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Arslanbob's Walnut Forest

Arslanbob is named after an 11th century Muslim leader named Arslanbob-Ata. In Arabic, Arslan means "lion" and bab means "gate." Ata means "father" in Turkic languages. He was religious and often prayed in the mountains. In addition to the forest and the waterfalls, there is a lake called Holy Lake on the other side of the tallest peak It is too early in the summer to hike to the lake but it is a popular place for both tourists and pilgrims.

In the mountains near Uzbekistan, the town of Arslanbob has a beautiful forest, two waterfalls, and a stunning environment. It is said that the walnuts in this forest were the first ones brought to Europe by Alexander the Great during his military campaigns in Central Asia. This town is also different because it is almost completely Uzbek instead of Kyrgyz. I had fun speaking some Uzbek with the locals.

Tourism is the main income for the region. The walnuts are also collected and exported to Central Asia and Europe. In fact, Arslanbob is the largest natural source of walnuts in the world. Because of the beautiful forests, there is not a lot of land for farming. This forces locals to grow simple crops like potatoes and rely on seasonal tourism for money. There are a few fields in the mountains (you can see them in the photos).

Refreshingly, locals are committed to protecting the environment not only because it is important to the economy but because it is also considered a holy area. Unlike most areas in Kyrgyzstan, there are signs reminding people to clean up after themselves in the mountains.

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