10-DAY KYRGYZSTAN ADVENTURE TOUR

10-DAY KYRGYZSTAN ADVENTURE TOUR DATES:

July 2nd – July 11th, 2022 (2 places left)

August 1st – August 10th, 2022 (7 places left)

Register here to join one of these tours!

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

When I first arrived in Kyrgyzstan in 2017, I immediately fell in love with the beauty of this Central Asian country. I loved it so much, that I even decided to live and travel there for nearly an entire year!

Kyrgyzstan is a fantastic outdoor destination and is one of the few off-the-beaten-path countries where you can still get a taste of the authentic nomadic culture.

My Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tours in 2018, 2019 and 2021 were a big success and I want to give more adventurous travelers the opportunity to come along! That’s why I’m organizing new adventure tours in the summer of 2022!

Here are some reviews of travelers who joined the 10-day Adventure Tour in 2018, 2019 and 2021:

I’ve been telling my friends that this has got to be the most underrated trip/place/adventure I’ve ever gone to or been part of. There’s so much diversity and flexibility in terms of the kind of activity that we are doing. Because when I travel to a new country, I mostly just stick to 1 activity and that’s just trekking for the whole duration of the trip. This 10-day adventure had it all. Horse-back riding, swimming, cultural immersion, trekking, camping, sightseeing, driving across one of the most beautiful roads and landscapes I’ve ever seen in my life. To Cynthia and Aleksei, thank you so much for such an amazing trip. You guys were honestly the coolest, and one of the most amazing people I knew and I can’t thank you enough for showing me Kyrgyzstan. – Phebby from the Philippines, 10-day Adventure Tour 2021.

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“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… 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 from Belgium, 10-day Adventure Tour 2019.

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“It will be one of the experiences of your lifetime! “– Marie from Germany,10-day Adventure Tour 2019

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“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 and Aleksei. You could ask anything and they would always try their best to meet your needs! Also, they would choose to play on safe for the whole group which I really appreciated. Thanks!” – Ceciel from Belgium, 10-day Adventure Tour 2018

10-day Adventure Tour, August 2021

Do you love adventure and the great outdoors? Have you always dreamed of traveling on horseback and sleeping in a yurt camp like the Central Asian nomads do?

Does the idea of trekking through remote mountains and camping on the shores of crystal-clear mountain lakes make your heart beat faster?

Then I invite you to join the 10-day Adventure Tour in Kyrgyzstan!

AVAILABLE DATES:

July 2nd – July 11th, 2022 (2 places left)

August 1st – August 10th, 2022 (7 places left)

RESERVE YOUR PLACE NOW!

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You might also be interested in my other Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tours:


What can you expect on the 10-day Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tour?

During the 10-day Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tour, we’re going on a 2-day horseback trek through the amazing Terskye Alatau mountains near Son Kul Lake.

Along the way, we’ll meet nomadic shepherds, taste some of the Kyrgyz national dishes and sleep in the yurt camps of Kyrgyz shepherd families.

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

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).

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 bathe in the hot springs of the Altyn-Arashan valley.

I’m organizing this tour in collaboration with my good friend and local tour guide Aleksei from Kyrgyz Nomad. During my time in Kyrgyzstan, Aleksei has been an indispensable resource for showing me the most beautiful places in the country.

Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tours Journal of Nomads
Aleksei & Cynthia

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

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:   

  • July 2nd – 11th, 2022 (guided by Aleksei)
  • August 1st – 10th, 2022 (guided by Cynthia & Aleksei)

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 meters. We strongly recommend you do some endurance training in advance!)

Transport: Van with AC

Lodging: yurt camps, guesthouse, tent

Maximum group size: 12 people

Who can join: The 10-day Adventure Tour is suitable for physically fit travelers aged 18 and above. The average age of the travelers who have been joining us so far was between 20 and 65 years.

The participants are usually solo travelers, friends, and/or couples. This Adventure Tour isn’t suitable for families with children who are younger than 16 years. 

10-day Adventure Tour, July 2019

Would you like to join this adventure?

BOOK HERE


10-day Kyrgyzstan Itinerary

Day 1: Bishkek – Orto Tokoi Reservoir – Son Kul Lake

We meet up in Bishkek around 10 in the morning. We pack our belongings in the van and start the journey towards Son Kul Lake, a beautiful mountain lake just below 3000 meters altitude. Along the way, we’ll make a stop at the Orto Tokoi Reservoir.

