Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tour:


Join us in July & August 2020 on

a unique adventure trek in Kyrgyzstan!


Book before the 31st of December 2019 and get a 10% discount on the tour price!


Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tour - 10-day Adventure Trek - Journal of Nomads - Trekking to Ala Kul


(If you’re from Belgium or the Netherlands, click here for the Dutch version)


In 2018, we spent nearly 12 months in a little Central Asian country called Kyrgyzstan and we’ve fallen in love with its beauty! We love it there so much that we keep coming back!  Not only are the mountainous landscapes breathtaking, Kyrgyzstan is also one of the few off-the-beaten-path countries where you can still get a taste of the authentic nomadic culture.


After the big success of our Adventure Treks in 2018 and 2019 (watch the videos here), we want to give travelers a new opportunity to join us for some amazing new Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tours! That’s why we’re organizing 5 new adventure treks and tours in the summer of 2020!


This is what our participants said about the 10-day Adventure Trek in  2018 and 2019:


“Adventurous, informal, great guides and group leaders, stunningly beautiful scapes” – Bart, participant of the Adventure Trek in 2018


“It is a tour you will never forget because of nature, the semi-nomads you will meet and the authentic spontaneous flexible guiding of Cynthia, Niko, and Aleksei. You could ask anything and they would always try their best to meet with your needs! Also, they would choose to play on safe for the whole group which I really appreciated. Thanks!” – Ceciel, participant of the Adventure Trek in 2018


“It will be one of the experiences of your lifetime! “– Marie, participant of the Adventure Trek in 2019



“Joining this adventure was the best decision I made in recent times. I got to see the most epic nature in the most remote areas of the world and lived as a true Kyrgyz nomad under the throne of Mother Nature. I’ve experienced an adventure I only thought was still possible in my imagination…I felt like Frodo carrying the ring to Mordor accompanied by the Fellowship in an endless and ever mesmerizing landscape. This is not a holiday to charge your batteries but it will give you power in the shape of a memory that will last a lifetime. In addition to the country, I’ve met in Cynthia, Nico & Aleksei three very inspiring people who made a huge impression on me and they’ll make sure you’ll get the fullest out of this adventure. Kyrgyzstan is still rather undiscovered and somehow I hope it will be forever but if you want to experience it to the fullest, now is the time so sign up!” – Tobias, participant of the Adventure Trek in 2019


Adventure Trek Kyrgyzstan 2019 - Journal of Nomads


One of the two groups of international travelers who joined us on the Adventure Trek July 2019


Do you love adventure and the outdoors? Have you always dreamed of traveling on horseback and spending some nights in a yurt like the Central Asian nomads? Does the idea of trekking through remote mountains and camping on the shores of crystal-clear mountain lakes make your heart beat faster? Then we invite you to join us on our 10-day trekking tour in Kyrgyzstan!


Available dates for the 10-day Adventure Trek:

* July 1st – July 10th, 2020

* August 1st – August 10th, 2020


Are you planning a trip to Kyrgyzstan in June or are you interested in a shorter or longer adventure?

Join our 8-day Overland Expedition or our 14-day Best of Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tour (more information on this tour will be available by the end of August 2019)!



Table of Contents:




What can you expect on this Adventure Trek?


During this Adventure Trek, we’re going on a 2-day horseback trek through the amazing mountain pass of Terskye Alatau (Central Tian Shan mountains) towards the beautiful Son Kul Lake. Along the way, we’ll meet nomadic shepherds, taste some of the Kyrgyz national dishes and sleep in yurts of nomadic Kyrgyz families.


Adventure Trek Kyrgyzstan - yurt camp


Once we get back from this horseback trek, we’ll do some hiking in the “Fairy Tale” Canyon, visit the beautiful Barskoon waterfall in the forest and go for a swim in Issyk-Kul Lake.


Adventure Trekking Tour Kyrgyzstan July 2019 - Fairytale Canyon

“Fairy Tale” Canyon


Then we’ll start with the second part of the trek:  a 4-day hike across the Ala-Kul mountain pass (about 65km in total), during which we’ll hike along the Karakol river, through the forested oasis Sirota and across breathtaking valleys, meadows, and canyons until we reach the gorgeous mountain lake of Ala-Kul, known for its ever-changing watercolors.


