Multi-Active Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Outdoor Adventure Tour

Mountain Biking, Trekking, Horse Riding, River Rafting: pump up the adrenaline in Central Asia!

Days

15

Price

€2390

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12 persons

Countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan

Route:

  • Almaty
  • Karakol
  • Song Kul
  • Bishkek

Themes: Active Adventures

If you love to be active, then Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour will prove irresistible!  Mixing the great outdoors with a liberal helping of adrenaline, the breathtaking scenery of Kazakhstan and its neighbor Kyrgyzstan will form the photogenic backdrop to a fortnight of action-packed adventure.  Mountain bikes form our mode of transport as we explore the city of Almaty and will take us to the spectacular Kaindy Lake. We’ll hike high into the mountain valleys of rural Kyrgyzstan to viewpoints that afford uninterrupted panoramas of mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks topping out at over 5000m.  We’ll swim in pristine mountain lakes, ride horses across serene Alpine meadows and challenge ourselves on class 3-4 whitewater rapids. Amidst such incredible scenery, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to engage with the local communities along the way, experiencing local cuisine, and learning their skills.  You’d be hard pushed to find a more hospitable welcome anywhere on the planet.

highlights

  • Bike tour through vibrant Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city
  • Cycle ride to Kaindy Lake, in whose emerald waters stands an ancient forest swamped after an earthquake
  • Be wowed by Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan’s Grand Canyon
  • Try out the games played by nomads
  • Check out the most beautiful trekking routes through Kyrgyz’s celestial mountains
  • Swim in Lake Issyk-Kul
  • Watch Kok-Boru, headless goat polo
  • Witness the skill of a traditional eagle hunter
  • Ride a horse up to Son Kul Lake, the gem among all Kyrgyzstan’s mountain lakes
  • Shop in local bazaars

ITINERARY & MAP

Cathedral church in Almaty seen during Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Our Kazakh adventure begins in Almaty, previously the capital of the Kazakh State when it was under Soviet control in the 20th century.  The largest city in Kazakhstan, its name translates as “the place with apples”.  After being transferred from the airport and an early check in to our hotel, we’ll grab our bicycles and hit the streets of Kazakhstan for a tour of its most memorable sights. Our itinerary includes such gems as Zenkov Cathedral, a wooden Orthodox church built at the turn of the century, and the Almaty Museum of Musical Instruments. We will shop for fresh produce with our next stop at the Green (Zelyony) Bazaar. Later, we will go on a workshop tour to see how locals integrate traditional design into modern clothing and accessories and meet with the owners of these modern concept stores that breathe new life into longstanding national traditions.  To round off the day, we’ll enjoy a welcome dinner.

Biking travel adventures of tourists in Kazakhstan Tour

Our destination for today is the picturesque Assy mountain plateau, one of the few places in Kazakhstan where you can still see yurts. We’ll ride our bikes taking the scenic route through the plateau that surrounds stunning Bartogay Lake. Technically, this is a reservoir rather than a naturally occurring lake, but you’d be hard pushed to tell as it has great scenic beauty.  Bartogay Lake was built in the 1980s as part of an irrigation project, holding back winter rains for use in the hotter summer period.  Far from sources of pollution, its waters are clear and unsullied.  Look out for the marmots that make their home near the lake as we picnic on the grass.  Reaching our overnight base, we’ll enjoy a delicious Kazakh dinner inside one of the yurts here.  Tonight, we’ll sleep in one of these traditional felt tents or pitch our own nearby.

Biking: 5 hours of easy riding

Tourist looking at sunk trees in Kaindy lake on Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Today we move from the steppe into the mountains. We depart from Assy plateau at around 9am arriving three hours later at the starting point of our biking tour towards Kaindy Lake.  It’ll take us around an hour to reach this body of water, whose name translates as “birch tree lake”.  Rising from its emerald waters are the slender trunks of a forest, drowned in 1911 as the result of a huge flood triggered by a violent landslide caused by the Kebin earthquake.  The lake’s statistics are impressive: 400 meters long and 30 meters wide.  The lake is the jumping off point for some scenic hikes along the Chilik Valley and to the Saty and Kaindy Gorges, but instead today we’ll get back in the saddle and cycle the 15km to Kolsai Lake.  The crystal clear Kolsai Lake lies in an idyllic location framed by towering cliffs and snowcapped peaks.  We’ll bike to a nearby village where we plan to be the overnight guests of a local family.  As we’ve worked up quite an appetite, they’ll serve up a feast of traditional home-style cooking and we’ll retire for the night at their simple but comfortable guesthouse.

