Visit the magic mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Get right off the beaten track on this challenging tour into Central Asia's mountainous hinterland. Beginning in Bishkek, we travel through Chong Kemin and the imposing Kyrgyzstan mountains. From the high country we head through Jeti-Oghuz Valley, experiencing local life on a homestay and exploring the lush pastures of the Fergana Valley, before finally reaching the quirky capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent. If an outside-of-the-box travel adventure through 'the Stans' is what you're after - then this is it.

Start
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Finish
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Countries
Kyrgyzstan,
Uzbekistan
Themes
Overland
Code
KDOC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 4 Max 22
Carbon offset
656kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Wander the wide streets of Bishkek
  • Camp among apple orchards and haystacks in Aksai Village
  • Camp by the serene shores of Issyk-Kul Lake
  • Soak up the charming atmosphere of Karakol
  • Go hiking in Jeti-Oghuz Valley
  • Live the nomadic life and overnight in a yurt
  • Admire the imposing Kyrgyzstan mountain
  • Shop for Soviet memorabilia in Tashkent

Itinerary

Border Information: if joining in Bishkek, you will most likely enter Kyrgyzstan
at Bishkek Manas International Airport.

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting. The rest of the day is free for you to explore this relaxed and atmospheric city. In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Asia Mountains
Hotel Asia Mountains (Отель Горы Азии)
1a Lineinaja St (Улица Линейная 1А, (на пересечении с улицой Гоголя))
Bishkek 720021
Kyrgyzstan
Tel: +996 312 690 235 or +996 312 690 234
Activity

Learn all about the 20th-century history of Kyrgyzstan at the Mikhail Frunze museum, dedicated to the Bolshevik genera whose name Bishkek bore until the city was renamed after independence

Explore the vast Osh Bazaar, Bishkek's largest market
Stroll around the Soviet-built Panfilov Park in Bishkek
Explore Bishkek's past at the State Historical Museum on Ala-Too Square KGS 150
Visit the 9th-century Burana Tower outside of Bishkek, the minaret that is all that remains of the ancient
Karakhanid city of Balasagun

About Bishkek: Bishkek is the relaxed capital of Krygyzstan with a pleasant laid-back atmosphere. The city centres around Ala-too Square, previously known as Lenin's Square under the previous Soviet zegime. Lenin used to stand in his concrete overcoat in the middle of the square, proudly gesturing towards the mountains. For those interested in their Soviet memorabilia, a larger than life Frunze can also be found still sitting on a bronze horse facing the train station, though his name plaque has been removed - and you can still visit the museum built over Frunze's birthplace. A pleasant place to watch the world go by is Dubovy (Oak) Park, where you'lll find a few open air cafes, perfect spot to sit and have a drink and soak up the atmosphere. The century old oaks here and all along Freedom Avenue make Bishkek one of the greenest cities in Central Asia.

The next 2 days will need to be fairly flexible. Many of the group will apply for Uzbekistan visas in Bishkek. However, the Uzbek Embassy opening times will often vary and therefore our itinerary will need to remain flexible over the next 2 days to accommodate this. As a general guide, we will most likely spend our first night camping in stunning mountainous Ala Archa National Park near to Bishkek. We will then return to Bishkek on Day 3 in order to submit our visa applications. Once this is process is
complete we will continue to Chong Kemin National Park, where we will have free time to explore and hike in this beautiful area, or to get involved in an optional white water rafting excursion if time allows
In Chong Kemin and Ala Archa we will wild camp. If it is too cold or simply preferred by the group, we may choose to camp in the grounds of a guesthouse in Ashu, a village in the Chong Kemin valley, where there could be the possibility to upgrade to rooms.Drive times - 4-5 hours each day (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, borders and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Activity
Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan Included in Kitty
Explore the beautiful Chong Kemin valley on horseback (if helmets available) KGS 300
Head out on a white-water rafting adventure through the stunning Chong Kemin valley KGS 1800
Walk around the incredible scenery of the Chong Kemin valley. Enjoy a stunning day of wild camping and hiking in the beauty of the Ala Archa Gorge

About Chong Kemin Valley:
Chong Kemin lies within the Tian Shan mountain range seperating Kyrgyzstan and Kazakstan. Their peaks reach above the legendary threshold of 7000 m elevation in its ruggerd run towards China.
This spectacular valley is famed for it's natural beauty, abundant wildlife and rich, varied flora. This is the reason why Chong Kemin Natrional Park was founded in 1977. The valley offers several trekking possibilities from easy short walks along the Chong Kemin River to adventurous and tough hikes over 4000m passes, ceratinly not for the faint hearted. Recently white water rafting has become a popular
activity for visitors in the area, However if it's a more relaxing experience you are after, exploring this stunning valley on horseback is a great alternative. Today we will drive to the northern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul and visit the ancient petroglyphs at Cholpon-Ata. We will then continue to the Russian-style town of Karakol, where we will have a free evening to explore and relax! In Karakol we will stay in a decent local hotel. Drive time - 7-8 hours.

