Kyrgyzstan & the Tian Shan Mountains

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Discover the land of the Nomads and Celestial Mountains on this active adventure through Kyrgyzstan


Duration: 15 Days
Starts in: Kyrgyzstan
Group Size: 4-16

Operated by:

World Expeditions

World Expeditions is an adventure travel and ecotourism company that offers guided small group trekking and adventure holidays.


Arrive Bishkek

On arrival into Bishkek you will be met and a group transfer is provided to the hotel. Drive 30 km, 1 hrs, (asphalt road). Your local guide will conduct a group briefing in the lobby that evening (time to be advised) before you head out for a meal to get to know your travel companions. Overnight: Bishkek hotel.

Bishkek sightseeing

This morning we will visit the highlights of Bishkek including Alatoo Square, the State History Museum and the cultural-ethnographic complex 'Manas Ayily'. After lunch we journey by road to Kyrgystan’s largest gorge, Ala-Archa set in the Ala-Too Mountains. Drive 40 km, 1 h., + 1500 m (asphalt road). This gorge was declared a National Park in 1976 in order to protect its rare flora and fauna, 2200m. The park's name translates from Kyrgyz as 'the Speckled Juniper (Archa)', in honour of a plant which can be seen here at every turn. Overnight: Bishkek hotel.

Transfer to Son-Kul Lake

Today we drive to Son-Kul Lake where we are introduced to the nomadic life of Kyrgyz families who live much as their ancestors have for generations. Drive 390 km, 8-9 h., + 2000 m (asphalt + dirt road). We will have the opportunity to sample fresh airan (yogurt) and kumis (the national drink of fermented mare's milk). This evening we spend the night in a yurt camp in the summer mountain pastures. Overnight: Yurt (3100m)

Son-Kul Lake

Today we learn how to set up a yurt. The yurt is the traditional shelter for people of the Tian Shan Mountains. These nomadic dwellings are constructed of a multi-pieced wooden frame that is overlaid with several felt coverings of sheep wool. It takes only about two hours to put a yurt together. There are usually many colorful handmade mats, felt rugs and embroideries to be found inside, as well as a 'dastorkon' – a low table with delicious food prepared for guests. Overnight: Yurt. Please note: there is no for single occupancy option on this night.

Transfer to Issyk-Kul Lake

Today we journey by road to the southern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake (drive 290 km, 6-6,5 h., - 1400 m asphalt + dirt road), the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. It is set at 1608m above sea level against the scenic backdrop of the Tian Shan mountains. Measuring 182 km long by 58 km wide, the lake was created by volcanic activity. It is heated by geothermal activity and never freezes, even in the depths of a Kyrgyz winter. In the summer the water temperature reaches 25-28 degrees centigrade (warmer than the air) and you can swim in the lake enclosed on all sides by the snowy peaks of the Tian Shan Mountains. Extremely deep and nicely warm, over the centuries the lake served an oasis in this hostile mountain environment. With its diverse flora and fauna Issyk-Kul Lake and the surrounding countryside is considered to be one of Central Asia’s most remarkable locations. Overnight in Tamga settlement (Guesthouse), 1690m. Please note: there is no for single occupancy option on this night.

Transfer to Jeti-Oguz Gorge

Today we drive to Jeti-Oguz Gorge which translates from Kyrgyz as 'Red Cliffs of Seven Bulls'. Drive 100 km, 3 h., + 560 m (asphalt + dirt road). Jeti-Oguz is set at the height of 2250 m above sea level on the northern slopes of the Terskei Ala-Too Ridge. The gorge slopes are covered with the world-famous Tian Shan blue spruce along the fast mountain river which flows parallel to the trail. Today we will trek through mountain woods and hike up to the 'Maiden Tears' Waterfall. Overnight: Yurt. Please note: there is no for single occupancy option on this night.

