Kyrgyzstan & China Trip

Kyrgyzstan & Xinjiang, China Tour

Be amazed by the nomadic lifestyles of mountainous Kyrgyzstan and then travel on to immerse yourself in the vibrancy of Kashgar, the ancient Silk Road city surrounded by the vast and inhospitable Taklamakan Desert.

Days

16

Price

€2090

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12 persons

Countries: Kyrgyzstan, China

Route:

  • Bishkek
  • Kashgar
  • Osh
  • Bishkek

Themes: Active Adventures, Cultural Tours

This trip Kyrgyzstan to China will see you follow the famous Ancient Silk Road, from the Tien Shan (celestial) Mountains to Kashgar through the Uyghur region of Xinjiang and to Osh. Discover the natural and cultural treasures of Kyrgyzstan and China, the wild shores of Issyk Kul Lake and the surrounding snow-capped mountains. We travel further into the interior of the country and to the alpine pastures of the impossibly serene Son Kul Lake before heading south to the Chinese border where we stop to visit the ancient Tash Rabat caravanserai.

We cross into North Western China and towards the endless sand dunes of the Taklamakan desert and take in the mesmerizing city of Kashgar in far west Xinjiang province. Exploring further we head towards the Himalayas to take in the majestic Mustagh Ata and Kongur Tash Mountains. Finally, we head towards the city of Osh with its Uzbek flair. Throughout this Kyrgyzstan China tour, you will be impressed by the contrasts of Central Asia, its ancient nomadic culture and its equestrian tradition, the majesty of the Silk Road cities, their ethnic diversity and stunning scenery.

 

highlights

  • Explore Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan
  • Climb up Burana Tower, the only ruins that survive in ancient Karakhanid’s capital, Balasagun
  • Visit Issyk-Kul Lake (alt. 1600 m), second largest mountain lake in the world
  • Stay in a yurt on the shore of Son Kul Lake (alt. 3000 m)
  • Enter the ruins of the ancient Tash Rabat caravanserai, an inn for foreign merchants traveling on the Silk Road (alt. 3500 m)
  • Discover the rich history of Silk Road on Kyrgyzstan China tour
  • Take a walk among the sand dunes of the Taklamakan desert
  • Enjoy breathtaking views of snowcapped Muztagh Ata (alt. 7546 m) and Kongur Tagh (alt. 7649 m) from Karakul Lake (alt. 3600 m)
  • Walk to the foothills of majestic Lenin’s Peak (alt. 7134 m)
  • Visit the southern capital of Kyrgyzstan, Osh

ITINERARY & MAP

Day1- Bishkek

Today we’ll have a chance to explore Kyrgyzstan’s interesting capital, Bishkek.  Our driver will meet you at the airport and drive to the hotel for early check-in. You can have a rest, and eat breakfast. We will then all meet for lunch, try local food and get to know each other.

The afternoon will be spent taking a city tour of Bishkek. On a clear day, the mountain peaks of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too form the perfect backdrop to the city’s many parks.  We’ll also get our first glimpse of national hero Manas, protagonist in the epic tale. His statue takes pride of place in Ala-Too Square. We will see major sightseeing places that Bishkek has to offer through our walking tour.

In the evening, after a drive to a local viewpoint, you can try Kyrgyz food at a popular local restaurant.  Over dinner, you will be given more details about the tour as well as a general introduction to the region’s history and culture.  In this cozy atmosphere, you can get to know your guides and ask questions.

Transport: Minivan with A/C during the city tour

Accommodation: 3* Hotel by Western Standards

Duration of sightseeing tour: 2-3 hours

We’ll depart Bishkek after breakfast to begin our trip of exploring Kyrgyzstan.  Our first sightseeing place is the Burana Tower site, located at the ruins of the ancient Karakhanid’s capital, Balasagun.  Standing on a grassy plain against a backdrop of rocky hills, its setting is magnificent. It’s possible to climb the winding staircase inside the tower to reach the top. Originally, however, it was twenty meters taller than it stands today, the top part the victim of a 15th century earthquake.

Moving on, our next stop is at the Konorchek Canyon.  There, we’ll take a short walk to admire the red natural red rock formations before having lunch.

Later, we’ll arrive at our yurt camp for the next two nights, located on the southern shore of Issyk Kul, the second largest mountain lake in the world. Discover the lake, which sits at an altitude of 1600 meters above sea level. Its shores are backed by snow-capped peaks and you’ll be delighted with the view.

Driving distance: Minivan with A/C, 295 km, 4 hours’ driving

Accommodation: Yurt camp with western toilets and shower, alt. 1600m

Day3-Skazka Canyon

In the morning we’ll drive to the summer pasture, from where we start hiking to the wonderful mountain viewpoint overlooking Issyk Kul Lake.

