Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Gorge Trek

Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Gorge Trek

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15 Days
From

$5248

$4960

Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Gorge Trek

15 Days Starting and ending in Bishkek

Visiting: Bishkek, Ala Archa National Park, Burana Tower, Tosor, Issyk-Kul Region, Jeti Oguz, Kichi Jargylchak, Kyzyl Suu, Zheti-Oguz Suu, Jety - Oguz Korustonu, Telety pass, Pik Karakol, Ala-Kul, Altyn-Arashan, Karakol

Tour operator:

Exodus

Tour code:

TXL

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

6 - 16

Physical rating:

Challenging

Age range:

16 to 99

Special diets catered:

Please inform Exodus of specific dietary requirements

Tour operated in:
English
Interests:

Cultural, History

From:
$5248
$4960 (USD) Operator discount: $148 The Big ADVENTURE Sale: $140
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Tour Overview

Spectacular trekking through alpine meadows and wild pastures inhabited by Kyrgyz nomads - past gushing rivers and waterfalls, taking in panoramic views of Lake Issyk-Kul and the snow-capped peaks of the Tian Shan Range, meaning 'Mountains of Heaven'. The first part of the walking route crosses a series of rugged, seldom-visited gorges, which only the most intrepid of outsiders have laid eyes on. Whilst the latter part of the trek crosses into Jety-Oguz Gorge, famed for its immense beauty. There's also the chance to hike to the foot of Karakol Peak (the highest in the region) and there are all sorts of other delights besides the trek itself: rejuvenate in the thermal baths of Altyn Arashan, learn to make traditional 'lagman' noodles in a family home, take a guided tour of Bishkek, and visit ancient sites including the Cholpon-Ata Petroglyphs.

Highlights

  • Panoramic views from Telety Pass (3,800m) 

  • Hike through 6 different gorges, including the famously beautiful Jety-Oguz Canyon

  • Discover Bishkek, Burana Tower and the Cholpon-Ata Petroglyphs

  • Daywalk to the foot of Karakol Peak, the highest in the Terskey Ala-Too Range

  • Learn how to make traditional 'lagman' noodles in a family home in Karakol

  • Views of Lake Issyk-Kul and Aka-Kul

  • Chance to bathe in Altyn Arashan hot springs

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1 : Arrive Bishkek; Afternoon City Tour
Location: Bishkek
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Hotel Asia Mountains, or similar
Meals Included: No Meals

The tour starts in Bishkek. The group flights are scheduled to arrive into
Bishkek in the morning; those on the group flights will be met at the airport
and transferred to the hotel (approx. 40km/1hr drive). We have requested
early check-in for all clients so the rooms should be ready for when you
arrive. Land only clients who have booked their own flights should join at
the start hotel no later than midday as we have a city tour in the
afternoon. 

Bishkek is Kyrgyzstan’s modern capital city and industrial centre and this
afternoon we'll have a guided tour to explore its wide avenues and Soviet
heritage. We visit the Frunze Museum and Museum of Fine Arts (please note
that the National History Museum is closed for maintenance at the time of
writing) as well as the city's main sites (on foot and using transfers where
necessary), taking in Manas Monument, Lenin Statue, Ala-Too Square (where we
witness the ceremonial changing of the guard), Kurmanzhan Datka
Monument, and the Government buildings. We end the tour at Victory Square.

Day 2 : Full Day Excursion And Warm-Up Walk In Ala-Archa N.P.
Location: Ala Archa National Park
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Hotel Asia Mountains, or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we take an excursion to Ala-Archa National Park, located about 40-60
minutes (40km) north of Bishkek and go for a gentle warm-up walk, usually to
a waterfall which takes approx. 4-5hrs for a round trip / 3.75km each way

Day 3 : Drive Via Burana Tower To Tosor Village On The Shores Of Lake Issyk-Kul; Overnight In A Yurt Camp
Location: Burana Tower, Tosor, Issyk-Kul Region
Accommodation: Camp
Accommodation Name: Tosor Yurt Camp, or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We begin our journey towards the Tian Shan, or more specifically, the Terskey
Ala-Too Range. Our destination is Tosor on the southern shore of Lake
Issyk-Kul (the drive is approximately 310km/6-7 hours). We break up the
journey with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site - Burana Tower, an
11th century minaret and the first of its kind in Central Asia and an
important point along the Great Silk Road. 

Issyk-Kul is the second largest salt lake in the world, after the Caspian Sea
(and fast becoming the largest as the Caspian Sea recedes), it measures 70km
by 180km and is almost 700m at its deepest point. Its name translates as 'Hot
Lake' and was given as, even in the depths of winter and despite being just
above 1,600m, it never freezes. The area around the lake is a mixture of
forest and meadow with a backdrop of towering mountains. 

