Issyk Kul - Juuku Gorge
The Juuku Gorge (also Zhukuu, Zauka) is the longest gorge (not far from Issyk Kul), in the Terskey Ala-Too mountain range and famous for its diverse nature, magnificent views and wide open spaces. It is located on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Kul, 70 kilometres from Karakol. Nowadays, Juuku Gorge mainly attracts tourists with its natural beauty, but in earlier times this place was part of the routes of numerous traders and travellers from different countries. At different times, Scythians, Chinese, ancient Turks, Nestorian Christians and, of course, the nomadic Kyrgyz found refuge here. Despite the difficult terrain of the gorge, Juuku was for a long time the only route from the Issyk-Kul Valley to China. The gorge also served as a bypass between the mountains and the western part of the Tien Shan. Juuku Gorge was visited by the famous monk Xuanzang, one of the main characters in the Chinese legend of Sun-Ukun, and also by the famous traveller Pyotr Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, who witnessed a terrible battle between the Bugu and Sarybagysh Kyrgyz tribes inhabiting the Issyk-Kul Valley.
The length of the gorge is due to its unusual shape: In the lower part, the gorge stretches strictly from north to south, while in the upper part it turns sharply to the west. Thus, the river flowing through the gorge reaches a record length of 55 km. The view in the gorge is very picturesque: red rocks, dense Tian Shan fir forest, several high-altitude lakes and a rugged river that meanders in winding zigzag lines through the valley floor. In the upper part, the gorge merges into a peculiar high mountain desert that connects with the famous Arabel Plateau, which is rich in lakes.
Numerous tourist routes lead through Juuku Gorge. It is very popular with hikers and cyclists. It is also a great place for a day trip or picnic.
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