|Difficulty in September:||5|
|From:||Arpa Weather Station - Alt. 2800 m (9190 ft)|
|To:||Koshtebe - Alt. 1850 m (6070 ft)|
|Distance:||100 km (62 miles)|
|Average Gradient:||10 m/km (50 ft/mile)|
|Est. Max Gradient:||20-25 m/km (100-120 ft/mile)|
|Typical Flow in September:||25-40 cms (900-1400 cfs)|
|Best Season:||Late August - Mid-September|
The Arpa, the only left tributary of Naryn that deserves whitewater attention, starts at the southern edge of Kyrgyzstan, on a flat plateau near Chinese border. The river is very remote and its major gorge is quite extreme, so not many people ever went there.
Having collected the water on the plateau, the river sharply turns north and enters the 30 km Kentesh Gorge backed by the side ridge against the Fergana Range (that separates Inner Tien-Shan from the Fergana Valley). The gorge is deep and absolutely uninhabited, hardly passable by the shore; there is some brilliant whitewater inside as well as some terrific portages.
As the Arpa quits the gorge, Pychan, a major left tributary comes in and the river changes its name to Alabuga. There is a never-run waterfall on the Alabuga just after the confluence; the river then passes through a short nice conglomerate canyon and finally exits into Naryn basin. From here it basically flattens out all the way down to the confluence.
The upper Arpa valley is located in one of the coldest corners of the Tien-Shan and late September this area occasionally experiences severe snowstorms; so you better run the river a little bit earlier.
Access & Logistics
The only access to the upper Arpa valley is along the Bishkek-Naryn-Torugart road, a major route that links Kyrgyzstan to China over the 3700 m Torugart Pass. The road goes south from Naryn town, passes by a major village of At-Bashi and goes south-west towards the border. There is a side road than forks west at the small village of Akbeit and another (apparently more principal) one some distance beyond. Both roads lead to a now abandoned Arpa weather station, on the shores of the Arpa river - this area is now only used by local nomads and shepherds.
The upper Arpa valley is very wide, the river is flat, shallow and meandering so you better try to drive and put-in as far downstream as possible (reportedly there's a rough road as far as the Karakol confluence from the left, some 30 km below the weather station).
The take-out landmark - the Koshtebe village - is in fact located far and above on the river left (about an hour or two walk time) - the best actual take-out is some 10 km downstream at the bridge on the road connecting Koshtebe to Naryn town.
Some groups choose to continue further down, to the Naryn confluence (about 50 km from the bridge) and then through the gorges of the lower Naryn to the Toktogul reservoir (see Naryn description for details).
The Arpa valley is located just at the boundary of the borderland restricted area and you need appropriate permit to go there. Still, the first check post towards the Torugart stands just beyond Akbeit, so you may be able (or may be not) to drive to Arpa if you turn off the road at Akbeit.
The whole trip should be made completely self-supported; there are no roads or settlements in the Kentesh Gorge. There are no continuous trails through the gorge either, so the emergency escape may be very difficult. The most viable option to get out of the gorge is a trail that comes down by the Djilangach creek (left), crosses to the right, follows the river for about 8-10 km and goes up the Kyzkorgon creek (right). The trail up the Djilangach ultimately goes to the Koshtebe village; the trail up the Kyzkorgon goes to the road bridge at the take-out; both ways would take several days walk. The rest of the gorge is not a good place to think about climbing out.
There is no firewood in the upper valley until you hit the gorge; but this stretch should take less than a day, even if you start at the weather station.