Trekking tour “Mountains and Lakes of Tian-Shan”

Trekking tour “Mountains and Lakes of Tian-Shan”

Горы и озера Тянь-Шаня вместе с

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The tour we offer you below is a light version of trekking on Terskei Ala-Too range and trip to Son-Kul lake. It begins in Bishkek, the capitals city of Kyrgyzstan. By a driven car you are transferred to Son-Kul lake, where you can see beautiful panorama of lake, nomadic life of Kyrgyz people. You enjoy horseback riding or just hiking, spend time with friendly Kyrgyz families and taste their fresh airan (yogurt) and kymys (a fermented national drink from mare’s milk), also you will view horseshow.

Then you continue the trip to eastern shore of Issyk-Kul lake, to Karakol town. After that you are transferred to Karakol Gorge, from here the trekking part starts. A Trekking tour in Terskei Ala Too mountain range is a wonderful combination of landscapes and romantics of adventures. Overnights in tents under the starlit sky, campfire after a long day, amazing beauty of the hidder coners and unusual nature views… it is worth coming to our mountainous land – Land of Kyrgyzstan!

We can see a Karakol Peak (5216m) and famous moraine-glacial lake Ala Kol (3532m). We go over mountain pass Ala Kol (3800m). As a “dessert” we offer you bathing in the hot natural springs with curative mineral water in Altyn Arashan valley!


Bishkek city – Son-Kul Lake – Karakol town – Karakol gorge – Ala Kol Lake (3532m) – Ala Kol pass (3800m) – Arashan gorge – Cholpon Ata town – Bishkek city 

Day 1 Airport – Bishkek city.
Drive: 30 km. / 1 h.
Upon arrival to the international airport “Manas” you will be met by our guide. Short drive to Bishkek and accommodation in a hotel. Afternoon 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, Kurmanzhan Datka Monument, main governmental buildings, and finish at the Old Square with Government 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 snowcapped Kyrgyz Alatau mountain range which towers over Bishkek providing a quite stunning backdrop.

Dinner in a local restaurant.

Overnight in a hotel (900 m. a.s.l.).

Day 2 Bishkek – Burana Tower – Son-Kul
Drive: 390 km. / 8-9 h. / + 2150 m.
After breakfast depart to Son-Kul lake, on the road make halt on Burana Tower (old minaret) near Tokmok city. The minaret was constructed in Balasagun town, one of the capitals of Karakhanid State existed in 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. After excursion lunch in the family house in Tokmok, where tourist can closer learn about life of local people.In the afternoon continue your journey to Son Kul lake, the second largest mountain lake in Kyrgyzstan.

Upon arrival in the lake basin accommodation in yurts (3050 m. a.s.l.).

Day 3 Son Kul lake.
After breakfast we will have horse-riding around area, then after lunch you can view horse show. Today you step into the nomadic life at the Song-Kul Lake. Here, the Kyrgyz people still live in traditional simplicity. You enjoy horseback riding or just hiking, spend time with friendly Kyrgyz families and taste their fresh airan (yogurt) and kymys (a fermented national drink from mare’s milk), also you will view horseshow.

Overnight in yurt (3050 m. a.s.l.).

Day 4 Son-Kul – Karakol
Drive: 350 km. / 7-8 h. / -1350 m.
In the morning you 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. On the way we will stop in Bokombaevo village. Together with the locals we will learn this ancient handicraft and get closer to the culture of nomads. In Bokonbaevo they specialize in production of huge carpets to cover a yurt or to put on the floor.

Overnight in hotel/guest house (1700 m. a.s.l.).

Day 5 Karakol town. City tour. Transfer to Karakol gorge
Drive: 25 km. / 1 h. / + 900 m.
Morning short sightseeing tour in the town – Dungan Mosque, Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Prjevalskii Memorial Complex. We visit the museum of N. M. Przhevalski, the outstanding Russian explorer of Asian continent. 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. Lunch in a local café. Then driving to Karakol gorge

Dinner and overnight in “Karakol” tent camp (2600 m. a.s.l.).

Day 6 Radial hike to the foot of Karakol peak (5216 m.).
Trek: 16 km. / 6-8 h. / + 700 m. / – 700 m.
Karakol peakRadial hike up along Uyun Tor river to the foot of Karakol peak. We have a chance to see Tien Shan blue spruce forest, underwood (dog rose, honeysuckle, black barberries, mountain ash, black current, etc. There are mushrooms in the forest. Starting from May there are flowers blooming on the meadows – snowdrops, tulips, primerose, white anemone, alpine Aster, edelweiss (really big ones), etc. We reach the point with a view at the highest peak of Terskei Ala Too – Karakol peak.

Dinner and overnight in “Karakol” tent camp (2600 m. a.s.l.).

