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Introducing Karkara Valley

Rich pastures fill the immense, silent Karkara (black crane) Valley that straddles the Kyrgyzstan–Kazakhstan border. Attractions include the eponymous migratory birds that stop here in June and again from August to September, as well as a late-August Shepherds’ Festival with horseback games and eagle hunting held at yurt camps near Char-Kuduk village. San-Tash is famous for its burial mounds, while Karkara helipad, some 20km beyond (near the Kazakhstan border post), is the main access point for summer flights to Inylchek Glacier and the Khan Tengri/Pik Pobedy base camps.

If you're driving, the turn-off to Karkara from the Issyk-Köl road is beside the Gazprom petrol station 2km northwest of Tüp. The attractive A363 northwest passes Scythian tumuli beside the road at Km 41/175 (west of Ak-Bulun) plus several ancient graveyards, one containing the recently rebuilt mausoleum of Balabai Baatyr.