Last update: 07/12/2022.
Kyrgyzstan is my favorite country. My first trip to this country, dates back to 2014. Since then I go back regularly. I continuously enrich this article thanks to my friends on the spot and to the readers' feedbacks. My last stay in September 2022, allowed me to discover new regions, to make new treks and to meet many new people. I had the pleasure to introduce the region to some friends and family members.
You also want to prepare your trip in this unknown country, where nomads live and ride horses, in the middle of beautiful mountains and alpine lakes.
You are wondering which visa to take, how to get around, where to stay, and if you can get by on a backpacker budget?
Are you looking for reliable contacts, good tips or answers to even more specific questions?
You will find in this article all your answers and the contacts of my friends, to whom I have referred several hundred readers since 2015. If you need to, don't hesitate to send me a message.
To exchange with other travellers, join the Facebook group, Travelling to Kyrgyzstan.
I created this group in June 2018. It's the perfect place to exchange the latest information, the latest best tips and to find travel companions for your excursions. Don't hesitate to contribute and keep the group alive.
Finally I invite you to download my free Ebook. It includes a complete travel guide, the French/Kyrgyz lexicon and all the resources and tips to prepare your trip.
Since 2020, the french guide Le Petit Futé, recommends my blog:
I also invite you to discover this destination through my videos:
- 1 What do I need to know to prepare my trip to Kyrgyzstan?
- 2 How do I organise myself once I'm there?
- 3 Do you know of any good car rental agencies in Kyrgyzstan?
- 4 What are the main places to visit?
- 5 Do you know of any trusted guides for hiking and trekking?
- 5.1 What are the rates for tourist agencies?
- 5.2 What do I need to check with my guide before going on a trek?
- 5.3 Should I tip my guide?
- 5.4 Do you have any guides to recommend for a hike on Song Kul Lake?
- 5.5 Do you have any guides to recommend for a hike in Sary Chelek?
- 5.6 Do you have a guide to recommend for the Ala Kul trek?
- 5.7 Do you have an English-speaking driver-guide to recommend when visiting Kyrgyzstan?
- 5.8 How to attend nomadic games and an eagle hunt?
- 5.9 Do you have a local agency to recommend for group travel?
- 5.10 Is it necessary to use the services of a guide for walks?
- 6 What should I take with me when travelling to Kyrgyzstan?
- 7 How to be a prepared and responsible traveller?
- 7.1 Is travel insurance essential?
- 7.2 Do you have any travel insurance to recommend?
- 7.3 What do I need to know before I go riding?
- 7.4 Are there any other activities with animals where I need to take precautions?
- 7.5 How to avoid acute mountain sickness?
- 7.6 How do I manage my waste on the treks?
- 7.7 Any final advice?
- 8 What are people like in Kyrgyzstan?
- 9 The PDF version of the article.
- 10 Going further:
What do I need to know to prepare my trip to Kyrgyzstan?
Do I need a visa?
Travellers from 60 different countries do not need a visa for stays less than 60 days. Your passport must simply be valid for the duration of your stay. Make sure that it has been stamped on arrival. You can check here if you need a visa or not.
If you wish to extend your visa, go to the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs (10a Togolok Moldo Street / Toktogul Street - Bishkek).
How much does the flight cost?
Kyrgyzstan is not an expensive destination, but there are no direct flights.
Flights with stopovers are operated by several companies. Pegasus, Turkish airlines
and Aeroflot are the most interesting, as they offer very short stopovers: from 380€ to 450€ in the summer, depending on your booking date.
For more information on the subject, you can read my article on how to find a cheap flight ticket in less than 40 minutes.
Coralie, a reader of the blog, told me about a really good deal with Air Astana . If you have a long stopover in Almaty or Astana (especially an overnight one), the company has a Stopover Holidays program, with a $1 night in partner hotels (often starred +++): everything is done online, they send you a driver to the airport, night and breakfast at the hotel, and return with driver to the airport.
What currency is used?
The official currency is the Kyrgyz Som. 1€= 90 KGS.
ATMs will offer you the option to withdraw in KGS or $. Keep in mind that KGS are easier to use for everyday purchases. Visa-compatible ATMs are found only in major cities. Make sure to withdraw enough money to survive between each city stop.
IMPORTANT: You will NOT be able to change your Kyrgyz soms once you have crossed the border, do it before! Nobody will change your Kyrgyz soms, not even banks...
Commissions from traditional banks can be quite high. Before 2020, I made transactions with my CIC card. I was charged around 5% on my withdrawals and payments.
Since then I have been using my N26 card. It allows me to pay without fees and to make withdrawals with a maximum fee of 1.7%.
To find an ATM compatible with your card, it's very simple, there are 2 apps:
Visa : https://www.visa.com/atmlocator/#(page:home)
Mastercard : https://www.mastercard.us/en-us/personal/get-support/find-nearest-atm.html
What language is spoken?
The official languages are Kyrgyz and Russian. Hardly anyone speaks English.
With my local friends, we have created a French/Kyrgyz lexicon
When travelling by bus or taxi and when staying with locals, it will facilitate the communication.
I didn't think about this when I made it, but I quickly realised that it is useful in both directions. You can hand it to Kyrgyz people who can read the Latin alphabet, and exchange with them in English!
Learning basic Russian will be very useful:
You will be able to communicate with locals in Kyrgyzstan and in all other countries in Russian.
You will be able to read Cyrillic, which will allow you to understand signs, directions, restaurant menus and anything else you see...
I learned Russian and Cyrillic with Babbel. The app is really well done. It's interesting, fun and designed to help you quickly acquire notions that are really useful when you travel.
By spending between 15 and 45 minutes a day, I learned Cyrillic in 2 weeks. After 2 months, I could hold basic conversations.
Don't hesitate to test it and give me your opinion.
Tip for people working in France: If you have been working for more than 2 years, you can use your CPF account to finance Russian language courses.
