Around Issyk Kul
Duration: 10 days, 9 night
Season: April – October
Route: Bishkek city – Chon Kemin – Kochkor village – Bokonbaevo village – Tamga village – Barskoon gorge – Arabel pass – Djety Oguz valley – Karakol city – Bishkek city
Level of difficulty: there is not a lot of physical exertion throughout the journey. But at one point and travelers will reach an altitude up to 3800 m.
Kyrgyzstan as well known is a mountainous country with many snowy peaks and beautiful valleys, glaciers and rivers, and of course mountain lakes which are worth singling out. On the territory of Kyrgyzstan there are about 2000 lakes of different origin: tectonic, clod, glacial and karstic. There are lakes that rightfully compete in size with the seas, and also there are small pearls which are hidden from the eyes and so small that you will never find them on the map, but they are really beautiful and magnetic.
The largest lake in Kyrgyzstan is Issyk-Kul Lake. It' the second largest mountain lake in the world after Titicaca Lake in South America. The length is 182 km, the width up to 60 km. Issyk Kul's area is 6,236 square km. It is situated at the altitude of 1607 meters and reaches 668 meters in depth. Issyk Kul Lake never freezes. "Issyk" means "Warm", "Kul" - Lake. There are 100 rivers and streams go into the Lake, but no one goes out. The water in the Lake is mineralized, that’s why it never freezes. Terskey Ala Too mountain range runs parallel the South shore, Kungey Ala Too is on the North side.
Airport “Manas” – Chon Kemin valley
Arrival in airport “Manas” (early morning arrival). Transfer to Bishkek accompanied by a great view to Kyrgyz Ala Too Mountain Range. Breakfast in café in Bishkek. Drive to Chon Kemin Valley. Visit Burana Tower on the way, which is famous historical monument and UNESCO heritage (11-12 century A.D.). During the excursion you can climb to the top of 24 meters tower and see panorama of beautiful Chui valley with Kyrgyz Mountain Range on the background. Short excursion around the village after arrival in Chon Kemin. Dinner and overnight in a guest house.
Altitudes (above sea level): Bishkek 700m, Chon Kemin 1400m.
Distance and travel time: Airport-Bishkek 35 km (40 min), drive to Chon Kemin 180 km (3-4 hours), excursion to Burana 1-1,5 hours.
Chon Kemin valley
Day-long excursion to one of the nearest mountain valley in Chon Kemin National Park. During this hike you enjoy fresh mountain air, sound of mountain river, alpine meadows full of grass and flowers, and lot of forest. In the middle of the trip you get to panorama of the whole Chon Kemin valley. Trip of this day is possible to make by riding a horse also. Dinner and overnight in a guest house.
Altitudes (above sea level): Hike in mountains – 1400-2000m.
Distance and travel time: 3-6 hours hiking trip.
Chon Kemin valley – Kochkor village
Drive to Kochkor village. The road goes along Boom Gorge which connects Chu and Issyk Kul valleys through the break between mountain ranges. “Boom” means “narrow”. It is a scenic place with stormy Chui river, winding road, mottled rocks and clear mountain air. Next stop for excursion at Konorchek canyons. This walk reminds a little adventure. With passing rocky steps and narrow places, the final destination of the trip is amazing view to canyons of red sandstone cliffs. Return back to the car and drive further to Kochkor village. Visiting felt-art workshop after lunch. You can see Kyrgyz traditional fancy-work, make your own felt carpet, visit craft shop-museum. Dinner and accommodation in a guest house.
Altitudes (above sea level): Kochkor village 1767m
Distances and travel time: 120km (2 hours) driving to Kochkor, +8km (3-4 hours) for hiking excursion to Konorchek Canyon.
Kochkor village – Bokonbaevo village
Drive along South shore of the Issyk Kul Lake to Bokonbaevo village. Visiting yurt and felt carpets handicraft makers, craft shop. Move to Ethno yurt complex “Almaluu”, near Ton village. Relax and walk to the beach of Issyk Kul. Optional program for the evening is taking part in workshop of cooking local dish for dinner. Dinner and overnight in a yurt camp.
Altitudes (above sea level): Kochkor village 1767m, Bokonbaevo 1809m.
Distances and travel time: 120 km (2 hours) driving.
Bokonbaevo village – Tamga
Couple of options for spending time this morning: you can participate in process of yurt building or visit eagle hunting show. Leave a yurt camp and move further East. Visiting “Skazka” (Fairy Tale) canyon on the way. It’s a place with colorful sandstone rocks which looks like Mars landscape or characters and decorations from Fairy Tales. Just switch on your imagination and you can easily spend hours walking in this magic place. Drive further to Tamga village. Dinner and overnight in a guest house.
