Taste of Tian Shan Trekking Tour11 Days | Bishkek, Karakol, Jety Oguz Gorge, Foot of Telety Pass, Karakol Gorge, Ala-Kul Lake, Altyn Arashan Gorge, Cholpon-Ata

Taste of Tian Shan Trekking Tour

Taste of Tian Shan Trekking Tour is an exhilarating journey to Kyrgyzstan’s acclaimed natural wonders. From the fascinating formations of Jety Oguz Gorge to the towering Karakol Peak and refreshing waters of Lake Issyk-Kul, there is no better way to experience Central Asia’s great outdoors than on a guided trekking tour of this pristine and largely untouched region.

Trip grade: Moderate

Tour itinerary:

Day 1, 4 August, Th: Airport – Bishkek
 
Highlights:
- Capital of Kyrgyzstan;
- Osh Bazaar, a traditional Oriental market;
- Ala - Too Square with unique historical buildings.
Upon arrival to Manas International Airport, meet your local guide and driver and transfer to Bishkek. Check in to the hotel (early check-in is included). After a rest visit the famous Osh Bazaar, a colorful eastern market where you can buy handmade souvenirs, dried fruits and spices. Continue to Ala Too Square, a true legacy of the Soviet Union. Around the square you will see Manas Monument, a tribute to the Kyrgyz national hero; a gigantic Kyrgyz flag; Changing of the Guards ceremony; memorial to Kyrgyzstan’s 2010 Revolution; the White House, Lenin Statue and many historical buildings; Oak Park with its small open-air museum; a unique art gallery; and Kurmanjan Datka Monument. Complete your Bishkek city tour with a short excursion to Victory Square, dedicated to WWII heroes. Lunch and dinner at local cafés. Overnight at the hotel.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of sightseeing tour: 2-3 hours
Day 2, 5 August, Fr: Bishkek – Karakol
 
Highlights:
- One of the oldest existing minarets in Central Asia;
- The pearl of Kyrgyzstan - Issyk-Kul Lake.
In the morning transfer to the town of Karakol, stopping en route to visit Burana Tower near the city of Tokmok. Burana is a minaret in the town of Balasagun, a 12th-century capital of the Karakhanid State. Also on site is a collection of balbals, ancient Turkic stone statues. Continue driving to Karakol, stopping for lunch in a cafe on the way. Upon arrival to Karakol, check in to the hotel. Dinner at a local cafe and overnight in Karakol (1700 m).
Distance: 410 km
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of tour: 7-8 hours
Day 3, 6 August, Sa: Karakol– Jety Oguz Gorge
 
Highlights:
- Old town erected by Cossacks;
- Extraordinary “Broken Heart” and “Seven Bulls” red sand rock formations.
In the morning take a short sightseeing tour of Karakol to the Dungan mosque, Russian Orthodox cathedral and Prjevalskii Memorial Complex. After lunch at a local café, meet your trekking guide. Transfer to Djety Oguz Gorge, located 35 kilometers west of Karakol on the northern slopes of Terskei Ala-Too. The valley itself is 40 kilometers long. See Broken Heart and Seven Bulls, well-known redsand rock formations. For 25 kilometers along a rapid mountain river, the valley slopes are covered with the famous Tian Shan blue spruces. The road follows the river, crossing over five log bridges, and is the narrowest part of the journey. Later it opens into Flower Meadow (Kok Jaiyk). After driving though this beautiful landscape you will reach the yurt camp. Dinner and overnight at the yurt camp (2600 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of tour: 1,5 hours
Day 4, 7 August, Su: Jety Oguz Gorge – foot of Telety Pass
 
