Following nomadic traces (trekking to Lake Son Kul)


Trekking in Kyrgyzstan

The trekking starts in the foothills of northern Tian Shan and finishes in the heart of internal Tian Shan on the shores of lake Son-Kul. During the trek you will cross several mountain ridges, climb up five passes and will stay on mountain pastures called jailoo. You will visit yurts of hospitable Kyrgyz nomads, try kumyz – the drink of all nomadic nations, which is made of horse milk and you may try horseback riding on Kyrgyz horses. The program starts with visit of Burana Tower, in ancient times famous Balasagun city located in this outskirts. You have further transfer to the trek’s points start in Shamsy gorge, located in Kyrgyz ridge.

One of the most extensive ridges of the Tian-Shan, the Kyrgyz ridge borders Chu valley from the south and stretches for 454 km from west to east. The highest point of the ridge is the Semenov Tienshansky peak (4895 m) located 40 km to the south from Bishkek. Lots of beautiful gorges with pure rivers locate on its northern slopes. Our trek starts in one of such amazing gorges. The Shamsy pass of 3570 m high where we have to cross the Kyrgyz ridge, from ancient times is  being used as comfortable and easy way to the Issyk-Kul hollow and further to Kashgar. We descend further to the Sarala-Saz mountain pasture to get acquainted there with life of modern nomads, visit their yurts and try bracing kymuz. We go afterwards to the valley of East Karakol river and cross east part of Kara-Moinok ridge over the Bychuk pass (3400 m). We descend to valley of the East Souk river. The valley is stunning, you may see everywhere herds of sheep, cows, horses.   

We cross next ridge – Sandyk mountains over the easy Kumbel pass (3550 m). If you go up to the plateau which separates Kumbel and Saryk gorges, in good weather conditions far away it’s possible to see the Son-Kul lake – a goal of our trek. We have a long trekking along the gorge towards the road which unites Kochkor and Djumgal valleys. Our campsite will be organized not far from Kyzart pass (2664 m). We may see around flat Djumgal valley and numerous herds… One more easy pass, the Chaar  Archa (3039 m), leads us to the picturesque Kilemche valley. The river which flows here reminds a slow valley river what is quite unusual for our region.

In the last trekking day we cross the Djangyz-Karagai pass (3325 m) which affords a fantastic view of alpine lake Son-Kul, located at an altitude of 3013 m above sea level. Lake’s hollow is surrounded from north and west by Son-Kul-Too ridge, from north-east by Baidaluu spur of Son-Kul ridge, from south by Moldoo-Too ridge.  The lake itself is 59 km long and 23 km width. Lake’s name is translated from Kyrgyz as “the last lake”. There are 18 small rivers which flow into the lake, but the only one the Son-Kul river which flows out. In winter time climate here is quite severe. Ice thickness reaches 1meter in the end of winter. Winter temperatures can be -30 -40 degrees below zero, moreover air near the lake is 2-3 degrees lower than on surrounding slopes. But in summer time there is a heaven for nomads and domestic animals. Besides traditional numerous herds of sheep, goats, cows and horses you may see here yaks and even camels. Sunsets at Son-Kul are absolutely stunning! Seeing them once you will never forget them. Traces lead us to our last campsite during the trek. Tonight it will be on the lake’s shore. And we can expect fresh lake’s fish from our cook for tonight dinner.

In our last day we have to say goodbye to the lake and have a transfer to Bishkek. En-route we’ll stop in village of Kochkorka, to share a lunch with a local family. You will taste here traditional Kyrgyz cuisine.

Best time: July – September
Activity: Trekking in Kyrgyzstan
Duration: 10 days

Days Program Accommodation  Meals
Day  1 Bishkek. Arrival in the Manas international airport Hotel B/-/-
Day  2 Transfer from Bishkek to begining of the trek in Shamsy gorge  Tents B/L/D
Day  3 Trekking over the Shamsy pass to  the Sarala-Saz pasture Tents B/L/D
Day  4  Trekking to the valley East Karakol Tents B/L/D
Day  5  Trekking over the Bychuk pass to the East Soek valley Tents B/L/D 
Day  6 Trekking over the Kumbel pass to the Djumgal valley Tents B/L/D 
Day  7 Trekking over the Chaar-Archa pass to the Kilemche valley Tents B/L/D 
Day  8 Trekking over the Djangyz-Karagai pass to Lake Son-Kul Tents B/L/D
Day  9 Transfer to Bishkek Hotel B/L/- 
Day  10 Departure   ----------   B/-/- 

Group size : min 6 person


Cost:   840 US dollars per person 

Dates: 24.06 - 03.07.2018

The price includes:

1. Meeting/seeing off at the airport
2. Accommodation in 3*hotels according the program (twin accommodation)
3. Trekking tents for accommodation
4. Meals 3 times a day during the program, including trekking days
5. Transport support for all time of the program
6. Trekking guide and cook during the trek
7. Entrance fee for all excursion according the program

The price does not include:

1. International flights    
2. Equipment rental
3. Extra surcharge for a single room 
4. Visa costs and other consulate service fees  (for Russian citizens there is no need in international passport)
5. Personal expenditures
6. Insurance
7. Excess baggage charges  
8. Changes in the program


Trekking in Kyrgyzstan

Best trip time:  July - September
Activity: Trekking in Kyrgyzstan
Duration:  10 days 

Day 1. (24 June) Arrival in Bishkek. We will meet you at the airport and deliver you to a wonderful hotel. After a rest break we will take you on a tour of the city where you can get a feel for the Kyrgyz capital and its architecture. We will stop off at Ala-Too Square with its famous view of the snow-capped peak in the Kyrgyz Range off in the distance, and visit the city’s green parks and the Manas monument and much more.