Transport: Minivan with A/C for part of the road, bikes for 30km

Traveler enjoying the view of Charyn Canyon in Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Today after breakfast our destination is the Charyn Canyon. Though not as large at 200 meters deep and 90 or so kilometers long, it is similar in appearance to America’s Grand Canyon with the same rich palette of ochres, umbers, and crimson reds.  Over millennia these sedimentary rocks have been eroded and weathered into the incredible canyon that you see today.  One of the most famous sights within the canyon is the “Valley of Castles” known locally as Dolina Zamkov, where we will go for a bike ride.  These imposing rock formations, though natural, look like towers created by people and line the valley for about 3km.  After a picnic at the canyon, we will head further to the land border with Kyrgyzstan.  After dealing with the necessary border formalities, we will drive through beautiful mountain scenery to the Kyrgyz village of Jergalan.  Once a proud, industrial settlement famous for its coal mines during the Soviet era, Jergalan was hit hard by the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  We will arrive in the evening for dinner at a local Kyrgyz guesthouse.  The family will cook us a delicious dinner and then we will enjoy a well-earned rest.

A boy on a horse playing nomad games in Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Today you’ll have the opportunity to get acquainted with some of the sports that are played here in Kyrgyzstan.  One of the most popular is Arkan Tartmai, which you’ll know as tug of war.  Afterwards, you can join in to prepare the bread typical of this area: boorsok.  These deep fried pieces of dough are often eaten with tea.  They taste delicious, as you’ll discover.  After lunch at the guesthouse, the time is yours to explore a little or to relax. You might like to saddle up one of the horses and go for a ride.

Mountain landscape during Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Early this morning we’ll leave Jergalan bound for the Karakol Valley, swapping vehicles in Karakol itself.  Continuing on to the Karakol Valley we’ll reach the starting point for our trek to the Sirota Eco Camp.  This rewarding hike takes us 16km to complete so we’ll be walking for around five to six hours.  For a time we’ll follow the torrent that is the Karakol River, steadily gaining altitude as we set our sights on the Sirota woodland.  Surrounded by a barren rocky landscape, Sirota can be likened to an oasis.  Its name translated from the Russian means “orphan”.  Reaching the camp, we’ll pitch our tents for an overnight stay at an altitude of 2850m.  The views from here are very special so we’ll want to make the most of them before darkness falls.

Ala Kul mountain lake in Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Leaving the campsite we will trek to the pass that leads us to Ala-Kul Lake (altitude 3800m).  The hike is just 9km long but the difficult terrain means that covering this distance is likely to take us seven or eight hours.  The lake is a stunner, its colors changing with the light in a spectrum that encompasses emeralds and violets and everything in between.  We’ll nab a picnic spot by the lake shore and watch the colors change as we eat.  Ascending to Ala Kul Pass we’ll enjoy uninterrupted views of some of the area’s highest peaks: Karakol (5273m), Djigit (5170m) and Oguz Bachi (5165m).  It’s downhill after that as we head into Keldike Valley and pitch our tents at 3000m.

Kyrgyz people in traditional clothes playing instruments during Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Leaving the campsite you will trek to the Altyn-Arashan valley, a 10km hike that we estimate will take between two and three hours. This area is famed for its geothermal scenery and is dotted with hot springs and mud pools.  The lush pastures of Altyn Arashan were the choice of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin as he looked for somewhere to spend time recovering after landing back on Earth after his expedition into space.  We’ll meet the minivans that will take us to Karakol, where we’ll enjoy dinner in the company of a Uighur family.  Over dinner, you will listen to some Kyrgyz national music and watch Kyrgyz traditional dances.  Pay attention and you might learn some new moves. Overnight will be spent at a hotel.

