Venture across the jailoo pastures where Kyrgyz shepherds tend their flocks in the summer and on the edges of stunning Song-Kol Lake shores, the jewel of the jailoos, surrounded by mountains on all sides. You will move from jailoo to jailoo, staying with shepherd families in their yurts in remote meadows.Enjoy homemade jam, fresh cream, fresh bread warm from the oven, a felt handicraft workshop, and the best kymyz (fermented mare’s milk).
£1275 per person
24 June – 6 July 2017
Day 1 (June 24): Bishkek
Arrival at Manas airport in early morning 05.45. Pick up and transfer to Bishkek. Hotel accommodation.
Day 2: Bishkek
Day free. Hotel accommodation.
Day 3: Shamshy Gorge
After early breakfast leave Bishkek for Shamshy Gorge, 3-hour drive. On the way visit the Burana Tower architectural complex (the 10-11th centuries, the Great Silk Road). Meet guides’ team in Shamshy gorge. Picnic lunch. Start horseback riding towards Shamshy pass (3 570 meters). Dinner. Stay overnight in tents before the pass. Horse time: 4 hours. (Please see below the trekking map).
Day 4: Sarala Saz Jailoo
After breakfast continue tour and cross the Shamshy pass (3 570 meters). Descend to Sarala-Saz jailoo, which offers beautiful views of the Kara Moinok and Sandyk mountains to the south. After welcome tea in the yurt, eat dinner and stay overnight in the yurt of local shepherd. Horse time: 6 hours.
Day 5: Iri Suu - Kashka Suu Valley
This day you spend crossing wide-open pastures till Iri-Suu area. Eat dinner in Iri-Suu jailoo, and then take an evening walk over the hill into the beautiful Kashka-Suu River valley, where you can eat wild rhubarb and watch the alpenglow on the southern mountains. Overnight stay in yurt or tents. Horse time: 4 hours.
Day 6: Buchuk Pass - Sook Valley - Kichi Saryk Valley
After breakfast at Iri-Suu, gear up for a long day through nearly-empty country. Begin by traversing the western end of the Kochkor Valley through scrubby dry terrain. After crossing the fast Karakol River, climb 1000 meters over the Buchuk Pass (3400 m). On the other side, after a brief break for lunch on the trail, descend into the beautiful Sook Valley. Wild onions cover the high cold ridges, while lower down whole hillsides of wildflowers bloom. Eagles soar and marmots cry and scurry about. At day’s end, ford the Sook River and climb the green Kichi Saryk Valley. Overnight stay in yurt. Horse time: 6-7 hours.
Day 7: Kum Bel Pass - Kolduu Suu Valley
After breakfast at Sook, detour to the next valley west, the Kum Bel, for the best approach to the 3 600 m Kum Bel Pass. From the pass, follow a ridge eastward and upward to the peak, 3656 m above sea level, with breathtaking 360 views and sheer drops to the north. Continue east, testing your walking skills down scree-covered hillsides, and eat lunch in a sheltered notch. Descend at last into the Kolduu Suu valley, and follow it down between dandelion-covered mountains to your yurt, in Kolduu Suu jailoo. Horse time: 5-6 hours.
Day 8: Kyzart Pass - Chaar Archa Valley - Kilemche
After breakfast in Kolduu Suu, head south to the Kochkor – Jumgal road. Follow the road a short ways east to the Kyzart Pass, then strike south again. Within sight of the road, cross Kyzyl-Kiya jailoo, an enormous, relatively flat sea of grass. Continue over the Chaar-Archa Pass (3 061 m) into the Chaar-Archa Valley and eat a tasty lunch by the racing river, with views of holy 4400 m Baba-Ata Mountain. Sated, ford the river and follow the trail over verdant hills to Kilemche Jailoo. The name means “like a carpet,” and this swathe of grass covers whole mountain ranges, with shadings as subtle as any shyrdak (shyrdak is a Kyrgyz felt carpet). Dine and sleep in a yurt, naturally. Horse time: 5 hours.
Day 9: Jalgyz Karagai Pass - Jaman Echki - Batai Aral
After breakfast at Kilemche, spend the morning climbing to Jalgyz-Karagai pass (3400 m), over the Song-Kol Mountains and into the lake’s basin. The morning climb affords wonderful views of Kilemche jailoo, and the pass itself is rocky and exciting. From the pass, Song-Kol is still distant, but as you traipse down the slopes, it gets larger and larger; the mountains on the other side get higher and higher, until finally the lake fills most of your field of view and the southern mountains tower above it. After lunch at Jaman-Echki, follow the lakeshore east to the yurt at Batai-Aral. Upon arrival meet your host family of Kyrgyz shepherds. Meals and overnight are in a yurt of shepherds. Horse time: 5 hours.
Day 10: Bokonbaevo - Issyk Kul Lake
Spend the day enjoying refreshing and well-earned rest at the lake side. Watching and/or participation in everyday life of shepherds: milking mares; making national milk products like kymyz (a fermented mare’s milk) or airan (a sour dense milk product); tending cattle. Eat a delicious lunch here, stroll along the lakeshore, and hope the legendary Song-Kol weather is kind. Afternoon transfer to Bokonbaevo village at southern Issyk-Kul Lake, 5 hours. Dinner and B&B in local home stay.
Day 11: Issyk Kul Lake
This day experience eagle hunting. Horse riding with an eagle hunter. Picnic lunch during horse riding tour. Late afternoon end of the tour. Transfer to the village. Dinner and B&B in a local guesthouse.
Day 12: Bishkek
Transfer to Bishkek, 4 -5 hours. Accommodation in your hotel. Afternoon free time in Bishkek. Farewell dinner.
Day 13: Bishkek Departure
Transfer to airport. Departure.
Accommodation in Bishkek
Accommodation in home, tent and yurt stays according to the program
Meals according to the program except at cafés
Transfers according to the program
Entrance fees to the natural places, cultural places and museums
Local horseback guide and assistant(s)
Local trekking guide; cook; porter(s)
Protective head gear
Meals at cafes
Personal expenses: laundry, telephone calls, medical bills, tips for local guides & drivers
Personal travel insurance
Visa fees (if required)
International airfares and airport departure tax
Any other services not mentioned in the inclusions