Itinerary: Bishkek city – Son Kul Lake – Karakol town via Kochkor village – Djety Oguz gorge - Juuku gorge – Karakol town – Cholpon Ata town - Bishkek city.
Duration: 8 days
- Visiting the ruins of Silk Road town – Balasagyn
- Hike and barbeque lunch in Ala Archa Natural park
- Visiting the famous “Seven Bulls” rocks in Djety Oguz gorge
- Staying overnight in a traditional nomadic dwelling – Yurt at Son Kul lake
- Visiting Kyrgyz families in Kochkor village
Day 1: Airport – Bishkek (30 km). Ala Archa Natural park (80 km). Bishkek sightseeing tour. (B) A.M. Upon arrival to the international airport “Manas” you meet you guide and drive to the hotel. After a short rest and breakfast in the hotel we drive to Ala Archa National Park located in a picturesque gorge of Ala Archa 40 km off from Bishkek.
It is a popular place for hiking, skiing and mountaineering including trips to more than 20 glaciers. It covers the area of 200 km² - mostly forested valleys, waterfalls and rivers rich in trout. The altitude of ranges varies from 1500 m to the highest point 4895 m (Peak Semenov Tien Shanskii). Several rare species of fauna and especially traditionally revered juniper trees are under protection in the Natural Park. It has very diverse fauna: mountain meadows are the habitat for wild goats, deer and marmots. Ala Archa National Park is one of the few places of the habitat of the rare snow leopard. Hike in the gorge. After a walk you come back to the parking lot near the park hotel at the time arranged earlier where you have a barbeque lunch. P.M.
In the afternoon we drive back to Bishkek and start our city tour.
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, main governmental buildings, and finish at the Old Square with Parliament House.
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 Ala-Tau mountain range which towers over Bishkek providing a quite stunning backdrop.
Overnight in a hotel.
Day 2: Bishkek – Son Kul Lake via Burana Tower (360 km). (B,D). A.M. In the morning, after breakfast, one hour drive to Burana Tower (old minaret) near Tokmok city. 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: On the area around the tower it is possible to organize horse riding games. Along with hunting dogs and birds, horses have always played an important role in the life of Kyrgyz people. They were used in every day life as true assistants in household and as thoroughbred racers. There are festivals of Horse Games (Ulak Tartysh, Kyz Kuumai, Tyiyn Enmei, etc) held throughout the year. P.M.
Today we step into the nomadic life at the Son Kul Lake. Here the Kyrgyz people still live in traditional simplicity. We spend the night in the summer pastures of the mountains. We spend time with always friendly Kyrgyz families and taste their fresh airan (yogurt) and kumis (a fermented national drink from mare's milk). Lunch in a café en route. Dinner and overnight in yurt camp.
Day 3: Son Kul Lake. Full Day. (B,L,D) Full day. After breakfast you can walk in the area of Son Kul Lake. Optionally: It is possible to organize for our guests a demonstration of Yurt setting up. You can not only watch, but also take part in it. Yurt is a traditional shelter for the people of the Tian - Shan mountains in Central Asia, nomadic dwelling which is constructed of a many-pieced wooden frame that is overlaid with several felt coverings. It takes only about two hours to put a yurt together. The felt is made of wool sheared from sheep. There are usually many blankets and carpets to be found inside, as well as “dastorkon” – a low table with delicious food.
Optionally: On the area around the tower it is possible to organize horse riding games. Along with hunting dogs and birds, horses have always played an important role in the life of Kyrgyz people. They were used in every day life as true assistants in household and as thoroughbred racers. There are festivals of Horse Games (Ulak Tartysh, Kyz Kuumai, Tyiyn Enmei, etc) held throughout the year. Lunch, dinner and overnight in yurt camp.
Day 4: Son Kul Lake – Kochkor village – Karakol town (350 km). (B). A.M. Today you drive to Kochkor village where local people make felt, various carpets, embroidering and spinning, and other handicraft stuff. We also visit a handicraft museum and a shop, where you can buy different masterpieces – starting from huge felt-silk blankets, finishing with small Christmas tree decorations. Optionally: If you want it is also possible to take part in “shyrdak show” yourself and try to make your own felt rug! Lunch in a local café.
P.M. In the afternoon we drive 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. Upon arrival to Karakol town check in a hotel/guest house. Overnight in the hotel/guest house.
Day 5: Karakol – Djety Oguz gorge – Juuku Gorge – Karakol town (100 km). (B). A.M. First of all that day you can do the sightseeing tour in Karakol town. 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. P.M. After the sightseeing tour you drive 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. On this day you get acquainted with nomadic way of life of the Kyrgyz people and enjoy beautiful views of the gorge. Optionally: In the late afternoon you can also visit a Hunting Birds Performance on the one of the mountain slopes. After a walk in the gorge we drive to Juuku gorge. The gorge is divided in two parts. In one part of the valley you can walk, and in another part of the valley you can bathe in hot springs. After that we drive back to Karakol town. Overnight in a hotel in Karakol.
Day 6: Karakol town – Grigorievskoe gorge – Cholpon Ata town (150 km). (B) A.M. After breakfast we drive along the northern shore of Issyk Kul to Chon Ak Suu (Grigorievskoe) gorge, where we can walk. On the way visit the museum of N. M. Przhevalski, the outstanding Russian explorer of Asian continent. P.M.
We continue our journey around the lake. Issyk Kul Lake is 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 activity 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 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. Walk in Chon Ak Suu gorge. Dinner and overnight in a hotel on the lake shore.
Day 7: Issyk Kul Lake - Bishkek city (250 km). (B). A.M. Optionally: You can go on an hour boat cruise in the lake to admire clear water of Issyk Kul with snow capped Tien Shan Mountains in the background. That day you visit so called “Stone garden” or Cholpon Ata Petroglyphs site, the temple in the open air of Scythians and Hung suns civilizations dated back 9-8 centuries BC till 3-4 centuries AD. The area of those stone drawing lies at the foot of Kungei Alatau Ridge with a beautiful view of the whole lake. You visit the Ethnological Museum in Cholpon Ata town, where you can acquaint the history of the Kyrgyz people from 8th century BC until to the present day. P.M.
In the afternoon, we drive back to Bishkek. Lunch in a café en route. We pass through "Boom Gorge", which lies at the eastern end of the Kyrgyz Range and provides the only corridor between two Chui and Issyk Kul regions. Converging together through this narrow canyon are a highway, a railway (rising high above the road apparently it was built by German prisoners of war, the first train to travel along the 189 km track to Balykchi was in 1948), and the Chu River (so bellowed by white-water rafters).
The name "Boom" means "evil spirit" – and the gorge acquired this name in recognition of the trials and tribulations it presented to anyone who tried to pass through. The first "outsider" to do so was the 19th century Russian explorer Pyotr Semenov (Tienshansky) in 1850. Nowadays there are walls at various places along the gorge designed to prevent landslides cascading down onto the road below. Upon arrival to Bishkek accommodation in the hotel. Dinner in a local café.
Optionally: During dinner we take the unique opportunity to listen to the Manaschi (a singer performing the national Kyrgyz epos, Manas) and see Kyrgyz folklore 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 and men. Overnight in a hotel.
Day 8: Bishkek – “Manas” airport (30 km). (B). In the morning you will be transferred to the international airport “Manas” to catch your flight back home. End of our service
Group size A class:
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Asia Kyrgyzstan Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Cultural Journey