Kyrgyzstan Trekking Tour

Kyrgyzstan - Active Holidays

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

Days

12

Price

€2180

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12 persons

Countries: Kyrgyzstan

Route:

  • Bishkek
  • Song Kul
  • Issyk Kul
  • Bishkek

Themes: Active Adventures

Kyrgyzstan is a country of high mountains and unique natural sites. From ancient times to the present day, nomads have moved from gorge to gorge over high, unspoilt mountain passes to the alpine pastures where they spend the summer enjoying the pure, clean air. Now you have the chance to explore the mountains, green gorges, and turquoise alpine lakes with them. Walk the same roads used by shepherds since ancient times. You will meet locals along the way and learn more about Kyrgyz culture and history.

highlights

  • Explore Kyrgyzstan’s green, modern capital, Bishkek
  • Enjoy the quiet charms and warm hospitality of Kyrgyzstan
  • Go trekking among wild and unspoilt mountains dotted with turquoise lakes
  • Watch traditional Kyrgyz horse games and meet an eagle hunter
  • Sleep in a yurt beside the alpine lake of Song Kul
  • Visit the “Pearl of Kyrgyzstan” – Issyk Kul
  • Soak up the hustle and bustle of oriental bazaars

ITINERARY & MAP

Bishkek victory square in Kyrgyzstan

You will arrive in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, in the morning and transfer to the hotel. After breakfast and some rest, we depart for the mountain village of Kyzart. On the way, we will cross two small mountain passes. We will stop a few times to take photos and to have lunch. We will spend the night and have dinner in a family-run guesthouse in Kyzart.

Simple guesthouse, c. 1,800m altitude

Kilemche pasture in Kyrgyzstan

Today we ditch our wheels for walking boots and start our two-day walk to the mountain lake of Song Kul. We will meet our local support crew after breakfast and set off on our hike to Kilemche. The first part of the walk crosses the Kyzyl-Kiya Jailoo, an enormous sea of flat grass which Kyrgyz shepherds take advantage of for summer grazing. We will continue on into the Chaar-Archa Valley where we’ll break for lunch beside the river. The holy Baba-Ata Mountain (4,450 m) will be our lunchtime backdrop. After lunch, we will cross the river at a natural ford and follow the trail over the verdant hills to Kilemche Jailoo (“jailoo” means summer pasture in Kyrgyz), where we will spend the night in a traditional Kyrgyz yurt. Each yurt has room for two people in twin beds, and all bedding and pillows will be provided. A basic long-drop toilet is located a short distance from the yurts.

Yurt camp, c. 2,600m altitude

Song Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan with yurts

After a cosy night under traditional felt, we will continue our walk this morning, ascending and crossing the Jaldyz Karagai Pass (around 700 m of ascent) which takes us up and over the Song Kul Range and into the lake’s basin. The morning’s climb affords wonderful views over the Kilemche Jailoo in one direction, whilst in the other we get our first glimpses of Song Kul. As we descend the mountain slopes the lake looms larger and larger until we reach its shores and our campsite for the night. The yurt camp here is a more permanent affair, with the same twin-yurt set up but with fixed, western-style toilets. This afternoon has been left free to relax in the atmospheric surroundings; alternatively, further walking is available or you can try out some horse riding. The shore of Song Kul is about 3 km from the yurt camp.

Yurt camp, c. 3,000 m altitude

Felt making show in Central Asia

After breakfast we will have some more free time at Song Kul. We will also have a chance to witness a demonstration of Kok Boru, a form of polo played with the carcass of a goat. This is a traditional Kyrgyz horse game which has remained hugely popular for centuries. After lunch, we will continue on to Kochkor, a village which is now synonymous with handmade felt carpets. Kochkor’s inhabitants have pledged to keep alive their regional traditions, and before dinner we will visit a woman’s cooperative which specialises in making shyrdak, a colorful, hand-woven felt carpet which is ubiquitous in the homes and yurts of Central Asia. We will spend the night in a hotel with private bathroom facilities in each room.

Hotel Nomad Lodge, c. 1,800 m altitude

Eagle hunter with his eagle in Kyrgyzstan

After breakfast we will continue our journey to iconic Issyk Kul, the lake quite-rightly dubbed “The Pearl of Kyrgyzstan”. We will trace our way alongside its southern shores to the village of Kyzyl Tuu, one of the centers for yurt production. Here we will learn more about this traditional nomadic dwelling. Further along, we will meet an eagle hunter, who will give a demonstration for us. Our next stop is Skazka or “Fairytale Canyon”, so-called due to its bizarre landscape of intriguing rock formations, where we will have a walk. In the late afternoon we will arrive in the mountain valley of Jety Oguz, where we will have dinner and spend the night. Tonight’s yurts will be shared between two, with western-style toilets outside.

Yurt camp, c. 2,300 m altitude

Kyrgyzstan Travel Aitmatov

Today we will embark on a four-day trek to Ala Kul and then from the lake further to the gorge of Altyn Arashan, where we will be rewarded with a dip in hot springs. After breakfast, we will set off for the Telety Valley. Our path will go along the river bank in a very narrow wooded gorge called Aiu Tor which will lead us to the alpine meadows. Here, on a carpet of flowers with beautiful views, we will have our picnic lunch. In the afternoon we will continue the trek to the foot of the Telety Pass. We will enjoy dinner together and spend the night in a tent camp.

