Active Kyrgyzstan Tour

Kyrgyzstan - Active Holidays

Explore the home of Kyrgyz nomads on foot and horseback, traversing mountain passes, alpine lakes and unforgettable landscapes.

Days

14

Price

€1790

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 6 persons

Countries: Kyrgyzstan

Route:

  • Bishkek
  • Karakol
  • Song Kul
  • Chatyr Kul
  • Bishkek

Themes: Active Adventures

This trip will take a route through the Tien Shan Mountains following the tracks of the Kyrgyz nomads. You will discover the natural and cultural treasures of Kyrgyzstan: the wild shore of Issyk Kul lake, Karakol city, its surrounding mountains, the Tash Rabat caravanserai and the breathtaking alpine pastures of Son Kul Lake. Throughout this trip, you will be immersed in the ancient nomadic culture and its equestrian traditions.

highlights

  • Take a sightseeing tour in the charming city of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s verdant capital
  • Climb up to the top of the Burana minaret, built in the 11th century in the ancient city of Balasagun
  • Take a swim in the picturesque mountain lake of Issyk Kul , located at an altitude of 1600m
  • Get to know Karakol, a city with both Russian colonial and Soviet architecture, known for its wooden mosque and church
  • Discover the turquoise beauty of Ala Kol Lake hidden behind a mountain pass at 3534m, reached by a challenging yet rewarding hike
  • Rest in the surroundings of the pastures of Altyn Arashan, the place cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin chose to reacclimatize after his time in space
  • Experience the nomadic life at the alpine lake Son Kul, where you’ll sleep in yurts and ride horses
  • Sleep near the ancient Tash Rabat caravanserai, where Silk Road traders used to stay on their way to China

ITINERARY & MAP

Bishkek square in the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic-active Kyrgyzstan tour

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan where our driver will be waiting to meet you for the transfer to your hotel.  You’ll have the morning at leisure before we begin our tour with a welcome lunch at one of the best eateries in the city.  Afterwards, we’ll stroll through Bishkek’s charming parks, hearing the stories behind its best loved monuments and city landmarks.  We will drive to panoramic viewpoint offering unrivalled vistas across Bishkek and its hinterland.  At dinner, we’ll discuss the adventures that lie in store for us and there’ll be time to meet your travelling companions and ask any questions you might have about your tour.

Transport: Minivan with A/C for city tour

Accommodation: Rich Hotel, 3* by Western Standards

Duration of sightseeing tour: 2-3 hours

ancient turkic stone carvings near burana Tower in active Kyrgyzstan Tour

After breakfast our day will begin with a visit to the impressive archaeological site of Burana.  It’s known for its minaret as well as petroglyphs and ancient carved stone statues known as balbals.  Originally, the tower here stood 45 metres high, but the upper floors were toppled in a 15th century earthquake, reducing its height to the present 25 metres.  Burana was constructed in the 11th century in the ancient city of Balasagun, itself established by the Karakhanid Empire two centuries earlier.  There’s an interesting museum to explore which counts among its exhibits remnants of Buddhist religious relicts, Nestorian crosses and ancient burial ossuary, a reminder that other religions had a foothold here before Islamic domination.

Leaving Burana behind us we’ll continue our journey to the photogenic Konorchek Canyon.   Exploring the red rock canyon on foot will give us a chance to snap some souvenir photos for ourselves.  Afterwards, we’ll stop at nearby Boom Gorge for a tasty lunch which will give you the opportunity to sample the delicious local cuisine.   Back on the road, we’ll drive the Boom Gorge Pass which connects the Chuy and Issyk-Kul regions of Kyrgyzstan against a stunning palette of red, white and grey stone.

Steadily, we’ll climb until we reach our yurt camp at Aida’s place on the southern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake.  Its statistics are impressive: the lake lies at an altitude of 1600 metres and its waters go down 668 metres at their maximum depth. Lost beneath the waters of this high altitude lake are several ancient cities.  As you sit beneath star-studded skies, your guide will explain how those cities came to meet their end and recount local legends and stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.  After a delicious Kyrgyz dinner, local musicians will perform for you dressed in traditional costume, giving you a fascinating glimpse into the folkloric history of this region.

