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  Home  »  Kyrgyzstan  »  Geography  »   Valleys
 
 

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Valleys




ValleysThe existence of mountains implies that there are valleys and passes.

Many of the valleys are small (short and narrow), especially where they have been cut by mountain streams cutting through the rocks, as it rushes down steep slopes from its source (which could be a spring, a glacier or from a lake). Woods on the lower give way to shrubs, which in turn give way to grassland and finally to rocks as you climb further up the valleys. Each valley often has its own character and two neighboring valleys can be quite different from each other. For example, in the Kyrgyz mountain range, south of Bishkek, there are a series of valleys each one with its own appeal, (see the separate section).

There are also, usually at the lower altitudes, much wider valleys are found as the formerly fast flowing waters slow down. The plains that border the river banks make up valuable, and rare, arable land. Even so, most of the valleys are not very wide with mountains rising closely on either side. Only the Ferghana Valley where the territory of Uzbekistan cuts between the Chatkal and Alai ranges exceeds a width of 100 km .

High in the mountains are a number of basins, hollows lying on a plateau, ringed by mountains.

The largest is the Issyk Kul Basin , surrounded by the Terskey and Kungei Ala Too mountains. The lake that nestles at the bottom of the hollow is the second largest mountain lake in the world, (after Lake Titicaca in South America ), at an altitude of 1600 meters a.s.l.

Lake Son Kul, the second largest lake in the Republic, lies in a hollow at an altitude of 3000 meters a.s.l.

Because the country is criss-crossed by so many mountain ranges, the passes that allow passage from one valley or from one side of the mountain range to the other are very important.

The Kyrgyz word for a mountains pass is Ashu, as in Too Ashu on the main Bishkek-Osh road.

Many of the high mountain passes are closed in the winter and some are difficult to cross at the height of summer.

The most famous pass in the country is probably the Torugart Pass , because, for a long time, it was the only border crossing between Kyrgyzstan and China notoriously difficult, not just because of its altitude and remoteness, but because it is subject to many regulations and restrictions.

The main Bishkek-Osh road passes over a number of high mountain passes Tuu Ashu (Flag Pass) crosses the Kyrgyz Range at 3588 meters, but a tunnel under the pass means that vehicle do not have to climb right to the summit.

The Tuu Ashu pass is kept open all year round it is such an important route the only route between the North and South of the country for much of the year. Other passes over the Kyrgyz range are closed right until the height of summer and even then trekkers are forced back. In the Soviet period, some of them were cleared by snow ploughs (such as the Kegeti Pass ) or by driving sheep over them (such as the over Sokoluk Pass ) to the rich mountain pastures on the other side of the range but this rarely happens now.

Here are some statistics about some of the major valleys, basins and passes:

Valley

Height

Length km

Width km

from (m. a.s.l.)

to (m. a.s.l.)

Kemin

1400

1800

29

8

Min Kush

1400

3100

36

2

Kochkor

1900

2200

80

20

Sary Jaz

2700

3600

108

5

Suusamyr

2000

3200

150

24

At Bashi Karakoyunskaya

2000

3200

160

27

Talas

650

1800

160

26

Alai

2000

2500

165

25

Chatkal

900

2500

200

20

Chui

500

1300

250

60

Ferghana

400

1200

340

160


Basin

Height

Length km

Width km

from (m. a.s.l.)

to (m. a.s.l.)

Chatyr Kul Basin

3500

3600

48

18

Son Kul Basin

3000

3400

60

30

Issyk Kul Basin

1600

3000

275

65


Pass

Height m. a.s.l

Between

Aksu

4062

Chon Kemin-Grigorievka (Issyk Kul)

Ak Kol

3860

Karakol Valley Altyn Arashan

Kegeti

3805

Kegeti (Tokmak) Kochkor

Sokoluk

3775

Tash Bulak-Suusamyr

Torugat

3752

Kyrgyzstan-China

Tuu Ashu

3588

Kara Balta-Suusamyr (Bishkek-Osh)

Otmek

3330

Suusamyr-Talas

Sary Bulak

3274

Semyenovka-Almaty ***

Ala Bel

3184

Suusamyr-Toktogul (Bishkek-Osh)

Dolon

3016

Kochkor-Naryn

Irkeshtam

2841

Kyrgyzstan-China

*** Note that this pass was a popular route for trekkers during the Soviet period, but is now closed the only places permitted to cross the border are recognised border posts and there isnt one here. It has been suggested that it would be a good idea to establish one but the number of people using it would not justify the expense.




 
 
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