Nomads and Nature of Kyrgyzstan Tour

Bishkek – Kochkor – Song Kul Lake – Konorchek Canyon
Overnight in Kochkor Village and a mountain yurt camp, learning traditional ways of life through felt carpet weaving, horseback riding and sharing meals and stories with local residents. Along the way, you’ll get to experience three diverse Kyrgyzstan landmarks - stunning Song Kul Lake, historic Burana Tower and the red rock Konorchek Canyon.

On the backdrop of Kyrgyzstan’s perfectly chiseled mountains and unspoiled lakes, nomadic Kyrgyz tribes slowly dispersed to the territory’s farthest regions, and today their legacy is preserved and enhanced by the Kyrgyz mountain people. Be it the villagers of Kochkor, who carry on the craft of Kyrgyz felt carpet making, or the shepherds and herdsmen that congregate around Son Kul, the largest freshwater lake in Kyrgyzstan that charms man and beast alike with its beauty, the hinterlands of Central Kyrgyzstan are still teeming with life. .

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: Bishkek – Kochkor
 

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 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 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 observe local ways of life. Dinner and overnight in local guesthouse. Overnight in Kochkor.

Meals Provided: lunch, dinner

Day 2: Kochkor - Song Kul Lake
 

After breakfast, drive to Song Kul Lake (110km, 2hrs), 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 Song Kul Lake.

Meals Provided: breakfast, box lunch, dinner

Day 3: Song Kul Lake - Konorchek Canyon – Bishkek
 

Wake up early to watch the sun rise and enjoy a camp-style breakfast. Depart Song Kul and drive to Bishkek via Konorchek Canyon (180km,3hrs), for a trek through Kyrgyzstan’s Grand Canyon.

The hike begins in Boom Gorge at Red Bridge, which arches over the Chu River. Your two-hour hike (one-way) winds through a maze of rocks and red sandstone columns that stretch for miles. The trail provides ample photo opportunities and has many fun twists and turns.

Follow a river through the narrow gorge until you reach a small plateau, from which you’ll have a sweeping view of the red-earth Eolian Castles. Enjoy a picnic lunch and a short rest, admiring the striking beauty of the cliffs, before beginning the return trek.

Continue driving to Bishkek (120km,2hrs). Drop-off at Bishkek hotel. End of Nomads and Nature of Kyrgyzstan Tour.

Meals Provided: breakfast, box lunch

Please note: Song Kul is usually cold year-round. Please bring a hat, trekking boots, sunglasses, water flask, first aid kit and warm clothes.

Due to weather conditions, this tour is only available from 15th June- 15th September.

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