Best of Kyrgyzstan Tour

Highlights of Kyrgyzstan

Experience the cultural and natural highlights of Kyrgyzstan

Days

9

Price

€1780

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12 persons

Countries: Kyrgyzstan

Route:

  • Bishkek
  • Chon Kemin
  • Karakol
  • Song Kol
  • Bishkek

Themes: Cultural Tours

Kyrgyzstan is a fascinating country with a strong nomadic heritage in the heart of Central Asia. This is your opportunity to experience the itinerant way of life, witnessing how people live hand in hand with nature and continue customs that have been passed down through many generations.

This trip will lead you on a 9-day tour of Kyrgyzstan. You will discover the country’s highlights, from the rural lakeshore of Issyk Kul, to the sublime alpine pastures of Song Kul, and Kyrgyzstan’s green capital, Bishkek. You will be immersed in the ancient nomadic culture of the Kyrgyz, including their equestrian traditions.

highlights

  • Enjoy the quiet charms and warm hospitality of Kyrgyzstan.
  • Visit Issyk Kul, the lake known as “The Pearl of Kyrgyzstan”.
  • Experience nomadic life sleeping in a yurt beside the alpine lake of Song Kul
  • Soak up the hustle and bustle of oriental bazaars.
  • Explore Kyrgyzstan’s green, modern capital, Bishkek
  • Watch a performance of traditional Kyrgyz horse games.

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.

Bishkek, the charming capital of Kyrgyzstan, is relatively young. It started as a Russian garrison named “Pishpek” in the late 19th century, and it was only during the Soviet period that it grew into a city. It is a very green place, with tree-lined boulevards and many parks.

In the late morning, we will start the city tour with a visit to an important memorial Ata-Beiyt located near the village of Chong-Tash, 25km south of Bishkek, commemorating two tragic events in Kyrgyz history. Ata Beyit is the resting place of 138 Kyrgyzstanis killed in the purges of 1938. Also a memorial to the 1916 Kyrgyz uprising against Russian rule and fleeing to China. Have lunch at the beautiful ethnic yurt complex Supara. Afternoon city tour of Bishkek. During the city tour, we will learn the history of both Bishkek and Kyrgyzstan, as part of the Great Silk Road, and the more recent Soviet Union, and get a glimpse of how it is shaping today. We will explore main sights such as the Ala-Too square, White House, old square, as well as Osh Bazaar, the city’s main market.

Welcome dinner will be in a tasty local restaurant.

B-Hotel 3* or similar

Burana in Kyrgyzstan tour

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. Before dinner, we will learn how boorsok (deep-fried bread, a Kyrgyz specialty) is made, and you will be able to taste it during dinner. Dinner will be at the guesthouse, where we will spend the night.

Chon Kemin Guesthouse (single/ twin room with private bathroom)

Yurts in nature in Issyk Kul region

This morning we will transfer to Karakol, the largest town and administrative center of the Issyk Kul region. 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. 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). We will have lunch in Cholpon Ata. On the way to Karakol, we will make a detour from the main road to visit the beautiful Grigoriev gorge.

By late afternoon we will reach Karakol, where we check in at the hotel. Dinner in Uighur Family.

Green Yard Hotel (single/ twin room with private bathroom)

World Nomad Games

Every Sunday a cattle market takes place in Karakol. If you like, you can visit the market early in the morning, before the city tour.

Karakol was founded as a Russian military outpost in 1869. It grew in the 19th century after explorers came to map the peaks and valleys separating Kyrgyzstan from China. In the 1880s Karakol’s population surged with an influx of Dungans, Chinese Muslims fleeing warfare in China.

After breakfast, we will tour the town’s most interesting sights. The tour includes the Dungan Mosque, built in 1904; and the wooden Russian Orthodox Church, which has been standing since 1869. We will also visit the museum of Russian explorer Przhevalsk, and the local market of Karakol.

