White water rafting tours didn’t become popular in Kyrgyzstan until recently. There are several rivers that have been marked as good eco rafting destinations in Kyrgyzstan so far, but there are many rivers that have never even seen a raft yet. Here are some of the well-known destinations that travelers can tackle on a water rafting tour in Kyrgyzstan.
RAFTING THE CHU RIVER (grade: 2-4)
The Chu River that runs near the capital city of Bishkek is the most popular river for rafting tours in Kyrgyzstan. The river flows at over 1,500meter elevation and the best season for a river rafting trip is from June to mid-September, when the water temperature fluctuates between 15-18 degrees Celsius.
Part of the river runs through Boom Gorge, which is known throughout Central Asia to be the best training site for rafting. The river has easier access compared to other rivers and more manageable rapids. The most common tours last for 1-2 days, but longer ones that include several different rivers can be arranged.
THE CHON-KEMIN RIVER (grade: 2-5)
The Chon-Kemin River is the primary tributary of the Chu River, flowing though Kyrgyzstan’s Chui Province. The river itself runs for a length of 116km through a series of gorges that contain more challenging class 4-5 rapids. The area around the Chon-Kemin River provides both green mountainsides and snow-capped peaks, a beautiful setting for a rafting adventure. Tours are led May-October.
THE WHITE WATERS OF THE KEKEMEREN RIVER (grade: 2-5)
The Kekemeren River runs through the valleys of the Tien Shan “Celestial” mountains, eventually flowing into the Naryn River. The mountains of the Tien Shen are spectacular to travel through because of the constant presence of clouds that hover over the mountain peaks, giving the mountains a heavenly, peaceful feel. The most exciting whitewater is in the first 40-50 km of the river, sporting class 4 and 5 rapids. Whitewater rafting trips are led May-October, the best months being August and September.
THE NARYN RIVER (grade: 2-5)
A good portion of the Naryn River has waters that will peacefully float a raft down the river, not overwhelmingly attractive to rafters looking for an adrenaline rush. However, there’s a section of the Naryn that is particularly good for whitewater rafting called the Naryn Falls Canyon. Many people choose to raft the Naryn for this section alone. Access to this portion of the river is easier and the scenery inside the canyon is extremely impressive, also providing an exciting whitewater adventure with class 4 to 5 runs. Tours are led all summer, with late August to mid-September being the optimal time for rafting.
Whenever or wherever you end up rafting in Kyrgyzstan, remember that days are often sunny with little rainfall, virtually none in the summer months. However, don’t forget to bring outerwear appropriate for rafting in rivers fed by glacier run-off or a camera that’ll last the trip. The memories of the rapids aren’t the only things you’ll want to capture; the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the country will make your trip just as enjoyable as the adventure of tackling the rivers and rapids of Kyrgyzstan.
Photo by Geleon