Hiking to the World’s Largest Walnut Forest: How to Get there from Arslanbob


Arslanbob is a town in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. One of the reasons to travel from Margilan in Uzbekistan all the way across the border to Arslanbob was to visit the largest walnut forest in the world.

In this post, I am going to share our hiking experience from Arslanbob town to the world’s largest walnut forest.

Arslanbob, the world’s largest walnut forest

World’s largest walnut forest

Arslanbob in southern Kyrgyzstan is home to the world’s largest walnut forest. The Arslanbob forest covers an area of about 60,000 ha (150,000 acres), of which the walnut forest is part.

The forest produces 1,500 tonnes of walnuts every year, and as many as 10,000 people stay overnight in the forest to harvest them in autumn. Although it is a little early in the season, we also walked through the largest walnut forest in the world.

Arslanbob town centre to the north

CBT office

Arslanbob is a town with a population of about 15,000. You can hike to the Walnut Forest from the town centre. The walking route can be easily found on Maps.me.

A little north of the town’s central intersection, you will find the CBT office. Here you can access a range of information on Arslanbob tourism. Maps and hiking routes are also informative, so drop in and take a look.

We were staying in a guesthouse about 3 km from the town centre, so this is our starting point. We had a leisurely breakfast in the morning and started our walk at 10 am.

Arslanbob Walnut Forest hiking route

Map of the CBT office

There are several hiking trails around the Walnut Forest with several viewpoints other than the Walnut Forest itself. We decided to include one of these panoramic viewpoints in the hiking route. In addition, we also decided to visit a small waterfall in the north-west of the forest as it was also on the way.

Initially, when we were looking at Maps.me and considering our hiking route, we were thinking of an anti-clockwise route, going to the panorama viewpoints and then around the Walnut Forest.

However, the guy at the CBT office recommended to us that we should go north from here and go round the Walnut Forest before going to the Panorama Viewpoint, therefore, we did as he suggested. We later found out that it was a better route because the road directly from the town centre to Panorama Viewpoint is very steep. If we had walked anticlockwise as we originally planned, we would have to make a very steep ascent.

So we recommend a clockwise course, heading north from the CBT office, walking through the forest and then descending to the city via the panoramic viewpoint.

Small waterfall

Small waterfalls

There are two waterfalls around Arslanbob, one is a large waterfall and the other is a small waterfall. The small waterfall is halfway along the Walnut Forest hiking trail this time, so we walked towards it first, heading north from the CBT office and crossing the bridge in the direction indicated on Maps.me as ‘Wednesday Animal Market’.

Head northeast to the Small Waterfall. The waterfall itself is a bit of a shambles which has been completely transformed into a tourist attraction, and there were many stalls lined up alongside. There is also a photo spot, but you probably have to pay. We skipped the stalls and continued on.

Walking through the World’s Largest Walnut Forest

We climbed over a stile and continued on

After passing a small waterfall, the path gradually narrowed and it became quite steep, but once you get to the top of the climb, the rest was not so tough.

In some places, fences were provided to prevent vehicles and animals from entering. The fences could be climbed over or manually opened and closed as we went along.

Beautiful mountain ranges

As you continue walking through the beautiful mountain ranges around Arslanbob, you can gradually see walnut trees mixed in with the apple trees.

Walnut trees

Although it was still too early to harvest, some trees were already covered with green walnuts.

Fallen walnuts

Green walnuts were lying on the ground. The forest is criss-crossed by dirt paths of various sizes, allowing you to choose your walking route according to your fitness level.

Donkeys in the forest

In addition to cows, there were also donkeys in the forest. The donkey is an important animal for the people of this villege.

To the panoramic viewpoint

Giant swing at Panorama View Point

After walking around the Walnut Forest, we went to the Panorama Viewpoint.

As it is called Panorama Viewpoint, we expected to be able to enjoy a panoramic view. However, the viewpoint was overgrown with trees and there was no panoramic view. Despite this, the area was crowded with local tourists, who were cheering on the giant swings without paying much attention to the view. There was an ice-cream shop and a café, but few benches. We had brought a picnic and had hoped to enjoy the panoramic view, but were disappointed.

Caves and viewpoints

View from the viewpoint

On the way back to town from the panoramic viewpoint, there was a place marked ‘Cave’ and we decided to walk in that direction.

From here it is a steep descent. In the end, we didn’t find the cave, but from the viewpoint we had a beautiful view over the town of Arslanbob.

Steep descent

The slope from the panoramic viewpoint to the town centre is steep and slippery with gravel mixed with sand. We descended slowly and reached the town market. It was 4pm when we walked another 3km back to our guesthouse. The entire hike took 6 hours and the distance walked that day was 18 km.

Beer purchased on the way

Misha shop where beer can be bought

Alcoholic drinks are not easy to find in this region of Central Asia, which has one of the most conservative Muslim populations. About halfway along the road from Arslanbob town centre to the Friendship Guesthouse, where we were staying, there is the Misha’s shop where we bought beer.

Even though they sell beer, it is not on display in the shop or in the shop. It is hidden under the counter, so you have to ask: “Pivo (=beer)?”