Uzbekistan Mountain Rafting
Rafting routes along Chatkal, Oyga'ing, Pskem, Ugham and Ahangaran
Uzbekistan Mountains near to
Chimgan Mountains are invariably attractive
for mountaineers. The wide variety of Chimgan and its surroundings allows the
activity in all kinds of mountaineering and landscape tourism. Mountains
(Small and Greater Chimgan Peaks - 3,309 m) of Chatkal range, plateaus, the
Black Waterfall (40 m) at the lower part of
Greater Chimgan Peak,
Novotasha waterfalls, attract a lot of tourists from Uzbekistan and abroad.
Ugam & Karjantau ridges
Another attractive place for mountaineering
is situated on Ugam ridge and on the southern; slopes of the
Karjantau ridge of
the Western Tyan-Shan system.
There are following natural sites, which
are of interest of mountaineers in area of Ugam & Karjantau ridges:
Peak Mingbulak (2,628 m) - the highest peak of the Karjantau ridge.
Qizilsuv waterfalls - the
pictorial cascades that flow at the sinuous river gorges of
Qizilsuv Mountain River.
• Loquacious cave is located on
plateau Ghiza, 20 km from
village Humsan, in a funnel-shaped hollow. On the
bottom of the hollow, in the exposure of grey limestone, there is a 1x1 m
rectangular aperture transforming to a 1.5 m high sloping tunnel. Its floor is covered with lumps, ceiling being arcaded. This tunnel is 20 m long and leads to the inner larger part of the cave. A ladder is needed in order to proceed into
the cave as there is a 6 m high prominence. Then the floor levels out, height
reaching 20-30 m. The cave is so named due to a streamlet flowing through it.
• Arkutsay – exposure of loess
stratum. The site is 3 km west of Humsan, on the right bank of the Ugam River. Section of the formation represents the wall of a small landslide breakaway and
is a stratum of interstratifying loess-like loams of Quaternary and fossil
soils horizons. The section is unique as it exposes more than 80 m thick deposition of rocks.
• Kyrk-Kokyl waterfall (in Uzbek “Kyrk-Kokyl”
means 40 plaits) – pictorial waterfall at Pustonlyk – confluent of Ugam River, 9 km from Humsan village.
Local peculiarities of rafting in Uzbekistan Mountain Rivers
The rivers in the mountains of Uzbekistan have the level six of complexity, and that is why it attracts the attention of
the world's strongest sportsmen.
Rafting along the rapid Chatkal River is the favorite activity of extreme
travelers. They are interested in many-day rafting along the route rated as the
route of the fifth category of complexity, as well as in diverse landscapes and
natural obstacles. Not less than fifty serious obstacles await the travelers on
the river. Among the hardest ones are waterfalls, cascades of rapids, stony
shallow areas with rapid current, whirlpools, rocky gorges and sharp stone cogs
sticking out of waves. What makes the Chatkal peculiar is the availability of
natural obstacles whose complexity is increasing gradually with climax awaiting
the travelers in the lower reaches of the river.
Those who at least once traveled along the Chatkal will never forget the 'River
of Five Canyons'. This is how tourists call the Chatkal. The nature here is
really imposing and amazes the visitor by its primeval beauty. The grandeur of
the Second and the Third Canyon Rocks surpasses all imagination. The Second Canyon makes a breathtaking impression by its towering stone walls and slopes. The Third Canyon is rocky; this is a narrow and winding corridor of 200-300 meters high. At the bottom of the rocks there is still blue water, on each side there are wet,
bright and dark-grey rocks with sombre entries to grottos and caves. Overhead
there is a narrow line of blue sky which is sometimes blocked by dangerously
hanging cornices. Here and there the river-bed narrows to 6-8 meters. On the river banks there are floodplain forests and alpine meadows. The odour of thousands
of flowers and conifers is brought by the breeze. The wide intermountain
depression is framed with the snowcapped mountains of the Chatkal and Sandala
Ridges glaring with the snow. Against the background of the dark-blue sky there
rises the colossal Peak of Chatkal which is 4503 meters high. It is the highest point of the Western Tien-Shan. Next to it there towers a
mountain, which is a little lower than Chatkal Peak - Chatkal Ushba.
The length of the Chatkal is 223 kilometers. And only 183 kilometers is fit for rafting. Difference of the heights between the river head and its estuary
reaches 1267 meters.
The waterfall of the First Canyon is rather perilous for all sorts of water
crafts; it consists of two steps with the dip for about four meters. After the
waterfall there comes a hundred-meter area of steeply-falling rapids. In the
middle of the Canyon a real eye-catcher is the inflow of the Chatkal's big left
tributary, the Ters, which falls down the rocky ledge.
