Salkyn Tor National Park

Salkyn Tor National Park

Salkyn-Tor State National Park is a popular picnic spot for the citizens of Naryn but rarely know by tourists. The park is located in the central part of the Tien Shan and its territory is confined to the northern macro slope of the high mountain range Naryn-Too. The National Park is situated just outside of Naryn about 12 km from the city center towards east and next to the small airport of Naryn and has a easily recognizable rainbow shaped gate. Salkyn Tor National Park is partially preserved as part of the Salkyn-Tor State Park. It covers a large area along the Naryn River immediately to the east of Naryn. The area of Salkyn-Tor State Natural National Park is 10 448 hectares in total.

The first part of the Salkyn Tor national park is taken by Soviet era resorts where the locals mostly from Naryn come to spend time in the summer months. If needed, it is a cheap place to eat and stay for a night in a yurt or a simple cabin before venturing deeper to the park but the park is not really that far from Naryn that one could not stay the night there.

Salkyn Tor park gate rainbow
Swastika forest in Eki Naryn, Kyrgyzstan

Further east from the park there is a village called Tash Bashat and the road east of the village continues further along the Naryn River reaching finally Issyk Kul. Even further east lies the Naryn State Reserve. It is one of Kyrgyzstan’s state reserves to preserve coniferous forests and alpine meadows. 

The Tash-Bashat village is known for the so called swastika forest located close to the village on a hillside in the Naryn-Too range. There is a spruce forest that has clearly been planted in a shape that reminds a partial swastika. The local stories claim that the forest was planted by German prisoners of war.

The geography of the Salkyn-Tor National Park is formed from the glaciers and snowfields of the Naryn Too that form numerous rivers and streams like Teke-Sekirik, Alysh, Kur-Sai, Kurgak, Doboluu and Kuu-Dongoch. Ther rivers are mostly fast flowing with rocky bottoms and the surroundings of the rivers are also rocky and not always very pleasant to walk through which are very common features of the Kyrgyz rivers. The rivers are still often relatively shallow and it is not impossible to find places to cross the rivers and they can be often very easily crossed by horseback.

Flora and Fauna in Salkyn Tor

The Salkyn Tor park is rich in vegetation as the park has about 300 species of plants including medicinal plants like golden root, mint, ginseng, etc. that are living in the mostly coniferous forests of the valley. Furthermore, there are many rare mammals, birds and insects that inhabit the territory of the national park like bears, lynxes, stone martens, mountain goats, roe deers, wolves, a foxes, squirrels, hares, badgers, marmots etc. 

There are also about 30 natural springs (hot and cold ones) where you can visit. The places we recommend visiting in the Salkyn Tor National park are Cave Kozho-Unkur, historical hill Dubeli, hot spring Kurgak and beautiful rocky gorges Kok Zhaiyk, Berkut-Yn, Kyzyl-Zoo. 


River in the Salkyn Tor Valley

In general the locations are not easily found and some not easily reached meaning it is best to have a guide for your hike. It is also worth mentioning that little bit further towards east from Salkyn Tor, there is a place called Pitomnik Bugu Maralov which is a protected area to preserve the endangered Tien Shan deer. It is possible to see them very closely and to have a meal in the protected zone. The area is controlled by the Kyrgyz environmental authorities.

Soviet Past of Salkyn Tor

Yurt in the Salkyn Tor National Park

As mentioned, befofe and after the rainbow arch entrance to the Salkyn-Tor park there are some remains of Soviet past. There rusty carousels along with small huts or cabins and foundations of some old buildings that might have never been finished or the building materials were later taken for another purposes. Ruins of the cinema and telephone booth remind of the more successful past of the  park during the Soviet era. 

In fact, some of the rusty carousels are still in use by the visitors. Next to old huts there are yurts and locals who offer horses to ride and serve food and sell kymyz when requested to. 


Hiking in Salkyn Tor

The hiking trail starts from the entrance area and goes along the river. You will be crossing three bridges in the first couple of kilometers and as soon as you pass the third bridge, the trail continues, crossing the river at several points, without bridges. At a river crossing, search carefully for the path on the other side, as it can be difficult to spot. 

There are numerous good camping spots on the way just right next to the river. Hiking further for about 10 km you can reach the shepherd’s camp in a grove of pines on the east side of the river. Above that camp, the trail disappears and it’s a rocky scramble up to treeline. There is a lovely valley that opens at the top, if you want to venture even further.

Sights near Salkyn Tor National Park

Page updated 18.9.2021

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