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Discover the Celestial Mountains

Experience the Adventure Capital of Central Asia

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

TOTAL DISTANCE: 1000 kms of driving

MAX ALTITUDE: 4000 meters

TOUR DURATION: 13 days

LODGING: Mix of local, camp, hotels

GROUP SIZE: 10 people Max

Kyrgyzstan travel map
Map of tour route

Overview

Stunning mountains. Remote yurt stays. Azure alpine lakes. Nomad culture. World class trekking. Cosmopolitan City life. Soviet history. This is the side of Kyrgyzstan that we want to show you.

Kyrgyzstan is the ultimate destination for adventure-hungry travelers looking to experience the raw beauty of Central Asia.

Come with us to trek in the Celestial Mountains, stay in yurt camps with nomadic families, relax on one of the biggest mountain lakes in the world, peak behind the former Soviet Iron Curtain, and become a member of a fun-loving team of adventurous travelers from all across the globe.

Who This Trip is For

Kyrgyzstan is for you if you enjoy…

  • NATURE: Vast parts of Kyrgyzstan are undeveloped and unspoiled. The country is home to some of the most beautiful mountains in the world and a vast array of other landscapes, including desert and alpine meadows.
  • TREKKING: We embark on a multi-day trek through the Tian Shan aka the “Celestial Mountains” in Northern Kyrgyzstan.
  • LOCAL CUISINE: Kyrgyz food is delicious and we aim to show you a wide variety of the country’s culinary traditions. Vegetarians options are always available as well!
  • HISTORY: From being a vital link on the legendary Silk Road to its more recent ties to the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan is a country steeped in fascinating history.
  • OFF THE BEATEN PATH ADVENTURE: We visit places solo travelers can’t go. The trip is for travelers who truly want to connect to places, local people, landscapes, and food without being rushed around in the process.
  • DIVERSITY: This is a well-rounded itinerary that features a little bit of everything. Trekkers, foodies, cultural fanatics, and casual travelers should all be able to enjoy this trip in Kyrgyzstan.

Upcoming Dates

Dates

Places

Deposit

Full

July 31st - August 12thSold Out | Contact us to get on Waiting List$750$3200
August 15th - August 27thSold Out | Contact us to get on Waiting List$750$3200

REFUNDS RELATED TO COVID-19  

  • Clients are entitled to have FULL TRIP BALANCE moved to a future trip (credit) OR request a FULL REFUND if we cancel the tour due to complications related to Covid-19

GENERAL REFUND POLICY – Read our full Refund Policy

  • Cancellation Less than 90 days until the start of the tour: NO REFUND – Trip deposit can be used as credit towards a future trip. 
  • Cancellation with more than 90 days before the start of the tour: 50% of the trip balance payment (less the deposit amount). Trip deposit can be used as credit towards a future trip.
  • Cancellation with more than 160 days before the start of the tour: Full refund minus the trip deposit. Trip deposit can be used as credit towards a future trip.  

Have a question or ready to book?

Whether you’re just curious about this trip or are ready to make a deposit, we’re here for you.

To submit an inquiry or make a trip deposit, please fill out and submit the form below.

Your Trip Leaders

hiking in pakistan

Ralph Cope

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer, and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new areas, in search of everything from hidden valleys in the Karakoram to secret surf breaks along the Makran Coast.

Together with Epic Backpacker Tours, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Highlights of the Tour

  • Go for a multi-day trek in the Celestial Mountains
  • Soak in natural hot springs
  • Camp out next to a high altitude mountain lake
  • Witness an eagle hunting demonstration
  • Discover an abandoned Soviet mining town
  • Opportunities to ride horses
  • Eat delicious Kyrgyz food
  • Explore the highlights of Bishkek
  • Learn about Kyrgyz nomadic culture
  • Sleep in comfortable hotels, tents, and yurt-stays

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.

Our first stop is the Burana Tower just outside Bishkek. This is one of the most famous archeological sites in the country. Locals also love to sell fresh fruit here.

Afterward, we drive about an hour to Konorchek Canyons where we will be spending the bulk of the day. This area is a favorite among locals and a bit of a hidden gem. We will hike around the rust-colored canyons for a few hours before departing to our final destination: Kochkor.

In Kochkor, guests will have the opportunity to visit a legendary craft store (owned by an amazing woman) and visit an old salt mine. The latter is believe to have therapeutic properties, particularly for the lungs. A great place to ready ourselves before heading into the high mountains!

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.

We hit the road and make for one of our favorite places in Kyrgyzstan: Song Kul. This high alpine lake, located at 3000 meters high, is only a few hours drive away, yet you feel like you’re in Alaska!

Once we arrive at Song Kul, guests will have the opportunity to unwind and relax or explore the lake further. Horse riding is very popular here as is drinking kumis, a Kyrgyz delicacy.

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.

We’ll head straight to our yurt located on the shores of the lake. It’s a special place surrounded by desert formations, hushed by the wilderness, and kissed by the turquoise waters of Issyk Kul. Horse riding, kayaking, and lounging on the beach are all possible.