Last tip: To enquire about the price of a trip, the easiest way is to ask the person to write down the amount on your phone or why not, in the dust of a car window.
What is the religion?
The country is 80% Muslim, 17% Russian Orthodox and 3% other religions. All religions are still marked by shamanism and Muslims like to say that they have the Koran in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other.
What is the police like?
The police is quite honest. My only mishap was in the Osh Bazaar in Bishkek, with a German friend. It is known, that the police stop tourists in this place, to get money from them. It is recommended to go there with a copy of your passport.
They arrested us and took us to their office. We were two foreigners and six policemen. I showed them a photocopy of my passport. They made us empty our pockets and searched us. They found my flat banana, under my trousers, in which was my passport and all my money (10 000 soms or 142€). When I returned to the hostel, I noticed that they had taken a 1000 soms note (14.5€).
It is better to leave your passport and large denominations safe at the hostel before going to this bazaar, if you do not want to contribute to making ends meet for these officials.
This story is from 2014, since then I have been back to the bazaars many times and I have exchanged with many readers. Neither them nor I have had to relive that experience. Anyways, to stay on the safe side, leave your passport at the hotel.
When to travel to Kyrgyzstan?
The ideal period is from mid June to mid September. Outside of these periods, hiking and camping are possible but the passes are snowed in and the farmers have dismantled their yurts. You will have to manage by your own means.
If you want to know more about off-season travel, you will find a feedback from Stéphane, a reader of the blog.
How do I organise myself once I'm there?
How to get from the airport to the city?
The airport is just over 35 km from Bishkek city centre. There are hawkers waiting for taxis. The price of the 45-minute ride is 500 som. They will offer it to you for 800 to 1000 soms. Dollars are accepted.
The easiest solutions are:
-Ask your hostel in Bishkek to send you a driver. It will cost you 9€.
-Download the Yandex application, it is the equivalent of Uber. You pay the driver in cash directly at the end of the trip.
If you arrive during the day, you can also take bus 153 for 50 KGS which will take you into town within 1 hour. You will find the bus stop outside of the airport at the intersection of Osh and Chuy prospekt.
Where to stay?
In the mountains, you can choose between staying in a yurt or camping. If you want to camp, make sure you have the right equipment, as it is not uncommon for the temperature to drop below 0° at night in the mountains.
If you want to stay in a yurt, a night with breakfast will cost you 900 KGS.
In town you can easily find hostels and guest houses at reasonable prices.
If you want to stay with a local, you can trust the CBT who offer very good guest houses for 900 KGS, breakfast included.
Do you have any hostels to recommend?
If you're more of a youth hostel fan, you'll find below a list of the ones I stayed in. You
As a bonus you will find a useful information, absent from all travel guides: the address in Cyrillic, essential to ask for directions:
In September 2022 I came back to Bishkek, I visited new hostels but the best ones are still the same:
One of the best hostels in Bishkek.
Thehostel is great because it has lots of common areas where you can meet people and find fellow travellers. It is also extremely clean, they clean all the time. It's a 10-minute walk from the Bazaar. And what's even more convenient is that it's located next to the bus station (20 meters), which makes it easier for you to continue your journey.
Tunduk Hostel : Another very good hostel, clean, comfortable with a good breakfast. Azema, actively contributes to the warm atmosphere of the place. The refreshing swimming pool, the beautiful garden and the many common areas will make it easy for you to meet the many travellers who use this hostel.
Koisha: The staff are very friendly, the dormitories are comfortable and the decoration is original and beautiful.
Alma Farm: My friend Aigul's parent's farm. It's a farm in the middle of the countryside with chickens, ducks, a vegetable garden. It's the ideal spot for resting before heading to discover the Tokmok animal market (the biggest in the country), the Burana tower, the Ak Beshim site, or going for a day trip on horse back. Overnight accommodation is only 600 soms in a very modern and comfortable room.
You can book directly via email@example.com
Adamkali, Well placed, just opposite Jailoo Tourism and 200m from the only restaurant in town and the bazaar. The family who run the guest house are very friendly and speak some English.
In Toktogul :
Kagan guest house: A very comfortable family guest house with a nice garden. The grandmother who cooks and serves breakfast is a real cordon bleu.
Sonun yurt CampSonun Yurt Camp: A small, comfortable yurt camp on the edge of the lake. It is the ideal place to rest and enjoy the beach. Merim and his daughter speak very good English and are real cordon bleu.
Bel Tam Yurt camp: EmilieBP recommends this camp which is ideal for a night by the lake.
Jamila Guest House: I fell in love with this Guesthouse discovered in July 2021. Zina the owner is charming, she speaks an impeccable French. Her house is clean, very comfortable and she offers an incredible breakfast. It is the ideal place to stay before or after a trek in Karakol.
Duet Hostel: Many travellers recommend this hostel which is very cheap and has everything you need (dormitory or yurts). It has a bar and a pool table.
In Altyn Arashan:
Ala-Kul guesthouse is the only accommodation in Altyn Arashan that you can book to make sure you have a warm bed before you go to Ala Kul. Jezzy will cook you a nice dinner while you can help Ucha milk the cows, or while you're at the hot springs or doing anything else
In Cholpon Ata:
It is a very clean and nice Guesthouse whose name I have only in Cyrillic. I put you the GPS point and the photo of the coordinates. It is clean and very well located. If you can get the booking link, don't hesitate!
gps point : 42.65230643796554, 77.09132136206541
Адилет: Several readers have recommended this affordable guesthouse with pool to me.
Tamga Guest House: Jane also recommends this Guest House run by a charming family in a beautiful setting.
Konok Hostel : Very nice, with its garden, its bar and its breakfast, this hostel is a good address in Osh.
Where to eat?
The food is good and cheap. Breakfast is always included in both guest houses and hostels.
