|Difficulty in September:||4+|
|From:||Ak-Kya - Alt. 1580 m (5180 ft)|
|To:||Toktogul Reservoir - Alt. 880 m (2890 ft)|
|Distance:||200 km (124 miles)|
|Average Gradient:||3.5 m/km (18 ft/mile)|
|Est. Max Gradient:||10-12 m/km (50-60 ft/mile)|
|Typical Flow in September:||Middle stretch: 200-250 cms (7000-9000 cfs)|
|Downstream: 400-500 cms (14000-18000 cfs)|
|Best Season:||April-May, August-September|
The Naryn is the major river of the Central Tien-Shan, piercing through most of the Kyrgyzstan from east to west. The Naryn is born where its two sources - the Greater Naryn and the Smaller Naryn - join together (for information about these rivers, see separate descriptions). In fact, it is rather a raft river than a kayak one; and is most often run as a completion of another river trip - usually Greater and Smaller Naryns, Arpa/Alabuga or Kekemeren.
From the confluence the river exits into a huge open woodless basin and is completely flat and meandering for nearly 150 km. There are plenty of people, roads and settlements along the river (including the town of Naryn - administrative center of the area) and the landscapes are far from magnificence - there's really very little reason to paddle this stretch, even if you want to continue down the river after having run Greater or Smaller Naryn.
The valley begins to narrow below the village of Ak-Kya and the Alabuga confluence - the roads and villages go away and the river enters a long deep Akshirak Gorge - there are about a dozen big rapids inside and some impressive canyon sections.
There is another big basin below Akshirak Gorge and then Naryn turns north and enters next long but rather easy gorge lasting all the way to the Kekemeren confluence. There's one more quite difficult Kambaratinsky Gorge below Kekemeren and before the Toktogul.
The Toktogul reservoir is a 30 km long and 15 km wide lake formed by a major powerhouse dam. There used to be another gorge below the dam all the way down to where the Naryn finally emerges the mountains and comes into the Fergana Valley, but a number of hydro power projects have converted this stretch into the series of lakes and dams; nowadays the river essentially ends at Toktogul.
Although sources and tributaries of the Naryn are mostly glacier-fed, their effect on the flow of the lower river is not so strong; in fact the volume only doubles in the summer (while smaller rivers usually rise 4-6 times during the snowmelt season). Adding moderate difficulty and low gradient of the river, the paddling season of the Naryn is quite long - and for a strong group perhaps even June/July is possible.
The water of the Naryn is known as the perfect specimen of a dirty mountain mud - you better camp at the tributaries and take the drinking water from there.
Access & Logistics
The Naryn basin is one of major populated areas of Kyrgyzstan and here one of main country's roads goes from Bishkek via Naryn town to the Torugart Pass on the Chinese border. There are numerous roads around the basin and you can drive down along the river as far as the Alabuga confluence (the nearest villages are Ak-Kya on the right and Ugut on the left, some 10 km before the confluence) - put in as far downstream as you can drive.
The attempts to build a road through the Akshirak Gorge were unsuccessful; the route to the next large basin and the town of Kazarman goes long way around the mountains. There is no road further down the river either.
Another major road from Bishkek to Osh in Fergana Valley crosses the Naryn just before the Toktogul reservoir and it's the obvious take-out place - you can drive back to Bishkek or down along the last gorge of Naryn into the Fergana Valley.
As there are no roads along the river for most of the distance, you should be self-supported on this trip. There are trails in the gorges, but uninhabited sections are lengthy and in case of an emergency it's a long walk along the river to the nearest settlements.