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Discover the Celestial Mountains

Experience the Adventure Capital of Central Asia

2022 Dates: August 19th – 31st

Group Size: 10           Price: £2,200

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.

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Dates

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Price

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August 19th - 31stAvailable£2,200

Save 5% by booking in full using code: Epictravel2022

*Must pay in full at time of booking to apply this discount*

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 the Trip Includes

  • All accommodation during the tour
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all tour days, except for 1 or 2 meals (when guests may have free time).
  • All transportation whilst on tour
  • All on-the-ground logistics and planning
  • Bishkek airport pickup and drop off (if arriving/departing within 24 hours of the start/end of the tour)
  • Western and local guides
  • Permits for the Sary Jaz region
  • Entrance fees to historical sites
  • Water
  • Some group snacks on hikes
  • Experienced guides who aim to please
  • Lots of laughs and epic moments
  • Life-changing experiences
  • Bonus surprises along the way

What's NOT Included in the Price

  • International flights to Kyrgyzstan
  • Visa application fees (if applicable)
  • Any pre-tour or post-tour accommodation
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for staff
  • Alcohol or personal snacks/drinks.
  • Porters for your personal belongings (when available)
  • Horse riding beyond the Karakol Valley
  • Personal snacks and drinks beyond what we provide
  • Any horse treks and/or rides*
  • Breakfast on the first and last day
  • Any item not mentioned on the “what’s included” list above.
*Horse treks are not included in tour price because we at Epic Backpacker Tours realize that riding is not for everyone. We will still have many opportunities to go riding, among other activities, and will help to organize horses for guests. Average price is around $10-$15/hour and we will be on hand to negotiate prices with horse owners.

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