Tent Camp, c. 3,000 m altitude

Kyrgyzstan trekking

After breakfast we will trek over the Telety Pass (3,770 m). It will be not very difficult and the trail leads through a narrow path with a slight ascent. There are only two rather steep sections which require some effort. From the top of the pass we will enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view. The descent is fairly simple. We will go along a wide slope covered with talus, across alpine meadows with various herbs and flowers, and along the East Telety River. Later, we will hike through the forest along a trail covered with roots. We will have dinner and overnight in a tent camp in Karakol Gorge.

Tent camp, c. 2,600 m altitude

Ala Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan

After a hearty breakfast, we will start our hike to Ala Kul. This lake is not far away in distance, but most of the route is a quite steep ascent. We will be in no hurry today, though, and will take plenty of breaks, capturing beautiful photos and catching our breath. Ala Kul is a mountain lake more than 70 m deep, and it is of incomparable beauty. From the shore of the lake, you can see the glacier which is its source. Dinner will be served and we will overnight in a tent camp near the lake.

Tent camp, c. 3,600 m altitude

Kyrgzystan Trekking Tour Altyn Arashan River Nature

This morning after breakfast we will climb further up to the Ala Kul Pass (3,860 m) (about 4 km, 2-2.5 hours) and enjoy breathtaking views of Ala Kul. Ala Kul means “Colorful Lake” in the Kyrgyz language, and from here you will appreciate why. Depending on the light, the water changes color: it can be emerald green, turquoise with white clouds reflected in it, light green, dark grey, or even black. We will descend from the pass along a talus slope and then cross the picturesque Keldike Valley with its stunning landscapes and herds of cattle and flocks of sheep grazing. Going through a forest we will end up in the Altyn Arashan Valley. This place is famous for its hot springs, the temperature of which is 50 Celsius. You can enjoy the naturally heated thermal baths in old-fashioned Russian houses. We will have dinner and once again spend the night in tents.

Tent camp, 2,500 m altitude

Kyrgyzstan tour, Karakol City, Dungan Mosque

After breakfast we will get picked up by old Russian military trucks. They will bring us to the city of Karakol, where we will meet civilization once again. It is a distance of less than 20 km, but due to the terrible road condition, the ride takes about two hours. Our short city tour of Karakol will include the wooden Russian Orthodox Church and the Dungan Mosque, which is also made out of wood. Lunch will be served in the home of an Uighur family. In the afternoon, we will transfer in a much more comfortable minibus to Cholpon Ata on the northern shore of Issyk Kul and have free time on the beach.  We will check in our hotel and have dinner in Cholpon Ata.

Hotel  Raduga 3* or similar, c. 1,600 m altitude

Today we will drive back to Bishkek along the northern lake shore of Issyk Kul and through Boom Gorge. On the way, we will visit Burana Tower, the last surviving minaret of the ancient Silk Road town of Balasaghun. On arrival in Bishkek, we will have a short city tour of the Kyrgyz capital, including Central Square, Victory Square, and Osh Bazaar. Our farewell dinner in a restaurant will be accompanied by a folklore show.

Hotel Asia Mountains 3* or similar, 800 m altitude

departure passport with stamps

Today it is time to say a fond farewell to Kyrgyzstan. Early in the morning you will transfer to Bishkek International Airport. We sincerely hope you will have enjoyed your trip and will return soon to explore more of Central Asia.

Inclusions

Transport
Foot, Jeep
Meals
12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 11 dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (4 nights), Guesthouse (1 night), Yurt (3 nights), Tent (4 nights)
Included Activities
  • Bishkek – City Tour
  • Trekking in Tien Shan Mountains
  • Karakol – City Tour
  • Felt workshop in Kochkor
  • Horse games at Song Kul
  • Eagle hunting performance
  • Folklore show in Bishkek
Download PDF

dates & price

You can choose to join a small group on a guaranteed departure or book a private tour on the date of your choice
*
*
*
Total trip price

€2180

Euro

12

Days

Single supplement available for €400

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
1 Jul 2022
12 Jul 2022
+ Available
17 Aug 2022
28 Aug 2022
+ Available
21 Jul 2023
1 Aug 2023
+ Available
16 Aug 2023
27 Aug 2023
+ Available
Price includes
  • All accommodation during the trip, based on two people sharing double/ twin rooms.
  • All local transportation during the trip.
  • English speaking trekking tour guide, as well as an assistant guide for groups with six or more people.
  • Trekking support staff (guide, cook, and stableman).
  • Horses for luggage.
  • Porters on second trek (to Ala Kul).
  • Trekking equipment (tents, kitchen, etc.).
  • All meals (breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and mineral water/ soft drinks)
  • All permits, taxes, and entry fees.
  • Individual airport transfers.
Price does not include
  • International airfares.
  • Personal kit and equipment (e.g. sleeping bag, mat).
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Tips to porters, guides, and drivers (optional).

Important notes

  • Travel insurance is required for this tour. You are free to choose any insurance company.
  • All listed departures are guaranteed.
  • The maximum group size is 12 people
  • The single supplement only covers nights in hotels and tents: there is no single occupancy option in yurts and guesthouses.
  • Trekking experience is required, and you must be sure-footed: the average duration of trekking is 5-6 hours per day on this tour.
  • A €500 per person deposit is required at the time of booking, and the balance is due 15 days prior to departure. Terms and conditions: https://kalpak-travel.com/terms-and-conditions/
  • One tour leader will accompany the group for the whole trip.
  • You can opt to book the whole itinerary as a private tour. We can also arrange extra nights before or after the trip, and suggest private tour extensions in Kyrgyzstan or neighboring countries.
  • We can advise and take care of all visas for you. Citizens of most countries can visit Kyrgyzstan visa-free for up to 60 days.
  • We are happy to suggest flights to get to Kyrgyzstan and back home: please contact us.

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