Day 2. (25 June) Meet-up with the support team and transfer to the Shamsi Gorge to the trekking departure point (120 km). Along the way we will visit the Burana Tower, in an area where the town of Balasaghun once stood in the middle ages, the capital of the Khanate of Karakhanid (940-1210). After lunch we will trek through the At-Djailoo Gorge to the Shamsi Pass (approximately 2 hours). We will set up camp on in the forest on the river’s edge (2300 m) and finish the day with an evening meal. Overnight in tents.

Day 3. (26 June) Early departure for a long day ahead. Trekking up through the At-Djailoo gorge to Shamsi Pass (3570 m).  Along the way we will wade across two small rivers. Lunch on the pass and afterwards continue upwards through the southern Shamsi Gorge to arrive at the borderless summer pasture (Djailoo) Sarala-Saz. On this day we have to cover approximately 25 km. Rest break and overnight stay in tents at an altitude of 3000 m.

Day 4. (27 June) We begin by wading across the small river of Buzulgan-Suu, and then continuing trekking along the mountain crest which serves as a watershed between this small river and the Kashka-Suu river. A steep downward trek to then cross over the Eastern Karakol River will put us very close to the camp which our team built at the entrance to the gorge under the Buchuk pass. Rest break and overnight stay in tents. (5-6 hours, 2500 m).

Day 5. (28 June) Trekking in the beautiful eastern Seok Gorge over the Buchuk Pass (3400 m). The ground of the gorge is level therefore the path to the next campsite is easy. The site on the river bank of the same name is very picturesque. We will overnight in tents at an altitude of 2550 m.

Day 6. (29 June) After crossing the eastern Seok River over a wooden bridge we will begin our morning ascent up to the Kumbel Gorge. This part is easy and should present no real difficulties. After the Kumbel Pass (3550 m) a long leg of the journey through gorges in the direction south-east until the opening of the gorge at Kyzart Pass which separates two valleys, the Kochkor and the Djumgal. Here in a clearing with its own spring there will be a campsite already set up and along with a guide and a cook awaiting our arrival. Pause for rest and overnight stay in tents (8-9 hours, 2550 m).

Day 7. (30 June) After breakfast we will begin trekking through the Kyzart Valley in the Chaar-Archa pass (3039 m). Trekking continues in a gorge of the same name and descent through the gorge in the broad Kilemche valley. We will spend the night in tents (6 hours, 2500 m).

Day 8. (01 July) Ascend to the last pass, the Djangyz-Karagai (3325 m), which offers a famous view of Son-Kul. This is a fairly easy ascent followed by trekking to the campsite on the shores of the high mountain lake (3013 m). Everywhere one can see cattle grazing peacefully amongst nomadic yurts all with the amazing lake as a backdrop.  The incredible landscape is rounded off by spectacular evening sunsets. We will spend the night in tents (6-7 hours, 3020 m).

Day 9. (02 July) Today we depart from Son-Kul Lake and transfer to Kochkor where we will have a traditional Kyrgyz lunch at the home of local inhabitants. The wares of local artisans and craftsman are available to purchase.  After lunch we will transfer back to Bishkek (4 hours) where we will spend the night in a hotel.

Day 10. (03 July) Return home.


Useful Information: 

1. Visa for Kyrgyzstan. Detailed Information about obtaining a visa for Kyrgyzstan can be found in our “Useful Information” section.

Clothing and Equipment
- Personal hygiene products
- Sunscreen (at least 20SPF)
- Chapstik or equivalent lip balm
- Water bottles
- Trekking shoes
- Sandals or other footwear for wade the rivers
- Sunglasses with good UV protection
- At least a 45 liter backpack
- Additional 25 Liter backpack for personal items during outings
- Sleeping bag (for temperatures -10 ˚ -15 ˚C)
-  Sleeping mat
- Telescopic trekking sticks poles
- Headlamp with a set of extra batteries

- Warm (and hot) weather apparel
- Lightweight shoes for trekking and city visits (sneakers, sandals)
- Trekking pants
- Thermal underwear or something else to sleep overnight in the tent in
- Windproof or other lightweight jacket
- Waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex) with hood
- Waterproof pants (Gore-Tex)
- 2 T-Shirts
- 2 long-sleeved T-Shirts
- Shorts
- Polar or “Windstopper”-material jacket
- Wool socks - 2 pairs (for sleeping in tents cotton socks - 3 pairs
- beanie/stocking cap
- Thin gloves for trekking and overnight