After a picnic fairytale Canyon, the deep red and orange sedimentary rocks are stunning and seem almost alien. Back at our yurt camp, as night falls, we’ll dine under the stars and enjoy a traditional folklore music show.

Transport: Minivan with A/C, 115 km and 2.5 hours’ driving

Walking: 3.5 hours on 2500m altitude

Accommodation: Yurt camp with western toilets and shower, alt. 1600m

kyrgyz eagle hunter holding his eagle

This morning, we’ll take our last glances over Issyk Kul Lake. Then we’re off to meet an Eagle hunter and watch him in action. Later, we’ll visit a village of yurt makers and see them going about their business in their workshops.

Lunch today will be in the village of Kochkor. Afterward, we’ll drive up to Kalmak-Ashu. This pass is one of four leading to Song Kul and affords visitors panoramic views stretching for many miles. In the afternoon, we’ll arrive at Roza’s place, our new yurt camp for the next two nights which situated at an altitude of 3000m. There’ll be plenty of time to wander amongst the beautiful lakeshore surroundings.

Transport: Minivan with A/C, 225 km, 4 hours’ driving

Walking: 1 hour at 3000m altitude

Accommodation: Yurt camp with drop toilet, no shower, alt. 3000m

Day5 horses song kol

A stay at Song Kul Lake is all about getting back to nature, so today we take a leisurely horse ride, trekking across vast meadows strewn with Edelweiss flowers. Even if you’re a novice rider, you’ll enjoy becoming acquainted with horse riding among the grazing cattle, scattered yurts, and nomadic herders. It’s a tranquil and serene place, and as you ride you’ll feel the stresses and worries of your everyday life just melt away.

Later, we’ll have the opportunity to watch traditional nomad horse games such as Kok-Boru, in which two extremely competitive teams attempt to place a goat carcass in the goal of their opponents.  Your hosts will make it look easy though you won’t be expected to demonstrate the same skill as a spectator.

Horse Riding: 4 hours at 3000m altitude

Accommodation: Yurt camp with drop toilet, no shower, alt. 3000m

This morning, we’ll leave Roza’s place and drive to the Moldo-Ashuu Pass. Glimpsing Song Kul for the last time, we start walking and discover the Naryn River valley. This is the source of the mighty Syr-Daria, known as Jaxarte to the ancient Greeks, responsible for irrigating Central Asia together with its sibling Amu-Daria.  The scenery is breathtaking.  The Terek Canyon is a great cleft in the landscape, a reminder that nature has immense power to sculpt the earth beneath our feet.

After a walk, we continue driving across the Tien Shan Mountains and visit some 18th and 19th century mausoleums before enjoying lunch at Baetov’s oasis. We cross the mountains over another pass called MELS (Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin).

In the late afternoon we’ll arrive at Nazira’s yurt camp next to the Tash Rabat caravanserai. Caravanserais were inns used by foreign merchants making their way along the Great Silk Road.

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

Walking: 2.5 hours at 2500m altitude

Accommodation: Yurt with drop toilet, no shower, alt. 3450 m

Tash Rabat ancient Caravan Sarai in Central Asia kyrgyzstan

Today we will have time to visit the Tash Rabat Caravanserai, constructed between the 9th and 11th century and at 3200m it’s the highest one in the world. For the rest of the day you can choose to relax near the Yurts or go on a hike in the nearby mountains. If you decide to go for a hike, you will get your first glimpse of neighbouring China! This is a landscape on a scale hard to comprehend, where the impressive Tash Rabat caravanserai with its warm stone shrinks into insignificance against a dramatic backdrop of green felted hills and snow-capped mountain peaks. Tonight, we will spend another night at Nazira’s yurt camp.

Hiking time (optional): 5-6h, max. altitude 3900m

Accommodation: Yurt with drop toilet, no shower, alt. 3450 m

Kashgar city tour and houses

Our destination today will be the oasis of Kashgar, on the crossroads of the Silk Roads at the gateway to the Taklamakan Desert. Of course, as with any international border crossing, there’ll be some administrative formalities to take care of, but we’ll soon be able to hit the road again. We’ll enter the ancient city of Uyghur and begin discovering the fascinating blend of culture it presents.

Transport: Minivan with A/C 170 km, 7 hours’ driving

Accommodation: 3* Hotel by Western standards

We’ll need to leave Kashgar early in the morning because we are driving to another oasis on the Silk Road, Yarkant.  Its fertility amidst the arid Taklamakan is as a result of the Yarkant River which makes its way north from the Karakorum and through the Kunlun Mountains. Farming is important here. Browse at the typical Uyghur market, where you’ll find local produce such as pomegranates, pears and apricots. Amannisakhan’s mausoleum and the royal cemetery are also sure to delight. Leaving Yarkant, we’ll drive into the vast Taklamakan desert to scale the huge sand dunes. Finally, we’ll head back to Kashgar and arriving at the hotel in the late evening.

