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KE's Tim on "Mountains and Lakes of Kyrgyzstan"

KE's Tim recently embarked on our new Mountains and Lakes of Kyrgyzstan adventure and enjoyed a phenomenal two weeks of trekking into the "Mountains o... Read more
KE's Tim on

KE's Tim recently embarked on our new Mountains and Lakes of Kyrgyzstan adventure and enjoyed a phenomenal two weeks of trekking into the "Mountains of Heaven" and exploring the Kyrgyz culture, staying in nomadic Yurt Camps. Read all about his unforgettable adventure below. 

Kyrgyzstan isn’t the first destination that springs to most people’s minds when they’re thinking of a trekking holiday. However, it’s a mountainous country often referred to as the ‘Switzerland of Central Asia’ with the Tien Shan mountain range covering the majority of the country. I was excited to join KE’s first departure of the this trip, which has a fantastic mix of sightseeing and trekking with a six day trek into the pristine Terskey Alatau range of the Tien Shan.

KTS slideshow Tim N 9s
Arriving into the capital Bishkek, we settled into the centrally located hotel and had a day of sightseeing and exploring in this fascinating city. The following day we travelled to the high altitude lake of Son Kul situated at 3,000m in the high steppe region of Kyrgyzstan. Son Kul is the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan and remains frozen for most of the year. However in the summer months, when the snow and ice have melted away, the area is populated by nomadic shepherds and their families, who bring their livestock up to the high pastures to graze. The spectacular landscape surrounding the lake is dotted with yurts, which the nomad families live in whilst tending their animals.

KTS slideshow Tim N 6s 2
We also stayed in yurts situated by the beautiful lake shore; we had two nights here to explore and give us valuable altitude acclimatisation before our trek in the Tien Shan. The yurt camp was really comfortable, with tasty meals prepared for us in the communal dining yurt, hot showers and each evening individual stoves were lit in each yurt just before bed so they were toasty warm to sleep in. The stars looked incredible each evening with so little light pollution and clear skies.

KTS slideshow Tim N 7s
From Son Kul we drove eastwards along the southern shore of Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan’s largest lake, to the start of our trek in the Terskey Alatau range. The scenery here changed dramatically with snowy mountains towering over the coniferous forests and glacial fed rivers flowing through the valleys. It felt positively Alpine but with bigger mountains and was less populated. We stayed at another beautifully situated yurt camp in some meadows at the head of the valley before starting the trek.

KTS slideshow Tim N 13s
The six day trek stays at a series of stunningly located ‘fixed camps’ that are set up each summer. Each ‘fixed camp’ has roomy two person tents with in-situ camping mattresses, a big dining tent with tables and chairs, and are looked after by staff who provide excellent breakfasts, dinners and afternoon teas as well as sending you off on each day's walk with a packed lunch. One of the most spectacular of the ‘fixed camps’ is located on the shores of Ala Kul Lake at 3,600m. This translates as ‘Colourful Lake’ and as the light conditions change, so can the colours of this glacial lake. The sunset we witnessed from just above the camp was one of the highlights of the trip.

KTS slideshow Tim N 17s
The trek goes through some beautiful mountain scenery following lush forested valleys and crossing two high passes of around 3,800m. You’re surrounded by glaciated, snowy peaks throughout including 5,216m Karakol Peak, the highest in the range. Each day we heard the shrill calls of marmots echoing across the mountainsides and occasionally saw an eagle floating overhead. The trails are relatively quiet and it was usually only when we arrived into camp in the afternoons that we met other trekkers. The trek finishes at the hot spring ‘resort’ of Altyn Arashan. We had a day here and were able to visit one of the bath houses to soak in a pool fed by the natural hot mineral springs, which was a great way to finish off the trek.

KTS slideshow Tim N 20s
After the trek we drove back to Bishkek along the north shore of Issyk Kul lake, breaking the journey with an overnight at the lake shore resort town of Cholpon Ata. This was one of the surprises of the trip for me. Cholpon Ata is a popular beach resort town that attracts many Kazakh and Kyrgyz tourists, who come with their families to enjoy the usual beach activities. The lake shore is full of sun loungers, families swimming and paddling, paddleboards, parasailing, and boat trips. The twist is the lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, at 1600m and land locked, a long way from the nearest sea or ocean. One of the more unusual beach resorts I’ve been to!

If you want a fantastic trekking destination with friendly people and beautiful mountain scenery, I’d highly recommend a visit to Kyrgyzstan.


If you would you like to know more about this adventure or any other KE holidays, then give us a call on +44 (0) 17687 73966 or USA/Canada toll-free 1888 630 4415. We offer trusted holidays with financial protection and flexible booking conditions.

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