Best of Kyrgyzstan Tour

Bishkek, Burana, Issyk-Kul, Karakol, Jeti Oguz, Tamga, Skazka, Kochkor

Kyrgyzstan’s allure can be summarized in two phrases: natural beauty and cultural charm. Take Lake Issyk-Kul, whose warm waters attract visitors from far and wide. Then there’s Skazka Canyon and Jeti Oguz Rocks (Fairytale Canyon and Seven Bulls Rocks) whose playful stone formations leave you wondering if you truly have stepped into another world. Kyrgyzstan’s cultural appeal is multi-faceted, experienced in Tamga’s yurt camps, Kochkor’s carpet workshops, Karakol’s colorful houses of worship and Burana Tower’s testimony to the Silk Road history deeply enmeshed with the nation.
The Best of Kyrgyzstan Tour is a 5-day jaunt packed with heavenly landscapes and unforgettable experiences. From yurt camps to a tour of modern Bishkek, local craft demonstrations to visiting the only Chinese structure in Kyrgyzstan, you’ll experience the full range of Kyrgyzstan lifestyles. And somewhere between wandering red-rock canyons and relaxing in fresh mountain air, you may decide that it just doesn’t get any better than this.

Upon arrival in Bishkek, your driver will meet you at the airport to take you to your hotel, where check-in begins at noon.
Begin your sightseeing tour of Bishkek, which will take you to the following:
  • Ala Too Square, Bishkek’s large central square that maintains a distinctly Soviet feel. Watch the hourly changing of the guards, take a selfie under the large Kyrgyzstan flag and pay your respects to a Kyrgyz legend at Manas Monument.
  • Old Square with the Parliament House, a regal piece of 20th century architecture supported by 16 grand columns, and Lenin Statue, relegated to its current place after being supplanted by Manas in Ala Too Square.
  • Philharmonic Hall, a stately Bishkek landmark whose courtyard is a popular meeting place for local students and youth.
  • Oak Park, where the beautiful tree lined Erkindik Boulevard will take you to a statue of Kurmanjan Datka, a prominent 19th century Kyrgyz leader known as the “Queen of the Mountains”.
  • Opera and Ballet House, a stylish hall serving as a key center for the arts in the capital.
  • Victory Square, which honors those who lost their lives in World War II with an Eternal Flame that burns continuously under a sizable granite half-yurt.
Drive back to the hotel.
Overnight in Bishkek.
Meals provided: none
Breakfast at the hotel before an adventure-filled day as you leave the city and head into rural Kyrgyzstan.
The first stop is the small town of Tokmok (80km, 1hr 30min) for an excursion to Burana Tower and Museum Complex:
  • Burana Tower (11th century), a 25-meter-high minaret that impresses with its intricately chiseled exterior. The only remaining structure from Balasagun city, it affords a memorable climb up its dark and winding stairwell, with a spectacular view at the top to reward you for your efforts.
  • Balbals (6th century), round stone figures used as grave markers and memorial stones of the deceased.
  • Museum containing items found in Balasagun including jewelry, pottery and religious objects.
  • Mausoleums (9th century), a trio of partially- intact tombs discovered during archaeological excavations
  • Petroglyphs (2nd century), not original to the site but discovered in the greater Chuy Region and deposited here for safekeeping.
Continue driving to Lake Issyk-Kul (190km, 2hrs 30min). Arrive to Cholpon-Ata, a small town situated on the northern shores of the mountain lake.
Visit the Museum of Petroglyphs (app. 500BC-100AD), a sprawling open-air museum full of grave markers and ancient drawings. Wander through this stone garden, discovering the balbals and sketches for yourself.
After the tour, transfer to the hotel in Cholpon-Ata. Free time in the evening to take in the fresh mountain air with a walk along the beach or a dip in the lake’s naturally warm waters.
Overnight at Cholpon-Ata.
Meals provided: breakfast
Continue your tour in the morning with a drive further along the northern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul to the town of Karakol (140km, 2hrs), a small but fascinating town peppered with traditional Russian architecture and several landmarks worthy of a visit:
  • Przhevalsky Memorial Museum - Dedicated to the life and work of Nikolay Mikhailovich Przhevalski, one of the greatest Central Asian explorers and researchers of all time. He died near Karakol, and the museum grounds include his tomb, a touching monument to his life and a well-maintained garden.
  • Dungan Mosque (1910) - Designed by Chinese architects for the local population of Dungans, a Chinese Muslim people, it’s a functioning mosque even today. Constructed entirely without nails, it resembles a Chinese pagoda and reflects pre-Islamic Buddhist influence on the Dungan culture.
  • Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral (19th century) – Since original construction this cathedral has seen damage from an earthquake and Soviet occupation, yet through restoration and post-Soviet preservation efforts, remains a working church and historical icon today. The mint-green roof and golden onion domes of this wooden structure make it easy to spot from a distance.
After the Karakol city tour, drive to Jeti Oguz Canyon (25km, 30min), a picturesque gorge adorned with a coniferous forest and large red-stone formations. Stretch your legs with a one-hour (round-trip) hike to the most recognizable formations, known as “Seven Bulls” (Jeti Oguz) and “Broken Heart”, for their resemblance to said features.
Complete your day’s journey with a drive to Tamga Village on the south shore of Lake Issyk-Kul (80km, 1hr 15min). Upon arrival, settle in the yurt camp, where you’ll have dinner and a free evening.
Overnight in Tamga Village yurt camp.
Meals provided: breakfast, dinner
After a hearty breakfast transfer to Kochkor Village (170km, 2hrs 30min). Stop en route for a short hike at Skazka Canyon (Fairytale Canyon), a truly magical destinations of crazy rock formations that will stretch your imagination. The canyon, stunning in its array of earthen colors, also provides a magnificent view of Lake Issyk-Kul and the surrounding peaks of the Tian Shan Mountains.
Complete the drive to Kochkor, a Kyrgyz village whose residents are known for their creation of shyrdak felt rugs, embroideries and other handicrafts. Local ladies will share their knowledge and expertise in shyrdak, a traditional technique for felt carpet production, through a special demonstration and workshop. Try your hand at the classical art and support local entrepreneurs by purchasing handmade souvenirs from village artisans. Free time afterwards to roam about the village, take photos and enjoy the laid-back local lifestyle.
Dinner and overnight in a Kochkor guesthouse.
Meals provided: breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Optional Activity:
Watch an eagle hunting show in Bokonbayevo, a small village near Kochkor. (Subject to availability; small additional charge).

After breakfast at the guesthouse, return to Bishkek (200km, 3hrs).
Upon arrival to Bishkek, drop-off at the airport, hotel or your next destination. End of Best of Kyrgyzstan Tour.
Meals provided: breakfast

Price includes:

  • Accommodation based on double/twin room (2 nights at hotel, 1 night yurt camp, 1 night guesthouse);
  • Full-board (lunches and dinners) on day 3 and 4;
  • Private, local English-speaking escort guide;
  • Entrance fees to sights as per itinerary;
  • Mineral water 1L pax/day;
  • Transport throughout the tour (1-2 sedan, 3-8 minivan).

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