One-day trip to the Barskoon Waterfalls
Duration: 6 hours, starting in Barskoon
Walking-time: 2,5-5 hours (depending on how far you hike)
The Barskoon Waterfalls in the Barskoon Valley are a nice trip to experience the wonderful valley. It makes a perfect Family Day and can also be some perfect warmup-hike for further adventures. You can follow the path up the mountains to 3400 and more meters or stay at the wild waterfalls, it is up to you!
Road to Juri Gagarin
Starting from Barskoon, ask your host to organize you a ride to the waterfalls. The starting point is marked by two statues of the first human in space, Juri Gagarin, which guard the road leading through the Barskoon Valley and to the Kumtor Goldmine. Gagarin recovered from his trip in the orbit in a nearby sanatory. The bust on the right and his face looking out of a giant stone on the left side of the road are a nice sight and worth a visit (another option to reach this point is by hitchhiking).
The Barskoon Fall
From the yurts in the valley, follow the path which is quite visible going uphill and to the right. Soon you will reach a minor first fall which goes down over two steps and is a good occasion to take a short bath. Some meters back the path it branches up to the hill. Follow this one through a light forest of the famous Tien-Shan Firs and later through wonderful fragrant pastures with Edelweiss flowers and Barberry bushes. On this tour you will find plenty of Edelweiss, but please, respect nature and don´t pick them but leave them for any others to enjoy! After the first steep slope, follow the edge of the gorge leading up to the fall. Enjoy the windy path, the view over the valley and the surrounding mountains that gets better with every step. Soon you will be able to see the Issyk-Kul lake far ahead.
Watch out for a very small path that leads to the left just before the rocky hill that begins to divide the trek from the stream. Follow this path to the left and you will reach the stream. Now you have to cross the rushing water by climbing over the rocks (there is no bridge). On the other side you can walk up easily to the Barskoon Waterfall, where the water drops some 24 meters through the air. As the air here is filled with little drops dusting from the fall, it is the perfect place to refresh from the climbing!
For the more adventurous – a third fall and mountain loneliness
Beeing refreshed, there is an option of a third waterfall and some spectacular views: follow the path back to the main slope and the scarp uphill. After some 45 minutes of climbing you will reach a third waterfall, that comes down an aslant piece of rock. If you climb down to the bottom, you will feel the tremendous amount of power this fall has. Although less high, it is wilder and rougher than the Barskoon fall. You can follow on the trail, going up to the high planes. It is empty here, only some Marmots might cross your way. On the left side you will soon be able to see a bizarre rock formation, piled up on the saddle of a hill. If you want, you can climb up there, but be careful with the rock walls. You should have good shoes and be sure-footed! On the way you may glimpse the snouts of the glaciers up the pastures and on top you have a broad view over the Barskoon valley and the Issyk-Kul with the blue mountains on its northern shore.
After this breathtaking spot you may go down the same way and have a Kymys in the valley!
Ekkehard Metzger, Jena, Germany
Volunteer with Kyrgyzstan Tourism and Ryskeldi Guest House, Barskoon
Dravings and pictures by the author.