Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Multi-Active Tour

Mountain Biking, Trekking & Horse Riding

Follow the tracks of Kazakh & Kyrgyz nomads on foot, mountain bike and horseback - pump up the adrenaline in Central Asia!

Days

15

Price

€2690

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 & the valleys bordering China in the northeast of Kyrgyzstan. 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, and ride horses across serene Alpine meadows.

Amidst such incredible scenery, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to engage with the local communities along the way, learning about nomadic lifestlye, and sleep in yurts.  You’d be hard pushed to find a more hospitable welcome anywhere on the planet.

highlights

  • Bike tour in vibrant Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city
  • Take a swim in 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
  • Ride on a mountain bike through wild valleys in eastern Kyrgyzstan, close to the Chinese border
  • Swim in Lake Issyk-Kul
  • Witness the skill of a traditional eagle hunter
  • Ride a horse up to Son Kul Lake, the gem among all Kyrgyzstan’s mountain lakes
  • Experience the hustle and bustle of oriental bazaars

ITINERARY & MAP

Cathedral church in Almaty seen during Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan Tour

Early morning arrival in Almaty and transfer to the hotel for check in. Have a rest after your long flight and relax before starting the city tour around noon.

Almaty is the largest city of Central Asia’s richest country, Kazakhstan. Until 1997 it was the country’s capital and it remains today the country’s business and educational center. Roads are wide and tree-lined and there are good views of the Zailisky Ala-Too mountains that form a backdrop to the city. The name Almaty means “the place with apples” and it is believed that this is where apples originated from.

We grab bikes for a tour of the city’s most memorable sights. Our itinerary includes such gems as the Zenkov Cathedral, a wooden Orthodox church built at the turn of the century, Panfilov park, new & old square, and the green market. We will then head to the skiing area Shymbulak, just half an hour outside of Almaty, where we take the cable car to go up to the top for a nice view (3200m). For part of the way down, if you like, you may use a nice downhill mountain bike trail. In the evening we have welcome dinner in a nice Kazakh restaurant in the city center. Overnight in the hotel.

Hotel Kazzhol or similar

Kazakhstan Kaindy Lake

Today we have a long but exciting driving day ahead. After an early breakfast, we depart towards one of the most famous natural sights of Kazakhstan – Charyn Canyon. The canyon is often compared to the Grand Canyon, although it is much smaller in size with a total length of 80-90 kilometers. The part of the canyon you will visit is known as “Valley of Castles” for its unusual rock formations. It is 3 kilometers long and 100 meters deep. We will walk these 3 kilometers down to the river, where we will have a picnic.

We then walk back up to the car and drive from the stepps into the nearby mountains to the next sight of the day, Kaindy Lake. The name of the lake 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 hot weather will be very inviting to go for a swim in the lake.

We drive about one hour on the road back and reach the village of Satty where we have dinner and stay for the night in a simple family guesthouse. If you are not too tired after the long day you can try out the “banya”, Russian sauna.

Satty Family Guesthouse, (single room cannot be guaranteed, pit toilet outside)

Kyrgyzstan Cycling Tourists Karkara Valley

After breakfast with the family we depart towards Kyrgyzstan. After about 4-5 hours of driving we reach Kegen border point in the picturesque Karkara valley. After border formalities we drive to a nice place, not far from the border, to have a picnic (ca. 2300m altitude). From this point we start our 3 days cycling tour. We enjoy a delightful ride up along the Karkara river (distance around 20km, +200m elevation gain). At a nice location we stop for today, have dinner and set up our tents next to the river.

Overnight in tents, ca. 2550m altitude

Kyrgyzstan Mountain Biking Route

Cycling up along Karkara River (35km). You will bike along the mountain road and climb to Kyzyl-Moinok Pass (3370m) (this part can be done by car and who likes may start cycling from the top of the pass). Downhill to wild Sary-Jaz River (20km).