Tonight, we usually sleep in a yurt camp but as space is limited,
occasionally we may have to stay in a guesthouse in Tamga village instead.


Day 4 : Free Morning By The Lake; Transfer To Juukuchak Gorge
Location: Jeti Oguz
Accommodation: Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We have a free morning to take in the scenery, perhaps swim in the lake or
sunbathe on its shores. After lunch at the yurt camp, we drive for around
1.5hrs (70km) to Juuku Gorge and onwards into a smaller branch of the canyon
-  Juukuchak Gorge. Upon arrival, our tents will be ready and waiting for
us. We'll meet our trekking guides and camp staff, stretch our legs around
the camp, and this evening there will be a full trek briefing. 

*Full-service wild camping*

Day 5 : Trek Over Orto-Bulak Pass (2,540M) To Kichi-Kyzyl-Suu Gorge
Location: Kichi Jargylchak, Kyzyl Suu, Zheti-Oguz Suu
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast we set off walking along a trail from the foot of the
mountains up and over Orto Bulak Pass (2,540m) in the Kichi-Kyzyl-Suu Gorge.
The scenery is pristine which adds to the beauty. 

*Full-service wild camping*

Day 6 : Hike Through Nomad Pastures To Djili-Suu; Option To Visit Nearby Hot Springs By Jeep
Location: Kyzyl Suu
Accommodation: Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning we begin following the trail to Chon Kyzyl-Suu Gorge. Chon
Kyzyl-Suu Gorge is popular with Kyrgyz nomads, as there are many green
pastures and mountain rivers. We will usually see several nomadic families
along the way, together with their livestock and yurt settlements. We'll
reach our campsite at Djili-Suu in the early afternoon. After reaching our
camp there is an opportunity to take our jeep to the nearby hot springs.
There are several small pools with hot springs and the waters are believed to
have good health properties. 

*Full-service wild camping*

Day 7 : Trek To Jety-Oguz Canyon Via Kok-Jaiyk Pass (2750M)
Location: Jety - Oguz Korustonu
Accommodation: Camp
Accommodation Name: Jety-Oguz Yurt Camp, or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We continue our hike to the Jety-Oguz Gorge, one of the most beautiful and
famous canyons in Kyrgyzstan. To reach this gorge, we have to cross the river
and cross the Kok-Jaiyk Pass (2750m). It's quite a climb but the view from
the top of the pass will give us a new appreciation of these so called
'celestial mountains' as we're rewarded with an unforgettable mountain
panorama. During today's walk, we will also get magnificent views of Lake
Issyk-Kul. At the end of the day, we reach the yurt camp - a chance to grab a
shower. 


Day 8 : Ascend Via A Narrow, Wooded River Gorge To The Base Of Telety Pass
Location: Telety pass
Accommodation: Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning we meet our team of porters who will carry our main luggage for
the remainder of the trek. We follow a path along the bank of the West
Telety River, through a very narrow wooded gorge (Bay Tor), and eventually
emerge in alpine meadows. We usually stop for a picnic lunch in the meadows,
which are awash with colour in spring as the wild flowers bloom. After a
rest, we continue the trek to our tented camp (approx. 3000m) at the foot of
Telety Pass. After settling into our tents there is the option to take a
short 1km walk to the nearby waterfall.

*Full-service camping (fixed tented camp)*

Day 9 : Cross Telety Pass (3800M); Descend Through Alpine Meadows To Karakol
Location: Telety pass
Accommodation: Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today is a challenging day with a reasonable amount of ascent and descent and
some tricky terrain. The route over Telety Pass follows a narrow path which
ascends gradually for the most part. There are however, two steep slopes,
which require considerable effort. From the top of the pass (3,800m) the
views are spectacular. The descent is along a wide slope covered with talus,
which gives way to alpine meadows and then follows the East Telety River. One
of the latter sections of the trail passes through woodland, where you will
need to concentrate on your footing to avoid the overgrown tree roots.
Tonight's camp is situated at about 2,500m elevation.

*Full-service camping (fixed tented camp)*

Day 10 : Daywalk To The Foot Of Karakol Peak, The Highest In The Terskey Ala-Too Range
Location: Pik Karakol
Accommodation: Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we go on a return daywalk up and along Uyun Tor River to the foot of
Karakol Peak. We have a chance to see Tien Shan blue spruce forest, underwood
(dog rose, honeysuckle, black barberries, mountain ash, black currents, etc.)
and wild mushrooms. In the summer flowers are in bloom in the meadows, such
as snowdrops, tulips, primroses, and edelweiss. We trek to a point from where
we can see Karakol Peak, the highest of the Terskey Ala-Too Range.