Transport: Minivan with A/C 300 km and 4 hours driving

Accommodation: Yurt Camp, western toilet and shower, altitude1,600 m

Duration of sightseeing tour: 2-3 hours

Skazka Canyon in active Kyrgyzstan Tour

After a night in traditional yurts, we’ll continue on to Skazka Canyon.  Translating from the Russian word for fairytale, the burnished reds, ochres and yellows of the canyon’s sedimentary rocks seem almost other-worldly.  Hugging the southern shore of Issyk Kul we head for Karakol.  Known as Przewalsk during the Soviet period, Karakol used to take its name from Nikolai Przewalsky, the Polish explorer and naturalist who explored Central Asia on behalf of Tsarist Russia during the 19th century.  We visit the city, making sure we allow plenty of time for its Chinese style Dungan mosque and also the orthodox wooden church, proof of the ethnic and spiritual diversity of the Issyk Kul region.  We’ll overnight in a typical Karakol house featuring Russian colonial architecture, where Mirgul and her family will be our hosts.

Transport: Minivan with A/C 140 km and 2.5 hours driving

Accommodation: Family run guesthouse, western toilets, showers, laundry, altitude 1700 m

Duration of sightseeing tour: 2.5 hours

Mountain landscape during Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

We’ll make an early start from Karakol as we’re about to begin our three day trek in the beautiful Ala-Too mountains. Ala-Too translated from Kyrgyz means speckled mountains, and correspondingly you will be hiking through changing scenery, some parts rich with vegetation, others stark and barren, their rock strewn valleys carved by the water’s persistent erosion.  The beginning of the trek is easy and we’ll walk in the Karakol valley among the yurts and Tien-Shan pine trees. The valley is very photogenic with its summer pastures, nomads and backdrop of high mountains.  Hiking for today will end at Sirota Alpine Camp, where we will sleep in tents and dream of what’s to come.

Accommodation: Tents, altitude 2,900 m

Duration of trekking tour: 6-7 hours, +1000m elevation gain

Kyrgyzstan active tour outdoor adventures

On the second day the real hike begins and we’ll walk up a steep track that will lead us to the pass that reveals Ala Köl Lake (located at 3534 metres above sea level) in all its turquoise splendour. For our final ascent, we’ll push upwards to the Ala-Köl Pass  at 3800m.  From there, it’s downhill all the way and we’ll start descending into the pastures of Altyn Arashan. On the way, we’ll make camp for the night.

Accommodation: Tents, altitude 3,600 m

Duration of trekking tour: 6-7 hours +900m, -900m elevation change

green nature in active Kyrgyzstan tour, hiking and trekking

Today, we come to the end of our hike, arriving at the lush pastures of Altyn Arashan.  It was here that Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin spent time recovering after landing back on Earth after his expedition into space. Like him, we will relax in the natural hot springs next to the river to soothe our muscles after this tough but breathtaking trek.  We’ll have plenty of time to rest after the tiring previous day but we’re sure you’ll want to take a short stroll to discover your new surroundings.  Overnight, our base is the refuge at Altyn Arashan.

Accommodation: Alpine Base Camp, altitude 2,550 m

Duration of trekking: 2 hours, -350 m elevation loss

aksu village

In the morning, we’ll hike down to Aksu village to meet our driver for the journey back to Karakol. There, we’ve allocated free time in the afternoon for resting or walking in the city as you prefer. Karakol was established as a Tsarist military post in 1869 and was a popular destination for 19th century explorers.  In the late afternoon, we’ll go to a traditional banya, a sauna where we’ll experience bathing Russian-style.

Transport: Minivan with A/C 30km and 0 .5 hours driving

Accommodation: Guesthouse, western toilets, showers, laundry, altitude 1700 m

Duration of trekking tour: 3 hours, -450m elevation loss

Eagle hunter in active Kyrgyzstan tour

As we begin our way to Son Kul, we’ll enjoy our last moments gazing at the shore of Issyk Kul.  We will make a stop to meet Berkutchi, an eagle hunter who will tell us about his passion for birds of prey and show us his eagles. Eagle hunting is an ancient nomadic tradition, which requires much patience to catch an eagle, create a bond and teach it to hunt. Well -trained eagles can hunt not only rabbits, but also foxes and even wolves. After a demonstration of how to hunt with an eagle, we’ll drive to the nearby village of Kochkor where we’ll have lunch. Afterwards, we’ll continue our trip, driving up to the Kalmak-Ashuu Pass.  We’ll go for a short acclimatization before we get to the lake. We will arrive at Roza’s place situated on a high alpine lake plateau at an altitude of 3000 metres. Our new yurt camp for the next two nights is located right on the lakeshore. There, we’ll experience nature at its best, soaking up the unspoilt view, herding and milking the cows and playing with the local kids.  There’ll be plenty of free time so that you can completely relax.