Other meals will cost you between 70 KGS and 250 KGS, depending on where you eat.
In the Guest House the dinner is 450 KGS. Kyrgyz people are very friendly and welcoming, your host will offer you a very hearty meal.
In the restaurant you will eat for 100 KGS to 150 KGS. At this price you will get meat, rice and tea.
In the street you can buy ready-made trays in the supermarkets, or eat in the bazaars for 70 KGS.
Do you have any restaurants to recommend?
My friend Fabien, who has been living in Bishkek for 5 years, made me a list of all the good restaurants he tried. and after trying them myself, I 100% back up his recommendations.
- Faiza (cheap, good, fast, always crowded, sometimes you have to wait, but it's worth it)
- Assorted Bukhara (the best plov in Bishkek)
- The Ramada hotel restaurant (Lebanese food)
- Pur Pur (Georgian food)
- Testo Mesto (ravioli)
- Furusato (best Japanese in my whole life) I second this 🙂
- Burger House (burger)
- Dolce Vita (real Italian pizza)
- Chicken Star (high quality fried chicken, Korean style, and other very interesting dishes good for vegetarians)
- Shaolin (not far from apple hostel, a very good real Chinese with the best sweet and sour beef you can imagine)
If you have any other good addresses, don't hesitate to leave them in a comment, I'll add them.
How to stay healthy?
The most common risk is tourista. Especially in the mountains. When you go hiking and stay in yurt camps, you are staying with herders. The surrounding waterways are contaminated by animal waste. Even if the water is clear, it is not safe to drink. It is essential to purify it with a micropur tablet. I always purified my water, which prevented me from getting sick, unlike other travellers who drank it without treating it.
The sun can be a hidden enemy you don't think about! In the mountains the sun is very strong and you can easily get sunburnt. Bring sun cream, but a good long-sleeved shirt and a hat are best! Long sleeves will also protect you from branches when riding (experienced by my friends Basile and Loïc during our horse trek in July 2021.)
A final risk is rabies, but same as anywhere, simply avoid petting stray animals. There are mosquitoes, but dengue, malaria and yellow fever are absent.
What are the means of transportion?
It is really easy to get around in Kyrgyzstan.
Public transportation is widely spread. You can travel by minibus called Marshrutkas . The fare is 10 KGS whatever the journey, 12 KGS after 8pm.
Note that there are no public transport stops, you just have to reach out, arm pointing downwards in order to stop the bus, and get on.
If you prefer a taxi, call an official metered taxi company, the city fare is between 70 KGS and 120 KGS depending on the distance (that's why it's easier to take a metered company if you don't know the distance).
In Bishkek the easiest way is to use the Yandex app. It will allow you to know the price in advance.
To circulate between cities you also have several options:
It is the easiest way to travel. Hitchhiking is an institution. If you stand at the side of the road and give a thumbs up, almost every car will stop. All Kyrgyz people practice hitchhiking. Depending on your destination, the driver will charge you or not. If you have time you can travel for free, I met several travellers who travelled exclusively like that, without paying, often being picked up by truckers.
As a testament to this, Marie, a member of the Travelling to Kyrgyzstan group , shared a cool testimonial with us:
« 👍 Give it a go in Kyrgyzstan! 🚗
A little advice that goes a long way!
1- You save money
2- You meet the best people!
3- You discover even more of the country, its landscapes, its culture, its cuisine (and yes, after inviting you into their cars, some Kyrgyz will also invite you to their table! )…
4- Sometimes it doesn't take longer than taking a maschruta...
During the last 7 weeks, I went from Bishkek to Kochkor, Song Kuul, Issik Kuul ( All the way around with multiple stops/back and forth between villages and touristic sites ), Jyrgalant, Arslan Bob, Osh, Sary Moghol ( Lenin peak ), Kazarman, Naryn... all by hitchhiking !
Most of the time we were 2 ( 2 girls or 1 girl/1 guy ), we did not have to wait more than 30 minutes (max !), at anytime (8h00, 12h00,22h00... ), on main roads or deserted tracks, without any trouble or almost ( 2 slightly drunk drivers )...
Don't forget to specify that you don't want a taxi, don't have any money ("niet dienge/ soms" in Russian, "archa djok" in Kyrgyz), smile... and go for it!
Minibuses called Marshrutkas:
These are the cheapest. At the beginning of my stay, travellers told me to use shared taxis because the Marshutkas buses overfilled. I took several Marshutkas, always sat comfortably and they never stopped to pick up people on the way.
Here you will find a Latin alphabettranscription of the main Kyrgyz cities: very useful in the bus stations.
These are Japanese 7 seater minivans. The purpose is to share the total fare amount with the other passengers. The driver waits until the taxi is full before leaving. This is a slightly more expensive means of transportion (usually between 100 and 150 som) but faster and more comfortable than the Marshutkas.
Below is a list of prices that I have compiled for the main routes. Please note that the price changes according to the price of petrol and the travel time changes according to the weather.
