Deep in the Tian Shan mountains, 40km south of Bishkek, you’ll find Ala Archa, an Alpine National Park. There are three main hiking trails in the park, all with their own highlights and difficulty levels.
One trail leads to Ak-Sai Glacier, located at 3350 meters altitude. Although its only 14km to the glacier, the tail involves a 1,100-meter elevation making the entire trek a 9-hour round-trip. The trek itself is very difficult with slippery rocks and steep terrain. The hike can either be done in two days for a more relaxed approach or in one day if you don’t mind waking up early.
Another trail is the hike to the Ak-Sai waterfall. It’s only short, a 7km round-tirp and can easily be fit into one day. The path is popular for travellers and so is well marked, an ideal starting point for less experienced hikers. The beginning starts with a steep slope but then becomes much easier when it opens up. Follow the path above the river until you reach the creek, cross and then stick to your left up a steep path until you reach the waterfall.
For travellers looking for an even more off the beaten path experience, they can try their hand trekking to the Ala Archa Valley. This hike is the least visited of all the other hikes in this region and leads to an old Soviet-era ski base which is located at 3400meters, just below the foot of the Ala-Archinskii, Mana and Toktogula glaciers. You can hike to the Ala Archa Valley in just one day but if you bring a tent you can make it all the way up to the ski base and even visit the Adygene Glacier.