Pearls of Tien-Shan: Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan
Countries: Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan
Tour duration: 13 days
Travel season: May - October
This tour is developed to see traces of the Great Silk Road and get acquainted with the history and modern life of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. You will be impressed by magnificent mountains and primeval nature along with wild landscapes of Tien-Shan Mountain Range: densely planted forests of conifers, wide valleys and raging rivers, unique mountain lakes with transparent water, magic glaciers, herds of horses, sheep and yaks and magnificent canyons. Through centuries local people have been carrying traditional lifestyle based on their cattle breeding and ethnographical roots. Their life is strongly interwoven with legends and national heroes of the past. Most of semi-nomadic families still follow a tenor of life established by their ancestors. Supplemented with amazing mountain landscapes, friendliness of people and bright colors of traditional Asia this trip will immerse you in the outstanding environment of the nomad’s land.
Dates of group departures 2023:
Maximum number of participants per departure: 16
Price per person person: xxx USD (minimum number of participants - 1)
Single room supplement: xxx USD
Carbon level per person
* based on 8 pax
40 kg CO2
70 kg CO2
Services included :
All transfers and excursions according to the program;
Transport: 2 pax 4x4 SUV; 3-4 pax Minivan, 4 pax and over Mercedes Sprinter minibus; 2 minibuses over 10 pax;
Accommodation in DBL/TWN rooms, yurt camps and homestays;
Meals: half board;
Entrance and environmental fees;
Russian or English speaking guide.
Services not included:
Photo and video fees in museums;
Single room supplement;
Additional overnight stays in cases of early arrival or late departure
Medical expenses and insurance;
1. Arrival in Almaty
Early morning arrival in Almaty. Meeting at the airport and transfer to hotel. Time for a rest. Almaty is a modern metropolis with a picturesque panorama of mountains and apple tree forests. Almaty is the southern capital of Kazakhstan and at the same time is the largest city of the country. Officially for more than 20 years it is not the capital of the country, but still an important cultural and business center.
Our afternoon city sightseeing tours includes: 28 Panfilov’s guardsmen park, Zenkov-Cathedral, astonishing Museum of Musical Instruments and blooming Green Bazaar.
Today we continue of sightseeing tour of Almaty. In the first part of the day we visit the National Museum of History, Republic Square and take Koktobe cable car ride to observe a panorama of Almaty.
In the afternoon we proceed to Big Almaty Lake located at the altitude of 2500m for an easy hike.
Then (should not be Monday) we visit Sunkar show. The main attraction is the small zoo with birds of prey of different varieties. Here you can see a bird of prey hunting show. Five to seven spices of birds of prey take part in show. You will learn more about falcon hunting history, organic traits and the life-style of birds of prey. The show lasts for approximately 40 min.
3. Tamgaly-Tash & Bishkek
On the way to Bishkek we take a tour to Tamgaly-Tash collection of petroglyphs which is considered to be one of the best in Central Asia. The canyon of Tamgaly Tash means “a sign-place” and is located in the eastern part of Chu-ili Mountains which provide all elements that favor the rise of a large petroglyph site. Centuries ago at the intersection of trade routes the strategic position of the site provided a habitat for a nomadic human community. Along with petroglyphs, other monuments have been identified such as: Bronze Age and Early Iron settlements, cemeteries in the mountain zone and dozens of kurgans at the plain. Over 4000 engravings are distributed into 50 small groups. The majority of the petroglyphs are in the main canyon which are mostly from the Bronze Age, but some have been overlaid with medieval or later etchings. There are some petroglyphs from the Iron Age. The site is included in the Heritage List of UNESCO.
Further transfer to Kyrgyz/Kazakh border and to Bishkek.
4. Chon Kemin Park
On the way to Chon-Kemin National Park we make a stop at Karakhanid’s minaret of the 12 century - Burana tower. Nowadays it is a museum complex which includes the tower itself, reconstructions of mausoleums found on the site, remains of a citadel, collection of balbals (grave stones used by nomadic Turkic peoples), petroglyphs (stone carvings) and a small museum.
After visiting of Burana Tower we make a lunch at Kyrgyz family.
Continue to Chon Kemin - quiet valley with several small villages and farmers’ lands surrounded by magnificent mountains and fir forest. It is just a wonderful place to be, to sit on the doorstep and watch time pass by with a pot of tea.
Moderate hiking to the ridge to admire a beautiful panorama of the valley.
Further transfer through Boom gorge and along northern shore of the Issyk-Kul Lake (1600m) to Cholpon-Ata town. The lake sits in a hollow surrounded by snowcapped peaks of Terskei and Kungei Ala-Tau mountain ranges at the altitude of 1600 m. The Lake is 180 km long, 60 km wide and 700 m deep. 134 streams and rivers flow into the lake but none flows out what is explained by underwater tectonic activity.
In Cholpon-Ata we visit the petroglyphs ‐ a large open-air collection of rock carvings sometimes referred to as a Stone Garden, which covers some 42 hectares and contains a number of prehistoric monumental structures (stone circles, tombs, the remains of a boundary stone wall, balbals) and petroglyphs (dating from the II millennium BC thru the Middle Ages and up to the VI century AD).
Also visit Cholpon‐Alta Museum of History. It exhibits a wide collection of national embroidery. Further transfer to the village of Tepke along beautiful landscapes of the lake and mountains.
