On our third day in Karakol, we were surprised to wake up to good weather after a rainy day the day before, and so decided to explore nearby Skazka Canyon, which we were told is best explored when it’s dry, as it otherwise gets very muddy. Skazka Canyon lies on the southern shore of Issyk Kul Lake and is an unusual place with stunning rocky landscape.
We caught a marshrutka from Karakol in the morning and got the driver to drop us off near the canyon. The road is located right by the shore of the lake, so we went down to the beach first to get some pictures of the azure lake. It was beautiful and with the blue sky and mild weather, it almost felt like we were at the Mediterranean Sea, but instead, we were standing by the second largest alpine lake in the world.
From the road, we had to walk 2 km. along a dirt road to get to the canyon, but with stunning views of the lake and the mountains along the way that was no problem. The sun was scorching hot that day, but because of the terrible weather the day before, I had come to the canyon “well prepared” in far too warm clothing! Typical me 😉
When we got to the canyon, we decided to sit down and have a game of 500 (which I won), before exploring the canyon.
The canyon was like something out of a fairy tale. The nickname given to the place is “Fairy Tale Canyon”, which makes a whole lot of sense to me. It’s a breathtaking place and on my top 3 of natural places in Central Asia. Its location by the lake is just a bonus – it was quite amazing to see the contrast between the azure water and the orange cliffs. The rocky landscape of the canyon was sculptured by the wind over thousands of years into some amazing formations. Some formations we thought looked like a mini Great Wall of China! Do you agree?
We spent about 3,5 hours at the canyon; climbing the orange cliffs, snapping pictures of each other and chilling with a view. It was a great way to spend the day and Skazka Canyon is a definite must-see in Kyrgyzstan. It has left an imprint on my mind forever.
Here’s some information on how to travel to Skazka Canyon:
- Take the marshrutka from Karakol towards Bokonbaeva (in Russian) and tell the driver to drop you off at Skazka Canyon. It’ll take about 1,5 hours each way and cost 130-150 soms per person each way.
- You’ll see a big sign with “Skazka Canyon” when you get off, follow the arrow.
- You’ll see a sign pointing to “Jeti Oguz rocks”, which must be a mistake since Jeti Oguz is quite far from Skazka Canyon. Ignore the sign, but walk in the direction that the arrow on that sign is pointing.
- Walk about 2 km. to get to and from the canyon.
- Catch the marshrutka back to Karakol for the same price.
- It’s also possible to arrange a taxi for 1700 KGS return with no surcharge for the driver to wait for you at the canyon. He might even be able to drive you all the way up there, so you don’t have to walk the 2 km. each way.
- The owner of our hostel said that the entrance to the canyon costs 50 soms, but no one was there to charge us.