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. 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)
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 Aa. On the way to Karakol we will make a detour from the main road to visit the beautiful Semenov and Grigoriev gorges.
By late afternoon we will reach Karakol, where we check-in at the hotel. Dinner with a Uighur family.
Green Yard Hotel (single/ twin room with private bathroom)
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 to the village of Tamga on the southern shore of Issyk Kul. 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. Upon arrival to Tamga, check-in at the yurt camp and go swimming, if you like. Later in the afternoon, we visit 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. Dinner in the yurt camp with cooking class of a local dish called Manty (dumplings).
Overnight yurt camp – 2 people in a yurt, facilities are outside (Western toilet, shower with heated water)
After breakfast, we drive further along the southern shore of lake Issyk Kul to the village of Kochkor. On the way, at the village of Barksoon we will turn into the picturesque Barskoon valley – famous for its waterfalls. There are also monuments of Yuri Gagarin, the first Cosmonaut, who came here to have some rest after his time in outer space. We will meet an eagle hunter, who will show 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 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*
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 yurt camp – 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 later afternoon. Upon arrival, you can have some free time for rest or shopping. Farewell dinner with folklore show.
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!