Colors of Kyrgyzstan Discovery Tour

Bishkek, Burana Tower, Kochkor, Son Kul, Skazka Canyon, Jety Oguz, Karakol, Issyk-Kul, Cholpon-Ata

Kyrgyzstan is brimming with splashes of color that brighten everything from its landscape to the dreary cement blocks that form the backbone of its city streets. The rainbow colors of Skazka Canyon, sparkling sapphire hues of Issyk-Kul Lake and ruddy tones of the Jety Oguz boulders all speak to this land’s intrinsic beauty. Yet Kyrgyzstan’s richness is not limited to nature alone – the bright felt handicrafts woven in Kochkor village, vibrantly painted mosque and cathedral of Karakol, and the personalities of friendly Kyrgyz people from Bishkek to Tamga village will brighten your journey and enrich your world.
The Colors of Kyrgyzstan Discovery Tour is a journey that weaves the natural beauty and traditional charm of Kyrgyz nomadic culture into a weeklong tapestry of fun adventures and special memories. Bask in the charm that engulfs the mountain enclaves of Tamga Village at Son Kul Lake and Cholpon-Ata at Lake Issyk-Kul. Revel in the history of Burana Tower, downtown Bishkek and small-town Karakol. Enhance your appreciation of Kyrgyz culture through carpet weaving lessons, mountain village visits and yurt camping. This tour is sure to broaden your horizons and increase your appreciation of colorful Kyrgyzstan.

In the morning your guide and driver will pick you up from your Bishkek hotel and head to Kochkor (200km, 3hrs). After a 1.5-hour drive (80km), stop in the small town of Tokmok 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 Kochkor, a Kyrgyz village lying 1800 meters above sea level whose residents are known for their creation of shyrdak felt rugs, embroideries and other handicrafts. Plunge into Kyrgyz village culture through the following:
  • Lunch in the home of a local family;
  • Kochkor Regional Museum, including a display of local arts, historical exhibitions and a cluster of yurts;
  • Altyn Kol Workshop, where you’ll have the chance to watch a demonstration on shyrdak felt carpet production, try your hand at the classical art and support local entrepreneurs by purchasing handmade souvenirs by village artisans.
Free time afterwards to roam about the village, take photos and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of this small, remote town.
Dinner and overnight in local guesthouse.
Overnight in Kochkor.
Meals Provided: lunch, dinner
After breakfast with your Kochkor host family, drive to Son Kul Lake (110km, 2hrs), stopping for photos along the way. Arrive to Son Kul Lake (“Last Lake”), which at 3000m above sea level is the highest lake in Kyrgyzstan.
Spend the day living like a true nomad and acquainting yourself with the culture of the mountain Kyrgyz people. Enjoy time with friendly Kyrgyz families and taste their fresh ayran (yogurt) and kumis (horse milk). Go horseback riding and take photos with the camels, yaks and eagles tended by local herdsmen, or take time to sit and reflect by the lake, relaxing in the fresh mountain air.
After dinner, free time to go for a hike or a walk about the yurt camp.
Overnight in yurts at Son Kul Lake.
Meals Provided: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Wake up early to watch the sun rise and enjoy breakfast at the yurt camp. Depart Son Kul and drive to Tamga (270km, 4hrs).
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 your day’s journey with a drive to the picturesque village of Tamga 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, box lunch, dinner

Optional Activity:
Watch an eagle hunting show in Bokonbayevo, a small village near Tamga.
(Subject to availability; small additional charge). 80-100 USD per group.
Depart in the morning for Karakol along the south shore of Lake Issyk Kul, stopping at Jeti Oguz on the way (80km, 1hr 15min).
Jety Oguz Canyon is 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” (Jety Oguz) and “Broken Heart”, for their resemblance to said features.
After hiking, continue the drive to Karakol (25km, 30min), 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.
Free time in the evening. Overnight in Karakol guesthouse.
Meals Provided: breakfast, dinner
After breakfast transfer to Cholpon-Ata (150km, 2hrs,15min), situated on the northern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. On the way, enjoy the beautiful landscapes and gradual change of scenery.
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
After breakfast, enjoy free time at Lake Issyk-Kul in the morning before hotel check-out at noon. Drive to Bishkek (260km, 4hrs). Upon arrival to Bishkek, take a short sightseeing tour to the following sites:
  • 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”.
Overnight in Bishkek hotel.
Meals Provided: breakfast
Free time in the morning until hotel check-out at noon. Transfer to the airport.
End of Colors of Kyrgyzstan Discovery Tour.
Meals Provided: breakfast

Note: Due to weather conditions, this tour is only available from 1st June to 20th September.

Price includes:

  • Accommodation based on double/twin room (2 nights at hotel, 2 nights yurt camp, 2 nights guesthouse);
  • Full-board (lunches and dinners) on day 1-4;
  • 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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