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Ala Archa National Park, Kyrgyzstan

Just 45 minutes drive from Bishkek lie the spectacular glacial canyons and rugged peaks of Ala Archa state nature park. Towering over the park are the highest peaks of the Kyrgyz Alatau Range, including Peak Korona (4860m) and Semenov Tianshanskii (4895m), both higher than anything Europe has to offer.

From the park entrance and car park there are numerous hiking options, from gentle strolls along the Ala Archa valley floor to serious mountaineering. Three of the most popular options are the Ala Archa valley walk (easy, approx 4hrs), the hike up the Ak-Say valley to the waterfall (a little more strenuous with around 700m ascent, approx 5 hrs), and the full day climb to the foot of the Ak-Say Glacier. The latter follows well-trodden paths but has long, steep and rough sections as you ascend the final section toward the glacier, so is recommended only for serious hill-walkers. The total time required is around 7 hrs, with approximately 1200m of ascent.

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Photos of Ala Archa National Park