Orto Tokoi Water Reservoir Kyrgystan

We arrive in Son Kul in the late afternoon. After our arrival at the yurt camp, you’ll have some free time to explore the area on foot.

Dinner is shared with the group at the yurt camp and we spend the night in a shared yurt near the shores of Son Kul lake.

Son Kul lake - Kyrgyzstan Tours - Journal of Nomads
Yurt camp at Son Kul lake

Meals included: Dinner.
Accommodation: Shared yurt
Facilities: no wi-fi, no electricity, no hot shower. You can refresh yourself in the lake. Toilet is outside. 

Day 2: Start of the 2-day horseback trek: Son Kul Lake – Kilemche Valley

We start the day around 9 am with a traditional Kyrgyz breakfast in the yurt camp. Then we mount our horses and go on a 5-hour horse ride to Kilemche Valley across a stunning mountain pass.

We have a late lunch in the valley and you have the rest of the afternoon free to walk around the valley and experience 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 at 9 am with breakfast in the yurt. Then we ride our horses along another amazing mountain pass to return to Son Kul. We arrive at the lake around lunchtime.

You’ll have the whole afternoon free to swim, relax or walk 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.

We spend the night at the same yurt camp of day 1.

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

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 on a short hike to a hidden waterfall. 

We arrive in the late afternoon in Kaji-Say, a small town 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. You’ll get time to go for a swim in the lake.

In the evening we stay at a yurt camp on the shores of Issyk-Kul lake.

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner.
Accommodation: Shared yurt
Facilities: Warm shower, western-style toilets, wi-fi.

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

After breakfast (and an optional morning swim in the lake), we go on a short drive to meet one of the few remaining Golden Eagle hunters in Kyrgyzstan for a demonstration of how he trains his eagles.

Hunting with eagles is an ancient tradition amongst the nomadic people of Central Asia but nowadays there are only a few people left in Kyrgyzstan who practice this art.

Eagle Hunter Kyrgyzstan _ Journal of Nomads

After the eagle hunting demonstration, we continue our journey to Karakol. Along the way, we have a stop at the “Fairytale Canyon” where we go on 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.

Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tour - Camping at Lake Ala Kul

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 15 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 10 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 last swim in the lake.

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

Jeti Oguz

When we arrive in Bishkek, we’ll drop off everyone at a central location in the city center where we can easily park the van 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

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


Costs of the trip

Price for the 10-day Adventure Tour:

1200 euro per person (max. 12 people)

What’s included in this price?

  • Transportation: Van with AC and/or 4×4 SUV with an experienced local driver
  • Accommodation: shared rooms in guesthouses and shared space in yurts
  • All meals mentioned in the itinerary
  • All activities mentioned in the itinerary
  • Entry tickets to Fairy Tale Canyon, National Park areas in Karakol, hot springs
  • 1 horse per person during the 2-day horseback trek
  • Experienced horsemen who guide us during the 2-day horseback trek
  • Certified local guides and cook who accompany us during the 4-day trek to Ala Kul
  • Porters who carry camping equipment and personal luggage up to max.10 kg per person during the 4-day trek.

What’s not included in this price?

  • Airfares to and from Bishkek
  • Lodging in Bishkek (you can ask us for assistance with booking accommodation 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 SafetyWing or Battleface 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, soft drinks, bottled water
  • Personal expenses and souvenirs
  • Private room in guesthouse (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 trek for a total price of max. €10 per day)

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.

  • Coronavirus

You need to be fully vaccinated or show a negative Covid- PCR test issued in the last 72 hours before entering Kyrgyzstan. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, we still require you to do a PCR test before joining this trip.

You’ll also need to take a PCR test upon leaving Kyrgyzstan. This test can be done in different lab centers in Bishkek. We’ll provide you with all the info you’ll need!

  • 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 guesthouses and yurt camps of local families.

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

During the 4-day trek to Ala Kul, you will camp in a tent so definitely bring a good camping mattress and a warm sleeping bag as nights in the mountains are cold.

  • Bathroom facilities in Kyrgyzstan

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

With the exception of the guesthouses where you’ll have a hot shower and western-style toilet, most toilets are 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.