*Full-service camping (fixed tented camp)*

Day 11 : Ascend Through Forest To A Waterfall By Lake Ala-Kul (3600M)
Location: Ala-Kul
Accommodation: Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Although the distance today is not great, this is a tough walk due to the
amount of ascent, especially if it is hot. We firstly descend along the gorge
for about a kilometre, and then cross the river by bridge to follow the trail
into a forest. A long ascent brings us to a grassy slope, from where the path
snakes its way onwards, passing by a river overflow, to finally arrive at a
log hut, known locally as Sirota mountain hut. There's a table, benches and
a fireplace inside - the perfect spot for a rest and a snack. There are some
sculptures of animals and idols carved in wood in the area surrounding the
hut, like something out of a fairy-tale. From here, the trail climbs up
higher, and leaving the forest behind, we hike along the river and reach a
beautiful waterfall, flowing down from Ala-Kul Lake. Tonight's camp is
situated at approx. 3,600m elevation.

*Full-service camping (fixed tented camp)*

Day 12 : Long Descent With Fine Mountain Views To Altyn Arashan; Option To Take A Dip In The Thermal Baths
Location: Altyn-Arashan
Accommodation: Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

As we ascend we enjoy wonderful views of the lake - in the Kyrgyz language
Ala-Kul means "colourful Lake", and its water can appear in different colours
depending on the light. As we get closer to its shores, we see the main
Terskey Ala-Too Range, including Aksu, Djigit, Karakol and Oguz Bashi Peaks.
From the lake edge, it will take us another hour and a half to the pass. The
initial descent from the pass is on a steep scree slope, and then through
the picturesque Keldike Valley, where we'll encounter herds of cattle and
flocks of sheep grazing. Later the trail brings us into a forest again and
descends into Arashan Valley. 

At the tent camp in Altyn Arashan, there's the option to relax in the hot
springs (there are thermal baths of up to +50degC).

*Full-service camping (fixed tented camp)*

Day 13 : Military Truck To Karakol For Sightseeing; Traditional Home-Cooked ‘Lagman’ Noodle Dinner
Location: Karakol
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Hotel Amir (Karakol), or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning we spend some time admiring Altyn Arashan and the surrounding
area, especially the fir forest in contrast with the snowy mountain backdrop.
We then descend to Karakol town by military truck (approx. 1 hour). 
Depending on the 'road' conditions we may walk along the river as far as the
national park gates before continuing by truck. 

We'll have a short sightseeing tour of the town, visiting Dungan Mosque, the
Russian Orthodox Cathedral and Prjevalskii Memorial Complex.

Tonight's dinner will be taken in a Dungan family home in Karakol town, where
we can see traditional cooking methods and learn how to make lagman noodles,
before sitting down to eat together.


Day 14 : Drive To Bishkek Visiting Cholpon-Ata Petroglyphs En Route; Optional Kyrgyz Folklore Show
Location: Bishkek
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Hotel Asia Mountains, or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We drive back to Bishkek, stopping to visit the Cholpon Ata Petroglyphs along
the north shore of Lake Issyk-Kul en route. The drive is approximately 250km
and takes 5-6 hours - we'll stop for lunch at a road cafe on the way. 

Close to Cholpon Ata are Scythian burial mounds, as well as the 'stone
forest' or petroglyphs which are between 4,000 and 1,400 years old. They are
located at the foot of Kungei Alatau Ridge at a scenic spot overlooking the
lake.

A farewell dinner is included in Bishkek and if you wish, there is the option
to arrange a Kyrgyz folklore show. The talented musicians and singers wear
traditional Kyrgyz costumes and play a wide range of national musical
instruments – including a Komuz (a three-stringed wooden musical
instrument) to Chopo Choi (wind instrument made of mountain reed).


Day 15 : End Bishkek
Location: Bishkek
Meals Included: Breakfast

The tour ends in Bishkek after breakfast. Those who are travelling on the
group flights will be transferred to the airport in time for the flight back
to London. The group flights are scheduled to depart early in the morning and
arrive into London the same day.

What's Included

  • Meals
    14 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 12 dinners.

  • Arrival and departure transfers (group flights only)

  • Tour leader throughout

  • All accommodation 

  • All listed transport and activities

  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's Not Included

  • Visas or vaccinations

  • Single accommodation (available on request)

  • Travel insurance

Food

All breakfasts, 12 lunches and 12 dinners are included.  During the trek, breakfast will comprise of porridge or an alternative dish. The alternative will usually be one of the following: omelette with bacon/cheese, fried sausages, pancakes, scrambled eggs with sausage, boiled eggs. Lunch on trek will be a box lunch. There will be a buffet selection for you to fill your lunch box from each day. The type of foods available will be: bread, cakes, various types of sausage and cheese, pate, canned fish, boiled eggs, vegetables, fruits, dried fruits, as well as cookies and chocolate, plus a soft drink. Dinner during the trek will consist of salad, soup, a main dish and a dessert. Salads: funchoza (starch noodles), rice with crab sticks, eggs with fish, cabbage with carrot, Greek salad, beans with onion. Soups: minestrone, kesme (egg noodle), lentil, rice soup, pumpkin soup, fish soup or soup with dumplings. Main dish: kuurdak (meat stew), pilaf (rice cooked in broth), stew with spaghetti and cheese, dymlyama (potato and meat stew), stuffed pepper, lagman (noodles), beef stroganof with rice. For dessert a selection of sweets and biscuits are available.  

Accommodation

We spend four nights in hotels, eight nights of full-service camping and two nights in yurt camps (multi-share).

The hotels usually used in Bishkek and Karakol have a three-star local rating. The hotels are chosen for their location and all bedrooms have private bathrooms.

Yurts are traditional housing of nomadic tribes across Central Asia – facilities are basic but they are generally quite cosy. The number of yurts is limited and you should come prepared to share with three to four people of the same sex per yurt. There are only a couple of toilets at the yurt camp.

The first three nights of the trek are the most remote and there are no fixed camps or facilities – these nights are wild camping. For the remaining five nights of camping, our local partner in Kyrgyzstan sets up fixed camps for the duration of the season. All eight nights camping are on a full-service basis, meaning the staff cook and do all the camp chores (in the wild camps they also put up and dismantle the tents). In the fixed camps, there are toilets, wash basins, and shower facilities plus a dining tent. When wild camping, the camp staff put up a dining tent and toilet tent and provide a bowl of warm water for washing with each day. Foam sleeping mats are provided but if you want extra comfort you may wish to bring your own ‘top-up’ mat. A generator is available in all camps (including the wild camps) for charging, lighting etc.

Additional accommodation

If you wish to extend your stay, it is possible to book extra nights in Bishkek before or after the tour through Exodus – please request this at the time of booking.

Optional single supplement

A limited number of single supplements are available on a ‘first-come, first-serve’ basis. This includes a single room in the hotels and while camping but it is not available for the two nights in the yurt camps (the yurts are three to four people to a yurt regardless).

Check out our Q&As

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    16+ age people can go on his tour.

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Arrival and departure transfers (group flights only)

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    If you wish to make any changes to your booking, particularly if you need to alter any flights booked through us, please let us know as soon as possible. There is a booking or flight amendment fee of £40 per change and flight amendments often incur extra airline costs depending on the changes to be made and if the ticket has been issued or not.

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Exodus has been trading since 1974

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Your final joining instructions and flight details, if booked with us, will then be sent out 2 to 3 weeks before departure. If you would like a hard copy posted, or if you require these any earlier, please contact the customer operations team. We advise that if you are booking connecting travel before receiving these, please ensure you leave plenty of time.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Travellers are welcome to opt to share a room with a tour member of the same gender for no additional charge. If you'd like your own room, we can request a single supplement so that you will have your own room throughout.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    You are welcome to meet the group after the tour has departed however there is no reduction in rate for joining a tour after the departure date.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour

Fantastic, off the beaten path trekking

Brilliant trip exploring a spectacular mountain range. Wide variety of scenery and weather! Great campsites with few other westerners.

Vast landscapes and stunning scenery

A fantastic trip! When I told people that I had been hiking in Kyrgyzstan, nearly everyone immediately asked 'where?' It is a remarkable country, and a trip that has been planned to ensure absolutely stunning days of walking in the Tien Shen mountains. The cities have their own charm and fascinating history and they bookend the trip.

Stunning trek amidst amazing scenery

This is a great trip with an excellent balance of activities! The trek was absolutely stunning with amazing scenery and big horizons in wild mountains! It starts in more gentle pastoral sandstone lands, with lots of nomadic herders and yurts, and progresses to gorgeous high mountains, turbulent rivers, and wild mountains, passes and lakes. The warm up walk in Ala Archa National Park south of Bishkek was a good way to start the trip and the stay in the yurt camp on Lake Issyk Kul pre-trek, was a delight (as was the Jety Oguz yurt camp!) The opportunities for swimming/dipping (Lake Issyk Kul, Ala Kul, rivers if you find a sheltered bend!) were great, as well as the 2 hot springs visits, and the cultural visits around Bishkek, Karakol, Burana Tower and Cholpon Ata petroglyphs gave the trip a good variety of activities.

Dates & Availability

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Sunday - Sunday

Jul 07, 2024 - Jul 21, 2024
$5248 $4960 (USD)

Operator discount: $148 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: $140 (USD)

Book with Confidence

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Exodus allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform exodus, 43 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Exodus requires a minimum deposit of 25% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 90 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of exodus charges.

    Up to 42 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 20 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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