Shamsi Gorge, Kyrgyzstan

Shamsi Gorge, only 10 km (6 miles) from Bishkek, is another beautiful gorge. Unlike many other similar places, the walls of Shamsi are very steep and rocky. The Shamsi River flows through the bottom of the gorge, and is very rapid and turbulent.

The animals and plants living in Shamsi are very diverse, with fir and pine woods, and sub-alpine meadows located on the northern and western slopes. Boar, weasels, lynx, hares, and stoats can often be found in the gorge. Shamsi is also home to many shepherds, who bring their flocks to graze on the rich meadows.

In the upper zone, 3,570 m (11,712 feet) above sea level, the Shamsi Pass connects the Kochkor and Chuy Valleys. Here, one can also fine the Tuyuk-Keltor Lake, at the upper part of the Tuyuk River. The Shamsi River starts here, with a cascade of brilliant waterfalls.

Shamsi is certainly known not only for its natural beauty, but also for its mysteries. One of these mysteries is a golden mask of a female face. Old men say that it is a mask of Princess Shamsi, for whom the gorge was named.