The Kekemeren River begins at the confluence of the Susamyr and West Karakol Rivers about 5 hours from Bishkek. It flows through a steep canyon though the inner Tian Shan Mountains.

If you are planning a padding trip to Kyrgyzstan this is a great place to start due to its proximity to Kyrgyzstan and multiple roadside sections to choose from. There are small guest houses in the towns of Susamyr and Kyzyl Oi to stay at to get a hot meal and a good nights sleep as you explore this river.

Trip Highlights

I am using the same section designations as Vladimir Gavrilov in his guidebook Rivers of and Unknown Land. In his book he describes sections I-VIII and this description will cover sections II-V.

Section II: Road to Highway Bridge

Mile 0: Put-in along the road about 3 miles below the confluence of the Susamyr and West Karakol Rivers. You can choose a good place based on the length of warm up you’d like before the upcoming continuous section of rapids. The next three miles are fairly continuous Class IV/V whitewater, depending on flows.

Mile 1.2: Proryv Rapid (IV/V) is a long complicated rapid that can be scouted or portaged from the road on the left. The whitewater below here is fairly continuous.

Proryv Rapid on the Kekemeren

Proryv Rapid on the Kekemeren

Mile 1.7: Sliv Rapid (IV/V) is a 6 foot drop at the end of a fairly consistent section. This rapid can be scouted from the road beforehand or by catching eddies on the right just above it. Below here there are more challenging rapid and continuous whitewater down to the highway bridge.

Mile 2.6: The highway bridge provides good river access and separates sections IiIand III.

Highway Bridge on the Kekemeren River

Highway Bridge on the Kekemeren River

Section IV: Highway Bridge to Kyzyl-Oy

Mile 2.7: Most Rapid (V) is just below the highway bridge. The river below here is less continuous than Section II but is punctuated by bigger rapids.

Mile 3.4: Lestnitsa Rapid (V) is long rapid with many steep drops.

Mile 7.1: Moby Dick (V) is another long rapid with multiple drops. Below here the river is a fun Class III section to the town of Kyzyl-Oi.

Mile 13.4: Kyzyl-Oi is a delightful town with a great guesthouse that also has river access.

Kyzyl-Oi to Aral

Mile 13.4: Put in at the Village of Kyzyl-Oi. There is a 2.5 mile warm up section before entering Canyon II.

Mile 16.8: Canyon II is a section of back to back Class IV and IV+ rapids in a steep canyon that can be scouted from the road.

Mile 19.6: There are a few tough rapids that can be scouted or portaged on the road.

Mile 21.8: You can put-in below the two tough rapids for a fun Class III section to the bridge at Aral.

The Kekemeran River near Aral

The Kekemeran River near Aral

Mile 29.7: Take-out in the town of Aral.

Other Resources

Written by
Zach Collier

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