- Bishkek-Kochkor: 400 KGS /4 h
- Bishkek-Cholpon Ata : 350 KGS /4 h
- Bishkek-Karakol :400 KGS / 6 h
- Bishkek-Balykchy: 200 KGS / 2 h
- Bishkek-Bokonbayevo: 350 KGS/ 5h
- Bishkek-Talas: 500 KGS/ 6h
- Bishkek-Jalal Abad: 1,500 KGS/ 9h
- Bishkek- Bazar Korgon: 1 500 KGS/ 9 hrs
- Bishkek-Toktogul: 500 KGS/ 5h
- Bishkek-Chon Alay: 200 KGS/ 2pm
- Bishkek/ Bakten: 1600 KGS/ 12h
- Bishkek-Tokmok: 150 KGS/ 2h
- Bishkek-Naryn: 500 KGS / 8 h
- Bishkek-Osh: 1500 KGS / 12 h
- Bishkek-Almaty: 400 KGS/ 5h
- Bishkek-Astana: 2500 KGS/ 18h
- Bishkek-Chymkent: 620 KGS/ 8h
The members of the group, Travel to Kyrgyzstan, allowed me to update the rates and sent me the rates of new trips they made in 2022:
- Karakol- cholpon ata: 3500 KGS
- Bishkek - Kashka Suu: 25 KGS
- Bokonbaevo - Karakol: 150 KGS
- Tokmok-karakol: 500 KGS
- Tamchy- Bishkek: 300 KGS
- Balakchy-Tamchy: 100 KGS
- Tamga - Bishkek: 300 KGS
- Kochkor - Balyktchy: 150 KGS
- Balyktchy - Tosor: 300 KGS
- Shazka canyon - Tamga: 50 KGS
- Bishkek - kyzart: 300 KGS
- Tosor - Karakol: 150 KGS
- Balykchy -Cholpon Ata: 250 KGS
- Kotchkor-Balykchy : 200 KGS
- Balikchy-Karakol: 200 KGS
- Karakol-Cholpon Ata: 150 KGS
- Bishkek-Arslanbob: 1500 KGS
- Arslanbob-Och: 200 KGS
- Arslanbob-Bazar Korgon: 60 KGS
- Bazaar Korgon-Jalalabad: 30 KGS
- Jalal-Abad-Och: 120 KGS
- Naryn - Bishkek : 300 KGS
This is the fastest way to get to Osh in the south, while avoiding a 12 hour drive. Several companies provide daily shuttle services, within an hour's flight time, for almost the same price as taxis. You can buy tickets directly at the airport or on the Pegasus website.
I often hear that flights are operated by blacklisted companies.
Pegasus is a company that flies from France. It is not blacklisted. It subcontracts with Air Manas, I myself tested a flight with this company in August 2019, I did not feel insecure and everything went perfectly well.
The trip cost me €50 because I booked it the same day, but if you book in advance you can get it for €30. There is quite a difference in prices compared to public transportation, but you save a lot in time and comfort. And again that is up to you.
The country is a great playground for cycling enthusiasts. The number of bicycle tourists is increasing. That's why I asked Marie, who is a cyclist and a cycling blogger, to write an article on the subject. You will find her anecdotes, tips and experiences in the article she wrote about cycling in Kyrgyzstan.
Do you know of any good car rental agencies in Kyrgyzstan?
Who to rent a car from in Bishkek?
I can recommend several reliable rental companies in Bishkek.
Though, in 2014 with my mates Will and James, we opted to buy an old Lada: a wreck of a car, that we named Roxane.
It held up and we even sold it to Polish travellers who crossed the Pamir with it, and then sold it in Tajikistan.
the wreckThe car was the cheapest in Bishkek and it cost us $500. There were 3 of us and we were lucky to be able to sell it.
But if you're looking for a more reliable and safer car, I know some good rental companies (Anyways, I've lost track of Roxane long ago!).
I recommend to chose between these 3 people:
Azamat offers you a small fleet of cars at very good prices and as he is a friend, he offers a 5% discount to readers of the blog.
Aïgul Aïgul can also offer you some 4*4 at very interesting rates, they also offer tours with drivers at very attractive rates.
Sergey offers a nice fleet of recent and reliable cars.
Currently the offer is lower than the demand, the rental cars are booked out well in advance during the high season. If you want to rent a car in summer, book it as soon as you know the dates of your trip, so that you avail of a choice.
To find out everything about car rental in Kyrgyzstan and surrounding countries, I have written a comprehensive article, based on readers' feedback and my personnal knowledge, which lists : all the best car rental companies in Central Asia.
Who to rent a car from in Osh to cross the Pamir River into Tajikistan?
Oibek offers a wide range of recent and robust cars and motorbikes fully adapted to the roads of Central Asia and especially to the crossing of the Pamir. He also offers repair and guarding services for your own car.
For any information and/or to book a car,please contact Oibek
What are the main places to visit?
What was your itinerary?
My itinerary during the 3 weeks on my first trip in 2014 was as follows:
Bishkek/Kochkor/Lake Song Kul/Kochkor/Kyzyl Oil/Kochkor/Karakol/Altin Arachan/Cholpon Ata/Bishkek/Cholpon Ata/Bishkek
Getting around Kyrgyzstan is easy, but time consuming. The country is 95% mountainous and has only few good and easily drivable roads. This makes it difficult to tour the country. If you want to get to the main cities, you will have to go back and forth to Bishkek, or in the least backtrack often.
For example, if you go South to Osh and want to go to Naryn further North, you won't be able to go directly from one city to the other unless you rent a 4*4 with a private driver, at an exorbitant price. Only a track in very bad condition, because snowed in most of the time, connects the 2 cities. You will have to go back up North to Bishkek to go down South to Naryn.
The distance does not matter, it is the terrain and the state of the roads that will make it easier or harder for you to get to a destination.
Which itinerary do you recommend for a first trip to Kyrgyzstan?
Many readers ask me for advice on how to plan their itinerary.
The itinerary for my first trip is fairly standard.
Below you will find 2, 3 and 4 week itineraries. I have thought them up with my local friends to optimize them as much as possible.
The main points of interest in Kyrgyzstan
You can follow them in full or in part. You can also create others and share them in comments 🙂
Take advantage of your arrival in Bishkek to follow the best advice my buddy Azamat gave me , before my horse trek in July 2021. I went back in 2022, it's still cool.
Go to the Osh bazaar in Bishkek and buy these Kok Boru chaps (600 soms) and this rain cape (500 soms) from this merchant. It's local, cheap and above all very efficient.
Don't pack your luggage before your departure, take advantage of your arrival on the spot to equip yourself like a local!
I'll leave you her GPS coordinates. She won't remember me, but don't hesitate to greet her for me.
2 week itinerary.
