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How To Visit Fairytale Canyon Skazka In Kyrgyzstan (With Video!)

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One of the top places to visit in Kyrgyzstan is Fairytale Canyon, a gorgeous landscape showcasing multi-colored rock formations and strikingly eroded sandstone cliffs that create an otherworldly atmosphere.

Also called Skazka Canyon, the surreal setting is how Fairytale Canyon gets its name, as the rock formations often resemble mythological creatures and castles. Taking it in, you feel like you’re on another planet!

Personally, it was one of my favorite places I visited. And as one of Kyrgyzstan’s top attractions, I highly recommend adding this to your itinerary.

Ready to visit one of the most beautiful places in Central Asia? Continue reading to learn about the history and legends surrounding Fairytale Canyon, plus important tips for visiting!

⏳ Short on time? Here are some top Kyrgyzstan recommendations:

🏨 Hotel: Bell Tam Seaside Yurt Camp is a comfortable and trendy camp on Issyk-Kul Lake that is about 40 minutes away

🎒 Multi-Day Kyrgyzstan Tour Operator: Visit Alay

📍Recommended Fairytale Canyon Excursions from Bishkek:
2-Day Tour to Issyk-Kul Lake with Canyons & Waterfalls
5-Day Natural Wonders of Issyk-Kul, Son-Kul & Chon-Kemin Tour
10-Day Nomads, Legacy & Nature Tour of Kyrgyzstan

🏥 Travel Insurance: SafetyWing (budget-friendly) & World Nomads (robust); if you’re trekking, consider Global Rescue, which offers air evacuation services as well as a travel insurance add-on.

📞 Staying Connected: Saily eSIM

Visiting Fairytale Canyon Logistics:

  • Entry: 50 som per person
  • Hours: Dawn until dusk
  • Getting to Fairytale Canyon: Click here for a Google Map location, though you can also simply put “Fairytale Canyon” into Google Maps and it will populate
  • Trail Map: Here is a map showcasing the trail through Fairytale Canyon and the various viewpoints you might want to check out. You’ll also see this sign in person when you visit Fairytale Canyon:
hiking map of Fairytale Canyon

Fairytale Canyon Location

Fairytale Canyon is located on the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan and is easily accessible from the main highway, just 125 kilometers (78 miles) east of Balykchy and 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from Tosor village.

Additionally, it’s a popular stop for those traveling between Karakol City and Bokonbaevo Village or Song Kul Lake, which are also some of Kyrgyzstan top attractions not to miss.

Highlights Of Fairytale Canyon Skazka

Love hiking? As you can see on the map at the top, there is a hiking trail within the canyon that connects a number of viewpoints. These include:

Castle. This striking rock formation resembles the turrets and battlements of an ancient fortress.

Colorful Hills. Here you’ll see a series of vividly hued slopes that display a stunning array of reds, yellows, and oranges, thanks to the mineral-rich soils and sediments.

A vibrant landscape at the Colorful Hills Viewpoint in Fairytale Canyon, Kyrgyzstan, showcasing a variety of red, orange, and yellow hues in the eroded sandstone hills and cliffs under a clear blue sky. The intricate patterns and layers of the rock formations create a stunning visual display, highlighting the natural beauty and geological diversity of the area.
Beautiful views from the Colorful Hills viewpoint. Photo via Jessie Festa.

Panorama. This Fairytale Canyon viewpoint offers a sweeping and unobstructed view of the entire Fairytale Canyon, allowing you to fully appreciate the beauty of the layered rock formations and colorful hills surrounding you.

Chinese Wall. This is a long, narrow rock formation that stretches across part of the canyon and is reminiscent of the iconic Great Wall of China.

The Chinese Wall rock formation in Fairytale Canyon, Kyrgyzstan, with its dramatic, jagged, reddish-orange cliffs extending into the distance under a bright blue sky. The sunlight casts deep shadows, emphasizing the rugged terrain and highlighting the intricate erosion patterns that give the formation its distinctive appearance. This breathtaking view captures the unique geological features that make Fairytale Canyon a must-visit destination.
Chinese Wall at Fairytale Canyon. Photo via Jessie Festa.

