Fly to Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, through an intermediate destination.
City tour in Bishkek
Early in the morning, we will land in Bishkek and meet with the local team and begin our tour of this vast country known as “the land of 40 tribes.” We will begin with a trip to the Ala Archa National Park, located outside of Bishkek, where we’ll catch our first glimpses of the wild beauty of the Tianshan Mountains. We will return to the city for lunch at an Uzbek restaurant and freshen up in the hotel before setting out on an afternoon city tour to see Bishkek’s most important sites, including the Victory Monument, Ala-Too Square, the Parliament Building (the White Kirghizi House) and Panfilov Park.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Bishkek.
Bishkek – Chulpan Ata
After breakfast, we’ll head south and stop at Burana Tower, one of the oldest buildings in Kyrgyzstan, built in the 10th century CE. Next, we’ll tour the Silk Road History Museum, and the archaeological complex located there. After lunch, we’ll drive to Lake Issyk-kul, the second largest alpine lake in the world. Issyk-kul means “warm lake,” because this amazing body of water never freezes, even though it is surrounded by snowy mountains. The day will conclude with a tour of the Ruh Ordo Center for Culture and Tolerance, which was established to promote peace, brotherhood and solidarity between the diverse people and religions in the region.
Dinner and overnight at Cholpon-Ata.
Chulpon Ata – Karakol
After breakfast, we will continue on the northern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul and visit the Simonovka and Grigorievka gorges, where we will stroll through the pastoral valley. After lunch, we’ll arrive at Karakol, one of Kyrgyzstan’s most fascinating cities. We’ll take an urban tour and see the Dungan Fortress (built in the unique style of these Chinese Muslims), the Russian Orthodox Church, and the bustling local market.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Karakol.
Karakol – Altyn Arshan
We’ll have our breakfast and then embark on a challenging trek in a 6×6 Soviet truck to one of the most beautiful valleys in the Issyk-kul region, the picturesque Altyn Arshan valley, poised at 2,600 meters above sea level. Along the way, we will see alpine landscapes and snowy peaks, thick fir forests, and crashing waterfalls. Upon arrival, we’ll take a walk in the biological reserve, have a picnic in the area and take a dip in the famous thermal hot springs in the center of the reserve. We will return to Karakol in the evening to unwind with some karaoke and to take part in a workshop to learn to make Langman noodles (cooked noodles with meat and a variety tasty extras), one of the most popular dishes in Central Asia.
Accommodation in a hotel in Karakol.
Karakol – Kadji-Say
We’ll enjoy breakfast, then head out to the Jeti Oguz Reserve, which is translated as “The Seven Bulls,” after the seven huge boulders that stand at its entrance. We will ascend to a panoramic view and then stroll through in the nature reserve. From there, we will continue on a journey to the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, reaching the picturesque valley of Skazka Canyon, whose colorful, sloping sand dunes look like the landscape of a dream or myth, even as we marvel at them with our own eyes.
For dinner and overnight, we will head to our hotel in the village of Kadji-Say.
The Birds of Prey Festival
After breakfast, we will head out to the village of Bokonbayevo and participate in the Birds of Prey Festival – called “Solburo.” The festival complex is open-air, surrounded by dozens of authentic yurts with entertainment, a traditional handicraft fair, and authentic local cuisine. The festival begins with traditional Kyrgyz dance and singing performances, followed by a display of the participants: local hunters in traditional costumes accompanied by their dogs and hunting tools. After lunch, we will witness a show of shooting and archery while riding horses, hunting with the help of birds of prey, and the a grand finale!
We’ll head to the village of Kochkor for dinner and our hotel.
Kutzkur – Lake Song-Kol
After breakfast, we will visit a workshop that was established as a cooperative of the women of the village to produce authentic clothing and other products out of sheep’s wool. You’re welcome to have your photo taken in traditional clothes or pick up some local souvenirs. Next, we’ll start climbing up to the “Pearl of Kyrgyzstan,” one of the most breathtaking places in the country, Song Kol Lake, which means “the last lake” and sits at 3,016 meters in altitude. The area surrounding the lake has been used as grazing grounds for nomads and shepherds for hundreds of years, and on our way, we’ll meet herds of sheep and cows. We will visit authentic yurts that serve as homes for nomads living around the lake, stroll around the beautiful area and settle in for dinner and lodging in a yurt encampment.
Lake Song-Kol – Bishkek
After breakfast in our yurt, we will go for a trek on horseback to a lookout point over the great Song Kol Lake, a body of water so vast it is almost double the size of the Sea of Galilee! Then, we will set off for the long journey back to Bishkek. After lunch, we’ll visit the colorful Konorchek Canyons mall. Toward evening, we will arrive at Bishkek for dinner and overnight. If you’re not too tired from the journey, you can enjoy a night out at a Bishkek pub!
We’ll spend our last morning taking a shopping tour in the largest market in Kyrgyzstan, one of the greatest markets in Central Asia, the Dordoy Bazaar. At the market, we’ll take in plenty of exotic smells and colors and have a chance to purchase authentic spices and souvenirs for home. Next, we’ll head out to a fishing farm, where we’ll enjoy lunch prepared for us by our local hosts. We’ll then continue to a Russian sauna and spa, where we can relax and reflect on our grand adventure. A special farewell meal awaits us in the evening, and then it’s early to bed to rest up for our morning flight home.
Bishkek – Manas airport
We will get up early in the morning and drive to FRU airport for a flight back to London via an intermediate destination.
Return flights from London. Full economy, 3 meals a day.
Hotels as specified.
A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with a driver.
English Local Guide All the days of the trip.
Coffee breaks and picnics.
Visit to hot springs
Access to all sites as specified in the program.
A farewell meal in Bishkek.
A farewell gift from Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan map for every couple of hikers.