During this trek, we’ll be camping in a tent in the most beautiful settings and you’ll be able to bath in hot springs under the open sky in of the Altyn-Arashan valley.


Ala Kul Lake


We’re organizing this tour in collaboration with our good friend and local tour guide Aleksei from Kyrgyz Nomad. During our time in Kyrgyzstan, Aleksei has been an indispensable resource for showing us the most beautiful places in the country and he gave us some great insights into the culture.


We’ll also be accompanied by local mountain guides who will make sure we smoothly find our way through the mountains.


We can’t wait to take you on this trip with us! It’ll be an incredible adventure and a unique opportunity for you to discover the beauty of a truly magnificent country (which is one of our favorite destinations in the world!) and to experience the lifestyle of the Kyrgyz nomads!





Overview of the trip


  • When:   1st –10th of July 2020. 10 days/ 9 nights     or    1st- 10th of August 2020.  10 days/ 9 nights


  • Start & Finish: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan


  • Level of difficulty of the 4-day hike: medium/hard  (the 2nd and 3rd day of the trek are physically very challenging as we’re hiking up steep hills, through rough terrain and above altitudes of 3000 meter. We strongly recommend you do some endurance training in advance!)


  • Transport: Van with AC


  • Housing and lodging: Homestay with local family, guest house, yurt, tent


  • Maximum group size: 15 people


  • Who can join: This Adventure Trek is suitable for adventurous travelers aged 18 and above. The average age of the travelers who have been joining us so far was between 20 and 50 years. The participants are solo travelers, friends, and couples. This Adventure Trek isn’t suitable for families with children who are younger than 16 years. 


10-day Itinerary




Day 1: Bishkek –Tokmok – Orto Tokoi Reservoir – KyzArt


We meet up in Bishkek around 9 in the morning. We get in the van and drive for one hour to Tokmok where we visit the Burana Tower. This tower is all that remains of a once flourishing city of the ancient Silk Road.


After a small tour of this historical site, we make a lunch stop. Then we continue our journey towards the village of KyzArt (4-hour drive). Along the way, we’ll make a stop at the Orto Tokoi Lake and the small town of Kochkor.


We arrive in KyzArt in the late afternoon. This village is the start point for the horseback trek. We spend the night in the homestay of a local horseman where we enjoy a homemade dinner.


Meals included: Lunch, dinner.
Accommodation: Shared room in the homestay of a local family
Facilities: The facilities in the homestay are simple so don’t expect any luxury. It’s the perfect opportunity to experience the local lifestyle. Limited wifi, toilet is outside, hot shower only available if there’s electricity. Shared room.




Day 2: Start of the 2-day horseback trek: KyzArt – Kilemche Valley


We start the day with a typical Kyrgyz breakfast. Then we climb on our horses and ride to the Kilemche Valley (about 4 to 5 hours riding).


We have lunch at the valley and spend the afternoon walking or riding around the area, experiencing the life of the local nomadic shepherds and their culture. It might also be possible to taste the Kyrgyz traditional drink ‘kymyz’ (fermented horse milk).


We spend the night in a yurt camp in the valley where we’ll enjoy a locally made dinner.


Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accommodation: Shared yurt.
Facilities: No electricity, no cell phone connection & wi-fi, no hot shower. Toilet is outside.




Day 3: Kilemche valley – Son Kul Lake


We start the day with breakfast in the yurt. Then we ride our horses along an amazing mountain pass towards the beautiful lake of Son Kul (3000m). We arrive at the lake around lunchtime.


You’ll have the whole afternoon to walk or ride along the shores of the lake, meet nomadic shepherds and visit their dwellings. The local people live and keep their livestock in the meadows (jailoos) around the lake from the end of May till the end of September. You’ll get a taste of the wilderness and freedom of the Kyrgyz nomadic life. If you want, you can go for a refreshing swim in Son Kul Lake.


We spend the night in a yurt camp on the shores of the lake.


Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accommodation: Shared yurt.
Facilities: No electricity, no cell phone connection & wi-fi, no hot shower. Toilet is outside.



