Best season: mid June - mid September
Duration: 12 days
Category: combined – 6 days auto / 3 days medium-level trekking and 2 days horse riding
Level of Difficulty: Easy to medium
Group size: 2-12 people
Transport: Jeep or Minivan (2-6 pax); Minibus (6-12pax).
Requirements: trekking boots, weatherproof warm clothes, hat, mat, sleeping bag, sunglasses.
All tours can be changed due to your convenience and preferences
The region around Lake Issyk-Kul is the most popular territory of Kyrgyzstan. Beautiful mountainous Lake Issyk-Kul (1609m above sea level, length 220 km, width 60 km) - the "blue pearl" has brought fame to Kyrgyzstan and these sights satisfy the most jaded travelers.
Our trip follows the Terskey Ala-Too range, which is situated on the southern shores of Issyk-Kul Lake. This is a tour for people who are not interested in lazy vacations, who would like to see hidden places that you would never see if you traveled by car.
Its northern slopes are cut through by deep gorges and covered by fir-trees and juniper. Southern slopes are gentler, with lost of alpine meadows and lakes. In this place you can see real shepherd's life.
Having said that, Karakol remains low-key in the extreme; as yet, there are no brash hotels, fancy restaurants or lurid nightclubs. It is a delightfully serene sort of place, still resonant with the ghosts of 19th-century rural Russian life (along with the odd phantom from the Soviet period), and with an ambience that, paradoxically, feels both homely and comfortable and frontier-like. The town streets, set in a typical Russian grid plan, are long, straight and lined with poplars. Most of the houses are old, wooden 'gingerbread' houses, with neat florid gardens, picket fences and fruit-laden orchards - it might even be a Siberian village, or at least an idealised version of one. Karakol is pleasant enough to wander at will and enjoy the wooden Russian domestic architecture that characterises much of the town. In particular, the area along Lenina and Gorkovo, southeast of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, is a rewarding quarter to explore.
Start: Arrive in Bishkek
Description: Travel to Kemin Valley, one of Kyrgyzstan’s most beautiful national parks to stay with a local homestead and recover from your international travels. It is from here that our first nomadic experience on horseback with start the following morning. While in route to Kemin Valley, we’ll make a short visit to a historical-architectural complex known as the "Burana Tower" (XI century) that was once a major stopping point along the Silk Road Trading Route.
End: Kemin Valley, Kalmak Ashu village, Ashu Guesthouse
Accommodations: Kyrgyz home “Ashu Guesthouse” (home of Stanbek Toichubaev), After this night we will be staying mostly in Kyrgyzstan’s traditional nomadic shelters, yurts.
Start: Kemin Valley, Kalmak Ashu village, Ashu Guesthouse.
Description: After breakfast travel on horseback along the river of Chong-Kemin to a shepherds camp (in Kyrgyz called a jailoo) called Kol Almaty. Upon arrival we will lunch as guests in a local shepherd’s yurt, after which we will continue our journey to the nearby alpine lakes (e.g. Lake Chelek, etc.). This day’s journey is somewhat of an acclimatization day in preparation for the more rigorous traverse of Ak-Suu Pass the following day.
End: Yurt site near Ak-Suu Pass
Accommodations: Shepherd’s yurt or tent
Start: Yurt site near Ak-Suu Pass
Description: Today you will have a long day ahead. After a short breakfast at 7:00 am, we start our approach of Ak-Suu Pass through rocky, alpine trails. At the foot of the pass you will see many of the Tian Shan’s mighty peaks and glaciers. Here in this remote section of the Himalayan Orogenic Belt, we will break and brunch before summiting to the pass. At the top of the pass we will be at an elevation of 4,050m (13,287ft) and then descend down into the alpine meadows of The Chong Ak-Suu Gorge. We will spend the night in a mountain pasture know as “Ayuluu-Tor.”