This is the ideal route to discover the main points of interest in the country. The stages are not too long (maximum 6 hours of transport).
Most of the route is a loop. You can cut out steps to enjoy certain places longer.
Day 1: Bishkek:
Visit the city and discover the typical Soviet architecture.
-The Dordoi bazaar which is the biggest in Central Asia .
The Osh bazaar which is the biggest food bazaar where you can see the cultural diversity of the country.
-The parks, more than 10 all over the city.
-Local cuisinecooking class.
-Shyrdak (local carpet) making class.
Near the city:
- Tashtar Ata: My friend Aigul told me about it . Have a unique spiritual experience. You can purify yourself and get rid of your sins by bringing your old socks and burning them in the fire.
-Shooting range: If you are a thrill seeker, you can practice shooting Kalashnikovs and other firearms.
To get around Bishkek, download the Yandex application. It's the equivalent of Uber and allows you to pay the driver in cash.
Day 2: 2 Options:
Option 1: Ala Archa:
-Hike to the end of the Ak Sai glacier.
-Take a picnic at the same name waterfall.
How to get to Ala Archa?
It is 1 hour from Bishkek. Take a taxi from Bishkek to Ala Archa, which will wait for you for 6 hours on the spot and will cost 3000 soms. The entrance to the reserve costs 80 soms.
Option 2: Tokmok:
-If you are lucky enough to go on a Sunday, you can go to the Animal Market (the biggest in the country).
It is 2 hours from Bishkek. There are regular minibuses from the bus station for about 150 soms.
To go to the Burana Tower, you can take a taxi back and forth from Tokmok, that will wait 1 hour for about 600 soms.
Days 3, 4, 5 and 6: Song Kul, 4-day horseback riding.
-Horse riding, discovery of the Song Kul lake. Immersion in the nomadic culture and yurts stay.
-The horseback riding is a must and is the easiest for beginners. 90% of the travellers are beginner riders.
-It can be done in 3 days but I really recommend you to do it in 4 days, take your time and really enjoy it, rather than going back and forth.
How do you get to Song Kul?
Take bus 514 from Bishkek to Kyzart which leaves at 6am, for 400 soms.
How to leave Kyzart?
You have to go to Kochkor (the town where you will find means of transportation to continue your journey) after the trek. The last Marshrutka from Kyzart leaves at 2pm. If you need a taxi, it costs 2000 soms from Kyzart to Kochkor but it must be booked in advance.
From Kochkor, several options are available, you can:
-take a taxi to Balykchy and continue around Lake Issy Kul skipping days 7 and 8 of this itinerary. (If you wish to stop in Balikchy, you can visit the fish market and see the abandoned boats in the lake.)
- follow the 2 options I suggest for days 7 and 8.
Days 7 and 8: 2 Options
Caravanserai of Tash Rabat
-Hike to Lake Kol Suu.
Please note! The Kol Suu trek lasts 3 days, you will need to remove another stage from this itinerary.
In order to travel to the Lake, you need to acquire a border permit, which you must apply for in advance.
How do you get to Naryn?
From Kochkor you can take a shared taxi for 250 soms.
Option 2: Kol Ukok:
Easy 2-day hike.
-Night in a yurt on the lake shore.
How to get to Kol Ukok?
The start of the trek is in the village of Isakeev, 30 minutes from Kochkor, easily accessible by taxi
Day 9: Bokonbayevo:
Beach and yurt stay on Lake Issy Kul.
-Eagle hunting demonstration.
How do you get to Bokonbaevo?
You have to take a taxi or a minibus to Balykchi. From Balykchi you take another minibus to Bokonbaevo.
Little extra: On the road between Bokonbaevo and Karakol, discover the hot springs of Goryachiy Istochnik Nur. They are in open air, with a beautiful view of the lake IssyK kul and the surrounding mountains.
Day 10: Karakol:
- Stock up for the Ala Kul trek.
Days 11, 12 and 13: Ala Kul Trek3 or 4 days
-Hike to the top of the Pass where the view of the lake, located at 3500 m above sea level and surrounded by mountains, is totally incredible.
There are different routes. The 3 day route is accessible to almost everyone. The 2 nights are spent in a guest house in Altin Arashan. You can rest well and enjoy the hot springs (there are priced ones and natural ones, both are very nice).
The second day of the trek can be done on horseback to the foot of the pass, which is not accessible by horse.
How do you get to the Ala Kul trek?
You can take a taxi to Asku village (for the 3 day trek) or to the entrance to the national park (for the 4 day trek).
The trek ends at noon, so you can take a bus or taxi back to Bishkek right afterwards.
Day 14: Bishkek :
-Use your last day in town to buy souvenirs and say goodbye to your new friends.
How to get back to Bishkek?
You can take a taxi or minibus from any city. From Karakol it will take you 6 hours and 350 soms.
3 week itineraries:
For a 3-week stay, I propose 2 different itineraries. They are based on the 2 weeks itinerary. For this reason, I invite you to refer to the previous itinerary to see the details of the stages.
As for the 2 weeks itinerary, you can delete stages, to enjoy more time in certain places.
This first itinerary is classic. You go around the Issy Kul lake, discovering the main points of interest of the country. The stages are not too long (6 hours of transport maximum).
Day 1: Bishkek.
Day 2: Ala Archa.
Days 3, 4, 5, 6: 4 day Song Kul trek.
Days 7 and 8: Kel Suu or Kol Ukok. Please note! The Kol Suu trek is 3 days long, you will have to delete another stage of this itinerary.
Day 9: Bokonbaevo.
Day 10: Karakol, Fayrtale Canyon or Jeti Oguz.
Day 11: Karakol, Fayrtale Canyon, Jeti Oguz or start of the 4 day Ala Kul trek.
Days 12, 13 and 14: Ala kul 3 or 4 days.
Day 15: Cholpon Ata.
-Jetskiing, parasailing, pedal boats.