Watch this to see what you can expect from the horseback trek to Son Kul:



Day 4: Son Kul – Issyk-Kul lake

After having breakfast in the yurt, we get in the van to continue the trip to our next destination – Issyk Kul lake. We’ll drive across a stunning mountain pass and stop to go for a short hike to a hidden waterfall. 


We arrive in the early afternoon in Ton, a village on the southern shore of Issyk-Kul lake. Issyk-Kul means “warm lake” in the Kyrgyz language because it never freezes, despite the cold temperatures in the region during winter. There will be some time to relax and swim in the lake.


In the evening we stay at a yurt camp on the shores of Issyk-Kul lake and get treated to the musical performance of a traditional Kyrgyz folk band.


Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accommodation: Shared yurt in Bel Tam yurt camp
Facilities: Warm shower, western-style toilets.



Day 5: Issyk-Kul Lake – Fairy Tale Canyon – Barskoon Waterfall – Karakol


After breakfast, we drive to the “Fairy Tale Canyon” for a short hike. The canyon is famous for its unique red “Mars” colors and its strange shapes and is a paradise for photographers.


After taking plenty of photos, we continue our little road trip to the Barskoon Gorge where we visit a beautiful waterfall in the forest.


We get back in the car and finish our trip in the town of Karakol, where we spend the night in a guest house.


Meals included: Breakfast, dinner.
Accommodation: Shared room in Karakol guesthouse
Facilities: Hot shower, western-style toilets, wifi.




Day 6: Start of the 4-day hiking trek. Karakol Valley – Sirota


We have breakfast in the guesthouse and get everything prepared for the hiking trek. Once we’re ready, we leave the guesthouse in the late morning and drive to the Karakol gorge. This is the starting point of our 4-day trek.


Today we hike 16km along the fast raging Karakol river to the Karakol Valley where we continue the trek towards the forested oasis named Sirota. Today is a rather “easy” day of hiking. It’s a great introduction to the area and we get treated to some amazing views of the distinct landscapes.


We set up camp on one of the river banks and enjoy a good dinner before we sleep for the first night under the stars.


Meals included: Breakfast, dinner.
Accommodation: Tent
Facilities: none. You can refresh yourself in the river.




Day 7:  Hiking towards Ala Kul lake


We start the day with a good breakfast before taking down our tents. Today we’re making a 12 kilometers long ascent to Ala-Kul lake (3500m). The distance might not sound very long but today will be physically challenging as we’ll have to hike up a steep hill for hours in a row. Don’t underestimate this trek!


Don’t forget to stop along the way to catch your breath and enjoy the magnificent views! We’ll also pass a beautiful waterfall.


Once we reach the lake that locals refer to as the ‘pristine diamond of the Karakol Canyon’, we continue hiking for a bit before reaching our camp above the shores of the lake. 


We have a well-deserved rest while enjoying the view over the lake and its ever-changing colors. The water changes hourly from azure to violet, depending on the weather conditions.


Meals included: Breakfast, dinner.
Accommodation: Tent
Facilities: none.




Day 8: Ala Kul pass –  Altyn-Arashan Valley


After breakfast and packing up, we continue our hike towards the Ala-Kul pass (3850m). The total hiking distance today is around 17 km. It doesn’t sound very long but it will be another physically challenging day. 


We start with a 2-hour challenging climb to the Ala Kul mountain pass and once we reach the summit, we get treated to a panorama of the highest peaks of the Terskey Alatau mountain range: Karakol Peak, Djigit, and the Oguz Bachi Peaks. Those peaks create a ridge that goes across the horizon from East to West.


We take a small break here to enjoy the magnificent views (and catch our breath) before we start our descent towards the Keldeke Gorge and the Altyn-Arashan valley (2600m).


Altyn-Arashan means ‘Golden Spa’ and is famous for its hot sulfur springs. The mineral water has a temperature of 40-50°C. Once we arrive, we take a well-deserved therapeutic bath in the indoor hot springs before having dinner at a guest house. Then we set up camp to sleep one last time in our tents.


Meals included: Breakfast, dinner.
Accommodation: Tent
Facilities: Bathing in indoor hot springs!




Day 9: Last day of the trek. Altyn-Arashan – Ak-Suu – Karakol


This is the last day of the trek! After our breakfast, we hike 19 km along the Arashan river toward the village of Ak-Suu, the endpoint of this trek.


