Experience Kyrgyzstan: Trekking and Local Culture
Experience the best that Kyrgyzstan has to offer: a living semi-nomadic culture, incredible alpine landscapes, and the chance to visit a country few outsiders will ever go. On our Experience Kyrgyzstan: Trekking and Local Culture trip you’ll stay with real families, learning about their way of life and sleep overnight in a yurt. You’ll also witness the spectacular beauty of the remote Kyrgyz landscape while trekking by foot, horseback, and raft. Before leaving, we’ll take in the distinct celebrations of Independence Day in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Why we love this tour
This is an incredible journey into the heart of Kyrgyzstan. We’ll meet plenty of friendly locals to get an understanding of thier unique way of life here and get off the grid for a few days to reach the gorgeous Kol Suu Lake. We’ll get a taste of the ancient Silk Road at Tash Rabat and Burana Tower and swim in the crystal-clear waters of famed Lake Issyk Kol. We’ll meet Eagle hunters, build our own yurt, and eat a variety of typical regional dishes. We’ll be led by a local guide along with our co-founder, Stephen Bugno, who has had a fondness for Kyrgyzstan since first visiting in 2003.
- Day 1Bishkek to Rot-FrontAfter landing in Bishkek our guide will meet you at the airport and welcome you to Kyrgyzstan. Since most flights land at 3 am everyone will be able to unpack their bags and take a rest at our guesthouse in Bishkek. At 10:00 am breakfast will be ready and our guide will give you an overview of Kyrgyzstan and about the places you will see here. Once everyone is ready you will head out of the city and take the scenic route to the old German village of Rot-Front. Once you arrive at the Farm Guesthouse your hosts will greet you with hot tea and bread. Have a walk through the small village and take a short hike to the yurt camp near the mountains in the afternoon.
Accommodation The Farm Guesthouse in Rot-Front
- Day 2Bishkek to Shaar ValleyAfter breakfast, everyone will pack their bags and start the journey over countless mountain passes with extensive views. The first stop of the day will be in the regional center of the Kochkor area where you will be able to meet with local artisans and learn how they are making national handicrafts. A lunch of local specialties will be served in the yurt. After lunch, we'll stop at a hidden waterfall where everyone will be able to stretch their legs and discover the mysteries of the waterfall. The last stop of the day will be at the guesthouse in the valley of Shaar where we'll be hosted by a local family.
Accommodation Shaar Guesthouse near At-Bashy.
- Day 3Shaar Valley to Kok KyiaAfter breakfast, the adventure will start with a drive to the Kok Kyia valley. The first stop will be at the military check-point so make sure to have your passport handy. Our next stop will be at a panoramic view where you can see the ruins of the first Czarist military base in the area. We'll share a picnic lunch with an epic view! After lunch, we'll arrive at Meder’s Yurt camp where the family will great you with tea and bread. After dinner, it’s possible to take a short hike to the summit of the nearby mountain to get a great view of the area and to see the Kol Suu lake in the distance.
Accommodation Meder’s Yurt Camp in the Kok Kyia valley
- Day 4Horseback riding to the Kol Suu lakeAfter breakfast, we'll jump on the back of a horse and head to the stunning Kel Suu lake. The lake is in a natural dam lying between vertiginous sharp cliffs. It makes for a great picnic spot next to the lake. Keep an eye out for birds of prey in this area, as well as ibex, foxes, and marmots. After lunch, you will inflate your pack raft and start padding on Kol Suu lake. Kel Suu lake is 15km long and 40m wide at its narrowest point. You will be able to see massive 800m cliffs that will meet you at the edges of the lake.
Accommodation in tents near the Kol Suu lake.
- Day 5Pack rafting across the Kol Suu lakeAfter an early start, we will head towards the Tuyuk Boto Valley, which very close to the boarder of China, by boat. After lunch, we'll set up camp on the eastern side of the Kol Suu lake and have time to explore the area near the border. Since this is a remote and infrequently visited place, you will be able to discover new trekking paths or follow the paths of ibex goats.
Accommodation in tents on the eastern side of the Kol Suu lake.
- Day 6Hiking from Kel Suu lake back to Kok KyiaAfter breakfast, we will be able to summit the Eshegart pass at 3933m (12,904 ft) and descend into the Tuyuk Boto Valley. If we are lucky and tread lightly, we might be able to see wildlife in this very remote and wild region. The view from the Eshegart pass will give us a great view of Kel Suu lake and an expansive view towards China. In the late afternoon, you will arrive back at Meder’s yurt camp and be greeted with cups of warm tea and great local dishes.
Accommodation Meder’s Yurt Camp in the Kok Kyia valley.
- Day 7Kol Suu to Tash Rabat CaravanseraiAfter leaving Meder’s yurt camp, we will drive via the Torugart Pass on the way to Tash Rabat Caravanserai. The first stop will be near the Torugart Pass where you will be able to look east and to see China. The road that you are traveling on is the actual Silk Road. Before arriving at Tash Rabat, turn your watch back to the 15th century and explore this Silk Road Caravanserai. After counting all the rooms in Tash Rabat Caravanserai, your hosts Narzira will great you with tea and bread at her Yurt Camp. It’s possible to hire a Russian style sauna where you can wash up after all the days in the mountains.