We depart from our beloved yurt camp and travel east along the south shore of Issyk Kul. Along the way, we’ll stop by several epic locations.

First is Fairytale Canyon, whose rock formations resemble those in Utah or Arizona. There we will be met by some local eagle hunters and they will demonstrate to us one of the most respected trades in Kyrgyzstan. 

Afterward, we head to Barskoon Gorge, famous for being Yuri Gagarin’s favorite vacation spot and the center of the world accordingly to one ancient scholar. We’ll have a picnic here and will have the chance to visit a lovely waterfall nearby. 

From our picnic place, we travel deeper into the gorge until we begin to climb. Our goal is to reach the top of the Arabel Plateau (4000 meters), which will be highest altitude on the trip. No worries, we won’t linger long but be prepared for snow. 

Finally, we depart back to the lake and check into our guesthouse in Tosor.

Wake up with an epic sunrise over the lake a maybe a cool dip! Today, we head for the Karakol Valley via the southern shore of Issyk Kul, home to the amazing Ala Kul.

Arriving at the trailhead just outside of Karakol (the city), we’ll officially start the trek. The trail is covered by lush woods the entire way.

After 2-3 hours walk, we’ll reach Alp Camp and will have a packed lunch. Ala Kul will be about 1100 meters above us.

Once re-energized, we’ll hit the trail again and walk another 2-3 hours until we reach High Camp. This is our resting place for the night.

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.

Since we have already hiked halfway up, we only have another 500-600 meters  to gain to achieve Ala Kul. This portion of the trail is mostly boulder fields and can be quite exposed. Total walking time is between 4-5 hours.

Though it may seem intimidating, one look at the lake and all your worries will evaporate. Spend the rest of the day admiring the lake while we’ll prepare hot food and drink. Lodging will be in form of camping at an established ground. 

We will depart Ala Kul early while the weather is fair. Today’s itinerary includes another pass at 3900 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. Today will be a long day but it will all be worth it in the end! 

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. Our accommodation will be yurts with saunas attached.

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 via monster truck (in fact a Kamaz). This ride can be a bit bumpy but that’s half the fun! Drive time should be around 2 hours Karakol where hot showers and laundry await.

Later in the afternoon, guests will have the opportunity to visit a few cultural landmarks around Karakol, including the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Dungan Mosque, and a Soviet antique store.

That night, we have a special activity planned: a sunset cruise on Issyk Kul! Bring your favorite summer-wear and drinks!

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.

We will be making several stops on the way to Sary Jaz: at a historical site, a quick bathroom break in Kazakhstan, and an epic viewpoint where, on clear days, we can see the gorgeous Khan Tengri (7000m).

We will arrive at our campsite in the early afternoon where we prepare lunch and accommodation. Guests have the opportunity to ride horses, hike, or just chill out for the rest of the day.

Camping in Sary Jaz will be a highlight of our trip as the heavens are crystal clear.

We’re going to be seeing a different side of Kyrgyzstan today; a very remote part that seems to have been forgotten by time (and people). It will also be a long one as we will return to Karakol the same day.

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. 

Once finished with the hot spring, we return to Karakol and back to civilization via Chonn-Ashu Pass (3822 meters). When we arrive, we will check into our lodge and you will be reunited with your beloved, long-lost shower. 

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.

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!

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.

What People Have to Say

FAQ

There are two dominant languages: the native Kygryz language and Russian.

Most western nationalities do not need to obtain a visa in advance to visit Kyrgyzstan, including the USA, EU countries, the UK, Australia, and Canada.

A mix of hotels, yurt stays, cabins, and tents while camping. Prices are based on shared accommodation (2 people in one room).

You should have decent fitness to properly enjoy this adventure. Although there is no extreme high altitude on this tour, you will be required to hike a few days over mixed terrain with the occasional steep ascent and descent.

Additional Resources

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare.

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions.

After his trek to K2 Base Camp and other adventures in the north of Pakistan, the love of the country and the local people resulted in his desire to share these feelings with world.

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic Backpacker Tours team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro will be leading his 11th tour in Iran with EBT this coming spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Backpacker Tours, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Saisun

Touring Iran with EBT in May 2022 was way above our expectation: itineraries well planned and carefully executed, perfect mix of sights and trekking, delicious food, nice accommodation, great guides and wonderful fellow travellers. Trekking can be handled by anyone physically fit. Highly recommended for those who want to experience the real Iran.

– Sumera

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Backpacker Tours and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 base camp trek guide

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Backpacker Tours, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin


Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

For the last eleven years, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 65 countries along the way. 

Since 2011, Chris has logged more than 6300 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

In 2017, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and people of Pakistan led Chris to found Epic Backpacker Tours at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 15 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

Long-distance hiking, learning languages, meaningful conversations, all things Turkish food, mountaineering, and making tasty coffee above 6,000 meters rank among his favorite things in life. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

When he is not leading or planning tours, Chris works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan. 

 

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Alicia Anne Bjerkseth