This calm and enjoyable program will take you to the heart of the Celestial Mountains, mixing short hikes in the green valleys of Kyrgyzstan and sight-seeing at the best spots in the country. You’ll walk around the Issyk Kul Lake and explore Son Kul Lake, and the surrounding region of Naryn.
It’s the ideal program to take your time to discover Kyrgyzstan.
Day 1Welcome and enjoy a barbecue in Chunkurchak
Manas airport - Bishkek
Your driver will pick you up at your arrival at the Manas airport. Transfer to your hotel.
Your guide will pick you up at 11H30 at the hotel lobby, to start exploring Kyrgyzstan’s beautiful nature. After a small one-hour hike in the valley of Chunkurchak, we settle for a delicious barbecue. You can enjoy your afternoon, relax in this calm environment, or continue your hike up to a waterfall.
Day 2The Burana Tower, and horseback riding in Chon Kemin
Bishkek - Burana's minaret
We stop to visit the ruins of the Burana Minaret, a Jami mosque destroyed in the 13th century during invasions. The monument is rich in history, archeological findings and legends, and belongs to the Unesco world heritage. We can climb at the top of the tower to get a beautiful view on the valley and the mountains. We’ll also visit the museum on site.
Burana's minaret - Chon-Kemin National Park
We arrive in the green Chon Kemin Valley, a natural reserve park that offers a splendid diversity of landscapes, with its large forests, its rivers, its gorges and glaciers. You’ll be able to explore this wilderness on horseback from the guest house where we’ll spend the night.
Day 3Hiking in the Grigorievka Gorge
Chon-Kemin National Park - Tcholpon-Ata
We make it to the shores of the Issyk-Kul Lake (1609m or 5979ft above sea level), the second largest alpine lake in the world. This is what we call the pearl of Kyrgyzstan. It is surrounded by the Celestial Mountains, with snow-capped summits that climb above 5000m, and are reflected in the crystal clear water. Several dozen rivers drop from the mountains into the lake via stunning valleys.
We visit the cultural center Ruh-Ordo in Cholpon-Ata. This center, nestled in a peaceful environment, is dedicated to the harmony between the four main religions, Islam, Judaism, Christianism and Buddhism. There are also spaces dedicated to art exhibits, and to main figures of Greek culture and of Kyrgyzstan.
Tcholpon-Ata - Grigorievka
North of Grigorievka, we take a small mountain trail to the Chong Ak-Suu Valley during approximately 40 minutes. We settle in a family’s house and leave for a hike in the green valley. We follow the "great white river", a strong mountain torrent.
Day 4Hiking in the Kyrchyn Valley
Grigorievka - Orto-Oruktu
This morning, we go for a walk in the surroundings to discover one of Kyrgyzstan’s marvels, the Sut Bulak Lake.
We go back down to the Semenovka Valley, and follow the river back to the main road. Our new destination is the Orto-Oruktu , known for their naturally hot water rich in curative properties.
Orto-Oruktu - Karakol
We arrive at Karakol, a small town that borders Issky-Kul. We take the time to visit itsSaint Trinity Cathedral, an orthodox from the 19th century; and its Chinese mosque which looks like a Mongol Buddhist temple, built by the Dungan population. Finally, we visit the Przewalsky museum, where you will learn about local history.
For dinner, we’ll be welcomed by a Dungan family, who will delight us with their traditional dinner. This is a great opporunity to discover this nation, originating from Western China, who came to the Kyrgyz region more than 140 years ago.
Day 5The golden spa of Altyn Arashan
Karakol - Altyn-Arachan
We hike up to the Golden Spa of Altyn Arashan, located at 3000m altitude. We’ll take a trail along the Arashan river and climb up progressively. At the summit of our hike, we’ll be welcomed by a breath-taking view on the snow-capped summit of Palatka. Car assistance.
Your efforts will be gratified with a bath in the hot mineral sources of Altyn-Arashan, known for their healing properties.
Day 6View on Issyk Kul Lake from Jety Oguz Valley
Karakol - Jeti-öghüz
We continue our road along the lake, and start exploring the south shore of the lake with its wild sights.
