Altyn Arashan, Kyrgyzstan

In a postcard-perfect Alpine valley, situated 3000 m from Altyn Arashan (Golden Spa), at its south end is the peak Palatka (Tent Peak) 4260 m. It is a frequent, steep 5 to 6 hour (14 kiloms) climb south on a route along the Arashan River from the turn-off to Ak-Suu Sanatorium through a pine canyon full of secret warm and cold springs. Most of the field is named the Arashan State Nature Reserve, a botanic research area.

The road is not straightforward, it is very steep and demands unique 4WD lorries. It crosses pine forests that are full of secret fountains (both hot and cold). The area is known to bears. A small museum, typical of this area, has stuffed animals.

Above the resort are the Kyzyl Tash Cave and the peaks of the Ak Suu range which rise to 5022 m. a.s.l.. Nearby are the Tergen Ak Suu, Djergalan, Koi Djailoo and other ravines.

Hiking permits are required and can be valid for 3 or 10 days in the area. It’s easy to get. A variety of trekking routes from Altyn Arashan, including one across the Karakol (via Lake Ala Kul) and valleys of Djety Orguz – but the road can be blocked with snow before summer.