Ghost town Enilchek

During the Soviet time, especially from the 1930s to the 50s, various industrial towns were built across the Soviet Union and Kyrgyzstan is not an exception. Several towns were built deep in the heartlands of Kyrgyz Tian Shan ranges. Among them are Min Kush, Balykchy, Ak Tyuz, Mailuu Suu, Kok Jangak, Enylchek, Tashkomyr and Jyrgalan. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these once booming, full industrial settlements, turned into empty and mostly abandoned towns. At the furthest corner of the mountain valleys of Eastern Kyrgyzstan, near the Chinese border lies Enilchek (Inylcheck, Inilcheck or Engilcheck) which is also one of the most comprehensively deserted Soviet industrial towns in Kyrgyzstan.

Abandoned buildings in Enilchek
Agandoned mine in Enilchek

Enilchek is located in Sary-Jaz valley, about 150 km southeast from Karakol, at the height of 2500 m. The region is wealthy with deposits of minerals like tungsten, tin, molybdenum and other metals and therefore Soviet mining operations started here at the beginning of 1980s. During the Soviet Union era, it was prestigious for the Kyrgyz youth to get employed here. After the orders from the motherland ceased, the life in the city started to fade away due to unemployment. Today the population consists of less than 30 families and as a result, Engilchek truly reminds a ghost town where you can see discarded infrastructure and empty broken blocks of flats, houses, hospitals, etc. The abandoned mine can also be easily seen just southeast from the town.

During the last years, the town has gotten some of its life back in the form of dark tourism enthusiasts who come to see the status of the town and enjoy the dilapidated appearance of everything. Some tour operators offer ready made packages from Karakol making it easy to visit the town even though it resides high in the middle of the mountains. 

For nature enthusiasts, there are also large a glaciers about 50 km away from the town the most famous being the Enilchek glacier and the third highest peak of Kyrgyzstan called Khan Tengri. Otherwise the nature is fairly poor due to the small amount of rain and the high elevation. Lower areas along the road, closer to the Issyk Kul area have several locations with lush green nature though.

Enilchek hot spring

There is a little known hot spring near Enilchek village. It is a large natural hot spring with a wide area and it is not very deep but can offer some warm, mineral rich baths in the otherwise mostly cold environment of Enilchek. The temperature of the Enilchek hot spring is just a bit below 40, making it ideal for bathing.

As the hot spring is wild, it is also completely free to enter but there are also no facilities at all.

Wild hot spring of Engilchek

Get a border zone permit before you go to Engilchek

Enilchek village is located in the border area between Kyrgyzstan and China. Engilcheck territory is enhanced as a border zone following the agreement between China and Kyrgyzstan to set a borderline 50 km from the main border. The border zone permit can be acquired in Bishkek, Naryn or Karakol. Enilchek is also not far from the famous Merzbacher lake that fills up and gets empty every year once the ice dam breaks and all the water suddenly rushes down the river below.

Sights & destinations near Enylchek

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