Visit Guide to Alay Valley

Alay Valley (locals call it simply Alay) is a stunningly picturesque part of the Pamir-Alay, a tectonic depression located between the Alay and Zaalay ridges in southern Kyrgyzstan at an altitude of 2240-3536 m. The valley stretches from west to east for 150 km with a width of 8 up to 25 km.

Getting There

From the city of Osh Alay Valley can be reached by car, along the M41 highway, then turning west onto the A372 highway.

What to Expect

The Alpine Alai Valley is located in the very south of Kyrgyzstan, between the Alai and Chon-Alai ranges. Its 150 km long and 2-25 km wide with an average height of 3000 m. The central area of the valley is part of the Kyzyl-Suu river basin. The climate in the valley is dry and cold. Despite this, Alay is rich in its meadows, where tall, dense grass grows, so you can see a lot of grazing cattle here.

The world of wild animals is diverse: stone partridges, snowcocks, foxes, Alai red marmots, bears, mountain goats live here. Amu Darya trout are found in the river. The Chon-Alai ridge, enveloping the Alai valley in the south, rises 3000 m above the valley and draws before the traveler grandiose landscapes of majestic mountains and eternal glaciers.

The Alay Range is lower than the Zaalai Range, hides summer pastures (jailoo) in its gorges, while the ever-white peaks of the Zaalay Range are high, impregnable and incomprehensibly massive and airy at the same time as if they do not press the whole mass on the ground, but stretch towards the sky and sun.


The first researcher who described in 1871 the western part of the Alai Valley and the Zaalai Range was the famous Russian scientist and traveller A.P. Fedchenko. Then Alay remained poorly studied for a long time, since travellers only crossed the Alay valley, heading further to the peaks of the Zaalai Range.

In ancient times, the entire Alai Valley was covered from top to bottom with a gigantic glacier shell, the so-called “Foot Glacier”, traces of which can still be seen in the form of moraine deposits. The modern glaciation of the Zaalai Range impresses everyone who comes here!

Powerful glaciers completely cover the ridge with a continuous sparkling blanket, starting from a height of 4400 m and up to the very peaks, the highest of which is Lenin Peak (7134 m). In some of the gorges and glaciers of the Zaalai Range, no human has set foot to this day.

Today, the regime of the border zone operates in the Alai Valley, tourists and climbers need to obtain the necessary permits and passes in advance.

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