After the short city tour, we will drive about half an hour to Yrdyk village visit the small Dungan Museum, and learn about Dungan ethnicity. Lunch at Dungan family house. Afternoon excursion to Jety-Oguz gorge, which is a lush valley with some striking red sandstone rock formations (the “seven Bulls” from which the valley takes its name). Easy hike in the gorge. Later drive back to Karakol and meet with a representative of the “One Village One Product” cooperative, learning to produce one of their products. Optionally, visit Aksu-Kench hot springs in the evening. Dinner in restaurant Dastorkon.

Green Yard Hotel (single/ twin room with private bathroom)

Eagle hunter in Kyrgyzstan

Breakfast. Transfer along the southern shore of lake Issyk Kul to the village of Tamga. En route, we will visit Barksoon Gorge. You can see a nice mixture of fir trees and different colored bushes of barberry, mountain ash, sea-buckthorn, currant, raspberry, dog rose, and honeysuckle. In addition, you will enjoy a wonderful view of Issyk-Kul lake as well as different peaks. There are two interesting monuments along the road – a bust of Yuri Gagarin, who holidayed on the South shore of Issyk Kul after his historic first manned space flight. From Barskoon we will drive further up toward Kumtor Gold mine, to the beautiful Arabel plateau at almost 4000m altitudes. BBQ lunch in the forestry. After, we drive back down to the main road and continue to Tamga, where we spend the night in a yurt camp near the shore of Issyk Kul lake. Those who like can go swimming at the beach nearby. Before dinner, together with the chef of the yurt camp, you will cook a local dish called «Manty». During dinner, we will watch a folklore show with traditional Kyrgyz music.

Overnight in yurt camp – 2 people in a yurt, facilities are outside (Western toilet, and shower)

Felt making show in Central Asia

After breakfast, we drive further along the southern shore of lake Issyk Kul to the village of Kochkor. Our first stop after just about half an hour is at 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. Not far from Skazka we will also meet an eagle hunter, who will his eagle and make a demonstration for us. Later, we stop in the village of Kyzyl Tuu, where we will meet a yurt maker and learn more about this traditional nomadic dwelling. Many people in this village are involved in the yurt-making business. Upon arrival in Kochkor, we will visit a workshop where local women produce traditional shyrdak carpets from felt. The workshop is a women’s cooperative. Dinner and overnight in the hotel.

Hotel Nomad Lodge 3*

Song Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan with yurts

Today we will depart from Kochkor towards another mountain lake, Song Kul. The lake is not too far from Kochkor, 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 the yurt – 2 people in a yurt, facilities are outside (Western toilet, shower with heated water)

After breakfast, we must return to Bishkek. We will arrive in the late afternoon. Upon arrival, you can have some free time for rest or shopping. Farewell dinner in a local restaurant.

B-Hotel 3* or similar

Central Asia Tour

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!

Inclusions

Transport
Minibus, Foot
Meals
9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 8 Dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (6 nights, incl. early check in on day 1), Guesthouse (1 night), Yurt (2 night)
Included Activities

 

  • Bishkek – City Tour
  • Horse Riding at Chon Kemin & Song Kul (optional)
  • Felt workshop
  • Hike at Skazka Canyon
  • Karakol – City Tour
  • Sleeping in a Yurt
  • Meeting eagle hunter
  • Folklore show at Kochkor
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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
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*
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Total trip price

€1780

Euro

9

Days

Single supplement available for €400

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
1 Jun 2023
9 Jun 2023
+ Available
20 Jul 2023
28 Jul 2023
+ Available
24 Aug 2023
1 Sep 2023
+ Available
14 Sep 2023
22 Sep 2023
+ Available
Price includes
  • All transfers by minibus according to the itinerary, including transfers from/to the airport
  • English-speaking tour leader accompanying the group for the whole time
  • Accommodation based on two people sharing a double / twin room
  • All entrances fees according to the itinerary
  • Full board (breakfast, lunch, dinners)
Price does not include
  • International airfares
  • Hotel charges for additional services
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Personal expenses, e.g. souvenirs
  • Horse riding (optional)
  • Tips for guide and driver

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.
  • A €500 per person deposit is required at the time of booking, and the balance is due 15 days prior to departure. Terms & Conditions: https://kalpak-travel.com/terms-and-conditions/
  • One English-speaking 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.

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