Dungan mosque in karakol inKyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

After breakfast, we’ll set out to explore Karakol. We visit the city, making sure we allow plenty of time for its Chinese-style Dungan mosque, built in 1904, and also the Orthodox wooden church dating from 1855, proof of the ethnic and spiritual diversity of the Issyk Kul region.  Any city tour of Karakol could not be considered complete without seeing the Karakol Historical Museum with its new exhibition about Ella Maillard. She was a famous Swiss traveler that took many pictures of Central Asia in the 1930s. On the way to our next destination – Bel Tam, we’ll break the journey at Skazka Canyon. Translating from the Russian word for a fairy tale, the burnished reds, ochres and yellows of the canyon’s sedimentary rocks seem almost other-worldly. Overnight, we’ll lay our heads in one of the traditional yurts that cluster by the lake shore.

yurt camp bel tam next to the lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan tour

After breakfast, you will be treated to an eagle hunting demonstration.  Local people will show how our grandfathers hunted many years ago and after the show, there’ll be plenty of chances to take photos with the eagles.  Leaving Bel-Tam, we’ll drive towards Kochkor.  On the way, we’ll stop at Kyzyl-Tuu, where you can watch how yurts are produced, their skeletal wooden framework covered in thick layers of felt and canvas to cope with all weathers. Continuing our drive, we’ll cross a 2160m mountain pass and see the Orto-Tokoi reservoir.  Leaving the reservoir, the road hugs the bank of the River Chu, Kyrgyzstan’s second biggest river.  Arriving in Kochkor, we’ll see close up how the traditional Kyrgyz felt carpets are made.  You will be taught how Kyrgyz people make their amazing shyrdaks, a carpet that is commonly found in Kyrgyzstan.  After the demonstration, there’ll be the opportunity to purchase handicrafts made by this cooperative should you wish.  Tonight, our accommodation is a homestay where we’ll enjoy a tasty home-cooked supper before turning in.

Horse in front of yurt in Kyrgyz mountain pasture in Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Departing Kochkor this morning, we‘ll cross the Kyzart Pass (altitude 2700m) to reach the Kilemche Valley.  Pulling on our hiking boots, we head through the Chaar Archa Valley and over the pass of the same name.  The river is a torrent here, adding to the atmosphere as we eat a tasty lunch by its banks enjoying views of holy Baba Ata Mountain which looms over us at 4400m.  We’ll trek until we reach the Kilemche jailoo and there we’ll stay for the night, enjoying dinner and overnight accommodation in a yurt.

Trek: 5-6 hours.

horse-riding men and boy at Son Kul in Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Saddling up our horses, today, our sights are fixed on Son Kul Lake. This lake, situated at 3013 meters above sea level, is an oasis nestled within the mountains. Riding down to the lake, our minds will be on the scenery – what a change from the noise, crowds, and pollution of city life.  Reaching Son Kul, we’ll take a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore and soak up the scenery before descending upon the nomadic family which has offered to put us up for the night. Staying here will give us a fascinating insight into daily life in the mountains and we’ll sleep soundly in our yurt tonight.

Horse riding: 5-6 hours.

Rafting of tourist group in mountain river Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

First, we’ll drive towards Chon-Kemin, crossing the Kalmak Asu Pass on the way.  By mid-afternoon, we’ll reach scenic Boom Gorge and swap the minivan for rafts to experience the white water of the Chu River.  Our adrenaline will be pumping as we lurch and slide for 15km along the river. These rapids are intense, powerful and turbulent and we’ll rely on our guides to steer us around boulders and other hidden obstacles without coming a cropper.  They are Class 4 rapids so we are guaranteed a thrill, but hold on tight as you won’t want to end up in the water.  Back on dry land we’ll meet the vehicle again and drive to Chon-Kemin village where we plan to stay the night at a local guesthouse.

