Gulkam Canyon (Western Tien-Shan, Chatkal Range)

Gulkam Canyon (Western Tien-Shan, Chatkal Range). Transfer from Tashkent to "Bakht" recreation camp near Chimgan village (H = 1500 m, L = 90 km, T = 1 hr 30 min). Ascent begins from the route to a 'saddle' of the pass located to the right of the top of Mt. Malyi Chimgan (2096): a good path runs through a brake towards Gulkam pass also known as Pesochnyi (Sandy) pass (Н = 1830 m; Т = 40 min).  The saddle offers a panoramic view on Chimgansai river valley, Kyzyljar (Red Precipice), ski resort and Chimgan village. Having a little rest on the saddle, you start walking down through steep path covered with large-grain sand (crushed rock).  One needs to be careful here as the surface is slippery.  After an hour of descent you reach a picturesque glade surrounded by birch-trees.  It's a good place for having lunch and a rest on the bank of Gulkamsai river.  Further downstream you can see a narrow entrance to the Gulkam Canyon – one of the most beautiful places in Western Tian-Shan.  Proceed towards the canyon along the river bed, possibly crossing it from time to time. The 5-7 metres wide canyon meets hikers with vertical walls and 10 meter waterfall.  Descent from the waterfall is possible only with a safety rope. Immediately after the waterfall you overcome the second serious obstacle – a cascade of water-filled baths washed out in the rock bottom.  The rope has to be used again here – now as a railing.  The way to the second waterfall is easy.  Close to the rock wall on the left hand side there is a narrow crack down which you make your way down the waterfall, again assisted by the rope (the drop is about 4 m high).  Sometimes you may find a piece of timber in the crack installed to facilitate the passage.  Here the technically difficult section of the route ends.  It takes about 2 hours to pass through the canyon. Leaving the gorge behind, proceed down Gulkamsai river along a scenic canyon, crossing the stream several times, wading through the water.  In about 40 minutes you reach an earth road that goes along eastern slopes of Mt. Malyi Chimgan.  From here you can meet your vehicle to return to Tashkent via Yangikurgan and Yusupkhona villages and Charvak water reservoir.