Chunkurchak Gorge, Kyrgyzstan
Chunkurchak Gorge is one of the smallest yet most beautiful gorges in Kyrgyzstan. It is situated 45 km (28 miles) from Bishkek, in the upper Alamedin River. The territory of the gorge is a National Biological Reserve, established to conserve rare species of tulips. These tulips are considered to be the main draw of the gorge, and traveling through it in the spring, one can see not only a few flowers, but a vast bright-scarlet meadow. Queen tulips, one of the most beautiful types, can reach 15 to 18 cm (6 to 7 in) tall.
A guide is necessary to visit Chunkurchak, since the entry to the gorge is small and very difficult to find. Chunkurchak leads to the larger Takhr Gorge, which contains a 200 m (656 f) rock overlooking the Alamedin River. Chunkurchak also leads to Bir-Bulak Gorge, well known for its fields of raspberry bushes.
Chunkurchak is excellent for rock climbing. Fans of extreme sports will appreciate the steep slopes in the gorge, which can be quite slippery and covered with ice. This makes the walls perfect for dry-tooling, a type of climbing using ice axes and crampons. Not all mountains are good for this sport, but Chunkurchak is one of the best places in Central Asia for holding dry-tooling competitions.