In the morning, we’ll pass the hidden outdoor hot springs where we can sit in an outdoor bath with a view!


Once we’ve arrived in the village, we hop in the car and drive back to Karakol. In the evening we enjoy a delicious and nourishing dinner at the same guest house where we stayed on day 5. 


Meals included: Breakfast, dinner.
Accommodation: Shared room in Karakol guesthouse
Facilities: Hot shower, western-style toilets, wi-fi.




Day 10:  Return to Bishkek.


We enjoy one last breakfast together before we head back around 9 am to Bishkek. Today will be a long day of driving (around 7 hours)!


Along the way, we stop to visit the Jeti Oguz Gorge and we take a lunch break at the south shores of lake Issyk-Kul during which we can go for a swim in the lake.


When we arrive in Bishkek, we’ll drop off everyone at a central location in the city center where we can easily park the vans and unload the luggage. If needed, we’ll call a taxi for you so you can easily get to your hostel or hotel. 


This is the moment where the tour is finished! There’s an optional dinner to say goodbye to our amazing group of friends!


Meals included: Breakfast


Top Things to do in Kyrgyzstan - jeti oguz - Journal of Nomads

Jeti Oguz


Note: This itinerary can be modified in case of weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances.


Watch the video of the trek towards Ala Kul:



Costs of the trip


Price for the 10-day tour: 1000 euro per person (max. 15 people)

Book before December 31st 2019 and get a 10% discount!



What’s included in this price?

  • Transportation: Van with AC and/or 4×4 SUV with an experienced local driver
  • Accommodation: shared rooms in homestay and guesthouses, shared space in yurts
  • All meals mentioned in the itinerary
  • All activities mentioned in the itinerary
  • Entry tickets to Burana Tower, Fairy Tale Canyon, National Park areas in Karakol, hot springs
  • 1 horse per person during the 3-day horseback trek
  • Certified local guides who accompany us during the two trekkings



What’s not included in this price?

  • Airfares to and from Bishkek
  • Lodging in Bishkek (you can ask us for assistance with booking lodging in Bishkek and airport transport on your arrival and departure dates in Bishkek)
  • Visa application fee (however, Kyrgyzstan is visa-free for most EU and other countries. Check this link to see if you can visit the country without having to obtain a visa)
  • Medical or travel insurance (mandatory to join our trip). We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance (worldwide) if you want a good insurance provider (in case you don’t have one yet).
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary (there will be opportunities before the two treks to buy snacks and food in a local supermarket)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Personal expenses and souvenirs
  • Private room in guest house (we stay in a shared room in the guesthouses, if you want to have your own private room, please mention beforehand as there will be an additional cost)
  • Camping material: tent, sleeping bag, camping mattress (we offer you the possibility to rent these before the tour for the additional price of max.€10 per day)
  • Additional services: you can request a personal porter to carry your luggage (up to 15kg) during the 4-day hike to Ala-Kul lake (which we highly recommend!). A local porter costs €150 for the 4 days (the money goes in its entirety to the porter). 







What you need to know before joining this tour


Visa for Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan has a visa-free policy for citizens of 61 countries, including citizens of most EU countries, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Check here to see whether or not you need to obtain a visa or if you’re granted a free visa on arrival.


Housing and lodging during the tour
We put together this tour with the intention of providing you with an authentic Kyrgyz experience. Therefore we organized lodging in homestays, guesthouses, and yurts with local families so you can get a real taste of the Kyrgyz culture.


We will sleep in shared spaces, exactly like the Kyrgyz families do. In the guesthouses you’ll have your own bed, in the homestay and yurt we sleep on thick blankets on the floor. Those blankets are very comfortable and soft so we can ensure that you’ll sleep very well!


Kyrgyzstan summer tour - Journal of Nomads - hiking in Kyrgyzstan - sleeping in a yurt



Bathroom facilities in Kyrgyzstan
Along the road and in remote areas, there are no western-style toilets. Even at the gas stations or road restaurants, you’ll have to feel comfortable with a squat toilet.


With the exception of the guesthouses where you’ll have a hot shower and western-style toilet, most toilets will be outside in the form of a separate small building with a hole in the ground. Sometimes there’s toilet paper but definitely bring a roll (or two) of toilet paper with you on this tour.


