ITINERARY & MAP
Welcome to Kyrgyzstan! Most flights arrive very early in the morning. You will transfer to the hotel and check in at the hotel with time to rest after your long flight, take a shower, and have breakfast.
Now we will transfer to Ala Archa National Park, 30km outside Bishkek. We will walk in the park, appreciate the mountain views, and inhale the wonderfully fresh, clean air. After this interlude, we will return to Bishkek.
In the evening, when it’s not too hot anymore, we will have a walking city tour in Bishkek. Our sightseeing program includes stops at Oak Park, Ala-Too Square, and Victory Square. Welcome dinner will be in a tasty local restaurant.
Hotel Plaza 4* or similar
After breakfast, we will depart from Bishkek. Our first stop will be Burana Tower near the town of Tokmok, 60km east of Bishkek. Burana’s 11th-century minaret is the only remaining building from the ancient city of Balasagun, once the capital of the mighty Karakhanid Empire. You can walk up the winding staircase and enjoy a wide view of the scenic Chuy Valley. There is also a small open-air museum of balbals, carved stone figures often found around ancient burial mounds.
We will then continue driving further into the mountains to a guesthouse in the beautiful Chon-Kemin Valley. Upon arrival, we will have lunch, and in the afternoon you can walk in the village, observe the life of the local people, or opt for a short horse riding tour into the surrounding hills. Dinner will be at the guesthouse, where we will spend the night.
Chon Kemin Guesthouse (single/ twin room with private bathroom)
This morning we will transfer to Tepke, a village on the northern shore of Issyk-Kul. Issyk Kul is the second-largest mountain lake in the world, after Titicaca in South America. Located at an altitude of 1,600m, Issyk-Kul is a slightly saline lake with no outlet, surrounded completely by the Tien Shan Mountains. Archeological evidence suggests that there was a trading center here in the 2nd century BC, the ruins of which can be found under the water. We will drive the entire length of the lake’s northern shore but make a stop halfway, near Cholpon Ata, to visit an open-air site with many ancient petroglyphs (artworks carved into the rock).
By late afternoon we will reach Tepke, where we will stay for the night in the guesthouse of a family of farmers who breed horses.
Reina Kench Guesthouse (single/ twin room with private bathroom)
First thing today, the farmers will present their horses to us. Very few people in Kyrgyzstan breed genuine Kyrgyz horses; nowadays most of them are mixed breeds. We will also learn how boorsok (deep-fried bread, a Kyrgyz specialty) is made, and you will be able to taste it at lunch. We will then transfer to the town of Karakol, the administrative center of the Issyk Kul region.
In Karakol, we will tour the town’s most interesting sights. The tour includes the Dungan Mosque, built in 1904 with no metal nails; and the wooden Russian Orthodox Church, which has been standing since 1869. We will also visit the museum of Russian explorer Przhevalsk, and the small Historical Museum of Karakol.
Green Yard Guesthouse (single/ twin room with private bathroom)
After breakfast, we will drive along the southern shore of Issyk Kul to the village of Kochkor. On the way, we will visit Jety Oguz Valley with its two famous red rock formations, “Seven Bulls” and the “Broken Heart”. Your guide will tell you the legends of how the rocks got these names. Our next stop is Skazka Canyon. Skazka means “fairytale” and it’s a reference to the bizarre rocky landscape, which has been formed by wind and rain into fabulous sculptures and formations. We will go for a short hike here. Near to the village of Bokonbaevo, we will then meet an eagle hunter, who will give a live demonstration to us. Shortly after Bokonbaevo, in the village of Kyzyl Tuu, we will meet a yurt maker and learn more about this traditional nomadic dwelling. Many people in this village are involved in yurt making business. By evening we will arrive in Kochkor to enjoy dinner in a guesthouse and overnight in a hotel.
Hotel Nomad Lodge 3*
Today we will depart from Kochkor towards another mountain lake, Song Kul. The lake is not too far away, but due to the bad road conditions it will still be quite a long and bumpy ascent. Song Kul is at an altitude of 3,016m above sea level. The nomads pass their summer on the jailoo (summer pasture) with their animals. You will see herds of horses and sheep grazing on meadows full of Edelweiss. If you like, you can go for a short horse ride. Accommodation and dinner will be in a traditional Kyrgyz yurt. You can taste kymyz (mare’s milk) and watch the shepherd’s wife preparing bread and cheese. We will also get a chance to watch Ulak Tartysh, a traditional spectacle of horsemanship.
Overnight in a yurt – 2 people in a yurt, facilities are outside (Western toilet, shower with heated water)
After breakfast we must return to Bishkek, retracing our steps to Kochkor. In Kochkor we will visit a workshop where local women produce traditional shyrdak carpets from felt. The workshop is a women’s cooperative, and we will have our lunch here, too. We will arrive in Bishkek by evening, in time for our farewell dinner.
Hotel Plaza 4* or similar
Transfer to Bishkek Airport for your flight back home. We hope you will have enjoyed your trip to Kyrgyzstan and will return soon to discover more places in this beautiful part of the world!