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Kopuro-Bazar

This village lies another 30km east of Aral along the Talas valley. It stands near the mouth of a gorge and is almost entirely surrounded by mountains. Its environs are surprisingly lush and productive: there is a 12km-long expanse of birch woodland, Ak-Kain, close to the village, which is full of edible wild mushrooms in season, and the Talas River itself is heaving with trout. The area around the village is also imbued with history: there are prehistoric petroglyphs nearby at Tuyup-Tor and Kiddik-Tash; Genghis Khan is said to have rampaged through the area with his hordes (one of his wives is thought to be buried in the vicinity), and Kyrgyz tribes fought against Kalmyk invaders in the valley in the 4th century.

Kopuro-Bazar happens to be where former president Askar Akaev's wife, Mairam, hails from. Consequently the village has received more than average state funding in the past, despite what may seem like an archaic, unchanged exterior. The village has facilities for homestays and services such as guided treks and horse hire, the development of which has been supported by the British-backed Sustainable Livelihoods for Livestock Producing Communities Project (SLLPCP).

Visits to local petroglyph sites, caves, a strange local rock shaped like a skull and waterfalls may all be arranged in the village. A small mountain lake, Kol-Tor, at 3,305m, can be reached on horseback from the village. The lake is considered to be sacred by the local population and the custom is to make a pile of seven stones and make a wish, which is then supposed to come true. There is also an abandoned gold mine close to the village where you can try your hand at gold panning. The village is also the starting point for a spectacular four-day horse trek via Kol-Tor Lake and over the Korumdu Pass to the main Bishkek-Osh highway.

There are buses six times a day to Kopuro-Bazar from Talas via Aral.


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