First, the drive: there are a few marshurtkas that go out to Baytik, the village closest to Ala Archa (265 and 266), but that will still leave you at least ten kilometers short of Ala Archa itself. Unless you are comfortable with hitchhiking/paying a passing car to take you the rest of the way, you probably want to drive or take a taxi. Trekking Union of Kyrgyzstan also sometimes organizes hikes out to Ala Archa, with transportation included (http://www.tuk.kg/).
And if you haven’t been to Kyrgyzstan – this is a pretty common sight: sky blue soviet trucks and contemporary Japanese compacts side-by-side
There are basically two paths you can choose one you enter Ala Archa – left winds up the mountainside to a waterfall, and right/straight goes down the gorge, crosses the river, and will bring you to another lush green valley hidden just around the ridge. The waterfall hike is much steeper and rockier, while the second requires some toe-dipping in the ice-cold creek.
If you wander up the valley, you will see a few herds of horses. Unlike most of Kyrgyzstan there are not meat horses, and (if you find someone) you can usually rent one to ride around. The going price elsewhere in the country seems to be 600-800 som/day; not sure what it is here, or what the rate would be per hour.
This is looking back at the river (and park head) about halfway into our hike
This is the second valley, right around the first ridge. Not many people make it this far (most people seem to come for picnics and hang out in the area closest to the carpark), so it was pretty quiet except for a few trout fishermen.
We turned back just as the rain descended in the distance. Weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, but it often rains in the afternoon around 3 pm. Keep this in mind when planning your trek, and pack accordingly. This would also be why the man-man is wearing a slightly-too-tight smartwool sweater)
Looking back at the valley beyond the ridge just as the rain is coming in
To get the the second valley we had to wade the creek/river several times. The water isn’t too deep or fast this time of year, but still..fairly chilly.