Activity
Journey around the whole of Lake Issyk Kol via the Russian-style town of Karakol Included in Kitty
Explore the ancient rock petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata on the northern shore of Issyk Kol Lake Included in Kitty

About Kara-kol:
Kara-Kol is a picturesque town surrounded by orchards and mountains, with a delightful Russian church and gracious colonial houses on tree-lined streets sloping up towards glaciers and pine forests.

About Cholpon Ata:
Issyk-Kul Lake is one of the biggest natural water reservoirs in the world at 170kms long and 70km wide. Issyk-Kul means "warm lake" in the local language; a combination of extreme depth, thermal activity and mild salinity means the lake never freezes. On the shores of the lake is the small town of Cholpon Ata, a favourite holiday spot with the locals. The area has a number of health resorts and spas and there are also some interesting rock inscriptions dating back to 500BC close nearby - however most people come here for the beaches. These may not be the virgin, palm fringed beaches of other destinations, but they are unique in their own right and a great place for a spot of rest and
relaxation in this land-locked mountain kingdom.
Today we drive up into the mountains to the alpine trekking region of Jeti- Oghuz. The next day we will have a free day to hike in the incredible scenery here, or take an optional horse ride with some of the local nomads! In Jeti-Oghuz we will camp close to a local family yurt. Drive time - 5 hours. Please note that on trips in the low season we may not be able to camp in Jeti- Oghuz due to low temperatures. If this is the case, we will take a stunning and incredible drive up a mountain in a Russian 4x4 truck to Altyn Arashan, a hot spring development in a stunning alpine setting, staying in dormitory accommodation. We will then stay for 1 night in a local hotel at the base of Jeti-Oghuz Valley (allowing time for some day walks).

Activity
Trek into the wilds of the stunningly-beautiful Jeti-Oghuz Gorge on the edge of the Tian Shan mountains Included in Kitty
Explore the incredible mountain landscapes of the Jeti- Oghuz valley by horseback (if helmets available) KGS 800

About Jeti-Oghuz Valley:
Seven spectacular red sandstone cliffs stand guard over the entrance to the Jeti-Oghuz Valley. Local tradition says that the cliffs were once wild bulls, immobilised by the gods to stop them terrorising local yurt dwellers. The base of this stunning canyon lies on the northern slopes of the Terskei Ala-Too range,
surrounded by a broad valley and majestic snow-capped mountains. The valley is a fantastic place for camping and hiking, exploring the valleys and canyon by foot you'll be able to admire the unusual rock formations and alpine peaks.
Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local familyrun guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality! En route we will have an included demonstation from a local 'eagle hunter'. Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up! In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.
Drive time - 7 hours.

Activity
Stay at an overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village Included in Kitty
See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here Included in Kitty
Visit a folklore demonstration near Kockhor where you can learn all about the handicrafts of the area, see a fantastic outdoor concert of traditional music and help to erect a yurt! KGS 1000
See an incredible demonstration from a traditional eagle hunter near Kochkor Included in Kitty

About Kochkor Homestay:
Kochkor is a sleepy little Kyrgyz village and looks very much like the paintings of traditional Kyrgyz life seen in various museums and art galleries throughout the country. Here we will stay for the night with a traditional Kyrgyz family, living with them and finding out about their daily life, food and family patterns. The Kyrgyz have embraced Responsible Tourism and actively encourage travellers to stay in the homes of local people. There is an excellent local animal market and a traditional felt making enterprise which we usually visit. Here they make a variety of the different felts used for making yurts, rugs, carpets and souvenirs.
Today we will drive to the incredible Song-Kul Lake, where we will spend the next two nights. We will have free time here to explore the area, and to enjoy some optional activities including hiking, horse-riding or watching a game of goat polo! At Song-Kul we will stay in traditional felt yurts. Drive time - 6-7 hours. Please note that trips during the low season will not be able to visit Song-Kul Lake, as temperatures will be below freezing, the road will be snowed over, and there will be no yurts to stay in! Instead we will likely stay in yurts on the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul.
Activity
Experience a slice of the daily life of the Kyrgyz mountain shepherds at Song Kol Lake Included in Kitty
Witness the unbelievable game of mountain polo, traditionally played with a goat's head (if available) USD 20