Days 16, 17 and 18: Chon Kemin.
-Trekking in the national park (3 days on foot or horseback).
How do you get to Chon Kemin?
You can take a taxi or minbus from Cholpon Ata.
Day 19: Tokmok.
Days 20 and 21: Bishkek.
This second route is less traditional. It combines the traditional tourist route with the discovery of beautiful and little-visited areas such as Arslanbob and Sary Chelek . Some of the stages are long, which gives you the chance to cross the country and discover the diversity of the landscape along the roads.
Day 1: Bishkek.
Day 2: Ala Archa or Tokmok.
Days 3, 4, 5, 6: 4 day Song Kul trek.
Day 6: The trek ends at noon, you can take a taxi to Kazarman.
- Overnight in Kazarman.
How do you get to Kazarman?
You can take a taxi from Kochkor to Kazarman.
Day 7 and 8: Arslanbob.
How do you get to Arslanbob?
You can take a taxi from Kazarman to Arslanbob.
Day 9: Bus or taxi to Sary Chelek.
-Overnight in Arkit.
Days 10, 11 and 12: Sary Chelek (my favourite trek):
-The 5 day trek requires a good level of horsemanship,
The 3-day course is much more accessible.
-You can also do it on foot,
Day 13: Toktogul:
How do you get to Toktogul?
You can take a taxi or an Arkit minibus to Toktogul.
Day 14: Bishkek.
Days 15 and 16: Bokonbaevo.
Day 17: Karakol, Fairytale canyon or Jeti oguz.
Days 18, 19 and 20: Ala Kul Trek 3 or 4 days.
Day 21: Bishkek.
4 week itinerary :
If you are going for 4 weeks. I suggest you take inspiration from the previous itineraries. Depending on your wishes, you can travel more slowly or add stops in the following places:
- Chon Orutkuu, 1 day:
- Barskoon, 1 day:
- Uzgen, 1 day:
-The historical complex.
- Min Kush, 1 day:
-An old Soviet village.
- Sary Mogol, 2 to 3 days:
-The starting point to prepare for the ascent of Lenin Peak, one of the most mythical peaks in the region. The climb requires a permit and mountaineering skills but the base camp is easily accessible.
You can see Lake Tulpar and have a magnificent view of the peak: a 7200m mountain, the second highest in the Pamir.
- Suusamyr 2 to 3 days:
-Hike to Muztor Lake.
- Talas 3 to 5 days:
-The Manas memorial (one of the holiest places in the country)
-The Kirov reservoir, with Lenin's head carved into the rock.
-Hike or ride from Talas to Toktogul. You will pass through the forest where you may meet wild animals on the way.
-Visit the Best Tash National Park .
-Talas is the city where the best Kok Boru players are.
How to cross the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan?
Several people in the facebook group have done so, and you will find below a summary of the experiences of Coralie, Géraldine and Thomas:
Crossing the border in Osh is really easy. On the Uzbek side, the customs officers "spot" foreigners and make them pass in front of everyone else. They just look at the visa, stamp it and that's it. They don't ask for anything, neither about medication nor currency.
Once you cross the border, there are plenty of (communal) taxis to Andijan, Fergana, Marguilan or even directly to Tashkent. It is possible to pay in dollars. You can change Uzbek soms at the bazaar in Osh (there are also a few exchange offices at the border) but don't change too much because the rate is not worth it.
Do you know of any reliable guides for hiking and trekking?
What are the rates for tourist agencies?
When starting to prepare your trip to Kyrgyzstan, you will find a lot of information about CBT. At the beginning it was a Swiss NGO, which had offices with independent coordinators all over the Kyrgyz territory. The focus was to make locals work so that they could benefit directly of the income from tourism.
Since then, the NGO has faded away in favour of the locals and in fact, the approach has become more commercial than associative. It is a travel agency like any other (often more expensive).
Clearly, if you want to go through a CBT, you should know that:
-Each CBT is independent. If you book a tour from the CBT in city A via the CBT in city B, the latter will take a commission. Book directly in the desired city.
Tours usually don't include transfer . In the land of the nomads, horse riding and walking tours do not leave from the cities. To move to and from a destination, they will suggest a private taxi, which is usually very expensive. If you book a trek via a CBT, always compare the price of the trip with a taxi fare or even consider hitchhiking (either way the money will go to the locals).
Since 2015, for the Song Kul lake trek, I recommend you to go through Aïgulwho proposes a very interesting service from Bishkek. I personally did this trek again with his guides in July 2019, July 2021 and September 2022.
Below you will find the standard rates of tourist agencies:
Horse rental/ day: 1000 KGS .
Groom/ day: 2500 KGS .
French speaking guide/ day: 5000 KGS minimum.
Night with breakfast in yurt: 900 KGS .
Lunch in yurt: 500 KGS .
Dinner in y urt: 500 KGS .
Good to know:
If you take a guided tour, you will have to pay for the guide's meals, accommodation and horse hire. If you are in a group, you can share these costs with your friends.
If you are on a smaller budget:
-You can take a tour without meals, to reduce costs, but you will have to bring your own food.
- For walking tours, you can simply book meals and accommodation, without taking a guide.
What should I check with my guide before I go on a trek?
Before leaving with your guide, check that the equipment is suitable and that the service is comform. It's not a question of trust, it's just normal. It will save you from unpleasant surprises once you're in the middle of nowhere.
Most travellers look at the smallest details of scratches on a rental car... However, a scratch or a dent in the bodywork is much less disabling than a tent with a hole in it on a rainy night.
In July 2021, I went on an organised horse trek, organised by my mate Azamat. Before leaving, we checked the equipment together.
He told me "I know you trust me, buddy, but we'll check the equipment together. I don't want you to be out in the wind with a tent without hooks. I've got plenty of spare ones here.
