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March 2012
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Kok-Moinok Gorge

Kok-Moinok Gorge is another of the fantastic day trips to the mountains from Bishkek.  It’s the next gorge east of Issyk Ata, and another beauty, with a rushing river flowing down through rough terrain with some forestation and scattered wildflowers.  It’s another one, though, that I did not have time to explore well, so I’ll provide directions to the gorge and hope for your comments on what you find there.

There is a lake up Kok-Moinok Gorge, so that should give you incentive to climb, but the climb is not easy.  When I was there late last spring the water was pretty high in the stream and it looked like it would require multiple crossings.  The trail toward the lake looked pretty thin, even down at the bottom, so it might be a real job to get up that high.  However, even if you stay down in the lower parts of the gorge, there are beautiful places for a picnic, or even an overnight camping trip, some beautiful wildflowers, and some interesting birds, as well.  You can be sure that I’ll make another attempt at the lake next time I’m in Kyrgyzstan.

Getting to Kok-Moinok is easy.  On the attached .gdb file I’ve included both the upper and lower routes (which are much the same as the routes to Issyk Ata described in my write-up on the Burana Tower).  In this case, the lower route is clearly much shorter.  But the upper route is always more rewarding.  The best compromise is to make it a loop drive.  You might want to stop at the fish farm for lunch or dinner and possibly throw in a short trip to Issyk Ata while on the high road.

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