End: Ayuluu-Tor, Chong Ak-Suu Gorge. Accommodations: Tent/Camping
Start: Ayuluu-Tor, Chong Ak-Suu Gorge
Description: After a late breakfast and spending some time enjoying the majestic natural surroundings we will continue towards the valley of Issyk-Kyl Lake, following the Chong Ak-Suu River. Along the way our local guide will teach us how to identify some of the nature food sources native to this region, such as the plentiful wild and tasty mushrooms. Lunch will be a picnic near the end of our first horseback excursion. By afternoon we will have reached the village of Grigorievka, from which we will travel towards Ak-Suu Valley, near the provincial town of Karakol. On the way to Ak-Suu, we’ll visit a site with ancient petroglyphs from 800 BC- 100 AD, that display incredible detail of some of the Kyrgyz ancestral cultures. Most are of long-horned ibex, along with some wolves, deer and hunters, and some rocks appear to be arranged in sacred circles. Most of the carved stones, which range from 30cm to 3m in size, are oriented to face southwest or southeast, and this would indicate some form of sun worship. We’ll also make a stop in Karakol to visit a the Dungan Mosque, famous for its authentic architecture and being built completely of fitted wood (i.e. no metal nails, etc.), and a Russian Orthodox Church that dates back to Tzarist Russian Empire. (
End: Stay in yurt camp.
Accommodations: Yurt stay in “Kashka-Suu”
Start: 8 am. After good breakfast, start trekking tour from the yurt camp, where is located in the foot of the mountain, “Kashka Suu” valley. Amazing views of the valley. The most beautiful mountain river rock inspires you.
End: Stay in yurt camp.
Accommodations: Yurt stay in “Kashka-Suu”
Start: 8 am. This day ascent to Kurgak-Tor, 3 000 m. Amazing views of the valley. Hiking to beautiful Mountain Lake, called Ala-Köl (3 500 m). You will pass by two waterfalls. Stay at Ala-Köl for overnight. Trekking time” 5-6 hours
Hike through the Ala-Köl pass (3860 m) to the Keldyke Gorge and from the pass see the excellent panoramas of Takyr-Tor glasier and five thousand mountain peaks of Terskey Ala-Too. Lunch after descend. Walk to the Altyn-Arashan resort, which is situated 2450 m above sea level. Camp at this wonderful place which is surrounded by magnificent rocks and from where a lot of streams begin from the glaciers. Trekking time: 8 hours
At the Altyn-Arashan resort is possible to take a thermal water bath. You will never be able to forget the sight of the snow on Peak Palatka (Tent) 5260 m. or "Swallow's Nest Pool", nestling beneath the open sky. After breakfast walk from “Altyn Arashan” resort down by Arashan Gorge (3-4 hours). Drive to Karakol (30 minutes). Lunch at the cafe & visit the Dungan Mosque and the Russian Orthodox Church in Karakol. Arrive at yurt stay in Bokonbaevo. On the way visit to the unique and fantasy-like “Skazka” canyon where you will see some of Kyrgyzstan’s most beloved geological formations. Dinner and overnight in a yurt stay. Preparin g for the horse trekk.
From Tuura-Suu village, travel horseback to the jailoo "Ak-Tash" with some local eagle hunters and falconers. As we ride we will enjoy their company as we learn about their way of life and the cultural legacy passed down to them by their ancestors. Lunch will be accompanied by a beautiful panoramic view of Issyk-Kul Lake and will be followed by a backcountry ride to “Ular-Tash” for further breathtaking scenery and nomadic experiences with local horsemen and shepherds. Later we will arrive at the jailoo "Ashuu-Tor". Dinner and overnight in tent / yurt.
End: Jailoo Ashuu-Tor
Accommodations: Yurt/tent stay
Start: Jailoo Ashuu-Tor
Description: After breakfast at Jailoo Ashuu-Tor, we will travel with the eagle hunters across the mountain river “Tuiuk-Tor” and spend the morning with them riding up to Kyzyl-Kia Pass which is at an altitude of 3300 m. At the top of the pass we will have another beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. Here we will eat lunch as we enjoy the scenery. Afterwards we will make our way down to the “Jazuu-Kechuu” jailoo, where dinner will be ready for us in a local shepherd’s home. We will spend the night there and you can choose between sleeping in the house, a yurt or tent.
End: Jailoo Jazuu-Kechuu
Start: Jailoo Jazuu-Kechuu
Description: The final day with the shepherds and eagle hunters will start early. We will ride following the Korumdu River and will see some beautiful views of the scenic rivers and landscape. Along the way we will stop for a last picnic lunch. At the end of the day we will travel back to Bishkek, drop our things off at a homestay, and spend the evening exploring the city. Most people will be catching their flights out of Bishkek the following morning.
Accommodations: Homestay /Hotel.