Day 7 Trek along the gorge to “Sirota” hut and to Ala Kol Lake (3532 m.).
Trek: 9 km. / 6-8 h. / + 1100 m.
Descent along the gorge about 1 km, later we cross the river over a bridge and the trail leads us into a forest. Rather long ascent finishes at a steep slope covered with grass, the trail turns into a serpentine, passes by a river overflow, and arrive to an unusual place which is called “Sirota” mountain hut. It is a log hut. There is a table, benches, fireplace inside. We can find a number of sculptures of animals and idols carved in wood around the hut. It looks like a fairy tale place. It is a nice place to sit down, rest, have a snack. Later the trail goes up higher, leaving the forest behind we hike along the river and reach a beautiful waterfall, flowing down from Ala Kol Lake.

Dinner and overnight in “Ala Kol” tent camp (3600 m. a.s.l.).

Day 8 Trek over Ala Kol pass (3800 m.) passing Ala Kol Lake and descend to Arashan gorge.
Trek: 18 km. / 6-8 hrs. / + 200 m. / – 1300 m.
Moraine Lake of Ala Kol stretches from east to west for 2.8km, its width is 500m, and depth 70m. Ala Kol means Colorful Lake in Kyrgyz language. Depending on the light the water might change its color. It can be emerald green, turquoise with white clouds reflected, light green or dark grey, or even black. During the ascent we enjoy wonderful views of the lake. Arriving closer to the lake we see the main range of Terskei Ala Too with a number of peaks – Aksu, Djigit, Karakol, Oguz Bashi, etc. From the lake edge it will take us another hour and half to the pass. Descent from the pass along a talus slope, and later across a wide valley of Keldike with picturesque landscapes, herds of cattle and flocks of sheep grazing. Later the trail brings us into a forest again and descends into Arashan valley. Upon arrival to the tent camp you may use an opportunity to relax in the hot springs. There are thermal baths (up to +50C) in the valley. Possibility to take thermal baths.

Dinner and overnight in “Altyn Arashan” tent camp (2500 m. a.s.l.).

Day 9 Altyn Arashan gorge – Cholpon Ata town.
Drive: 155 km. / 4-5 hrs. / – 800 m.
There is a resort Altyn Arashan founded 1963, famous for its hot mineral springs. The resort represents several wooden huts located on a big treeless meadow on the right bank of Arashan river.

The Northern slopes of the left river bank are covered with fir trees. It gives an unforgettable picture – dark green trees with snowcapped mountains “Aksu wall” (5022m) in the background.

Transfer to Cholpon Ata town. Possibly to descent over green fields with blooming flowers and crystal mountain springs. The final 5 km of the gorge are very narrow not more than 30 m with high rock walls. At the entrance to the gorge we pass by a village – Ak Suu (the name comes from the hot springs). Here you will take place inside the car.

Accommodation in a hotel on the north shore of Issyk Kul Lake.

Dinner and overnight in a hotel (1700 m. a.s.l.).

Day 10 Cholpon Ata town – Bishkek city.
Drive: 250 km. / 3-4 hrs. / -800 m.
Folklore showMorning, after breakfast, transfer to Bishkek city. Lunch en route. Upon arrival to the city accommodation in a hotel. Dinner in a local restaurant.

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 and learn more about the traditional music and poetry of Kyrgyz.

Overnight in a hotel (900 m. a.s.l.).

Day 11 Bishkek city – Airport “Manas”.
Drive: 30 km. / 1 h.
Morning transfer to airport to catch your flight back home.

The tour is possible from the 1st of July till the 1st of September.

The cost of the program in 2024

upon request

The cost of fixed date in 2024 (from July 22 – August 1, 2024) is  2000 USD / pax

The cost includes: 

– Accommodation in hotels in Bishkek – 3 nights
– Accommodation in Amir hotel or Green Yard Guest House in Karakol – 1 night
– Accommodation at the Hotel at Issyk-Kul Lake – 1 night
– Accommodation in yurt on Son-Kul lake – 2 night
– Accommodation and full board (hot food for breakfast and dinner, lunches as snack boxes) in the permanent tent camps along the trek Karakol gorge – Altyn Arashan gorge – 4 nights. (Please note, you do not need to set up your tents, they will be set in advance + cook will be waiting for your with hot meal when you arrive!)
– FB during whole program
– Escorting Guide during the whole program
– Porter service during the trek (please read about baggage allowance on trek below)
– All the transfers according to the program
– Entry and ecological fee

For groups 6 person and more: 

– horse-games show (on Son-Kul lake)
– horseback riding (half day on Son-Kul lake)
– folklore show
– demonstration in Bokombaevo production of huge carpets

The cost doesn’t include: 

– visa support and visa fee (if necessary)

– all optional deviations from the main itinerary  

– beverages and meals not included in main menu

For this trip you will need the following:

– 4 season sleeping bag
– walking boots
– waterproof jacket and trousers
– fleece jacket or similar
– warm hat and gloves
– sunglasses
– a daypack of around 40 liters
– head-torch and batteries
– 2 x 1 liter water bottles
– sun cream.
A down jacket, pair of sandals and walking sticks are recommended.

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