Barskoon gorge

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Barskoon gorge
View of the gorge from one of the slopes
Country: Kyrgyzstan
Region: Issyk-Kul region
Mountain range: Terskey Ala-Too
Coordinates: Latitude: 42°0'33"
Longitude: 77°36'42"
Length: ≈ 40 km.
Waterfall: Barskoon waterfalls
Map of Kygzyzstan
Map of Kygzyzstan
Barskoon gorge on Kyrgyzstan map
Thematic Portals

Barskoon Gorge is one of the picturesque gorges located in Kyrgyzstan, on the southern coast of Issyk-Kul, 80 km west of the regional center Karakol or 320 km from the capital of the republic, Bishkek.

Gorge geography

The gorge is part of the Ala-Too mountain system, located in the central part of the southern coast of Issyk-Kul. The length of the main gorge is approximately 40 km, and the average height of the passes is 4000 meters above sea level. A mountain river of the same name flows through the gorge.

One of the main features of the gorge is that there are six waterfalls in the valley, three of which are accessible to the public. This is an unusually high number of waterfalls for one gorge in Issyk-Kul, and possibly in the whole republic.

In the depths of the gorge, on the Arabel plateau, there are several high-altitude lakes that can be reached by car within one to two hours.

Interesting facts

  • Barskoon is one of the few gorges in Kyrgyzstan, having six fairly large waterfalls;
  • In the valley of the gorge, in a place called Kumtor, gold is mined on an industrial scale. The deposit was discovered in 1978 by Soviet geologists, but it was not exploited until the collapse of the USSR. The fate of the mine was decided after Kyrgyzstan gained independence. In 1992, Bishkek gave Kumtor to a Canadian company. At the moment, Canadians have sold their shares to other companies from different countries. Kumtor is the largest gold deposit in Central Asia. In 2020, 17.3 tons of gold were produced here. The share of Kumtor in the GDP of Kyrgyzstan in 2020 was 12%, in the total volume of industrial production - 23%. A foreign investor transferred $181 million in taxes and mandatory contributions to the budget of Kyrgyzstan;
  • There are two monuments to cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in the gorge. The pilot-cosmonaut visited this gorge in 1964. It should be noted that in Soviet times, many cosmonauts underwent health rehabilitation in the Issyk-Kul region after space flights;
  • On May 20, 1998, an ecological disaster occurred in the Barskoon Gorge. 1,762 kg of sodium cyanide got into the mountain river Barskoon (13 km from its confluence with Issyk-Kul) due to a truck falling into the river. There were victims of acid poisoning, and this also affected the upcoming tourist season in Issyk-Kul. A significant number of vacationers refused vouchers. A year after the incident, the ecology of the river and Issyk-Kul at the accident site was restored by natural forces.

Author note

The gorge leaves positive, vivid memories because here you can see and experience so much for yourself: fresh high-mountain air, the smells of herbs and plants, mountains, rocks, and waterfalls. If you are traveling along the southern coast of Issyk-Kul, then you should definitely stop by here.

I would like to note that, thanks to the well-established gold mining in Kumtor, the dirt road deep into the gorge is of very good quality, with no pits or potholes. Additionally, in the depths of the gorge, a glamping has been built, as well as several rooms in cottages with very good conditions. The optimal stay in the gorge to visit all the most interesting places is two days.

Questions and comments can be posted on the discussion page.

Gorge images

Other articles on gorges in Kyrgyzstan