To the Heart of Tian Shan Trekking Tour14 Days | Bishkek, Karakol, Karkara Base camp, Inylchek Glacier, Putevodniy Glacier, Merzbacher Glade and Lake, Komsomolskiy Glacier, Dikiy Glacier, South Inylchek Base Camp, Lake Issyk-Kul

To the Heart of Tian Shan Trekking Tour

To the Heart of Tian Shan Trekking Tour takes you into remote Kyrgyzstan territory in the most northerly section of the great Tian Shan Mountain Range. Bask in the beauty of fierce mountain glaciers, calming alpine lakes and untamed peaks which have tempted explorers for centuries. Challenging treks, helicopter rides, mineral hot springs, cultural tours and more await you in the heart of the Tian Shan!

Trip grade: Difficult

Tour itinerary:

Day 1, 10 July, Su: Airport – Bishkek – Karkara Base Camp
 
Highlights:
- Capital of Kyrgyzstan;
- Lake Issyk-Kul, the pearl of Kyrgyzstan.
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 rest and breakfast begin the drive to Karkara Valley through Boom Gorge and along the north shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. Lunch en route at a local cafe. Continue from the cafe for another 4 hours. The road passes through Tup village before continuing east toward the Karkara checkpoint with Kazakhstan. As you will enter the border zone, you must show your border permits and passports to the guards. Dinner and overnight in tents (2200 m).
Distance: 400 km
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of tour: 7-8 hours
Day 2, 11 July, Mo: Full day in Karkara Base camp, acclimatization hiking
 
Highlights:
- Easy hiking day.
Set out on an easy mountain walk to Chamyn Sai Pass. Walk along the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan before ascending to the pass (2700 m), from which you will see the entire Karkara Valley, Char-Kuduk Pass and Tup Gorge. The hike (10 km) is not difficult and allows trekkers to prepare for higher altitudes, but it does require clear knowledge of the route from the guide. The trail goes along a wide valley dotted with nomadic yurts, offering a glimpse into a traditional way of life that is fast dissappearing. Dinner and overnight at the base camp (2200 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 3 hours
Day 3, 12 July, Tu: Karkara Base Camp – Iva Camp
 
Highlights:
- Unforgettable helicopter flight; - Wonderful views of Nansen Peak.
After breakfast take a helicopter ride to Prijim, the starting point of the Inylchek Valley trek. Begin trekking (10 km) along the valley to the foot of Inylchek Glacier. On the way you can see Nansen Peak (5690 m) and Tuz Pass (4001 m). In 1902 German geographer Gottfried Merzbacher noticed Nansen Peak, and although he had seen the Alps, Caucasus, Himalayas and Karakorum, he was delighted at the sight of this giant ridge that abuts Inylchek Valley from the south. The varied shapes of its mighty snow-capped peaks are visible from east to west, and in Merzbacher’s opinion are one the one of the greatest Alpine views on earth. Upon arriving to Iva Camp, you will be welcomed by local staff. Dinner and overnight in tents (2900 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 3-4 hours
Day 4, 13 July, We: Iva Camp – Glina Camp
 
Highlights:
- Putevodniy Glacier, the first huge glacier on the trek;
- First day of trekking along the glacier.
After breakfast, pack your lunch and set out from the tent camp. Today's trekking (8 km) will continue along the lateral moraine of Inylcheck Glacier to its confluence with Putevodniy Glacier. The trail has constant steep ascents and descents which will add a real challenge to the day! If possible, you will pass through the right slope of the terrace. Please note: there are lots of landslides along this trail and we advise you to be very careful. Stop for lunch on the glacier before ascending another steep terrace along a narrow trail, whose varied terrains and steep slopes will fill you with adrenaline. Arrive to Glina Camp for tea/coffee and rest. The camp name means “clay” in Russian and is derived from its location on a green clay field. Dinner and overnight in tents.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 5-6 hours
Day 5, 14 July, Th: Glina Camp – Merzbacher Glade
 
Highlights:
- Last grassy fied on the trek;
- Scientific station for glacier research.
Today you will trek up and down (9 km) terraces along 9-10 kilometers of straight trail, crossing a small glacier and river only once. After lunch and a rest by a small lake there will be about one hour left before reaching the camp. Upon arrival, enjoy hot drinks and wonderful views of Merzbacher Lake. Merzbacher Glade is the last grassy area before Merzbacher Lake. There is a research station on the glacier where scientists from around the world congregate every summer to study the glacier’s movement, the meteorological situation in the region and Merzbacher Lake itself. A large green patch nearby is flat enough for camping. Dinner and overnight at the tent camp (3400 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 5-6 hours
Day 6, 15 July, Fr: Radial hiking to Merzbacher Lake
 
Highlights:
- Mysterious Merzbacher Lake;
- Sauna at the tent camp.
In the morning start radial hiking (7 km), crossing south Inylchek Glacier up to Mertzbacher Lake. The glacial terrain is ice covered with rocks, stones, sand and mud. Sandwiched between the northern and southern branches of the glacier is the mysterious Merzbacher Lake, which forms every summer and every August bursts through the ice banks and flows into Inylchek River. The lake empties twice a year – once in summer and once in winter – but most people only know about the summer event. In 1903, German geographer and mountaineer Gottfried Merzbacher first discovered the lake while leading an expedition in the Tian Shan Mountains aimed at reaching the summit of Khan Tengri. Dinner and overnight at the tent camp (3400 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of hiking: 4-5 hours
Day 7, 16 July, Sa: Merzbacher Glade – Komsomolskiy Glacier
 
