While on a командировка in Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan this month, I had some free time to visit Arslanbob, the largest walnut grove on earth. In Russian, the term for walnut is грецкий орех, which literally translates to “Greek nut.”
It is said that this wording originates from Alexander the Great’s time in Central Asia, when he discovered the forest and began exporting walnut plants to Greece. Some legends even assert that Александр Македонский himself planted the first walnuts in Kirgizia. The place is also considered sacred by Muslims, as other legends claim that the grove was originally planted by a faithful disciple of Mohammed, who was instructed to create a heavenly place on earth. A 150,000 acre forest, Arslanbob naturally produces thousands of tons of walnuts every year. Wild horses running freely and thousand year-old trees towering over visitors, the enormous grove is reminiscent of a scene from Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. During our trip, we had a small bonfire and picnic, feasting on the walnuts and also apples and pears picked in the grove. Getting to visit such a place is definitely one of the many perks of working and traveling in Kyrgyzstan!
Christiana Holsapple graduated from U.K. in August 2012 with a B.A. in International Studies and a Russian minor. While an undergraduate, she spent summers studying in L’viv, Ukraine and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and an academic year in Kyiv, Ukraine as a National Security Education Program (NSEP) Boren scholar. Subsequent to graduation, Holsapple began employment with American Councils for International Education as a student recruiter for the Future Leaders Exchange Program in Kyrgyzstan.