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March 2012
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Tulips, Poppies, And Other Wildflowers

The wildflowers of Kyrgyzstan are rightfully considered among the most beautiful in the world.  While I got a chance to get around and see a lot of them while I was there, one of my regrets about departing so soon was that I missed the opportunity to get out again this spring, now that I’ve learned a bit about where to find them.  I figured I’d write down a bit of what I discovered.  Maybe someone else will add their own favorite place in the comments?

You don’t have to go far from Bishkek to find beautiful fields of wildflowers. Here is one you could visit on a lunch hour.

One of my favorite drives near Bishkek is the Ala Archa-Alamedin drive.  As I noted in that write-up, it takes you very close to the Chunkurchak State Biological Reserve, established to protect several endangered Tulip species.  That’s definitely one place you should check out.

A great drive for looking for poppies is the upper road to Issyk Ata, described is my post on the Burana Tower.  It seems that the best fields for poppies vary from year to year, but this road is a good bet.  By the way, from a distance the poppies, mixed in with other foliage, can look almost brown, so if you see a large brown area on the hill as you are driving along, it might be worth getting a little closer.

Last year, the best poppy field I came across was right next to the Ata Beit memorial, so that’s another place to look.

One of the most beautiful fields of wildflowers I have been to in Kyrgyzstan was near Kel-Tor lake, so that is another good destination.  I was too late in the year getting up there to find tulips or poppies, so I can’t say for sure, but I would be surprised if there were not tulips in the Kel-Tor Gorge.

Kok-Moinok Gorge is a great place to visit during tulip season.

I have one more suggestion which I will try to get up soon: Zhylamysh Gorge.

The truth is, though, that you should be able to find an extraordinary variety of wildflowers anywhere in Kyrgyzstan over the next few months, if you can only bring yourself to get out of Bishkek and look.

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