The Best of Kyrgyzstan: 12 Days Itinerary
Today is the big day! You’ll finally get to meet your fellow tour partners as well as guides before heading off into the Kyrgyz wilds. Before heading out, we’ll have a short debriefing where we talk about the details of the trip.
Once we’re ready, we’ll hit the road and make for our first destination: Song Kul. Along the way, stop by the cultural village of Kochkor for a traditional lunch and souvenir shopping. Once we arrive at the lake, guests will have the opportunity to unwind and relax.
Note: Guests are asked to arrive either prior to or very early on Day 1 (before 6 am). The first day will be long so we want to have as much time as possible.
Today we depart from Song Kul to Krygyzstan’s largest and most famous lake: Issyk Kul. This enormous body of water is the 6th deepest lake in the world and never freezes. It’s waters are crystal clear and are framed by beautiful red sand beaches and snow-capped mountains.
Before settling in, we have the opportunity to explore the nearby Fairytale Canyon, whose rock formations resemble those in Utah or Arizona. After exploring the canyon, we will be met by some local eagle hunters and they will demonstrate to us one of the most respected trades in Kyrgyzstan. We will end the day by sleeping like locals as well: in yurts. Sleeping in a yurt is surprisingly comfortable and you will be amazed at how warm they get.
Wake up with an epic sunrise over the lake a maybe a cool dip! Today, we head for the Karakol Region via the southern shore of Issyk Kul. On the way to Karakol, we will stop by the famous “7 Bulls” or Jeti Oguz. Like Fairytale Canyon, these red rocks look like something out of the American Southwest.
There striking crimson color set against the lush green hills is something to see. Arriving in the town of Karakol, we’ll have a short lunch break before transferring to the Karakol Valley. This valley is the starting point for our epic trek to Ala Kul Lake as well as a good place to go horse trekking. Before calling it a night, we’ll ride horses deeper into the valley to see Karakol Peak (5281 meters).
Today’s going to be an epic day! We wake up early and start the ascent to the magnificent Ala Kul. Situated at 3300 meters, this is one of the highest and most beautiful lakes in Kyrgyzstan.
The trek involves a 1000 meter gain to achieve Ala Kul. The trail begins in thick woods before meeting a rushing river and eventually entering a boulder field. Total walking time is between 6-8 hours. Though it may seem intimidating, one look at the lake and all your worries will evaporate. Lodging will be in form of camping at an established ground. Nights can be a little chilly but there will be wine and beer on hand to help keep you warm :)
Day 5: Trek to the hot springs of Altyn Arashan
We will depart Ala Kul early while the weather is fair. Today’s itinerary includes another pass at 3800 meters and an additional 1300 meter drop to reach Altyn Arashan. Aside from one bit below the pass, most of the walk is on gentle, flat terrain.
Altyn Arashan is one of the most magical places in Kyrgyzstan. It is famed for the thermal water that runs from the nearby mountains and this is pumped into local saunas. The water is the perfect temperature and is a great way to ease those tired muscles after 2 days of hiking. The views of the valley aren't too bad either.
Day 6: R&R in Karakol
Sadly, we must leave Altyn Arashan and head back to Karakol :( Get one last dip into hot springs if you like!
We’ll make our way back on the road and walk for about 3-4 hours before meeting with our faithful driver at a parking lot. He’ll transfer us to Karakol, where everyone will have the opportunity to have a nice shower and freshen up.
That night, we have a special activity planned: a sunset cruise on Issyk Kul! Bring your favorite summer-wear and drinks!
Day 7: Travel to Sary Jaz
We’re heading back out into the wilderness folks! This time to an isolated section of Kyrgyzstan located on the Chinese border referred to as Sary Jaz. Not many people visit this part of the country for whatever reason. But it is a spectacular region with quintessential Kyrgz landscapes: lush jailoos (summer meadows), towering peaks, and vast open skies. Camping here will be a highlight of our trip.
Day 8: Go back in time at Enylcheck
We’re going to be seeing a different side of Kyrgyzstan now; a very remote part that seems to have been forgotten by time (and people). Enylcheck was once a booming mining town before the Soviet Union collapsed. Now it’s a ghost town, complete with empty apartment buildings and abandoned mining shafts. We’ll visit these places briefly.
The region is also very rugged compared to the rest of Kyrgyzstan and looks like a whole different country. There are (crucially) some wild hot springs in the vicinity, which make for a great place to soak in the nature and some healing minerals at the same time. We’ll be camping this night in Enylcheck.
Day 9: Return to Karakol
We return to Karakol and back to civilization via Chonn-Ashu Pass (3822 meters). When we arrive in Karakol, we will check into our lodge and you will be reunited with your beloved, long-lost shower. Make it a good one cause you earned it! Later in the afternoon, we will visit a few cultural landmarks around Karakol, including the Holy Trinity Cathedral and Trinity Church. That night we will have a special dinner as well.
Day 10: Travel to Chong-Kemin via Northern Shore
We begin the last leg of our journey back to Bishkek. But it’s not the end of the tour yet! We still have to see the northern shore of Issyk Kul and the pastoral hamlet of the Chong-Kemin Valley. On our way to the Chong-Kemin Valley, we will stop by Cholpon Ala to see a special outdoor museum with ancient petroglyphs.
Chong-Kemin is a wide valley with lots of room to breath and wander. Our hotel will be an excellent one and will feel like a palace in a lot of ways. We will have cultural activities planned for the night and, after an amazing dinner, a bonfire as well.
Day 11: Return to Bishkek
Today is our last full day in Kyrgyzstan and by God it’ll be a good one! We’ll head back to Bishkek for one last hurrah!
Whilst in Bishkek, we will get to explore the city’s many hidden gems, including Soviet monuments, lush parks, famed breweries, and maybe even a secret speakeasy ;) We’re going to be finishing of Kyrgyzstan tour in (Kyrgyz) style people!
On the way to Bishkek, we'll also stop by to see the historic Burana Tower, which is an unmissable attraction.
NOTE: that if you come on the tour running from August 20th - September 1st, then you will also get to experience Kyrgyzstan’s National Independence Day!
Day 12: Tour Ends
We say goodbye and arrange for transfers to the airport for those who are flying out over the next 24 hours. Check out of the hotel is around 11 am on this day. You can choose to stay at the same hotel if you are not flying home right away, though any additional nights at the hotel are not covered by EBT.
Ready to book your spot? Just follow the instructions below!
(Space is limited - maximum of 12 people)
Tour Cost: $2,300 per person (approx. £1870).
The balance will be due three - four months before departure.
Secure your spot:
Pay deposit: £350
Save 5 % by booking in full using the discount code: EpicTravel2020
Once payment is received, we will send you a confirmation email confirming your spot on the tour.
Of course, if you have any questions about this Kyrgyzstan adventure, please let us know and we would be more than happy to answer your inquiries.
We look forward to having you join our team for the adventure of a lifetime.
Will + Chris
Epic Backpacker Tours Founders