike to reach the lake). Sabira is a grandma who studied English years ago in Osh. She will prepare you a simple breakfast and a dinner. She will wake up at 6 am and stop a Marshrutka to Osh for you. Here is her ad:
“Dear foreign guests! I invite you to my guesthouse. I live in Kyrgyzstan Sary-Cheleck Reserve. My name is Sabira. I know English language. Many foreign guests came to my guesthouse. My guesthouse is 1 km after the 1st entrance. There is written: “Guest House English Spoken” on the left side of the road. My phone is 0772 60 79 67.”
Kara Suu Lake
Kara-Suu Lake is a rock-dammed lake in Toktogul District and is located at the altitude of 2022 m in riverbed of Kara-Suu, right tributary of Naryn River.
The village of Kara-Suu is 70km from Kerben and 260km from Jalalal-Abad on the upper reaches of the Kara-Suu River, The Kara-Suu River flows from the southern part of the At-Oinok mountain range and joins the river Naryn at the town of Tash-Kömür. T
Because the Kara-Suu is the Sary-Chelek National Park’s buffer zone, the area has a great variety and multitude of flora and fauna.
It is possible to view all this while driving to the shore of the fascinating Sary-Chelek Lake. It is right at the foot of the Chatkal mountain range. The beauty of this lake can be compared with the best in the world; its waters often appear a greenish shade of blue and make excellent photographs.
You can trek from Saryy Chelek to Kara Suu Lake. An advantage here is that it is low altitude, so suitable for spring and autumn. There is a clear trail through the 2446 meter pass, to the Kara Suu lake (first descend in the side valley, then take the trail that contours towards the left). The Kara Suu valley is steep, very different from Arkit.
Besh Tash Lake
Hiking to Lake Besh Tash provides some stunning views of the surrounding Besh Tash Valley. The valley covers an area of roughly 32,000 hectares. Within the valley, you’ll also be about to see Besh Tash National Park, which covers an area of roughly 15,000 hectares.
“Besh Tash” means 5 stones in Kyrgyz. The name comes from 5 large stones located within the valley. Legend has it that there were once 5 bandits that would rob travelers in the area surrounding the valley and lake. However, one day they made the mistake of trying to rob a holy woman who replied by cursing them and turning them into stone.
Besh-Aral State Nature Reserve
Besh-Aral State Nature Reserve, in far western Jalal-Abad, established in 1979, and expanded in 2002 and and 2006 protects 112,018 hectares of a unique natural complex and forests of the Chatkal valley, and preserves the habitat of the Menzbier’s Marmot and Greig and Cauffman tulips.
Padysh-Ata State Nature Reserve
Located in the western Tien-Shan mountains, the reserve area covers 30,560 hectares (75,500 acres) . It was established not long time ago, in 2003, and main goal of it was to preserve juniper forests. These juniper forests were famous in the ancient times are are like no other in the world. The trees are interesting and it feels like a true alpine environment in the spring time.
Saimaluu Tash (meaning ’embroidered’ or ‘patterned stones’ in Kyrgyz) is a State Nature National Park and is one of the finest petroglyph sites in Central Asia.
It is located in Torguz-Toro District in northern Jalal-Abad Province, , south of Kazarman. The road southwest to Jalal-Abad city normally requires a 4×4 as far as the Kaldama Pass over the Fergana range. Once over the pass the country opens out to the Fergana Valley. The road east through Baetov and Dostuk to Naryn is somewhat better.
Over 10,000 carved pictures, which are black-and-white rock paintings, have so far been identified, making the site a globally important collection of rock art. They are a sacred display of offerings of the ancient people of the lower valley.
The site was proposed for listing under the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites by the Kyrgyz National Commission for UNESCO on 29 January 2001. It is listed under the UNESCO’s Tentative List as “Saimaly-Tash Petroglyphs” for inscription under Cultural Category under Criteria: (iii), (iv) and (vi)
IUCN category III Natural Monument located in the upper reaches of Kara-Unkur River,
IUCN category III Natural Monument composed of red sandstone Kara-Jygach Rocks in Aksy District.
Kuru-Kol Forest Reserve
The Kuru-Kol Forest Reserve (or Kurukol Forest reserve) is a IUCN Forest reserve located in Ala-Buka District. It was established in 1975 with a purpose of conservation of Schrenk’s Spruce (Picea schrenkiana). Among other trees growing in the forest reserve are wild ash, maple, hawthorn, barberry, etc. The forest reserve occupies 348 hectares
Dashman Forest Reserve
The Dashman Forest Reserve is is a IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area located in Bazar-Korgon District, near the city of Kochkor-Ata. It was established in 1975 with a purpose of conservation of natural forests composed of walnut trees (Juglans regia), apple trees (Malus spp), alycha (Prunus divaricata) and other species. The forest reserve occupies 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres).
Batrakhan Forest Reserve
Located in Aksy District at the area of Aflatun Forestry. It was established in 1975 with a purpose of conservation of Siberian Fir (Abies sibirica var. semenovii). Among other trees growing in the forest reserve are Schrenk’s Spruce (Picea schrenkiana subsp. tianshanica), Persian walnut (Juglans regia), maple (Acer tataricum ssp. semenovii), wild apple (Malus sieversii), etc. The forest reserve occupies 304 hectares.
Uzun Akmat Forest Reserve
Located in Toktogul District oand was established in 1992 (Decree of the Government No 253 of May 27, 1992) with a purpose of conservation of rare and endangered flora species. The forest reserve occupies 14,771 hectares.
Jalal-Abad IUCN Botanical Reserves
- Chanach Botanical Reserve
- Kosh-Tekir Botanical Reserve
- Chatkal Botanical Reserve
- Ryazan-Say Botanical Reserve
- Djeltiybes Botanical Reserve
Jalal-Abad IUCN Game reserves
- Toguz-Toro Game Reserve
- Chychkan Game Reserve – Established in 1974 in Northwest Jalal-Abad on the border with Chuy Province covers 36,600 hectares
- Sandalash Game Reserve
Chaktal Valley – Silk Road Explorer