Highlights:
- Huge Shokalskiy Glacier;
- Magnificent view of Petrovskiy, Kolyady, Tyurina and Bronenosets Peaks.
After breakfast, pack your lunch and begin a long day of trekking (12 km) amid beautiful snow, rocks and black, white and striped ice. Trek along the right side of the terraces and follow a smooth descent right before Shokalskyi Glacier. The trail reaches the glacier and the black moraine which flows out of Komsomolez Glacier. Follow the moraine up to the glacier itself through rivers, crevices, ascents and descents which will require time and energy. Today is your first night on the glacier. Strong winds usually start after 4 pm, causing temps to drop. Hot drinks are very helpful here! Dinner and overnight at the tent camp (3800 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 5-6 hours
Day 8, 17 July, Su: Komsomolskiy Glacier – Dikiy Glacier
 
Highlights:
- View of Khan Tengri, Pobeda, Gorkiy, Chapaev and Trehglavaya Peaks; - Former starting point for climbers to Peak Pobeda.
Breakfast at the tent camp before departure. Trekking (10 km) in this part of the Tian Shan is absolutely fabulous. The distinctive characteristic of the region is its large number of nameless and as yet unclimbed peaks which reach about 5000 meters above sea level. From the camp, cross directly to the Proletarskiy Glacier moraine. Reach the middle of the Dikiy Glacier moraine and walk along it up to the glacier itself. The first part of the way is very uneven, with many crevices, creeks and small streams. Closer to the glacier the moraine levels out. After lunch, ascend straight up in front of Proletarskiy Glacier. Dikiy Camp is located 30 minutes beyond Pesnya Abaya Peak. From Dikiy Camp you will have beautiful view of Khan Tengri, Pobeda, Gorky, Chapaev and Trehglavaya Peaks. Tea and coffee are available at the camp. Dinner and overnight (3900 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 4-6 hours
Day 9, 18 July, Mo: Dikiy Glacier – South Inylchek Base Camp
 
Highlights:
- Optional climb to Pesnya Abay Peak.
Today is a short trekking day (8 km). After breakfast, cross the entire glacier to reach the central moraine where the base camp is situated. The path is covered with rocks, ice, creeks, lakes and cracks but it is possible to pass without ropes or crampons. Arrive in the base camp (4000m) and have lunch and hot drinks. Inylchek Base Camp is ideally situated in the heart of the Northern Tian Shan at South Inylchek Glacier (app. 4000 m a.s.l). It has a picturesque view of Khan-Tengri (7010 m) and Peak Pobeda (7439 m), which alpinists from around the world attempt to climb. Dinner and overnight at the base camp in tents.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 5-6 hours
Day 10, 19 July, Tu: South Inylchek Base Camp
 
Highlights:
- Optional radial hiking to the foot of Khan Tengri peak; - Wonderful panoramic views.
South Inylchek Base Camp is open from 6 July until 31 August every year and attracts not just alpinists but any travelers who wish to enjoy the beautiful mountain views by helicopter. The beautiful Khan Tengri Peak, the 2nd highest mountain in the Tian Shan Range, is without a doubt the jewel of the region. Among local residents its pyramidal white peaks are known as 'The Mountains of Heaven'. Khan Tengri Peak was first climbed by a Soviet expedition in 1931 via the West Col and West Ridge. In the ensuing years, Soviet teams proceeded to climb nearly all of its ridges. Dinner and overnight in tents (4100 m).
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of trekking: 4-5 hours
Day 11, 20 July, We: South Inylchek BC – Karkara BC – Lake Issyk-Kul
 
Highlights:
- Helicopter flight along Central Tian Shan Range, with views of Merzbacher Lake;
- Relaxing on the shore of the second biggest mountan lake in the world.
After breakfast at the base camp, take a helicopter flight to Karkara Base Camp. On arrival, drive to the hotel located on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. Lunch en route at a local cafe. Also on the way, stop to 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. From the petroglyphs it is a short drive to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel restaurant. Overnight in the hotel (1600 m).
Distance: 200 km
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of sightseeing tour: 3 hours
Day 12, 21 July, Th: Lake Issyk-Kul – Bishkek
 
Highlights:
- One of the oldest existing minarets in Central Asia.
After breakfast drive to Bishkek, 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. Lunch en route. Continue driving to the capital. Upon arrival, check in to the hotel. Dinner and overnight in Bishkek.
Distance: 270 km
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Day 13, 22 July, Fr: Bishkek
 
Highlights:
- Osh Bazaar, a traditional Oriental market;
- Ala-Too Square with unique historical buildings.
After breakfast take a walking tour of Bishkek’s city center* - 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 cafes. Overnight at the hotel.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Duration of sightseeing tour: 2-3 hours
Day 14, 23 July, Sa: Bishkek – Airport
 
Early in the morning, transfer to the airport for your departure flight. End of To the Heart of Tian Shan Trekking Tour.
Meals: Breakfast
  • Accommodation in TWIN/DBL room at hotels and in tents - 14 nights (4 ppl per yurt at yurt camp);
  • Meals - full board (B - 14, L - 13, D - 13), 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;
  • Border permit for Karkara border zone.
  • 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: 110 USD

Accommodation:

Bishkek - 3 nights
3-star Navat Hotel, B Hotel or similar
Karakol - 1 night
Green Yard or similar
Karkara - 1 night
Tent camp
Iva Camp - 1 night
Tent camp
Glina Camp - 1 night
Tent camp
Merzbacher Glade - 2 nights
Tent camp
Komsomolskiy Camp - 1 night
Tent camp
Dikiy Camp - 1 night
Tent camp
Inylchek - 2 nights
Tent camp
Lake Issyk-Kul - 1 night
4-star Karven Issyk Kul or similar

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