Highlights:
- Easy walk to a waterfall at Telety Camp;
- Gorgeous Telety River and meadow.
Meet your porters in the morning. Leave the yurt camp after breakfast and start trekking (16 km) along the riverbank in a very narrow wooded gorge called Bay Tor, which leads to alpine meadows. On this flower carpet in the mountains the air is sweet and the views simply amazing! After a rest, continue trekking to the tent camp at the foot of Telety Pass. A few hundred meters after crossing a large river with a bridge, you will reach the camp. Dinner and overnight at the tent camp (3050 m).
PLEASE NOTE: Put all of your belongings (extra payment for more than 12 kg per person) into a special rucksack provided by Ak-Sai Travel and give it to the porters in the morning. They will carry the luggage from one tent camp to another, and upon arrival to a camp will return your luggage.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 6-8 hours
Day 5, 8 August, Mo: Foot of Telety Pass – Karakol Gorge
 
Highlights:
- Beautiful Telety Pass (3800 m);
- Possibility to have a bonfire after dinner.
Leave the tent camp after breakfast and start the ascent to Telety Pass. The first kilometer of the trail (18 km) is hidden among juniper bushes. Further along, the route follows a narrow path with a slight ascent. From the top of the pass (3800 m a.s.l), enjoy a wonderful panoramic view. The easy descent winds down a wide slope covered with talus and across alpine meadows before following the East Telety River. It is advisable to wear sandals when you cross the river, as there is no bridge. Hike through a wooded area along a trail covered with roots, heading down to Karakol Gorge. The last kilometer follows an old dirt road that leads to the camp, located in the forest. Dinner and overnight at the tent camp (2500 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 6-8 hours
Day 6, 9 August, Tu: Radial hike to the foot of Karakol Peak (5216 m)
 
Highlights:
- Highest peak of Terskei Ala-Too;
- Mountain sauna at the tent camp.
Take a radial hike (16 km) to the foot of Karakol Peak. Begin by passing along Uyun Tor River, following for part of the way an old dirt road which ends at a small river. After crossing the river the trail winds through a Tian Shan blue spruce forest. (Starting in May there are snowdrops, tulips, primerose, white anemone, alpine aster and large edelweiss in bloom here). After exiting the forest, hike up a stone hill to reach a point with a view of Karakol Peak, the highest point in Terskei Ala Too. Enjoy lunch and the wonderful scenery before hiking back to the camp along the same route. Dinner and overnight at the tent camp (2500 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of hiking: 6-7 hours
Day 7, 10 August, We : Karakol Gorge – Ala-Kul Lake
 
Highlights:
- Magnificent Ala-Kul Lake;
- Highest overnight of the trip.
After breakfast descend for 1 kilometer along a gorge, eventually crossing a river on a bridge. Follow a trail (10 km) that leads into a forest. A rather long ascent finishes at a steep slope covered with grass. The trail winds past a strong river and arrives to a fairtyale-like log cabin called Sirota. Inside are a table, benches and fireplace, along with many sculptures of animals and idols carved into the wooden walls. After rest and a snack continue up the trail, leaving the forest behind as you hike along the river to reach a beautiful waterfall flowing down from Ala-Kul Lake. Pass the waterfall and ascend a natural dam, from where you can see the lake. The final kilometer before the camp follows the lake. Dinner and overnight at the tent camp (3600 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 6-7 hours
Day 8, 11 August, Th : Ala-Kul Lake – Altyn Arashan Gorge
 
Highlights:
- Natural hot springs;
- Highest pass of the trip.
Moraine Lake of Ala-Kul (which means “Colorful Lake” in Kyrgyz) stretches from east to west for 2.8 kilometers; its width is 500 meters and depth is 70 meters. The water changes color depending on the light and may be emerald green, turquoise with white clouds reflected, light green, dark grey or even black. After breakfast, start the ascent to Ala-Kul Pass, enjoying wonderful views of the lake on the way. As you near the lake you will see the main range of Terskei Ala-Too, includig Ak-Suu, Djigit, Karakol and Oguz Bashi Peaks. From the lake’s edge it will take another 1.5 hours to reach the pass. Descend from the pass along a talus slope and later across the wide and picturesque Keldike Valley, complete with grazing cattle and flocks of sheep. Upon arrival to the tent camp you can relax in the valley hot springs (up to +50C) at the resort in Altyn Arashan. Dinner and overnight at the tent camp (2600 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 6-7 hours
Day 9, 12 August, Fr : Altyn Arashan Gorge – Cholpon-Ata
 