About Song Kol Lake: Song Kol lake is one of the loveliest spots in central Kyrgyzstan. The lake and
shore are part of the Song Kol zoological reserve. All around the lake are lush pastures favoured by local nomadic herders, who come here in the summer with their animals. On Dragoman overland trips we spend a couple of days staying in felt yurts, learning about the local culture and traditions. We might get to see the local men play a game of "ulak-Tartys" (goat polo) or have a chance to ride out with the shepherds on their small hardy ponies, or you might prefer to explore the surrounding area on foot, hiking in the hills. Song Kol really is a sublime and unique spot, it is a truly magical place where you are guaranteed to have travel experiences that you will never forget. We will spend the next 3 days overlanding through the stunning and remote Kyrgyz Ferghana Valley, stopping often to admire the views and perhaps take some impromptu hikes in the hills and countryside. During these days we plan to wild camp en route. Please note that trips running in low season (May to mid-June and October to November), we may not be able to camp if temperatures are too low, in which case we will stay in local guesthouses along the route instead. Drive times - 4-8 hours per day.

Activity
Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan Included in Kitty
Today we will complete our drive to Arslanbob in Kyrgyzstan's Ferghana Valley - if we have had a slow journey in the previous days with lots of stops, we may choose to stay in the closer town of Jalalabad instead. In Arslanbob we will stay overnight in a local family-run guesthouse. Drive time - 6-7 hours
Border information: Exit Kyrgyzstan at Dustlik, enter Uzbekistan at Andijon. Today we will have a full day's drive across the Uzbek border to the eastern city of Ferghana. In Ferghana we will stay in a basic local hotel Drive time - 8 hours.

Activity
Visit the beautiful and ornate Palace of Khudayar Khan in Kokand UZS 3000
Explore the impressive 19th-century Juma Mosque in Kokand in the stunning Ferghana Valley UZS 1000
See the silk-weavers of the Ferghana Valley at the Yodgorlik Silk Factory

About Ferghana City:
Similar to the Uzbek capital Tashkent, Ferghana is a modern city, far-removed from the ancient Silk Road cities of Bukhara and Samarkand. The town is located in the Fergahana Valley, a broad bowl thousands of kilometres wide surrounded by far off mountain peaks. Nearly 90% of people who live here are indigenous Uzbek's and the communities here are typically very welcoming and hosptiable. A very fertile area, the land is highly cultivated and used to produce fruit and vegetables and cotton. The textile industry thrives here and there are some exceptional craftspeople weaving beautiful fabrics. It may be possible for you to visit a local factory or workshop where you will be able to see how silkand other fabrics are still hand-woven and dyed here.
This morning we travel in local transport to Kokand, where we will have the oppurtunity to visit the Khudayar Khan's Palace and the nearby Margilan Silk Factory before completing the journey over the Kamchik Pass to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. The truck must pass over the Kamchik Pass without passengers and will rejoin us this evening in Tashkent. In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. Drive time - 6 hours.

About Tashkent:
Tashkent was once the fourth largest city in the Soviet Union. Whilst the historic cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva still retain much of the atmosphere of the ancient Khanates, Tashkent is very definitely a Soviet city, because old Tashkent was largely destroyed by a series of earthquakes and
Soviet planners. Having said that, it is still a great place to visit. The city has a clean, modern feel and there is some unusal contemporary architecture here, which makes it an interesting contrast to many other places along the Silk Road. The city markets (especially the Chorsu Bazaar) are well worth strolling around, you can get some excellent souvenirs here as there is a huge amount of Soviet ephemera on sale, ranging from entire Soviet stamp collections, old paintings of Lenin, through to Military uniforms. You should also try to plan a journey that involves a trip on the metro, so you can take in the impressive architecture and decoration of the Tashkent underground. Then after a busy
day sightseeing, you might like to head out for a meal at one of the old Imperial Russian style nightclub/restaurants which often put on some unbelievably risqué cabaret
Border Information: if finishing in Tashkent, you will most likely exit Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport. Today we will have free time to explore Tashkent. Please note that if you are
leaving in Tashkent, today is the last day of the trip and there is no accommodation included tonight.

Activity
Explore the delightful traditional farmer's market at the Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent's Old Town
See the grand 16th-century Kukeldash Madrassa and the city's principal Juma Mosque in the Old Town
Visit the religious centre of Tashkent at Hast Imam Square and see the Uthman Koran, believed to be the world's oldest extant copy of the Koran
Take in an opera performance at the neoclassical Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theater
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
n/a
Transport
Overland vehicle
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (7 nights), Guesthouse (1 night), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (4 nights), Yurt (2 nights)

Dates

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Important notes

1.This trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.
2. Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Mountain Kingdoms of Kyrgyzstan trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews in the last year.

Mountain Kingdoms of Kyrgyzstan , September 2015

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