We arrived to Altyn Arshan to find a lovely host family who welcomed us with a meal of langman, glacier peak views, and easy access to the famed hot springs of the region. 

Altyn-Arashan gorge is at an altitude of about 2600 m and is renown in the region for its hot springs.  It is located on the bank of the mountain river Arashan, almost in the center of the gorge. The water in the springs of Altyn-Arashan are enriched with radon and has a temperature of 50°C.

After lunch we were given a slip of paper and sent down to the river to the hot springs. Upon arrival we were given a key and told to go to #4, which was a small shack by the river.  

Inside was our own private hot spring. Imagine a run down shack built over a steaming hot natural hot spring  pool. It was magic and we feel that perhaps the water was also a bit magic.

Radon is known to have a therapeutic effect on the human body and we can attest to this! Shortly after our hot spring experience we went back to our yurt and slept 15 hours even missing dinner. We felt that that the hot springs melted away our exhaustion from the Pamir Highway and the stress of riding horseback up a mountain. By the way the inside of our yurt was also pretty phenomenal- they managed to fit a double bed inside and were pretty sure they built the yurt around the bed as there’s no way it fit through the door!

We also had one of our coolest experiences in the mountains. As we were departing our hotsprings we noticed a mass of animals descending down the hill across the river. A shepherd was guiding his herd of goats and lambs to cross the bridge.

We also can’t say enough about how warm an welcoming this family is. At the end of our stay we gifted them our sleeping bags as we no longer had a need for them and they in return gifted us each a pair of hand woven socks.

There are several options for where to stay at the Alytn Hotsprings. There are a few options further down the river including sites for setting up a tent as well as housing by the family who runs the hotsprings.  The family we stayed with offer both yurts as well as dormitory style housing. They cook breakfast and dinner each night in what we call the BY (Big Yurt) and also packed us a lunch for our horse trek the next day to Ala Kol Lake. 

 After all the guests have eaten the entire family gathers in the BY for a family meal to end the day. We got to witness this warm scene as we stayed late to play cards with Aitor and Oihane. We can’t recommend this place enough! 

(This is not an affiliated or sponsored link, we just feel strongly about recommending local family establishments.)