Overnight in tents, ca. 2900m altitude

Kyrgyzstan - beauitful mountains scenery

A fantastic descent on a gravel road along the Sary-Jaz river brings us to the confluence of Sary-Jaz and Ottuk rivers. Total distance of around 20 km. From here starts the ascent (ca. 30 km) to the Chon-Ashu pass (3825m). Descend to the forest zone (around 20 km) at around 2800m altitude. Here a truck will be waiting for us and take us to the town of Karakol (70 km). On this day as well, the uphill biking part can be done by car. Dinner and then overnight in the hotel.

Hotel Amir or similar, 1750m altitude

After a comfortable night in the hotel we start a three days trek today. We transfer by minibus about 2 hours to the Karakol valley, the starting destination of the trek. From Karakol gorge (2550m) we hike about 2-3 hours slightly uphill for 8 kilometers to reach the “Orphan” Mountaineer Shelter. We stop at the shelter, have dinner and set up our tents not far.

Overnight in tents, ca. 2900m altitude

After a hike of ca. 3 hours, the highlight of this trek awaits us today – mountain lake Ala Kul (3560m). It is more than 70 meters deep and of incomparable beauty. From the shore of the lake you can see a beautiful glacier – this is the source of the lake. We have picnic at the lake. In the afternoon we hike up higher to Ala Kul Pass (3890m) from where we enjoy uninterrupted views of the 5000+ meters mountain peaks of the Terskey Ala-Too mountains – including Karakol Peak, Djigit Peak and Tashtanbek Peak. Trek down to Kelidke Keldike Valley, where we pitch our tents.

Overnight in tents, ca. 2900m altitude

Kyrgzystan Trekking Tour Altyn Arashan River Nature

Leaving the campsite after breakfast you will trek down to the Altyn-Arashan valley, a 10 kilometers hike that we estimate will take us around three hours. This valley is famous for its natural hot springs, which you can visit to relax after the three days of trekking. 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. After a picnic and relaxing we take a Russian truck which will take us on a shaky ride back to Karakol. We will have dinner in an Uighur family and overnight in hotel.

Hotel Amir or similar, 1750m altitude

After breakfast, we will set out to explore Karakol. We visit the city, making sure we allow plenty of time for its wooden Dungan mosque, built in 1904, and 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 photo exhibition about Ella Maillard. She was a famous Swiss traveler that took many pictures of Central Asia in the 1930s. On the way along the southern shore of lake Issyk Kul to our next destination – Tosor, we will 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. We will go for a short walk and have picnic at the canyon.

Upon arrival at the yurt camp we will have plenty of time to go for a swim before dinner. Issyk Kul is the second largest mountain lake in the world and known as the “Pearl of Kyrgyzstan”. Dinner and overnight at the yurt camp near the village of Tosor near the shore of lake Issyk Kul.

Overnight in yurt – 2-4 people in a yurt, facilities are outside (Western toilet, shower with heated water), 1600m altitude

Kyrgyz Eagle Hunter

After breakfast, we drive further westwards along the southern shore of the lake. On the way, we will first meet an eagle hunter and then 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 pass by Orto-Tokoi reservoir. Arriving in Kochkor, we visit a workshop of local women to 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.  You can even make your own small carpet.  Tonight, our accommodation is a homestay where we enjoy a tasty home-cooked supper before turning in.

Adamkaly Guesthouse, with shared western toilet and shower, 1770m altitude

After breakfast transfer to Kyzart village (2200m altitude). There we will meet the local guide with horses and after short instructions we start a delightful light ride on horseback to Kilemche “jailoo” (summer pasture). Within sight of the road, cross Kyzyl-Kiya jailoo, an enormous, relatively flat sea of grass. Continue into the Chaar-Archa valley and eat tasty lunch by the racing river, with view of the holy 4400m Baba-Ata mountain. Sated, ford the river and follow the trail over verdant hills to Kilemche jailoo. Dinner and overnight in the family yurt camp.