Accommodation at Nazira’s Yurt Camp in Tash Rabat.
- Day 8Tash Rabat to Sog KolAfter leaving Nazira’s Yurt Camp, we will drive the back roads to Song Kol lake. The first stop will be in the small village of Baetovo to have a look around the bazaar to meet with local sellers. Don’t forget to ask for a cup of kumis (fermented mare's milk!) or try some other local candies. We'll eat a picnic lunch on the way before arriving at Backet’s Yurt Camp. Once we arrive at Song Kol lake you will be able to meet Backet’s family and share tea with his kids. Before dinner, it will be possible to have a short hike to the lake or to trek up to the panoramic point behind the yurt camp.
Accommodation at Backet’s Yurt Camp.
- Day 9Song Kol to BokonbayevoAfter an early breakfast, we'll pack our bags and make our way to the 2nd largest alpine lake in the world: Issyk Kul Lake. The first stop of the day will be the Kalmak Ashu pass that makes for a great place to stretch your legs and admire the incredible view. We'll eat lunch with a local family in Kochkor before heading to Issyk Kul. Once we arrive at Bel Tam Yurt Camp on the shores of Issyk Kul, Aidia Eje will greet us with tea and bread. We'll spend the late afternoon on the beach and jump into crystal-clear lake Issyk Kul for a swim.
Accommodation at Bel Tam Yurt Camp near Bokonbayevo.
- Day 10Bokonvayevo to Fairytale Canyons to BokonbayevoFor the early risers in the group, don’t miss out on the sunrise over Issyk Kul from the doors of your yurt. After breakfast, everyone will be able to stretch their legs and head to Fairytale Canyons where we'll take a 2-hour hike through the sand canyons full of legends. After the hike, we'll take lunch with Aitbek’s family near the mountains. Aitebek is an Eagle Hunter who will show you his Golden Eagle and Kyrgyz Taigan hunting dogs that he uses to hunt foxes, wolves, and rabbits. Aitebek will show you how he is working with his Golden Eagle and you will be able to join in on a hunt to see it for yourself. After having tea with Aitebek’s family you will be able to head back to the Issyk Kul to enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the beach before dinner.
Accommodation at Bel Tam Yurt Camp near Bokonbayevo.
- Day 11Bokonvayevo to BishkekAfter a large breakfast, we'll make our way back to Bishkek with a few stops along the way. The first will be in the Manjyly-Ata valley, at a small village where local residents specialize in building all the components for yurts. You will learn how to build your own yurt and discover how the yurts are made. We'll stop for lunch in Boom Gorge on the way back to Bishkek. The next stop is Burana Tower, which is a ruin from the 10th century when this area was a large city on the Silk Road. Burana Tower is full of local legends from the days of the Silk Road. After exploring Burana Tower we will drive back to Bishkek and arrive at the guesthouse. Once everyone unpacks, we will explore the city of Bishkek and try various delicious local dishes at a Kyrgyz ethnic café.
Accommodation at the Blue Camel Guesthouse in Bishkek
- Day 12Bishkek Independence DayWe are fortunate to be in Kyrgyzstan on the 31st of August to experience the 27th anniversary of the independence of the Kyrgyz Republic! After breakfast everyone will head to the city center to see the large parade and have chance encounters with locals happy to share their history and culture with you. After lunch, we will go to the main sports arena to watch the national horse games. It’s quite a lot of fun to experiences these games which are played between the different regions of Kyrgyzstan. After the dinner party, everyone will be able to watch the fireworks from a panoramic view of the city.
Accommodation at the Blue Camel Guesthouse in Bishkek .
- Day 13Bishkek flight homeAfter an early breakfast, everyone will be transferred to the airport as a group. We hope that everyone enjoyed their time in Kyrgyzstan and tells their friends what an amazing place it is.
Packing List for Experience Kyrgyzstan: Trekking and Local Culture (recommended)
- Weather in Kyrgyzstan in summer can be hot in the lower elevations and chilly at night in the high elevations. Pack a variety of clothing that you can layer. Wool is always best.
- Comfortable footwear for hiking.
- Cash (new, clean Euros or USD printed after 2006 are best).
- ATM cards, credit cards (only useable/accepted in Bishkek).
- Headlamp and/or flashlight (and spare batteries) and other items useful while camping/ hiking.
- Money belt for passport, large bills, and credit/ATM cards.
The accommodation will range from a guesthouse in Bishkek to yurt camps in the countryside to tents during our trek.
The transportation during this trip will be by minivan or 4-wheel drive vehicle through the countryside.
Cancellations and Refunds
If you must cancel your reservation for a tour and/or its extension, we will refund your payment, less the following fees per tour and/or extension:
|Days Prior to Trip Start Date||Trip Cancellation Fee Per Person|
|31 – 60 days||50% of trip price|
|0-30 days||100% of trip price|
This trip will be led by a local English-speaking guide as well as our co-founder, Stephen Bugno, who has been in love with Central Asia since serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan 15 years ago.