Riding from Shamsy gorge to lake Son-Kul

On this tour you will have a unique chance to visit a wonderful area of Son-Kul alpine lake, get acquainted with the nomads’ way of life, try national cuisine and enjoy the nature of the mountains as well as ride horses along amazing places over high passes and beautiful valleys.

We will see the forests only at the beginning of our tour but the green hills in the summer and yellow in autumn fascinate by their beauty and vastness. Lots of little streams and rivers shine in the sun and offer everyone to try their crystal clear water which comes from somewhere very far away, from huge majestic glaciers.
Big herds of sheep, cows and horses pasturing on the slopes here and there sometimes so far from the house of shepherd that you may think that here, in this far mountainous country wild herds are still preserved which calmly graze on the mountain slopes under the protection only of the mother-nature.
Huge birds flying high in the air and looking for their prey, enchant by the beauty of their free flight; little birds taking off from the grass here and there; all this reminds is of once forgotten unity with the nature, when the human being was living by its laws, on the fresh air enjoying its creations, only here you realize how deep the world of glass and concrete pulled us and how rare we remember that there are so many beautiful things in our world which needs to be seen, felt, tried…     

Our way lies from one of the most beautiful gorges called Shamsy over the same named pass onto the Sarala-Saz pastures and then over Buchuk, Saryk, Chaar-Archa and Tyuz-Ashuu passes we will finally get to the point of our tour – amazing alpine lake Son-Kul.

Great alpine lake Son-Kul  is a great place for summer pastures, it is surrounded by green fields and little hills. Son-Kul has its temper and character, it can be very gloomy with grey waters on a rainy day and then it may greet you with a smile of its blue waters shining on the sun.
This nature present is located on the height of 3013 m above the sea level, as the lake is so high situated it is covered with ice almost the whole year, only in summer one may enjoy its beauty, get acquainted with the life of modern nomads, live in Kyrgyz yurts and try the national cuisine of these hospitable people. Only in summer they come to Son-Kul jailoo (Kyrgyz pastures), paying tribute to their ancestors, Kyrgyz nomads which were used to moving from one place to another  going up to the mountains with all their cattle in summer and going down to the valley in winter. 

After the acquaintance with these wonderful places we will get back to the world we are used to so much, full of joy and optimism to come back here next time and plunge into the freshness and ineffable beauty.

Best time: beginning of June – September.
Activity: Horseback riding
Duration: 9 days

Day 1. Meeting at the airport and transfer to Shamsi gorge. On the way we will visit historical-architectural complex “Burana Tower” (IX – X AC). Then we will go to the gorge called Tuura-Kayin where our cooks, guides, horses and the setout are going to wait for us. Lunch and acquaintance.
The ride to Shamsy gorge will take us about two hours and this will be aough for the first day. This ride is good for the acquaintance of the group, checking of the physical form and riding skills. Also it’s good for getting acclimatized as Tuura-Kayin gorge is located on the height of about 2100 m above the sea level and our further riding will be on height much bogger than this one. We will have dinner upon arrival. Overnight in tents. 

Day 2. In the morning after breakfast out team will divide into two. The cars will go around Kyrgyz range through Tokmok and Kemin towns, through Boom gorge and Kochkorka village onto Sarala-Saz pastures to get everything ready for the moment we arrive. As for us, we will go at first to the merge of Eastern Tuyuk and Shamsy riversand then along the Shamsy gorge to the same named pass (3570 m). The trail is going along the river with crystal clear water, along the fir-tree forest, through the meadows full of flowers. On the way you are able to see many different birds, sometimes deer and mountain goats but already above the forest zone. A little higher there is snow but here you may find mountain turkeys, ubiquitous crows, and eagles soaring high in the sky. We will go slow and stop whenever you would want to make photos. We will organize a little picnic on the way. The descent is going to go by talus and alpine meadows. There’s no forest on the other side of the ridge and won’t find it anymore along our whole trip except for a few groves at the rivers, and juniper bushes on the slopes.
Our camp is going to be on the height of 3000 m. Here, there are no bushes only meadows and hills. Here are lots of edelweiss. Herds of horses, sheep like dark clouds graze on the green slopes. On the East beneath you will be able to see villages, fields and roads. To the West go same green meadows and they seem to go somewhere to the sky. On the South there are summits and behind them there is the aim of our trip – lake Son-Kul. On the North – Kyrgyz ridge from where we will come. Dinner. Overnight in tents. 

Day 3. After breakfast we will go to south-west. Along the slope not losing the height we will go to the river called Eastern Karakol. The cars will go down to the villages to go around the mountains and come to the shore of the river across Buchuk pass (3400 m) first to cook dinner for us. There on the very shore of the river they will put our camp. On the way if we are lucky we will be able to try kumys – Kyrgyz national drink made of mare’s milk and of course Kyrgyz national bread – lepyoshka. Here, in Kyrgyzstan, if you won’t try the bread you are given you may offend the host as bread here is considered to be the symbol of Kyrgyz hospitality. We will get to the camp in the evening. Dinner. Overnight in tents.

Day 4. Today our aim is to go over Buchuk pass. In the morning our cars will leave us and will be waiting for us on the other side of the pass. Our trip will take us about 4 hours. The river valley here is marshy. Here every year one may watch the life of a big marmot family. It’s very interesting how they play, fight, repair their burrows and just lay with their bellies to the sun.
We will have a lot of free time today and if you have a desire we may have a little walk to gumbez – the grave of one unknown Kyrgyz noble. It’s quite destroyed but still makes an impression. Dinner. Overnight.

Day 5. The aim of this day will be the horse riding over the Saryk pass and go down to Kochkorka-Soyok road not far from Kyz-Art pass (2664 m). Today it’s going to be our last camp on the way to Son-Kul lake as on the day after we will already overnight on the shores of the lake. Here the yurts are everywhere. The herds of horses, cows and sheep. There’s no trees, no bishes only grass and further up there are talus and rocks. Dinner and overnight in tents.     

Day 6. Today we will finally come to the lake. After breakfast we will get on our horses and start to go. Very long trip is waiting for us today. We will have to go over two passes: Chaar-Archa and Tyuz-Ashuu down to the northern shore of the lake. There we will meet with our cars.
Son-Kul is a big alpine lake. Its height is over 3000 m above the sea level, the climate here is very severe. In winter the thickness of the ice is about 1 meter. You may see a lot of waterfowl. All the shores are covered by edelweiss but there are many other flowers too. Again many yurts on the shores of the lake and animal herds, but sometimes you are able to see one difference here – camels. Along the shores there are hills. In winter it gets really cold here and that’s why in November you will not see even one person here. Dinner. Overnight in tents. 

Day 7. Today we will go on the other side of the lake along its western shores and come to yurts the host of which will be waiting for us. The road is going to be difficult, swamps, rivers, steep ascents and descents but finally it is going to change into the flat western shore. Again we will see the yurts and maybe try tea with lepyoshka (flat bread) and kumys. Then in the yurts the full meal will be waiting for us and the joy from the fact that we did it! We will say goodbye to our guides and enjoy the evening on the shores of an amazing alpine lake. Today we will overnight in yurts. 

Day 8. Today the return to Bishkek is waiting for us. After breakfast we will say goodbye to the host and start off to Kochkorka where we will have our lunch and then go straight to Bishkek. Upon arrival we will accommodate in “Asia Mountains” hotel where we will have a farewell dinner in the evening. 

Day 9. Transfer to the airport and fight home.


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