Rafting: 15km, 1 hour, rafting Level: 3-4

Burana Tower in Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Leaving Chon-Kemin, this morning our target is the Burana Archaeological Complex.  This impressive place is known for its petroglyphs and ancient carved stone statues known as balbals.  Originally, the tower here stood over 40 meters high, but the upper floors were toppled in a 15th-century earthquake, reducing its height to the present 24 meters.

Moving on, we have the Kyrgyz capital firmly in our sights.  We’ll get settled into our Bishkek hotel and then head out for a city tour.  After seeing major highlights of the city we head to the most popular Osh Bazaar. In the evening, we’ll mark our final night in Central Asia with a farewell gala dinner, our last chance to eat the delicious local food and reminisce about the fun we’ve had.

airport manas in kyrgyzstan

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

Inclusions

Transport
Horse, Foot, Minivan
Meals
15 breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 14 Dinners
Accommodation
Guesthouse (6 Nights), Tent (3 Nights), Hotel (3 Nights), Yurt (2 Nights)
Included Activities
  • Almaty – Bike City Tour
  • Almaty Region – Bike tour to Assy Plateau, Kolsay Lake, Kaindy Lake, Charyn Canyon
  • Jergalan – Introduction to Nomad Games
  • Karakol – City Tour
  • Karakol – Trekking
  • Bishkek – City Tour

dates & price

Total trip price

€2390

Euro

15

Days

Single supplement available for €300

Deposit: €250

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
30 Jul 2017
13 Aug 2017
+ Available
27 Aug 2017
10 Sep 2017
Available
29 Jul 2018
12 Aug 2018
Available
19 Aug 2018
2 Sep 2018
Available
Price includes
  • Minivan in a good condition with AC
  • Porters for carrying luggage and equipment, including donkeys, where needed
  • Services of a cook during the trekking
  • English speaking tour leader accompanying the group in each country
  • Accommodation on twin base (all equipment will be provided, including tents, mats & all necessary kitchen equipment)
  • Mountain Bikes will be provided
Price does not include
  • Alcoholic Drinks;
  • Private expenditure
  • Health Insurance
  • Visas
  • Flights

Important notes

  • Travel insurance is required for this tour. Upon arrival, please provide your insurance details to the tour guide. Which insurance you choose is up to you. We recommend this one: https://www.worldnomads.com
  • For horseback riding, we recommend that you bring your own helmet to ensure your safety.
  • 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 3 people, we recommend waiting for our confirmation before purchasing non-refundable travel services like air ticket

KAZAKHSTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Kazakh currency is called the Tenge (KZT). The banking system in Kazakhstan is the most developed in Central Asia and in big cities there are many places to exchange money and to withdraw cash from ATMs using a variety of cards. We recommend bringing some cash in new USD bank notes of denominations of at least 20 USD. 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 international stores like Zara, Mango, McDonalds or Starbucks. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Kazakhstan is a multi-ethnic country with a long history of tolerance. Guests and locals are treated with respect and the whole country can be regarded as a very safe destination for travelers. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, avoid dark streets at night and take only official taxis. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Kazakh 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 15 days in Kazakhstan. To be sure whether you need visa or not you can check on the website of The Visa Machine. Any permits you might need for access to places that will be visited during your tour, we will provide for you free of charge.
As soon as we receive the deposit payment for your tour, 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 Kazakhstan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Kazakhstan is continental and dry in the majority of the country, including the largest cities. Summers are very hot with day temperatures between 30° and 40° Celsius and winters extremely cold with strong winds. In the mountains, however, weather is quite changeable. If you are planning to visit the mountains the best season is summer. Be aware, however, at high altitudes of 3000 metres or more it may even snow overnight during the summer. For cultural sightseeing tours spring and autumn are the best seasons. Autumn is also the time when the country goes to harvest, meaning markets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables. In 2017 the world exposition takes place in the Kazakh capital of Astana from June 10 to September 10. If you are planning to visit Astana we recommend that you go during that time.

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 traveller’s diarrhoea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Kazakhstan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Kazakhstan are basic at best.

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.

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