Transport: Minivan with A/C 480 km, 7 hours driving with sightseeing

Accommodation: 3* Hotel by Western standards

 

sheep in kashgar animal market. historicaly city looks like the rest of central Asia even though it is part of china.

Today, we devote to a visit to Kashgar: an ancient Silk Road city in the heart of the Uyghur world.  Its sights are numerous – the Id Kha mosque, the Abakh Hodja mausoleum and an atmospheric old town that just begs that you be lost within it.

Early in the morning we will start our city tour with a vist of the famous Sunday animal market. You’ll see three-wheeled trucks laden with their cargo of sheep, and be amidst the hustle and bustle that accompanies the ritual of buying and selling animals. Following the animal market we will visit and learn more about Kashgar’s numerous historical sights.

Accommodation: Hotel 3* by Western standards, altitude 1400 m

Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours

karakul lake on the border of kyrgyzstan

Today, we’ll drive along the famous Karakoram Highway, which connects Kashgar to Islamabad in Pakistan via the Karakoram Mountain Pass. As we gain altitude, the landscape is nothing short of spectacular. Yaks and camels graze on mountainous pastures. The road is long but the journey is one that can be found on many a bucket list.

Later, we’ll arrive at the shore of Karakol Lake, meaning “black lake” in the Uyghur language. We take the time to discover this magical place, with its breathtaking scenery and snowy summits of “Mountain’s Father” Mustag Ata which rises to a height of 7509 metres and Kongur Tagh, slightly higher at 7649 metres. Eventually, though, the time will come for us to drive back to Kashgar, arriving at the hotel in the late evening.

Transport: Minivan with A/C 400 km, 8 hours driving, 3800 m

Accommodation: 3* Hotel by Western standards

towards irkeshtam pass

We leave the oasis of Kashgar this morning and drive up to Irkeshtam Pass (2841m) at the Kyrgyz border.  Returning to Kyrgyzstan will ease the pain of leaving beautiful Kashgar and of course we’ll still be on the ancient Silk Road.

Leaving China behind us we’ll drive on the Chon-Alay high plain to Sary Mogol. We cross the Pamir Highway and discover the high summits of this border region between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The tarmac stretches endlessly in front of us, but with scenery this splendid no one will mind being on the road.  Tonight, we’ll spend the night in a guesthouse in village of Sary Mogol.

Transport: Minivan A/C, 350km and 8 hours’ driving

Accommodation: Simple family guesthouse with western toilet and shower, alt. 3000m

In the morning, we have a short drive to reach the foothills of Lenin, a mountain peak with an impressive altitude of 7134 m. We start walking from Tulpar Kul Lake (alt. 3500 m) in the valley and head towards Peak Lenin, which stands ahead of us, imposing with its height and its covering of pure white snow and glaciers.  The walk is easy and the scenery impressive. We’ll lay out a picnic on the foothills of the mountain to savour this incredible view.

Our return walk takes us back along Tulpar Kul Lake to Amid’s place, home of a yak farmer who lives in the surrounding hills.  It’s a family affair – even the younger children play their part in the life of the farm, looking after the yaks.  Once there, we will adopt the ways of the local nomadic herders. Aicha, Amid’s wife, will teach us how to cook the typical Central Asian bread, lipiochka.  It’s delicious and the perfect accompaniment to a traditional supper. Tonight will be spent in a traditional yurt, its plain exterior no clue to the richly decorated interior furnishings.

Transport: Minivan A/C, 20 km, 45 minutes

Walking: 4-5 hours, max. altitude 3800 m

Accommodation: Yurt camp with drop toilet, no shower, alt. 3500m

Osh Bishkek Tour

We leave Amid and Aicha’s family to drive through the Alai Mountains towards Osh. On the way, we’ll make several stops to admire the beautiful landscape and take little detours. We arrive at Osh by the afternoon.

Located in the Ferghana Valley, Osh is the capital of the south, another stop-off on the ancient Silk Road. The city of Osh is proud of its history stretching over more than three millennia. Uzbek culture is very prominent there and you might notice this difference in culture. We will be staying for the night in a typical Uzbek family home.

Transport: Minivan with A/C, 250 km and 4 hours’ driving

Walking: ca. 2 hours

Accommodation: Simple family guesthouse with western toilet and shower, alt. 1000 m

Climbing Osh sulaiman too, Kyrgyzstan, solomon mount

We visit Osh city and its highlights. There’s much to see: Solomon’s Throne, on the mountain of the same name which pops-up in the city centre, its museum, the old bazaar, parks and city monuments. We’ll make time to have a tasty lunch in a traditional Uzbek chaykhana (tea house) where we will taste the famous plov (traditional Uzbek dish with rice and meat), the best in the country.