6. Jergalan Valley
According to locals, Jyrgalan Valley is a region blessed by God. And they make a compelling case. Seven nearby peaks surround the valley, offering beautiful views and weather that is perfect for year-round travel activities. Natural beauty fills the Jyrgalan Valley. Turquoise alpine lakes, rivers, and waterfalls sparkle in warm summer sunshine. Mountain peaks glisten in the crisp winter skies and white powder fills every crevice, draping itself over coniferous forests and steep mountain paths. It’s a beauty so deep, so remarkable, that it requires no fancy camera-work and no explanations.
Today you will get acquainted with provincial life of Kyrgyz people. We will also take an easy hike to admire all natural beauties of the region.
On the way back we stop at Ak-Suu village to take thermal bathes.
We proceed to Jety-Oguz gorge with famous “7 bulls” and “Broken Heart” rocks with optional hike to the waterfall.
Then we head towards the center of Kyrgyz national felt handicrafts – Kochkor. You will visit a local workshop and participate in the manufacturing of national carpets.
Our evening will be accompanied by a song of Manaschi. The epic poem Manas is central to Kyrgyz traditional culture and character, psychology and spirit. It is recited by specialists known as Manaschi, who hold a special place of respect in Kyrgyz culture.
8. Son-Kul Lake
Afterwards we proceed to alpine Son-Kul Lake over Kalmak-Ashuu Pass (3300 m). It is the second largest lake after Issyk-Kul Lake and the largest fresh water lake in Kyrgyzstan. It is surrounded by broad summer pastures dotted with yurts, grazing cattle and mountains. These lands are used by shepherds of the neighboring regions as summer pastures for their flocks. Shepherds drive the livestock up in the mountains; set a yurt camp where they live during summer months. Here you will get familiar with traditional lifestyle of Kyrgyz nomads.
Relaxing day at the lake. You can enjoy horseback riding, take an easy hike to the mountains to observe an amazing panorama of Son-Kul Lake and mountains, play with children or participate in cooking of national meals.
The road to Jalal Abad goes over picturesque Moldo Ashuu (3439m) and Kok Art (3200m) passes. On the way you will see colorful landscapes of Naryn river basin. The river is the largest in Kyrgyzstan, flowing further in Uzbekistan as Syr Darya and feeds Aral Sea.
Arslanbob is a mountain village with the largest naturally grown walnut forest in the world. This morning we take a hike to the local waterfall which is venerated as a holy place among people. During the hike you will see a prayer “cave of forty angels”. The fairy-tale walnut forest will open a scenic view of entire valley. The area is a year-round destination for hiking, backcountry skiing and horseback riding. Arslanbob is just a wonderful place to be, to sit on the doorstep and watch time pass by with a pot of tea.
11. Uzgen & Osh
On the way we make a stop in Uzgen. It used to be an important center of the Karakhanid Empire in 11th century. The Karakhanids were Islamic Turkic people - masters of striking brick structures. You will visit three mausoleums and a minaret. In addition, you have an opportunity to see a famous rice market in Uzgen. Further transfer to Osh Osh is the oldest city in Kyrgyzstan (estimated to be over 3000 years old) and the second largest in the country. The town is situated at a crossroad of ancient trading routes that became known as the Silk Road. The age of the city can be judged by the rock drawings and inscriptions found on the northern slope of the four-headed Suleiman Mountain. This mountain is located in the center of Osh and is a unique historical and architectural monument. The mountain is also known as Salomon’s throne. The site is still a popular place for local Muslims, with stairs leading up to the highest peak with a small mosque originally built in 1510. The mountain is included in the World Heritage list of UNESCO.
12. Flight to Bishkek
Morning flight to Bishkek.
Bishkek is a city of many green parks and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks and thousands of smaller privately built houses. It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the innumerable trees which provide shade in the hot summers. The city is believed to be the greenest in Central Asia with more trees per head of population than any other. Our sightseeing tour includes: blooming Osh Bazaar, Historical Museum, Museum of Applied Arts and Ala-Too square, the main square of the country. The square serves as a place for state events and celebrations and includes many monuments, open-air picture gallery, famous Oak Park, marble government buildings and theaters.
Folklore show in the evening during the farewell dinner. Artists will demonstrate different national musical instruments and techniques of playing.
In the programs of guaranteed tours, as a rule, we use 3 * level and less often 4 * Hotels, as well as proven guest houses and yurt camps, which combine modern comfort with a national atmosphere.
Accommodation in yurt camps does not imply single accommodation. As a rule, 4 clients are accommodated in one yurt. Each yurt has beds with comfortable mattresses and a heating stove or electric heater, depending on the location.
Local cafes and restaurants offer a wide variety of National, European and Russian cuisine. There is always a choice of 1-2 vegetarian dishes.
The following vehicles will be used (depending on the number of people in the group): 2 pax 4x4 SUV; 3-4 pax Minivan, 4 pax and over Mercedes Sprinter minibus; 2 minibuses over 10 pax;
For each reservation, we charge a prepayment of 100 USD (or the equivalent in other currencies) to the account via SWIFT transfer or a bank card. The final invoice is paid no later than five days prior to the planned arrival via SWIFT transfer. Payment instructions will be sent after pre-booking
Cancellations up to five days prior to planned arrival are subject to full refund. Cancellations made less than five days prior to the start of the tour are non-refundable.