Food in Kyrgyzstan
The food in Kyrgyzstan is hearty and delicious. Most meals consist of mutton, beef and chicken meat, served with dumplings, on top of noodles or rice or alongside potatoes. Mention if you’re vegetarian so we can arrange meals without meat for you!


Weather in Kyrgyzstan
July is the best month during the summer for horseback riding and trekking in the mountains. The average temperature in the mountains is between 15 and 25 ºC during the day, nights can be chilly (between 0 to 10 ºC).


However, the weather in the mountains can be unpredictable so we might experience rain, snow, and sun in one day. Bring warm and waterproof clothes, suitable for any weather condition.


Gear/ equipment needed for this tour
As this is an adventurous tour, you’ll need to bring a backpack in which you can carry your clothes, personal items, tent, sleeping bag and camping mattress.


Unless you rent a porter, you’ll have to carry your own backpack with all your gear and personal food supplies during the 4-day trek so take lightweight equipment with you!


Trekking equipment such as hiking poles, tent, sleeping bags, and camping mats can be rented on a daily basis (not more than €10/day). You can also request a personal porter (€150 for 4 days) during the 4-day hiking trek.


It’s also a good idea to bring a sun hat, sunglasses, lip balm, sunscreen lotion and a pair of long pants for the horseback trek.

Read our Packing List for Trekking in Kyrgyzstan!


Charging electronics
There are electrical outlets in the guesthouses but it will be hard to charge your electronic devices during the treks. Bring enough batteries for your camera and a USB power bank to keep your electronic accessories charged.


Will this tour be dangerous?
We want to give you an adventurous experience, not a dangerous one! The biggest danger is that you might not want to leave Kyrgyzstan (that’s why I stayed almost 1 year in the country and keep coming back…).


Kyrgyzstan is one of the safest countries in Asia. To ensure your safety in the mountains, we’ll be accompanied by experienced mountain guides who know all the paths. Safety is our priority and we wouldn’t organize anything that would put you in danger!


Do I need to have camping/ hiking/horseback riding experience?
Active mountain trekking is teamwork, so we’ll help each other with setting the camp, building a cover for the rain and motivate each other during the steeper parts of the hike. It’s also not a problem if you’ve never ridden a horse before.


The horses are used to carrying people and they walk very slowly so all you have to do is sit and enjoy the ride! We’ll have some experienced horsemen with us that will guide and help you if needed.


The only thing that you have to keep in mind is that the 4-day hike can be quite difficult during the climbing parts. If you’re not used to physical activity, build up your endurance by doing some cardio exercises before starting this trek. Don’t underestimate this hike, it’s not a walk in the park!


Altitude levels
On this trip, we’ll be reaching altitudes around 3850 meters above sea level. During the horseback trek to Son Kul (3000m), you’ll get the time to acclimatize to the altitude.


The same counts for the hiking trek. We won’t hike at a fast pace so you’ll have the time to get used to the altitude. The highest place we reach will be the Ala-Kul pass at 3850 meters. In case you ever had issues with altitude sickness, please seek medical advice before booking this tour.


In case you have more questions about this tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.





Cost of tour: €1000 per person.

Reserve your place before the 31st of May 2020 (1st tour) or the 31st of June 2020 (2nd tour).

The earlier you do it, the earlier your spot in the group will be reserved (max. 15 people)


If you book before December 31st 2019, you’ll get a 10% discount on the tour price!


Confirm your participation with a deposit of €300 per person.

The remainder of the tour cost has to be paid cash on the day before the tour.

Deposits can be made through Transferwire, a safe online money transfer service.


As soon as I receive your booking, I’ll send out the payment details. You have 48 hours to pay the deposit. If not, we have to cancel your participation and reserve the place for the next person who books.




If you have any more questions or want more info, please contact us here!


Cancellation policy

If for any reason you have to cancel your place on this tour, we’ll give you a full refund of your deposit if you cancel before the 1st of May 2020.

If we have to cancel this tour for any reason, you will receive a 100% refund of your deposit.


We’re so excited to share this adventure with you!!
We hope to see you in Kyrgyzstan!


Cynthia, (Niko) & Aleksei


Adventure Tours Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads