Itinerary: Bishkek city– Ala Archa Natural Park - Issyk Kul Lake– Karakol town– Djety Oguz gorge - Kochkor village – Tash Rabat Caravanserai - Son Kul Lake – Bishkek
Duration: 10 days
Best season: from the 15th of June till the 15th of September
Note: This tour can be combined with a trip in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan or China. It can start with flight from Tashkent, Almaty, Urumqi or continue there.
Day 1. “Manas” airport – Bishkek city. Bishkek sightseeing tour (60 km). (B)
Upon arrival in “Manas” international airport transfer to Bishkek city and accommodation in hotel.
After a short rest and lunch in a local café with national cuisine you go for a sightseeing tour in the city.
We visit Manas Monument, the main national hero of the Kyrgyz people. Then excursion to the State History Museum and walking tour around main Ala Too Square to watch ceremony of changing of the Guard of Honor, Kurmanzhan Datka Monument, main governmental buildings, and finish at the Old Square with Parliament House. Transfer to the Victory Square to finish the city tour by short excursion there.
The capital and industrial centre of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek is a city of wide avenues, handsome buildings and Soviet heritage. The gesturing statue of Lenin can still be seen in the city’s vast central square, yet it is the permanently snow capped Kyrgyz Alatau mountain range which towers over Bishkek providing a quite stunning backdrop.
Overnight in a hotel.
Day 2. Excursion to National Natural Park Ala Archa (80 km). (B)
After breakfast drive to Ala Archa National Natural Park located in a picturesque gorge of Ala Archa 40 km off from Bishkek. On the way to the park short stop at the traditional Kyrgyz cemetery and excursion to the Gumbez (mausoleum) of Baitik Baatyr, the local respected tribal leader.
At the territory of the park tourists can trek up the Ak Sai gorge (side gorge of the main Ala Archa gorge) to enjoy views of magnificent peaks of Kyrgyz Alatau Ridge (Tien Shan Mountains). You can reach Ak Sai waterfall and have the picnic lunch there.
If you are not in a great desire for long trekking you may easily hike along the fast mountain river in the main gorge of Ala Archa. Then for lunch you enjoy picnic with barbeque.
In the evening drive back to the hotel.
Overnight in the hotel.
Day 3. Bishkek city– Issyk Kul Lake via Burana tower (250 km). (B)
In the morning one hour drive to Burana Tower (old minaret) near Tokmok city about 75 km off from Bishkek. That minaret was constructed in Balasagun town; one of the capitals of Karakhanid State existed in 11-12 centuries AD. Explore ruins of that important trading point at the Great Silk Road and visit a little local museum telling about that civilization. Also watch a collection of Balbals, Turkic ancient tombs.
Optionally: You can watch a festival of horse back national games. From the ancient time horses played a big role for people in Kyrgyzstan. In the 3rd century people were even buried with their horses. Children were given the name of horses, because it was believed that evil spirits were afraid of horses. There are many horse games in Kyrgyzstan. The most widespread games are: Ulak Tartysh, Kyz kumai, Oodarysh and others.
In the afternoon three hours drive to the Issyk-Kul Lake, the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. Measuring 182 km long by 58 km wide, the lake appeared as a result of volcanic activity. It is heated from below by thermal springs and never freezes even in the depths of winter. In the summer the water temperature reaches 25-28 degrees centigrade (warmer than the air) and you can swim in the lake enclosed on all sides by the snowy peaks of the Tien Shan Mountains. Extremely deep and nicely warm over the centuries the lake has been something of an oasis in this inhospitable mountain environment. With diverse flora and fauna Issyk-Kul Lake and the surrounding environments are rightly considered to be one of Central Asia most remarkable locations.
Overnight in a hotel on the lake shore.
Day 4. Cholpon Ata town– Karakol town (150 km). (B)
In the morning you drive to Cholpon-Ata Petroglyphs site, the temple in the open air of Scythians and Hungsuns civilizations dated back 9-8 centuries BC till 3-4 centuries AD. The area of those stone drawing lies at the foot of Kungey Alatoo Ridge with a beautiful view of the whole lake. Local History & Ethnography Museum is also highly recommended for visiting!
Optionally: After excursions you can go on an hour boat cruise in the lake to admire clear waters of Issyk Kul with snow capped Tien Shan Mountains in the background!
In the afternoon you continue driving to Karakol town situated in the east of the lake area, at the foot of the most picturesque mountains of Tien Shan. This sleepy but very interesting old Russian town was first erected by Cossacks in the middle of 19th century and became an important garrison settlement.
On the way visit the museum of N. M. Przhevalski, the outstanding Russian explorer of Asian continent.
Upon arrival to Karakol check in the hotel. After a short rest you visit Dungan mosque, a unique construction in Chinese style, but serving as a mosque. Also you will see an old Russian Orthodox Cathedral made of wood without any nails.
Overnight in the guest house.
Day 5. Karakol town - Djety Oguz gorge – Karakol town (60 km). (B)
In the morning you are transferred to Djety Oguz Gorge.
Djety Oguz in Kyrgyz means “Seven Bulls”. This picturesque gorge is named so because of the red rocky sand formations covered with forests of Tien Shan spruces. We hike up the main gorge along the winding Djety Oguz mountain river. On the way you visit some yurts of the local nomadic families.
Optional: In the late afternoon we also can visit a Hunting Birds Performance on the one of the mountain slopes.
In the evening drive back to Karakol.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 6. Karakol town – Kochkor village (300 km). (B,D)
After breakfast transfer to Kochkor village along the southern shore of the Issyk Kul Lake.
On the way we admire landscapes and make several stops for short hiking in the most picturesque spots. Also we make a short stop in Skazka (Fairy Tale) Canyons for hiking. The canyons consist of mottled petrified clay and look very picturesque with dark blue Issyk Kul Lake in the background.
In the afternoon you will arrive in Kochkor village where you will watch how local people make felt, various carpets and other handicraft stuff.
Overnight in a family guest house in Kochkor.
Day 7. Kochkor village – Tash Rabat Caravanserai via Naryn (230 km). (B,D)
In the morning drive to Naryn town over beautiful Dolon Pass (3030m above sea level).
We stop shortly in the town to have lunch.
But our final destination today is Tash Rabat . On the way you cross lush At Bashi valley that is rimmed by dramatic At Bashi Range. In one of the gorges of the ridge is hidden Tash Rabat, a 14th century caravan serai.
Upon arrival accommodation in a yurt camp. In the afternoon after excursion to Tash Rabat you can ride on horses or hike in Kara Koyum Gorge.
Overnight in yurt camp.
Day 8. Tash Rabat Caravanserai – Son Kul Lake (250 km). (B,D)
In the morning transfer to the area of the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan – Son Kul Lake. You pass greenery valley and a very dramatic pass on your way to the lake.
Today you step into the nomadic life at the Son Kul Lake. Here, the Kyrgyz people still live in traditional simplicity. You spend time with friendly Kyrgyz families and taste their fresh airan (yogurt) and kumis (a fermented national drink from mare’s milk).
Upon arrival accommodation in yurt camp and you have some free time.
Optionally: You can ride horses or hike to explore the area and enjoy the peaceful and picturesque landscapes.
Overnight in yurt.
Day 9. Son Kul Lake – Bishkek (360 km). (B)
Transport from Son Kul Lake to Bishkek. Driving through the heart of Central Asia (about 350 km) you will witness the life of the Kyrgyz nomads as you make your way to Bishkek via fascinating gorges and fabulous valleys enclosed on all sides by the snowy peaks of the Tien Shan Mountains.
Optional: During dinner we take the unique opportunity to listen to the Manaschi (a singer performing the national Kyrgyz epos, Manas) and see Kyrgyz folk-show. The musicians in traditional Kyrgyz costumes present you a wide range of national musical instruments – starting from Komuz (a three- stringed wooden musical instrument) to Chopo Choi (wind instrument made of mountain reed). You hear the fascinating singing of young Kyrgyz ladies as well as an opera singer.
Overnight in a hotel.
Day 10. Bishkek –“Manas” airport (30 km). (B)
In the morning you will be transferred to the international airport “Manas” to catch your flight back home.
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