Highlights:
- Transfer on a special military truck to Karakol;
- Overnight on the shore of the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan.
Apart from its famous mineral hot springs, Altyn Arashan has wooden huts located in a meadow along the Arashan River. The banks of the river are covered with fir trees whose dark green shade is very picturesque in the morning against the snowcapped wall of mountains (up to 5022 m). After breakfast, a special military truck will pick you up from the tent camp. Drive towards Karakol along the valley. The descent will take you through green fields filled with flowers and crystal mountain springs. The final 5 kilometers of the gorge are not more than 30 meters in width, with high rock walls. At the entrance to the valley is Ak Suu village (the name comes from the hot springs). Here you will transfer to a car and drive to Karakol. After lunch at a local cafe, continue driving to the town of Cholpon-Ata. Upon arrival, check in to a hotel on the north shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Distance: 185 km
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of hiking: 4-5 hours
Day 10, 13 August, Sa : Cholpon-Ata – Bishkek
 
Highlights:
- Scythian petroglyphs near Cholpon-Ata;
- Beautiful Boom Gorge.
In the morning begin the return drive to Bishkek. En route you will visit “Stone Garden” a.k.a Cholpon-Ata Petroglyphs, an open-air Scythian temple dated to the 9th-8th centuries BC and the 3rd-4th centuries AD. The petroglyphs lie at the foot of Kungei Ala-Too Range, which offers a beautiful view of the whole lake. Continue driving to Bishkek through Boom Gorge, stopping for lunch on the way. Upon arrival to the capital, check in to the hotel. Enjoy a final dinner together at a cafe. Overnight in Bishkek.
Distance: 250 km
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of tour: 5-6 hours
Day 11, 14 August, Su : Bishkek – Airport
 
Early in the morning, transfer to the airport for your departure flight. End of Taste of Tian Shan Trekking Tour.
Meals: Breakfast

 

  • Accommodation in TWIN/DBL room at hotels and in tents - 11 nights (4 ppl per yurt at yurt camp);
  • Meals - full board (B - 11, L - 10, D - 10), including cooking services on trekking days;
  • Transport services from arrival till departure: 1 Toyota Sequoia (4 WD, with AC) for 1-3 pax; 1 Minibus Mercedes Sprinter (17 seats, with AC) for 4 -9 pax; 2 Minibus Mercedes Sprinters (17 seats, with AC) for 10 -12 pax;
  • English-speaking guide / Trekking guide for hiking portion;
  • Porter services (Your trekking bag should weigh no more than 12 kg. Past 12 kg, a payment of 12 USD per kilo will be required;
  • Bottled water (1 liter/day/pax) during treks, plus boiled water (please bring a flask);
  • Entrance and park fees throughout the tour;
  • Special military car for going to/from Karakol Gorge and Altyn Arashan Gorge;
  • Hot springs entry fee at Altyn Arashan  Visa and visa support fee (if necessary).
  • Single supplement in hotels/tents/yurt;
  • Meals not included in the program and alcoholic beverages;
  • Insurance;
  • Sleeping bags;
  • All airfare;
  • Photo/video fees at museums;
  • Personal expenses, tips, porter fees in hotels;
  • Tips are not included, but would be appreciated;
  • Visa and visa support fee (if necessary). Citizens of the European Union may enter Kyrgyzstan without a visa for up to 60 days. Citizens of other nations may contact us for country-specific details.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW:

