Kyrgyzstan Epic Mountain & Canyon Tour 12 days
Join me and my local friends for this epic adventurous tour in Kyrgyzstan! This tour has it all: Amazing mountains, lakes, valleys, canyons, sleeping in yurts, the real experience! If you’ve never visited Central Asia and are interested in a new experience than this is for you. Kyrgyzstan is an amazing country that I visited multiple times over the last few years and it’s really a landscape photographer’s paradise.
A lot of these areas (especially the canyons) have been explored by me and the team and we made them famous personally. We even gave them names! By Google maps scouting and visiting sights we found some hidden gems almost never explored by anyone. Recently in 2019 CNN Travel joined us for a mini documentary and article, that can be seen HERE
In this tour me and my team will bring you around some amazing areas that this country has to offer.
DATES: May 17 - May 28 - 2020
PARTICIPANTS: 8 (max)
PRICE: 5450 EURO (based on double occupancy, early bird rate)
Single room supplement: 300 EURO
All meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Guidance by a professional team (Albert Dros + locals)
Permits needed to access some areas
Potential Visa fee (most countries don’t need visa for Kyrgyzstan, for details check: https://caravanistan.com/visa/kyrgyzstan/)
Flights to and from Kyrgyzstan
I did a lot for Kyrgyzstan’s tourist industry and got several reward certificates from the government and travel organisations for doing so. Here I am standing with Maksat, the minster of tourism in Kyrgyzstan.
COMFORT & SHAPE:
In this tour we will be sometimes sleeping in tents and yurts. Obviously, Kyrgyzstan does not have luxury hotels in many places, especially the mountains. When we’re staying in the villages we’re staying in the best hotels, but in the mountains, we live the real Kyrgyz lifestyle ;) We will also be doing some basic horse riding. Even if you never rode a horse, it will be no problem if you’re up for it :)
Regarding hiking, we will occasionally walk but it will never be whole day hikes. Most of the walking will be max 1-2 hours, so you don’t need to be extremely fit, but if you have issues with basic hiking this tour might not be for you.
DAY 1: Bishkek (arrival day)
You may arrive in Bishkek any time of day. Our welcome dinner starts at 7 PM. You’ll meet me (Albert) and our team that will be guiding you for the rest of the tour. We’ll discuss itinerary and have a nice local meal. If you need any help with transfers from the airport, feel free to let us know.
DAY 2: Karakol
Today we will mainly be travelling to the east side of the country; The Karakol region. After breakfast we’ll be shortly on our way. Along our road we have several short stops to get some food and take some pictures. We’ll be driving north of Issyk Kul Lake, one of the biggest lakes in the world. On our way we’ll visit Boom Gorge, where the Great Silk Road caravans used to pass.
On arrival in Karakol we’ll have a sunset shooting session near Karakol after we’ll head to dinner and rest at our great hotel in Karakol.
DAY 3: Karakol Peak
The real adventure starts today! After breakfast we’ll make our way to Karakol Peak, a 5000m+ peak in the area. Getting there is not easy! We’ll be traveling partly with a Soviet bus (a real experience) to the basecamp where we’ll meet our new friends: horses. Our horses will take us to the base of the peak within a few hours.
Getting to Karakol Peak is an experience by itself. It’s a beautiful valley with streams, horses and greenery. You’ll be amazed when you see the first glimpse of the massive peak Karakol in the distance. When we get closer to the base of the mountain we’ll overnight in tents. Our cooks will make sure you’ll not be hungry and stay warm during the night.
We’ll photograph the last light hitting the mountain, have dinner and potentially shoot the starry skies and the milky way.
Accommodation: Tents. (you don’t have to bring your own. Everything is taken care of).
DAY 4: Karakol Peak
In the morning we have another chance to shoot the sunrise after we’ll depart back on our horses to Karakol. We’ll take it easy and enjoy the amazing nature around us. We’ll be back in Karakol in the afternoon and spend some resting time at the hotel. Depending on timing, we may also use this day to give you some lectures about processing and landscape photography.
DAY 5: Peak Eltcin
After everyone is rested from the previous day we’ll have a daily excursion to the Jety Oguz valley along with peak Eltcin. This day will be full of beautiful views with epic mountains and canyons. First we visit the famous ‘red rocks’ and after that we’ll be heading into the spectacular valley where we can see peak Eltcin. Another 5000m+ mountain and a valley that are absolutely stunning.