When we’re camping near Ala Kul lake you have to feel comfortable doing ‘your business’ in nature.

You also have to be fine with not being able to take a hot shower during the majority of the trip but you can refresh yourself in the lakes and rivers.

A “bathroom” in a yurt camp

  • Food in Kyrgyzstan

Breakfast is usually fried eggs, bread and/or porridge.

Lunch and dinner usually consist of 2 courses. The first course is often a hearty soup. The second course is mutton, beef and chicken, served with noodles or rice and a salad on the side. We can arrange meals for vegetarians.

  • Drinking water during the tour

Bottled water isn’t provided so you must bring your own refillable water bottle.

You’ll be able to refill your water bottle(s) in clean water springs and streams along the tour. If there aren’t any water springs at the yurt camp, we’ll request boiled water to fill up your bottle(s).

I also highly recommend bringing a water filter or a steripen if you’re worried about getting sick – I’ve been using a Lifestraw water bottle and that has always done the job for me!

  • Weather in Kyrgyzstan

July and August are the best months 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.

The weather in the mountains is very unpredictable so be prepared for sun, rain and snow!

  • Gear/ equipment needed for this tour

As this is an adventurous tour, you’ll need a backpack in which you can easily carry your clothes, personal items, and camping equipment.

Once you’ve booked for this trip, you’ll receive a detailed packing list. You can already read the Packing List for Trekking in Kyrgyzstan to get an idea of what you’ll need. 

You’ll be able to leave some of your belongings in a secure place during the 2-day horseback ride at Song Kul and the 4-day trek to Ala Kul. 

Trekking equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, and pads can be rented on a daily basis (not more than €10/day). 

  • Charging electronics

There will only be 3 nights on this 10-day tour during which you can charge your electronic devices. Bring enough batteries for your camera and a USB power bank to keep your electronic accessories charged.

In Kyrgyzstan, the power plugs and sockets are of type C and F (same as in Europe). The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

  • 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 1 year in the country and just 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!

The only danger in Kyrgyzstan is that you’ll fall in love with the beautiful landscapes and people and don’t want to leave!

  • Do I need to have previous camping/ hiking/horseback riding experience?

You don’t need to have previous camping experience but you need to be aware of what you’re signing up for.

This is not a ‘glamping’ trip so you need to be comfortable with living in basic conditions, not being able to take a hot shower for days in a row (you can wash in the lakes and/or rivers), and feel confident enough to use a tree or a hole in the ground as a toilet.

When you sign up, we’ll ask about your horseriding experience. It’s not a problem if you’ve never ridden a horse before. We’ll give instructions and the horses are used to carrying inexperienced riders.  They’ll walk very slowly so all you have to do is sit and enjoy the ride. We’ll also have some experienced horsemen with us that will guide and help you if needed.

The majority of the travelers who’ve signed up in the past didn’t have any horse riding experience so don’t worry, we got your back!

Active mountain trekking is teamwork, so we’ll help each other with setting the camp, building a cover for the rain, and motivating each other during the steeper parts of the trek.

The only thing that you have to keep in mind is that the 4-day hike will be difficult during the climbing parts. If you’re not used to doing physical activity, train beforehand and build up your endurance by doing cardio exercises before starting this trek.

Even if you’ve done multiple-day trekking before, don’t underestimate this hike!

Don’t underestimate this trek! The terrain is often very rough!

  • Altitude levels

On this trip, we’ll be reaching high altitudes with an average between 3000 and 3500 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 me.


Booking

Cost of tour:

€1200 per person  (max. 12 people)


Availability:

July 2nd – July 11th, 2022 (2 places left, guided by Aleksei)

August 1st – August 10th, 2022 (7 places left, guided by me)

BOOK YOUR PLACE HERE

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

Deposits can be made via bank transfer in EUR or USD.

The remaining amount can be paid either in cash on the first day of the tour or via bank transfer at the latest one week before the start of the trip.

As soon as we receive your booking, we’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 can’t join this tour, we’ll refund your deposit if you cancel before April 30th, 2022.

In case we have to cancel this tour due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control (pandemic, political reasons, natural disasters,…), you’ll receive a full refund of the tour costs (minus transaction costs).


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

Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tours Journal of Nomads

Cynthia & Aleksei