To depart serenely and make the most of your trek, here is a non-exhaustive list of things you should check:
- That the service is comform: check the number of porters, the number of horses, the equipment. You have paid for a service, it is normal that it is respected.
- That the equipment is of good quality: check the state of the tents, the quality of the sleeping bags and the cooking equipment. The nights are cold in the mountains, it is essential that you have quality equipment in order to sleep well. If the equipment is not suitable, ask for a change,
-That the food is in quantity and of quality: Make sure you have enough food for everyone, and for the duration of your trek. If you feel that you are short of supplies, it is easy to have them supplemented at the start of the trek.
Concerning horseback riding, pay attention to the condition of your horse on the first day. Make sure it is not injured, if it is, ask for another one.
I have written an article dedicated to horse riding, you can find there what you have to check on your horse before leaving.
Should I tip my guide?
This is a common practice in Kyrgyzstan. My friend Fabien advises to give 200 som per person per day. This is what I do.
Do you have any guides to recommend for a hike on Song Kul Lake?
The Song Kul lake offers an ideal setting for a horseback ride, if you want to have an authentic experience at a reasonable price, I recommend:
Aigul who proposes horseback riding for small groups of riders, beginners or not, at a very good price. All of this under the supervision of competent guides who take good care of the horses.
Last but not least, Aigul organizes your transfer directly from Bishkek to Kyzart (starting point of all hikes).
Most travellers go to Kochkor. Aigul saves you from spending a night in Kochkor and looking around all day through toursit agencies.
Book with her, as soon as you are sure of your plans, it will save you time and make her planning easier. I was able to do this hike with readers of the blog in July 2019:
you can find their impressions and book the hike by clicking here.
Do you have any guides to recommend for a hike in Sary Chelek?
I discovered, Sary Chelek in July 2019, my friend Aigul had told me that it was her favourite trek. She had explained to me that it is a perfectly preserved nature reserve and still very little touristy, even during the high season. I can confirm that she is absolutely right.
It's my favourite place, I spent 5 incredible days there, horse ridding ! I went with my friend Aurélien, our guides Misa and Nurbek with whom we roamed the reserve in wild camping, we only met 2 other travellers, in the middle of July: what a dream.
The 5 day horseback ride is quite technical, do it if you have a good level of horsemanship, it is really amazing. The 3 day trek is suitable for beginners.
As for the walking treks, it is up to you to decide according to your level and previous experience.
These two guides are really great! Misa is a real cordon bleu, and Nurbek an outstanding fisherman, their duo allows to magnificent bivouacs:
you can contact them and book your hike by clicking here
Do you have a guide to recommend for the Ala Kul trek?
Yes, I know a good agency with competent guides and good equipment to go to Ala Kul.
To help you in your choice, it's good to know you can do this trek in 3, 4 or 7 days via 3 different routes.
The 3-day route is accessible to beginners and you will be able to sleep in guesthouses.
The 4-day tour is more challenging, but is accessible to intermediate level and the nights are spent in tents in bivouacs.
The 3-day itinerary is as follows:
Day 1: Asku to Altyn Arashan, about 4 hours walk.
Day 2: Return to Ala Kul, about 7 to 8 hours walk.
Day 3: Return to Asku, about 4 hours walk.
The 4-day itinerary is as follows:
Day 1: from the entrance of the national park to Sirota Camp 12 km in 4 or 5 hours.
Day 2: Sirota to Keldike Gorge 10 km in 5 or 6 hours.
Day 3: Keldike Gorge to Altin Arashan 10 km in 4 hours.
Day 4: from Altyn Arashan to Asku village 15 km in 4 hours.
The 7 day trek is broken down as follows:
Day 1: Jeti Oguz to Telty Gorge. 8 km
Day 2: Telty gorge - Telty pass (3800m). 7 km
Day 3: Telty Pass - Karakol Gorge (2500m). 8 km
Day 4: Karakol Gorge - On Tor Gorge. 10 km
Day 5: On Tor Gorge - Kurgak Tor Gorge to Alakol Lake (3560 m). 7 km
Day 6: Alakol Pass (3830 m) Downhill from the pass to Keldike Gorge and to Altyn Arashan Valley. (2500 m). 17 km
Day 7: Arashan Valley - Aksuu village. 15 km
I am often asked, if a guide is needed to do this trek. I usually reply, that "if you are asking if you need a guide, then you need a guide!".
If you need a guide, my friend Aigul organises these treks.You can contact her via this page to organise your trek.
Do you have an English-speaking driver-guide to recommend when visiting Kyrgyzstan?
Yes, Azamat, who is not only a trusted friend but also the best French and English-speaking guide I know. He is a real Swiss knife who can put together the tour of your dreams and join you by walking, on horseback or by car.
I have confidently sent several readers to him, and they have all come back delighted. You can find the testimonies of some of them on the page dedicated to him.
In January 2020, I was honoured to host him in France, for his first ever foreign trip!
In July 2021, we got together with my friends Basile and Loïc for a brand new horse trek. Azamat had promised me that it would be an unforgettable experience.
He created a trek for us, in a unknown remote region, between Ozgorush and Kazarman.
Nurlan, the local ranger, joined our group. We were his first tourists. He pleased us with his knowledge of plants and his infectious laugh.
Azamat had excellent horses in store for us, which allowed us to travel through diverse and incredible landscapes and meet authentic isolated nomads.
My mates and I can tell you, it was truly amazing. Suzanne, a reader of the blog, and her 11 year old daughter also travelled with him in August 2021. They loved it.
If you would also like to experience a new horseback riding adventure or a more classic tour, you can contact him here
How to attend nomadic games and an eagle hunting show?
They take place every 2 years and the 2022 edition will be held in Turkey.
The main games are wrestling (ground or horse), archery (ground or horse), falconry and equestrian games.
The most famous game is Kok Boru:
It consists in two teams of riders competing for a goat carcass.