Hargush rapids are considered to be the hardest obstacles in the sailing
directions of the Chatkal. It spreads for one and a half kilometers and is
noted for its powerful overflows through the stone ranges and boulders. In one
place stones almost block the river leaving the space of only two or three
meters between them. The stream, breaking through the dam falls down by
two-meter flow. When going through these rapids, one should take additional
After the Hargush rapids, in the order of decrease of complexity, there come
rapids of Pigak, Kishlaksay, Second Slalom (Shabrez) and Naizinskiy.
Most dangerous rapids are located in the Fifth Canyon. There is also a
two-kilometers section where the rocks come close to each other making a very
narrow rocky corridor. The narrowest part in this section is called a
'diaphragm' by tourists. Following this 'diaphragm', the river gradually calms
down and after two kilometers the corridor ends, as well as the last Canyon
itself. The river-bed widens again; pebble and sandbanks are seen on both sides
of the river.
Aurahmat is the last rapid in the sailing directions of the Chatkal. It is
opened only during at the period of water discharge for irrigation.
Water route along the Chatkal has comfortable but long approaches. One can get
to upper reaches of the river both from the Uzbek city of Namangan through
Chapchama Mountain Pass (2841 meters above sea level) in the Chatkal Ridge -
southern variant of access, and from Kazakh city of Toraz through Karabura Mountain
Pass (3300 meters above sea level) in the Talass Ridge - northern variant of
access. Both variants imply nearly equal distances.
The set-off route is much more convenient. From the Ugham-Chatkal National Park, where eight-day rafting tour down the Chatkal River closes, there is a modern
highway leading to Tashkent, giving the travelers the opportunity to reach the
country's capital just in two hours.
In case rafting down the Chatkal River is routed through the territory of both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, its
Oyga'ing, Pskem, Ugham and Ahangaran sections entirely relate to the
The route along Pskem and its main part the Oyga'ing river is really unique. In
accordance with international classification it falls into the most difficult,
the sixth category of complexity. In the world there are few rivers with
conditions of rafting similar to Oyga'ing - Pskem section. Among them we can
name the Choroh River in Turkey, the Arun in Himalayas, the Blue Nile in Africa
and a number of rivers in the Altai Mountains in Russia.
The key obstacles accounting for high technical complexity of the route are as
follows: the Big inrush in Oyga'ing where the river runs through fragmental
blockings of five stone obstructions, the rapids of Shtolnya and Teparskiy
obstruction on the Pskem, where the main waterfall is made up by two rocks
converging upward. The very names of the rapids Kovarniy (treacherous), Shtopor
(cockscrew), Gorka (hill), Vorota (gates) speak for themselves.
But the above mentioned difficulties should not scare the inexperienced
raft-men into avoiding the Pskem. They are recommended to begin to boat or raft
down the Pskem river to Charvak Reservoir from Tepar obstruction, or from Pskem
settlement, in which case Taparskiy obstruction should be avoided by carrying
the boats round this section. Under the first option the length of the descend
makes up 20 kilometers, while under the second option it is twice as long. It
must be said that boating and rafting down the rivers is controlled by
experienced guides who know the local conditions perfectly well.
Natural beauty in the Oyga'ing and Pskem Valleys can fascinate every traveler
whatever experience he or she has. Everything here can make you be in high
spirits: nice weather, the breath-taking beauty of rivers and mountains.
Within the limits of recommended areas for rafting, both above rivers fall into
the fourth category of complexity. The best time for rafting is April and May
due to good weather conditions. In Uzbekistan this is the time when gardens of
the mountain valleys are in blossom. One can hardly find more wonderful natural
The length of rafting route along the Ugham is 11 kilometers. The route starts from "Kristall" boarding house and finishes in the creek of
the river where it flows into the Hojent water reservoir. On this section
raft-men usually make a double trip down the river. The number of obstacles
makes your experience really impressive: in some spots the stream will press
you against the rocks, in others you'll need to raft sideways; and all the way
down there are above-water rocks and submerged stones. All this is aggravated
by the rapid current. However, in case of emergency situation, prompt mooring
and urgent landing can be made at any length of the route.
Rafting down the Ahangaran river takes more time as the route covers the length
of thirty kilometers. It starts in the estuary of the Yakkaarchasay river (7 kilometers off the highway bridge before the rise to the Kamchik mountain pass in the Kuramin
Ridge) and closes in front of the Angren water reservoir. The most impressive
rapids of the route are Ertash and Koksaray rapids.
Mountain rafting and steppe hiking
For the beginners we suggest one day route
along Uzbekistan's part of the Ugam river from village Humsan to Khodjikent
water reservoir (6 km).