South of Lake Issyk-Kul, hidden in the hills is a magical place: the Skazka canyon, also called the Fairy-tale canyon. While walking through it, your imagination will go crazy with all the colors and shapes created by the elements. Just look at those pictures and imagine you are in a fairy tale!
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INFO & PLANNING TIPS - Skazka canyon
As tourism is increasing in Kyrgyzstan, locals have 'rediscovered' their natural wonders. Skazka, near Issyk Kul lake, is a good example. Apparently it has only been indicated on maps and on the road for a couple of years.
During my research I had read about it and I was very excited to get there. It was one of the main locations I wanted to visit during my tour of Kyrgyzstan. So much so that I went in the afternoon when the others visited the beach knowing we were coming back the next morning. And I do not regret it. This way I had the chance to see it under the blue sky and in a cloudy and windy weather. Very dramatic effects!
The fairy tale canyon is a place were the red sandstones have been eroded and shaped by the elements. There is a large variety of shapes from towers to waves to crest-like rocks. Some people see castles... Hence the name fairy-tale.
What you see really depends on your imagination. For example you will see that where people see a penguin, some might see something less G-rated...
TIPS FOR TRAVEL PLANNING ADDICTS - Skazka canyon
Getting to the Fairy-tale canyon
- The canyon is located on the South Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, 20min drive west of Tamga
- The turn is 4 km west of Tosor
- As seen in the picture above, the Fairy Tale canyon is indicated from the main road. Then turn right at the fork towards what they called 'Jeti-Oguz' on the second sign. You then reach a barrier where you pay and you still have to drive 5 min.
- Taxis can take you there for Tamga and wait for you
Visiting the Fairy-tale canyon
- In 2015 the entrance fee is 50SOM per person
- Plan at least 1 hour but 2h would be better and even more if you want to explore everywhere
- It is not very accessible when wet
- Good footwear is required
Exploring the Skazka Canyon is one of the best things to do in Kyrgyzstan.
Skazka canyon under the sun
My first visit was in the afternoon. The weather was very hot and the sun very strong. It really felt like walking in the desert. I was alone in the place except for my taxi driver who climbed to the central high point and made sure I did not get lost with his binoculars.
It was so amazing I did not know where to look and could not stop taking pictures. The colors of the rock and of the vegetation on top of the crazy shapes create a unique landscape.
I started by the 'painted mountains'. Not as impressive as the Chinese one but still interesting. A mix of yellow, orange and pink. On this side, the shapes were smooth and flowy
Then I discovered what I call the snake. I walked along the very colorful rock.
Later the shapes changed into something that reminds you of Cappadocia in Turkey. Those rocks were orange, almost red in some places.
A lot of the canyon has some kind of a crest. Some see castles or the Great Wall of China
I spoted flowers were here and there adding to the color variety.
From that spot, I got lost. I tried walking back but found myself stuck with small cliffs. I was exhausted and ended up sliding on my bottom to reach a gorge. There I went one way and finally found the parking.
So always make sure you remember which way you came!
Skazka on a cloudy day
After melting in the heat, we woke up the next days with a cold and cloudy weather. The mood of the place totally changed and the colors were sometimes even more incredible. This time I was with the group, so the pictures will show you the scale.
On top of that, they went another way than what I did the day before. So I discovered an area I had not seen. It seems I had walked around. Just look at that (see the penguin...):
Then I turned around and... where is everyone?
I walked a little more towards the west but it became less interesting.
The area is very dry and I loved taking close-up shots of the cracked rock
I confirm it was one of my favorite places in Kyrgyzstan. Simply my kind of landscape.
Do you understand why I think exploring the Skazka Canyon is one of the best things to do in Kyrgyzstan?
Want to see more of Kyrgyzstan's beauty?
Discover more planning information, things to do and places to see in my online Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide.
Have you ever seen anything like it?
Kemal Kaya says
Must see place in Kyrgyzstan. This particular formation is similar to Rainbow hills in Iceland or rock chimneys in Cappadocia… Plan enough time to go explore on your own, climb this rock or that one and discover more intriguing shapes and colorful landscapes.