  • Hotels may change due to availability, in which case accommodation of an equivalent quality will be provided;
  • Trekking days are subject to change due to security or weather conditions;
  • All guides speak English;
  • Transfer times are approximate and dependent on road and weather conditions;
  • Trekking time is approximately 5-7 hours (10-18 kilometers) per day, depending on weather and the physical condition of participants;
  • You will not climb above 4100 meters;
  • Lunch boxes will be packed by each participant after every breakfast during the trekking portion of the tour. A variety of options will be provided by camp staff;
  • Carrying a personal flask is highly recommended, as we provide boiled water on trekking days to reduce the use of plastic;
  • When trekking, nights will be spent in tents; comfort is rudimentary (no internet access or air conditioning) and you will have to share the tent with another participant.

EACH FIXED TENT CAMP PROVIDES:

  • RED FOX FAMILY tents (four-person capacity, but a tent will be provided for every two persons);
  • TEAM FOX dining tents (capacity of 10-20 pax);
  • 5-centimeter mattresses and sleeping pads in each Red Fox Family tent;
  • Electricity (generator) runs from 19:00 until 23:00 to charge your phones, tablets and other batteries;
  • Toilet tent and shower tent (for showers we provide a small basin, ladle and warm water. During bad weather it may be difficult to provide warm water);
  • Tea, coffee, sweets, biscuits, etc.;
  • Supplementary bar (vodka, wine, cognac, juices, etc.);
  • Kitchenware, table, chairs.

OBLIGATORY ITEMS FOR THE TREK

  • Waterproof trekking boots with ankle support;
  • Waterproof jacket or rain cape;
  • Sunhat or cap with ear and neck flap cover;
  • Daypack (30 to 40 liters) with rain cover;
  • Warm hat;
  • Sleeping bag (comfort rated -5°C, please ask about temperature);
  • Trekking poles (highly recommended for stream crossings and steep inclines or declines);
  • Basic First Aid Kit with antiseptic and antihistamine creams, throat lozenges, diarrhea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters, blister treatment, insect repellent and rehydration salts;
  • Sun protection (including total bloc for ears, nose, etc.);
  • Fleece jacket or warm jumper;
  • Good quality sunglasses;
  • Warm gloves;
  • Trekking trousers;
  • 1-liter water bottles x2 (we encourage refilling water bottles rather than single-use plastic);
  • Water purification tablets;
  • Dry bags (to protect trekking bag contents, laptops, phones etc. during trek);
  • Chapstick;
  • Headtorch and spare batteries;
  • Thermal underwear.

OPTIONAL ITEMS FOR TREK

  • 1 pair of tennis shoes or shoes for city walking;
  • Trainers / sandals for river crossings;
  • Socks (1 pair for 2 -3 days of trekking);
  • 1 pair of waterproof overtrousers;
  • For women: 1 scarf to cover your hair during visits to mosques and churches;
  • Shorts and/or swimwear (camps near lakes, hot springs or rivers);
  • Buff/scarf (to protect against dust and cold);
  • Washbag and toiletries;
  • Antibacterial handwash;
  • Small towel (fast dry material);
  • Thermarest or similar sleeping mat (please note that 5 cm sleeping mats with thin sleeping pad are provided on trekking days);
  • Penknife (remember to pack sharp objects in checked luggage);
  • Repair kit (needle, thread, duct tape);
  • Ear plugs against river noises, snoring, etc.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT IN TENT CAMPS: 70 USD

Accommodation:

Bishkek - 3 nights
3-star Navat Hotel, B Hotel or similar
Karakol - 1 night
Green Yard or similar
Jety Oguz Gorge - 1 night
Yurt camp (4 pax per yurt)
Telety Pass - 1 night
Tent camp
Karakol Gorge - 1 night
Tent camp
Ala-Kul Lake - 1 night
Tent camp
Altyn Arashan Gorge - 1 night
Tent camp
Lake Issyk-Kul - 1 night
4-star Karven Issyk Kul or similar

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