The Issyk-Kul Lake is the second largest alpine lake in the world, and is often nicknamed the « Pearl of Kyrgyzstan ». Surrounded by the Celestial Mountains, it looks like an inland sea. In the valleys of Issyk Kul, you’ll discover forests, rivers, gorges, canyons and waterfalls, all while enjoying a splendid view on this mysterious lake. Your tour around the lake will take you to welcoming Kyrgyz families, unveil their culture and immerse you in this exceptional natural environment.
Day 1Welcome and rest day in the Tatyr Mountains
Manas airport - Karabulak
Your driver will pick you up at the Manas airport upon arrival.
Transfer to Karabulak, a relaxation center nestled in the gorges of Tatyr and Kashka-Suu.
We meet at 11h30 a.m. in the lobby and head for a small hike in the surroundings of the camp, to discover the beautiful landscape. After one hour, we stop for a barbecue. After lunch, you are free to rest in this calm environment, or go for a hike.
Day 2Towards Central Asia’s blue pearl
Karabulak - Burana's minaret
We stop to visit the ruins of the Burana Minaret, a Jami mosque destroyed in the 13th century during invasions. The monument is rich in history, archeological findings and legends, and belongs to the Unesco world heritage. We can climb at the top of the tower to get a beautiful view on the valley and the mountains. We’ll also visit the museum on site.
Burana's minaret - Konorchek
Then we’ll go for a short hike in the Konorchek Canyons, a gorge with towering red, orange and yellow rocks similar to the Grand Canyon. You’ll be impressed and intimidated by the heights of the rock formations.
Konorchek - Tamchy
Finally, we make it to the shores of the Issyk-Kul Lake (1609m or 5979ft above sea level), the second largest alpine lake in the world. This is what we call the pearl of Kyrgyzstan. It is surrounded by the Celestial Mountains, with snow-capped summits that climb above 5000m, and are reflected in the crystal clear water. Several dozen rivers drop from the mountains into the lake via stunning valleys.
Day 3Horseback riding in the Grigorievka Valley
Tamchy - Tcholpon-Ata
In the morning, we visit the cultural center Ruh-Ordo in Cholpon-Ata. This center, nestled in a peaceful environment, is dedicated to the harmony between the four main religions, Islam, Judaism, Christianism and Buddhism. There are also spaces dedicated to art exhibits, and to main figures of Greek culture and of Kyrgyzstan.
Tcholpon-Ata - Grigorievka
Day 4The Seven Bulls of Jety Oguz
Grigorievka - Karakol
We arrive at Karakol, a small town that borders Issky-Kul. We take the time to visit itsSaint Trinity Cathedral, an orthodox from the 19th century; and its Chinese mosque which looks like a Mongol Buddhist temple, built by the Dungan population. Finally, we visit the ** Przewalsky museum**, where you will learn about local history.
Karakol - Jeti-öghüz
We then drive to the Jety Orguz Valley. Covered with fertile vegetation, this gorge is probably one of the prettiest in the country. It stretches over 37 km (23 miles), between the Issyk Kul Lake and the Tian Shan Mountains. Strange rock formations, nicknamed the “seven bulls” and the “broken heart”, fill the place with mystical legends. We hike in the valley.
Jeti-öghüz - Bokonbayevo
Before heading towards our guest house, we visit the superb Skazka Canyons, whose name translates as Fairy Tale Canyons in Kyrgyz language. Formed from erosion, the rocks tower over the Issyk Kul Lake and offer a great contrast in color. Let your imagination work to make out the shapes of the rocks.
Day 5Discovering Eagle Hunting
This morning, we attend an eagle hunting demonstration. The Kyrgyz hunter, on his horse, will show you the impressive agility of his eagle, who will have to catch small preys like a rabbit.
Day 6Visit Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital
Kyzyl-Tuu - Bishkek
This is our last day before getting back to the capital. We leave the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, where we met a generous culture, and go back to Bishkek. Drop-off at your hotel, where you’ll be able to relax.
We visit the Osh Bazar, one of the most fascinating markets in Kyrgyzstan. Enjoy the colors and the smells coming from stands of dry fruits and spices. You can also buy a few traditional souvenirs to bring home.
We walk on the Ala Too Square in the center of Bishkek. Meeting place for Bishkek’s youth, it comes alive every evening with families and friends who come here to relax. It’s also an important historical place, since it hosted several revolutions.