Later, we’ll fly back to Bishkek in the evening with Pegasus Airlines.  In Bishkek, we’ll enjoy a celebratory end of trip dinner, the perfect opportunity to reflect on the many amazing adventures we’ve had over the past two weeks. Our final night will be spent in a centrally located hotel in Bishkek.

 

Transport: Minivan with A/C, 1 hour driving

Duration of sightseeing tour: 3-4 hours

Flying time: 45 minutes

Accommodation: “Rich Hotel”, 3* by Western standards

Today it’s time to say a fond farewell to marvellous Central Asia.  Our driver will provide your transfer to Manas International Airport. We hope you’ve enjoyed your trip and will return soon to explore other Central Asian countries

Inclusions

Transport
Airplane, Horse, Foot, Minivan
Meals
16 breakfasts, 15 lunches, 15 dinners – some times in form of picnic
Accommodation
Hotel (6 nights), guesthouse (2 nights), yurt (7 nights)
Included Activities

Bishkek – city tour

Climbing up ancient Burana Tower

Hiking at Issyk Kul

Folklore concert and Manaschi story teller

Watching horse games at Son Kul

Visiting medieval Tash Rabat caravanserai

Staying in yurts

Staying in family guesthouses

Crossing mountain passes of Tien Shan and Pamir mountain ranges

Kashgar – city tour

Walking in sand dunes

Picnic at the foot of Peak Lenin

Osh – city tour

dates & price

Total trip price

€2090

Euro

16

Days

Single supplement available for €350

Deposit: €250

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
21 Jul 2017
5 Aug 2017
Available
11 Aug 2017
26 Aug 2017
+ Available
Price includes
  • Organization of the stay
  • All transfers in vehicle 4WD (max 6 tourists/car) incl. from/ to airport
  • Еnglish speaking tour guide
  • Full board incl. drinking water and tea
  • Horses
  • Accommodation described in the program
  • Border permits in Kyrgyzstan
  • All activities mentioned in the program
  • Entrance fees for monuments and parks mentioned in the program
  • Local flights if applicable (15kg allowance)
Price does not include
  • International air fares and taxes
  • Hotel charges for additional services
  • Travel insurance (we strongly recommend you obtain it) and visas if needed
  • Personal expenses, e.g. souvenirs
  • Alcohol or sweetened beverages
  • Rental of personal equipment (flashlights, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, etc.)
  • Tips (always optional, but always appreciated)

Important notes

  • For China it is likely that you need visa, please let us know if you need letter of invitation to get your visa, we will provide to you free of charge. You can check your visa requirements here: https://www.thevisamachine.com/.
  • You are required to take out travel insurance. We recommend using World Nomads, but feel free to choose any other insurance company you like.
  • This tour takes place in remote areas with limited comfort and limited accessibly to medical facilities. It’s recommended to be in good physical health to fully enjoy this tour.
  • Minimum group size is 3 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.

CHINA TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Chinese currency is called Rembini (RMB) and also known as Yuan. In the main cities of east and central China there are numerous ATMs that you can find in shopping centres, supermarkets or on the main streets. All of them accept Visa or Mastercard. In the west of China though - where our tours are going to - things are a little different as the pace of development is a little slower and ATMs are not often seen. We recommend you bring new USD/EURO/GBP bank notes in denominations of at least 20 USD/EURO/GBP to exchange in China. There are exchange offices and banks to help you change currency. Small and old-looking bank notes are harder to exchange. Paying directly with credit card is still not possible at most places, except for high-end restaurants, hotels and a few international stores. An emergency fund of around 500 USD/EURO/GBP in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Xinjiang is a very safe region in world terms, although the political situation can change. Guests and locals are treated with respect and China is regarded as very safe destination for travellers. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, avoid dark streets at night and only take official taxis. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Chinese partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Travellers from most Western countries need a visa to enter China. You can check the current situation on the website of The Visa Machine. Any special permits 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 vital information on customs regulations for China.

BEST TIME TO GO:

Xinjiang province of China has a harsh continental steppe climate. There is little rainfall throughout the year and hot summers are followed by cold winters.
At high altitudes of 3000 metres or more it may even snow during summer at night, so make sure to bring some warm clothes. The best season to visit is summer for activity or jeep tours. Please note, weather in some mountain areas is likely to be very changeable.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing your teeth or making ice. 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 traveller’s diarrhoea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for China. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Xinjiang province of China are basic at best.

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