|Difficulty in September:||4+ (5)|
|From:||Djily-Su - Alt. 3120 m (10240 ft)|
|To:||Gr. Naryn confluence - Alt. 2250 m (7380 ft)|
|Distance:||140 km (87 miles)|
|Average Gradient:||6 m/km (30 ft/mile)|
|Est. Max Gradient:||20-25 m/km (100-125 ft/mile)|
|Typical Flow in September:||30-50 cms (1000-1700 cfs)|
|Best Season:||Late August-September|
The Smaller Naryn is the right source of the mighty Naryn - the major river of the Central Tien-Shan. As the name suggests, it brings about 1/3 of the volume at the confluence with the other source, the Greater Naryn.
The river flows in a remote and sparsely populated valley south of Issyk-Kul Lake; changing its name several times before becoming the Smaller Naryn (or Kichi-Naryn in local dialect). The very upper river above Burkan confluence is called Uchemchek, then Djily-Su; below Burkan it is known as Bolgart, and only below Archaly confluence it is officially becomes Smaller Naryn.
Until the river valley turns south at the Sary-Kungei confluence and starts cutting a mountain range separating it from its bigger brother, it is typically class 3, sometimes easy 4, with very long flat sections between the rapids. Actually, many groups choose to go only for the lower gorge of the Smaller Naryn below Sary-Kungei - a nice one-day class 4 to 5 run inside a very impressive canyon.
The Smaller Naryn has significant glacier component; upper stretches in August rise sharply in the afternoon (if the sun is shining); but these water fluctuations hardly exist in the lower gorge as it is far from the glaciers.
Bear in mind that upper valley lies above 3000 m and going there straight from Bishkek you may experience symptoms of mountain sickness. There is no firewood all the way down to Archaly confluence.
Access & Logistics
Quite a decent road goes all the way up the Smaller Naryn valley, from the Naryn town and by the confluence with the Greater Naryn. It is probably the most sensible way to get to the river if you're already based around Naryn town or only want to run the lower part of the Smaller Naryn.
If you drive from Bishkek to the upper valley (Uchemchek/Djily-Su) then a shortcut is possible using a road that forks Bishkek-Naryn route and goes up the Kara-Kudjur River, crosses a pass and joins Smaller Naryn in its middle valley. But the shortest and the most spectacular road there goes from southern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake up the Tosor River and over the Tosor pass; unfortunately this road is poorly maintained and is regularly washed out by landslides - be absolutely sure it is passable before selecting this route.
It is difficult to point exact put-in place in the Djily-Su valley as there are no major landmarks. If you drive up the river, then start about 7-8 km upstream of Djily-Su hot springs (several ugly huts along the road; the pool is in the upstream house), just after the road goes around an obvious small gorge (The Dangerous Bend) - further up valley opens and there is no substantial whitewater.
If you only plan to run the lower gorge, put in at the Sary-Kungei confluence where the valley makes sharp turn to the south, about 20-25 km from the Greater Naryn confluence - this bend is quite hard to miss and the road is conveniently close to the river here.
Take out is best done at the last road bridge (it's third bridge after Sary-Kungei) located at the end of the gorge; remaining 10 km down to the Greater Naryn confluence are nearly flat.
As the road follows the river, there's no self-support required if you have a car with you; although below Sary-Kungei road is high up most of the time and there's a canyon section with no way out.