Overnight in shepherd’s simple yurt (4 people in a yurt, pit toilet outside, no shower, running water in river), 2800m altitude

After breakfast at Kilemche, spend the morning riding to Jaldyz Karagai pass (3400m), over the Song-Kul Mountains and into the lake’s basin. The morning climb offers wonderful views of Kilemche jailoo. From the rocky pass Song Kul lake is still distant, but as you traipse down the slopes, it gets larger and larger, until finally the lake fills most of your field of view and the southern mountains tower above it. Song Kul is a mountain lake in the Central Tian Shan range, virtually in the center of Kyrgyzstan. One translation of the name is “The last lake”. It is located at an altitude of 3016m above sea level, 29 kilometers long, 18 kilometers wide and a maximum depth of only 13 meters. It is Kyrgyzstan’s second largest lake after Issyk Kul. The green meadows surrounding the lake, full of Edelweiss, are used by local shepherds and their families as summer pastures. You will see yurts scattered around the lake and herds of horses and sheep grazing. Not surprisingly, the lake is known as the “nomad’s paradise”. We will spend the night again in a traditional Kyrgyz yurt. At night you can see the sky full of starts.

Overnight in yurt – 4 people in a yurt, facilities are outside (Western toilet, shower with heated water)

Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan

After breakfast, we depart towards the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. On the way, we stop at Burana Tower. The minaret was built in the 11th century in the medieval town of Balasagun, capital of the mighty Karakhanid empire. You can climb up the winding staircase to enjoy a nice view of the Chuy Valley. There is also an open-air museum featuring a collection of ancient balbals, carved stone figures used as monuments. After another 1-2 hours we finally reach Bishkek. Dinner in restaurant and overnight in hotel.

Park Hotel or similar

Kyrgyzstan Osh Bazaar in Bishkek

In the morning after breakfast, transfer to Ala Archa National Park, in the mountains, just 30km outside of Bishkek. We will hike ca. 3 hours up to the waterfall, have a picnic and then return to Bishkek.

In the afternoon we will have a city tour in Bishkek. The tour includes Panfilov Park, Ala-Too Square with the National History Museum, and monuments to national hero Manas, writer Chingiz Aitmatov and another Kyrgyz hero Kozhomkul. We will also visit Osh Bazaar, where you can buy some souvenirs or take photos of the hustle and bustle.

In the evening we have farewell dinner in a nice restaurant. Overnight in hotel.

Park Hotel or similar

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 enjoyed your trip and will return soon to explore more of Central Asia.

Inclusions

Transport
Horse, Foot, Minivan
Meals
15 breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 14 Dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (6 nights), Guesthouse (2 nights), Yurt (3 night), Tent (4 nights)
Included Activities
  • Almaty – City tour on bike
  • Visit of Charyn Canyon & Kaindy Lake
  • Three days cycling tour near Karakol
  • Three days trekking tour near Karakl
  • Horse trek to Song Kul
  • Sleeping in yurts
  • Swimming in mountain lakes
  • Felt carpet workshop
  • Yurt construction workshop
  • Experience Banya, Russian sauna
  • Bishkek – City Tour
  • Hike in Ala Archa National Park
  • Karakol – City Tour

dates & price

Total trip price

€2690

Euro

15

Days

Single supplement available for €400

Deposit: €250

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
8 Jul 2018
22 Jul 2018
+ Available
Price includes
  • All accommodation during the trip based on double/ twin share in hotels, guesthouse in Kochkor, and tents
  • Multi-share accommodation in yurts and guesthouse in Satty
  • All transportation during the trip
  • English speaking tour guide
  • Trekking personal (guide, cook, porters)
  • Guide and horses for horse trek, including helmets
  • Mountain bike rental, including helmets
  • Camping equipment (tent, kitchen, etc.)
  • All meals (Breakfasts, lunches, dinners & mineral water/ soft drinks)
  • All permits, taxes and entry fees
  • Airport pick up/drop off
Price does not include
  • International air fares
  • Personal kit and equipment (e.g. sleeping bag, mat)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips to porters, guides and drivers

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 for example WorldNomads.
  • Single room cannot be guaranteed for Yurt stays and stay at Satty guesthouse
  • Very good general fitness and sure-footedness is required
  • Departure for this tour is guaranteed

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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