How Fairytale Canyon Skazka Was Formed

No Kyrgyzstan itinerary would be complete without visiting. Why? Well, the main reason Fairytale Canyon is one of the top Kyrgyzstan tourist attractions is due to its unique landscape.

Shaped by wind, water, sun, and tectonic uplifts, it’s made up of distinctive red Neogene sediments transformed into a fairytale-like environment shrouded in mystery and myth.

The landforms, consisting of clay and sand, are easily reshaped by natural erosion and are constantly evolving. This means that if you visit Fairytale Canyon today, it may look very different if you return in 10 years!

A woman stands on a rocky outcrop in Fairytale Canyon, Kyrgyzstan, with a backdrop of colorful, eroded sandstone cliffs and green vegetation under a bright, clear sky. She is wearing a light purple tank top and blue jeans, looking back over her shoulder with a smile, capturing the beauty and serenity of the canyon.
Even this unofficial viewpoint near the parking lot of Fairytale Canyon is stunning. Photo via Jessie Festa.

Legend Of Fairytale Canyon Skazka

With such a fairytale-like atmosphere, it’s no surprise that this Kyrgyzstan attraction also has a legend attached.

Archeological evidence suggests that the Issyk Kul basin was once home to a few powerful cities. ⁠ ⁠

According to the legend, in one of these cities lived a beautiful young woman. A huge red dragon fell in love with her, but she did not reciprocate his feelings.

Angered, the dragon vowed to drown the cities in the valley. Every night, he tried to draw water from the local wells using his magic. The locals, however, covered the wells with golden lids to block his spells.

One night, the young woman forgot to cover her well, allowing the dragon to flood the entire valley and create the lake.

Enchanted by the lake’s beauty, the dragon lay down on the southern shore, turning into rocks—which, according to the legend, is how Fairytale Canyon came to be!

As a nod to this folklore, near the parking lot, there is a gift shop area where you can take photos in warrior attire and sit in a Game of Thrones-esque chair for a small fee (100 som).

A woman sits on a rocky ledge in Fairytale Canyon, Kyrgyzstan, gazing out over the vibrant, eroded sandstone cliffs and ridges that stretch into the distance under a bright blue sky. She is wearing a backpack and casual hiking attire, capturing a moment of peaceful reflection amidst the canyon's stunning and colorful landscape.
Enjoying the beauty of Kyrgyzstan’s Fairytale Canyon. Photo via Jessie Festa.

Tips For Visiting Fairytale Canyon Skazka

In order to have the best experience possible exploring Fairytale Canyon Kyrgyzstan, there are some important tips to keep in mind:

Wear hiking boots. It’s recommended to wear hiking boots with treads, as the terrain is very slippery. Even if you’re just going to one vantage point, such as the stunning Colorful Hills Viewpoint, you’ll need to go up and down a very slippery and rocky path. While there, I saw a few people attempt to get to the top and give up as it can be a bit scary.

Bring trekking poles. For the same reason that you’ll want to wear hiking boots, trekking poles can help keep you sturdy.

You don’t have to hike high for amazing views. If you’re worried about how slippery the canyon is, note that you don’t have to hike to an official viewpoint to enjoy the amazing scenery. Even just walking a bit up from the parking lot will get you great views!

Consider visiting Fairytale Canyon at sunset. To kick the epic views up a notch, visit at sunset to see the entire landscape cast in an array of colors.

Bring toilet paper and a face mask. The onsite toilets are smelly pit toilets, so you’ll want to bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I also recommend having a mask with a drop of essential oil or spray on it to mask the odor.

Explore Fairytale Canyon Skazka Through 360* Video

Want a more immersive look at what Fairytale Canyon in Kyrgyzstan actually looks like? Check out this video shot with the Insta360 x4:

Have you visited Fairytale Canyon in Kyrgyzstan?

About Jessie Festa

Jessie Festa is a New York-based travel content creator who is passionate about empowering her audience to experience new places and live a life of adventure. She is the founder of the solo female travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and is editor-in-chief of Epicure & Culture, an online conscious tourism magazine. Along with writing, Jessie is a professional photographer and is the owner of NYC Photo Journeys, which offers New York photo tours, photo shoots, and wedding photography. Her work has appeared in publications like USA Today, CNN, Business Insider, Thrillist, and WestJet Magazine.

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