Transport: Minivan with A/C 360km and 5 hours driving

Accommodation: Yurt Camp, drop toilets, altitude 3150 m

Duration of sightseeing tour: 1 hour

horse games and horse riding during active Kyrgyzstan tour in summer

Today, we’ll take you horse riding across vast meadows covered with edelweiss that surround Son Kul Lake. This is the perfect opportunity for you to channel your inner nomad, as you ride alongside grazing cattle and scattered yurts.  Later, the local nomads will showcase their horse riding skill in games that have been played in these parts for centuries.  The most famous is Kok-Boru, a true nomadic team sport that has been played for ages in Central Asia.  It’s played with two teams on horseback; teams fight over a goat carcass to throw the carcass into their own barrel or kazan.  The roots of this sport can be traced to shepherds living in the high mountains, a remote and inhospitable place where protecting their sheep from wolves was paramount.  The shepherds would see a wolf pack coming in and would save the sheep that were in danger by grabbing the wolf and throwing it away from the sheep.

 

Accommodation: Yurt Camp, drop toilets, altitude 3150 m

Duration of horseback riding: 4-5 hours

trek canyon Kyrgyzstan

We leave Roza’s place to head for the Moldo-Ashuu Pass.  Looking back on Son Kul for the last time, we’ll start walking in order to discover the beautiful setting of the Naryn River valley.  It is still the beginning of the mighty Syr-Daria, known to the Ancient Greeks as Jaxartes, which irrigates Central Asia along with its sibling Amu-Daria.  After our walk, we’ll continue by minivan across the Tien Shan Mountains.  There, we’ll pay a visit to mausoleums dating from the 18th and 19th centuries before breaking for lunch at Baetov’s oasis.  After lunch, we’ll cross the mountains by way of the MELS pass, arriving at Nazira’s Yurt Camp next to the Tash Rabat caravanserai, the highest in the world at an altitude of 3300m.

 

Transport: Minivan with A/C 220km and 5.5 hours driving

Accommodation: Yurt Camp, drop toilets, altitude 3300 m  

Duration of sightseeing tour: 2.5 hours

tash rabat

This morning we’ll set out on a two day horse trek which will lead us from Tash Rabat to Chatyr Kul across a 4104m high mountain pass, using the tracks caravans followed during the Silk Road period.  From the pass, you will glimpse neighbouring China!  We will spend the night in a nomadic herder’s family yurt along Chatyr Kul. If you’re not a confident rider, it’s also possible to walk the route if you prefer.

Accommodation: Yurt Camp, drop toilets, 3’530 m Altitude

Duration of horseback riding: 5-6 hours

Day8 horse riding tash rabat

Today we ride back to Tash Rabat. This stone building was initially built as a Nestorian monastery and later used as a caravanserai. You’ll hear an interesting legend about the construction of the site and discover if it has 31 or 40 rooms.  As yesterday, if you feel more comfortable you have the possibility to complete this trek on foot instead of on horseback.

Accommodation: Yurt Camp, drop toilets, altitude 3450 m

Duration of Horseback riding: 5-6 hours

dried fruits and nuts in huge bags in Osh Bazaar, active Kyrgyzstan Tour

Before our departure, we’ll take the time to visit the inside of the caravanserai. This stone building was used as an inn for travelers and today it offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.  We will leave the site in the morning, in order to arrive in Bishkek in the middle of the afternoon.  This will allow time for souvenir shopping should you wish.  In the evening, we’ll celebrate a successful tour with a meal at one of Bishkek’s best restaurants, recounting our favourite memories and stories from the past twelve days.  Tonight, you can sleep in a modern hotel to acclimatize for a return to the western standard of life back home.