Trek to Telety Pass (3800m)

Today we will begin our ascent of Telety Pass (3800m) (16 km, 6-8 hrs). The trail follows the river bank in a very narrow wooded gorge called Bay Tor that leads up to alpine meadows. Here on a flower carpet the mountain air is sweet and the views amazing. After lunch we continue our trek to our camp site at the foot of Telety Pass. Overnight: Tent

Trek over Telety Pass (3800m) down to Karakol Gorge (2500m)

Today we will trek over Telety Pass (3800m) and down to Karakol Gorge (2500m) (18 km, 6-8 hrs). Hiking up the pass is not too demanding as the route follows a narrow path with a slight ascent and only two rather steep slopes. From the top of the pass enjoy panoramic views. Descending, we follow the trail along the course of the East Telety River. Overnight: Tent

Hike to the foot of Karakol Peak

Today we start our trek to the foot of Karakol Peak (5216m) (16 km. 6-8 hrs) with the trail running parallel to the course of the Uyun Tor River. The route enters a blue spruce forest rich in vegetation. Forest mushrooms can be found in abundance. From May, the meadows turn into a panoramic delight as flowers begin to bloom. Here you can find snowdrops, primrose, white anemone, alpine aster, edelweiss and various species of wild tulips. We follow a breathtaking trail with wonderful viewpoints. Overnight: Tent

Trek along the gorge to Ala Kol Lake

Today we will trek along a picturesque gorge to 'Sirota' hut and further to Ala Kol Lake (3532m) (9 km, 6-8 hrs). We cross the river over a bridge from where the trail will lead us into forest. We hike along the river and reach a wonderful waterfall flowing down from Ala Kol Lake. Overnight: Tent

Trek over Ala Kol Pass (3800m) and descend into Arashan Gorge (2600m)

Today we will trek over Ala Kol Pass (3800m) passing Ala Kol Lake before descending into Arashan Gorge (2600m) (18 km, 6-8 hrs). Ala Kol Lake stretches from east to west for 2.8 km. Depending on the light, the water regular changes its colour. It can be emerald green, turquoise green with reflections of white clouds, light green or dark grey, even black. During the ascent we enjoy wonderful views of the lake as the main range comes into view across the wide valley of Keldike with picturesque landscapes, flocks of sheep and herds of goats. Later the trail will bring us into a forest again as we descend into Arashan Valley. Enjoy picturesque Arashan Gorge with its magnificent mountain side alpine meadows rich in fir-trees against a backdrop of the mighty Palatka (4956 m) This afternoon we can enjoy a swim in hot springs. Overnight: Tent

Transfer to Karakol

Today we journey by road to Karakol, a small administrative center of the Issy Kul region, situated on the southern bank of the lake. (Drive 30 km, 1 h., - 800 m asphalt + dirt road.) Overnight hotel (1800m).

Transfer to Cholpon-Ata

Today we set off for the north shore of Issyk Kul Lake. (Drive 140 km, 3-4 h asphalt road.) Along the way we visit the Cholpon Ata Petroglyphs site set at the foot of the Kungei Alatau Ridge. Overnight hotel

Transfer to Bishkek

Today we drive back to Bishkek. (Drive 250 km, 4-5 hrs, - 800m asphalt road.) Along the way we will visit the ruins of Burana Tower near Tokmok city as well as Turkic ancient tombs. Overnight hotel

Trip concludes in Bishkek

The trip will conclude after breakfast today, with a group transfer to the airport. (Drive 30 km, 1 hr, asphalt road).

Additional Information

The celestial Tian Shan Mountains take up much of the small republic of Kyrgyzstan and provide a stunning landscape of eternal snows and alpine meadows. Explore this culturally rich country meeting local herders to learn about their traditional way of life, and discover this mysterious land where people's lives are shaped by breathtaking sheer peaks, swift horses and majestic glaciers in a very unique interpretation of lands forgotten by time. Explore the lonely beauty of Son-Kul and Issyk-Kul Lakes situated on a treeless mountain plateau with its verdant meadows used by shepherds in the summer months. If you are looking for an unforgettable experience exploring a remote country of blue lakes and green valleys, this is the journey for you!


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