We’ll travel by jeeps except for the last part. We’ll have to walk about 1 to 1.5 hours (1 way) for a good view of the mountain. We’ll stay here to photograph the horses, streams and nature with peak Eltcin as a backdrop. After sunset we’ll hike back and make our way back to Karakol. We’ll have a late evening dinner here and overnight back in the hotel.
Accommodation : Hotel
DAY 6: Sary-Jaz
A new adventure starts today! We’ll be visiting the Sary-Jaz area which is an area close to the border of China. This area is unique. You’ll see absolutely no one here except maybe a shepherd that is completely on its own far from civilisation. This area requires a special permit (we’ll take care of it for you) to access. The atmosphere here is something you have never experienced before. We’ll be crossing the Chon-Ashu pass (over 3800m) and Echkilitash gorge.
We’ll be driving a lot today and our end destination are the Adyr-Tor mountains. This area also has a lot of wild eagles and if we’re lucky we may photograph some in their natural environment. We’ll spend the night here in camps so we can experience the true serenity of this place. We’ll see the sun go down and rise behind these giant peaks. An experience you won’t forget.
DAY 7: Sary-Jaz
You may rise from your tent to shoot the sunrise and see the first light hit the mountains. It’s very possible that it was freezing this night! As this area is well above 3000m it can get very cold tonight. When the sun rises and hits the frozen grass, it will soon start to warm up. Mornings here can be magical. We’ll take it easy in the morning and depart as soon as we’re ready. We’ll take a different route back to Karakol so we can explore some different valleys.
We’ll be back late afternoon, have dinner at our hotel and rest for our new adventure the next day.
DAY 8: South Issyk-Kul area
Seen enough mountains yet? Today we’ll go on another adventure to an epic valley where 4000-5000 meters are nothing out of the ordinary. The upcoming days we’ll explore the south area of the Issyk Kul Lake which is home of not only amazing mountains but also a number of crazy shaped canyons.
If weather allows, we may shoot sunrise in a nearby canyon named Skazka canyon. But don’t worry, we have more chances to see the sun rise here.
Today We’ll drive to the Arabel Plateau with our jeeps. You’ll experience a dozen of glaciers, rivers and cattle here. We’ll be back during the evening for dinner at our hotel.
DAY 9: South Issyk-Kul area
Today we’ll visit multiple canyons! Depending on weather we shoot sunrise in a canyon we explored completely ourselves and called ‘The Canyon of the Forgotten Rivers’. This canyon is mainly amazing for drones! So if you have a drone, make sure to bring it. You can see endless canyons from the sky reaching all the way to the Tian Shan mountain range. It’s unreal.
After that we’ll explore a canyon called ‘Mars Canyon’. This area will remind you of the canyons you see in Utah. They’re massive and have lots of interesting shapes. If you have a drone: bring it! This area is amazing for top down drone shots.
We’ll also photograph a traditional eagle hunter with his eagles here. This hunter is still using his eagles to hunt in the field. Eagles are beautiful animals and you’ll have to the time to photograph some beautiful portraits of them and their master.
If weather allows, we’ll shoot the milky way in Mars Canyon during the night. There is really no light pollution in Kyrgyzstan so the nights are extremely dark and you’ll be able to see the milky way with ease!
DAY 10: Bokonabevo - Son-Kol lake
Today we’ll drive to Son-Kul lake, the last but definitely not the least adventure of our tour. This area will amaze you. Son Kul is a huge lake located at around 3000m with mountains surrounding it. It’s a location that will take your breath away as its completely flat and has its own climate. Weather conditions can change rapidly here and there’s a big chance it will freeze during the night.
To make the experience complete you’ll stay in yurts (which is the only option, there are no hotels in this place). The yurts themselves are great photogenic objects. You'll experience the local lifestyle here and see the family’s life in the summer months. If the winds calm down you can see the mountains reflecting in the lake. We’ll stay here for sunset, night and the sunrise the next day. You’ll enjoy the super clean fresh air and this area will really make you feel at peace.
DAY 11: Son-Kol lake - Bishkek
We shoot sunrise at a pass nearby, called 33 parrots. It’s a pass with a crazy amount of turns that you can photograph from the top. After breakfast we take our time to head back to Bishkek. On our way we might do a stop at Konorchek Canyon.
We will have our goodbye dinner in Bishkek after which you can get some well deserved rest in your hotel.
DAY 12: Departure
This big adventure has come to an end. With lots of images on your memory card, you may plan your departure any moment during this day.