We then drive to the Jety Orguz Valley. Covered with fertile vegetation, this gorge is probably one of the prettiest in the country. It stretches over 37 km (23 miles), between the Issyk Kul Lake and the Tian Shan Mountains. Strange rock formations, nicknamed the “seven bulls” and the “broken heart”, fill the place with mystical legends. We hike in the valley.
Jeti-öghüz - Skaska canyon
Before heading towards our guest house, we visit the superb Skazka Canyons, whose name translates as Fairy Tale Canyons in Kyrgyz language. Formed from erosion, the rocks tower over the Issyk Kul Lake and offer a great contrast in color. Let your imagination work to make out the shapes of the rocks.
Day 7Eagle hunting
This morning, we attend an eagle hunting demonstration. The Kyrgyz hunter, on his horse, will show you the impressive agility of his eagle, who will have to catch small preys like a rabbit.
In the afternoon, we head towards the salted "dead" lake, a small lake located next to the Issyk Kul Lake. We'll be able to enjoy a swim there, before going back to the warm water of Issyk Kul.
Day 8Cultural day
Kyzyl-Tuu - Kochkor
We get back on the road for the village of Kochkor, famous for its local development initiatives. We visit a felt fabric held by an association of women. They make traditional felt rugs, shyrdak, and other handicraft.
Our next stop is located 25 km from Kochkor, at the salt mines of Chong Tuz, which were open during the soviet period. We visit the mines, now transformed into a sanitarium, and discover a surprising sight.
In the evening, we’ll attend a concert of traditional Kyrgyz music. Not only will you be able to enjoy Kyrgyz songs and instruments, you’ll also get a demonstration of the Kyrgyz epic recital by a manaschi.
Day 9Exploring a caravanserai
Kotchkor - Naryn
We arrive in the city of Naryn, a charming town nestled high in the Kyrgyz mountains and crossed by a river of the same name.
Naryn - Tash Rabat
We travel in time with our visit of the Tash Rabat caravanserai. Located on the road to Khasgar, China, this stone hotel is one of the best preserved monuments of the Silk Road. You’ll be able to feel the original atmosphere of this merchant spot when exploring the caravanserai. In the 15th century, it had many rooms to host the traveling merchants, and sometimes their animals.
Day 10 - 11From the steppes to Son Kul Lake
Tash Rabat - Son Kul lake
We arrive on the shores of Son Kul Lake. This huge alpine lake is an important water reserve in Kyrgyzstan. Nestled in the celestial mountains, it is located at 3016 m (9895 ft) above sea level. Its crystal clear water changes colors depending on the weather, which can change every hour. The lake takes on blue, turquoise and sometimes even orange colors. It hosts nomadic shepherds and their herds in the warm months of summer.
You can enjoy the day, relax, and discover the daily life of our host family. You might be lucky enough to attend the production of Kumys, the local mare milk, or see how shepherds gather their herds.
We leave after breakfast to discover the lake on a horse.
Day 12The Kekemeren River
Son Kul lake - Kyzyl-Oi
We continue our trip to Kyzyl Oi, which translates as "the red bowl".
This little village, located at 1800m altitude (5905ft), gets its name from the surrounding red mountains. The road is a little harsh, but this new landscape will astonish you.
We go for a short hike to discover this unexpected environment.
Day 13Visit Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital
Kyzyl-Oi - Bishkek
This is our last day before getting back to the capital. We leave the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, where we met a generous culture, and go back to Bishkek. Drop-off at your hotel, where you’ll be able to relax.
We visit the Osh Bazar, one of the most fascinating markets in Kyrgyzstan. Enjoy the colors and the smells coming from stands of dry fruits and spices. You can also buy a few traditional souvenirs to bring home.
Walk on the Ala Too Square in the center of Bishkek. Meeting place for Bishkek’s youth, it comes alive every evening with families and friends who come here to relax. It’s also an important historical place, since it hosted several revolutions.
Finally, we finish our trip with a short visit of the National history museum.