Transport: Minivan with A/C 485 km and 7 hours driving

Accommodation: Rich Hotel, western toilets, showers, laundry, altitude 800 m  

Duration of sightseeing tour: 2 hours

departure manas airport

Today it’s time to say a fond farewell to Kyrgyzstan.  We hope you’ve enjoyed your trip and will return soon!

Inclusions

Transport
Horse, Foot, Jeep
Meals
13 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 13 dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nights), guesthouse (2 nights), yurt (6 nights), tent (3 nights)
Included Activities
  • Bishkek city tour
  • Entrance to the Burana Tower
  • Trekking in the Tien Shan Mountains
  • Horse riding
  • Eagle hunting

dates & price

Total trip price

€1790

Euro

14

Days

Single supplement available for €350

Deposit: €250

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
16 Jul 2017
29 Jul 2017
Available
30 Jul 2017
12 Aug 2017
Available
13 Aug 2017
26 Aug 2017
Available
Price includes
  • All transfers by mini bus according to the itinerary, pick ups and drop offs
  • All transportation in the country
  • Accommodation based on double / twin room sharing
  • All accommodation described in the program with full board (breakfast, lunch, dinners)
  • Rent camping equipment (tents, mats, sleeping bag, cooking equipment)
  • All entrances fees according to the itinerary
Price does not include
  • International air fares and taxes
  • Hotel charges for additional services
  • Travel insurance required
  • Personal expenses such as souvenirs
  • Alcohol or sweetened beverages
  • Tips (always optional, but always appreciated)

Important notes

  • For horseback riding we recommend you bring your own helmet to ensure your safety
  • You are required to obtain travel insurance with repatriation included as part of that policy. You are free to choose any insurance company of your choice. We usually recommend using World Nomads. Before the tour starts, Kalpak Travel requests that we have all your insurance documents on file.
  • A single supplement is not available for this tour. All accommodation is multi-share on this tour.
  • This tour takes place in remote areas with limited comfort and limited accessibility to medical facilities. It’s recommended that you’re in good physical health to fully enjoy this tour
  • Minimum group size is 2 people, we recommend waiting for our confirmation before purchasing non-refundable travel services like air ticket.

KYRGYZSTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Kyrgyz currency is called the Som (KGS). In the capital Bishkek there are many ATMs that you can find in shopping centers, supermarkets or on the main streets. All of them accept Visa cards and some, like Kyrgyz Kommerts Bank, Demir Bank and Uni Credit accept other cards such as MasterCard or Maestro card. Outside of Bishkek, we don’t recommend relying on ATMs as there are so few of them. We also recommend that you bring some cash in new USD banknotes of denominations of at least 20 USD. There are many exchange offices, some working 24/7. Small and old-looking bank notes are harder to exchange. Paying directly with a credit card is still not possible at most places, except for high-end restaurants, hotels and a small number of international stores. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Kyrgyzstan is the most liberal and democratic country in the Central Asian region. For the last seven years, the political situation in the country has been calm and there is nothing to suggest that this situation might change. Guests and locals are treated with respect and the whole country can be regarded as very safe destination for travelers. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, avoid dark streets at night and only use official taxis. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Kyrgyz partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of most Western countries do not need a visa for a stay of up to 60 days in Kyrgyzstan. To be sure whether you need a visa or not you can check on www.thevisamachine.com. Any special permits that you might need for access to places that will be visited during your tour, we will provide to you free of charge.
As soon as we receive your deposit payment, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Kyrgyzstan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Kyrgyzstan is continental and dry in the majority of the country, including the largest cities. In the Ferghana Valley in the south and in capital Bishkek, summers are very hot with day temperatures between 30° and 40° Celsius. However, most of the country is situated more than 1500 meters above the sea level, where temperatures are in the mid-20s during summer. At high altitudes of 3000 meters or more it may even snow overnight during the summer, so make sure you bring some warm clothes. The best season to visit for activity or jeep tours would be in summer and winter for skiing tours. Please note, weather in some mountain areas may be very changeable.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Kyrgyzstan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Kyrgyzstan are basic at best.

Related articles

Travellers' Impressions of Kyrgyzstan