Altitudes (above sea level): Bokonbaevo 1809m, Tamga 1685m Distances and travel time: 50 km (1 hour) driving, 3-4 hours for excursions and stops.
Tamga – Barskoon gorge – Arabel – Tamga
Drive to Barskoon Gorge to visit waterfalls. Our first stop at the memorial to the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. It used to be one of his favorite place for recreation. From the monument start round hiking trip to waterfalls. Two of them calls “Snowleopard’s tears” and “The cup of the Manas”. The third one “Snowleopard’s jump” is the largest and the most powerfull. Drive up to Barskoon pass and get to Arabel high mountain plateau. Such places Kyrgyz people call “Syrt”. Its terrain and climate is similar to tundra in the North but caused by severe of high altitude. The road to Arabel pass is one of the best mountain road in Kyrgyzstan, because “Kumtor” gold-mining company maintain it well. Return back to Tamga.
Dinner and overnight in a guest house.
Altitudes (above sea level): Tamga 1685m, Barskoon gorge 2500m,
Arabel pass 3600m
Distances and travel time: 90 km (2 hours) driving, 8 hours with excursions and stops.
Tamga – Djety Oguz valley
Continue driving along the South shore of Issyk Kul Lake and visit to the famous Djety Oguz valley. “Djety Oguz” means “Seven Bulls”. Old Kyrgyz legend about love, treachery and revenge gave this name to these seven sandstone red rocks. From other side it looks like “Broken Heart”. Little excursion to the health resort which was found in 1932 year and famous for its mineral waters. Then drive further up to valley. Short hiking trip there to visit waterfall called “Maiden Braids” or hike to the upper reaches of the valley to see grand mountain peak which is above 5000m and called “Oguz Bashi” (Head of the Bull). Dinner and overnight in a Yurt Camp.
Altitudes (above sea level): Tamga 1685m, Djety Oguz 2500m.
Distances and travel time: 90 km (2 hours) driving, 7-8 hours with excursions and stops.
Djety Oguz valley – Karakol city
Drive to Karakol town right after breakfast. Karakol (former Przhevalsk), at the beginning, was a Russian military outpost founded on 1 July 1869. For a long time many Russians lived there. This fact reflected to a culture and architecture of the town. Now it is fast developing and the fourth biggest city in Kyrgyzstan. Sightseeing tour around Karakol includes visiting city center, bazaar, Russian Orthodox Church, Dungan Mosque, Przewalsky museum. Accommodation in a hotel or guest house.
Altitudes (above sea level): Karakol 1800m.
Distances and travel time: 50 km (1 hour) driving, 6-8 hours with excursions.
Karakol town – Bishkek city
Taking North shore of Issyk Kul to drive back to Bishkek city. On the way stop in Cholpon Ata and visit to open-air museum with thousands petroglyphs. Then driving to Bishkek and accommodation in hotel. Take a short rest and continue with sightseeing excursion around Bishkek. Walk from Philharmonic to Ala Too main square. Passing by “White House”, open-air art gallery, oak park, different monuments and finish by Opera House and Victory Square. Farewell dinner in Bishkek.
Altitudes (above sea level): Karakol 1800m, Bishkek 700-800m
Distances and travel time: 400 km. 10 hours with excursions and stops.
Bishkek City – Airport “Manas”
Early breakfast. Drive to the airport. Flight home.
Altitudes (above sea level): Bishkek 700-800m, Manas airport 650m
Distances and travel time: 30km, 30-40 minutes driving.
Transport along the program;
Accommodation 4-5 persons in one yurt;
English speaking guide;
Full board supply;
Mineral water 1l per day per person;
Tickets and entrée fees.
Service doesn't include:
Alcohol and soft drinks;
Transfers, excursions or horse riding over the program etc.;
Visa and invitation letter to Kyrgyzstan;
Clothing and Equipment:
Sunscreen (at least 20SPF);
Sunglasses with UV protection;
At least a 25 Liter backpack for personal items;
Telescopic trekking sticks poles (optional);
T-Shirts, long-sleeved T-shirt, shorts;
Fleece jacket or pullover;
Fleece Wind-Stopper jacket (optional);
Down vest and/or jacket (optional);
Waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex);
Thin gloves for trekking and overnight;
Sun hat or scarf;
Warm fleece hat or light balaclava ;
Hiking boots with spare laces.