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Introducing Arslanbob

Arslanbob is an elevated oasis, a vast tract of blossoming woodland and home to the largest walnut grove on earth (11, 000 hectares) and part of the even larger (60, 000 hectare) walnut forest that extends between the spurs of the Fergana and Chatkal ranges.

Buses often drop passengers 200m uphill from the bus station at the main square by a stone lion, a taxi stand and the CBT office. From here the road continues uphill, branching left to the turbaza (former Soviet holiday camp) and right to the upper waterfall. Behind the town are the wall-like Babash-Ata Mountains and a raft of trekking opportunities.

On the other side of the square is a rickety wooden bridge spanning a rocky stream. Over the bridge are the town’s cafés, a (summer only) bazaar and the local mosque. This is a fairly conservative village; so don’t walk around in shorts and singlets.

From mid-September the town undergoes a mass exodus when locals move into the forest and go nuts. Each year 1500 tonnes of walnuts (and 5000 tonnes of apples, pistachios and cherry plums) are harvested in the Arslanbob valley and by all accounts gathering nuts is fun. Tradition dictates that during the harvest each family kill a sheep and share the meat with their neighbours. The fire-lit autumn nights are a time to sing songs, retell stories and eat way too much greasy mutton.