There are several possibilities to attend a game:
The biggest game takes place in the racecourse stadium in Bishkek, on the bank holiday on the 31st of August Once a month a big festival is also held in Talas.
If you want to see a more confidential game, my friend Azema organises a trip to Sussamyr in her home village. The locals play a game every Sunday and Tuesday there (a bit like us in France with club football)
If you are interested, you can contact her directly here
The eagle hunt:
This is an ancient Kyrgyz tradition.
In Kyrgyz the eagle is called berkuttire and the hunters, berkutchi . They were the ones who provided the villagers with food and furs during the winter.
How does one become an eagle hunter?
My friend Aigul explained to me that to begin, the hunter has to capture the eagle in the wild. He takes an egg from a nest (which is not without risk). He trains it for 4 years, after which it is ready to hunt rabbits, foxes and even wolves.
An eagle lives for about 60 years and spends ⅓ of its life with its hunter as tradition dictates that the hunter releases it when it turns 20.
The hunting season is between October and February, but you can attend demonstrations during training sessions which go on all year round.
Do you have a local agency to recommend for group tours?
Yes, if you want to join a group with a guaranteed departure, I recommend you contact my friends Samuel and Fabien who offer really nice trips.
Samuel is famous in Kyrgyzstan, he arrived from Switzerland in 2004, fell in love with the region and created his own ecotourism agency in Bishkek. Since 2014, my friend Fabien, who arrived in Kyrgyzstan as part of a mission with Médecins Sans Frontières, has also fallen in love with the local charms and has joined him in Nomad's Land.
They organise all types of ecotourist trips during the summer and winter. The main idea being meeting the local populations.
They guarantee trip departures for groups all year round, so if you want to go on transhumance with the Kyrgyz shepherds during the autumn, go skiing in winter or spend an incredible New Year's Day on the shores of Lake Song Kul, don't hesitate to contact them.
On top of that, they're offering a super 5% discount to blog readers. Just tell them they've been recommended by Georges-Michel (that's me) or Gtla (that's me too).
Don't hesitate to visit their website and say hello to them.
Is it necessary to hire a guide for the walks?
The guides are competent and well trained, but of course you can also travel independently. To put it simply, I am used to telling people who ask that question: "if you are wondering if you need a guide, then you need a guide".
Most of the hikers I met did not have a travel guidebook. The trails are not marked, but you can easily find maps in big cities like Bishkek or Karakol.
You can travel independently and sometimes even stay in yurts pre-booked in a travel agenccy. The agency will give you the itinerary and the name of the family that will host you for the night.
If you are going alone, just check the weather forecast to be sure you are safe.
You cannot rent a horse independently from a travel agency. However, you can find a horse to rent for the day from a farmer. If you are an experienced rider, a guide is not necessary.
During my stay in Altyn Arachan, in the heights of Karakol, I rented a horse from a peasant for 1400 KGS a day. In Song Kul I met a Frenchman who rented a horse for 1000 KGS a day.
Riding a horse without a guide will make it easier for you to meet the locals. All the local riders, that I met, during my day alone with my horse, came to greet me and offer me to follow them.
If you want more information about horseback riding, I have written a new article entirely dedicated to this subject: Guide and tips for horseback riding in Kyrgyzstan.
What should I take with me when travelling to Kyrgyzstan?
What can I offer as a gift to the locals?
Don't bring anything! I am asked this question more and more often. My answer is very simple, don't bring anything: buy local.
I thought about it and exchanged a lot with my friends there. You will please your hosts and the people you meet by offering them products bought locally. In addition, you will be supporting the local economy. Finally, it allows you not to prejudge their needs but to adapt to them, which for me is the essence of a gift.
In July 2021, Nurlan welcomed us to his house with my friends Loïc and Basile. We noticed that his children were playing ball with a plastic bag. We went to the village shop to buy a football and gave it to the children.
The shopkeeper was happy, the children and all their friends in the village too. As a bonus, we were able to kick a little in the ball and share a good moment with the villagers.
When you go on a trek and there is no shop on the route, you can do your shopping in the village where you start.
For the children I recommend you offer simple toys that can be used in a group, such as balls, frisbees...
For adults, they will appreciate fresh fruit, fresh vegetables. Nomads are herders who have meat but no crops. Fruit and vegetables are expensive foodstuffs for them, which they will appreciate.
If you travel on foot, you will quickly be limited in volume. If you are riding or driving, don't hesitate to take a watermelon, it is a very popular fruit.
Finally, take photos of your family, friends, home and region. Nomads love to share and show you their daily lives, but they also love to see yours.
Of course don't forget my English/Kyrgyz lexicon to facilitate your exchanges 🙂
What budget to expect for a backpacker?
The country has known, as everywhere, a big inflation in 2022. During my 3 weeks trip in 2022, I spent 1495 € including flights.
Below is my budget:
- Airfare: 510 €.
- Meals: 122, €.
- Hotels: 225 €.
- Transportation: 90 €.
- Excursions: 491 €.
- Unlisted expenses: 51 €.
- Laundry 6 €.
I didn't always go for the cheapest. You can spend less in terms of food, hotel and even airfare. For example, meals in Guest Houses are charged at 450 KGS, you can easily get away with half the price by eating out, but I always stayed with nice and welcoming families which made me want to stay and share a meal with them.
In 2014, I spent 1111€ flight included. In 2019 and 2021, I spent about 1300€ flight included on each trip. I didn't list my expenses, I've become a bit more conservative over time. I like for example less to sleep in dormitory, but the budget remains affordable!
What to pack in your backpack?
As with any trip, my bag did not exceed 8kg.
Each time I manage to keep my backpack as hand luggage. This forces me to make sure that it is not too heavy. It saves me having to wait for it when I arrive at the airport and, above all, it prevents the company from losing it during stopover.
I only take 5 days worth of clothes, I think it's the ideal compromise to enjoy the trip while stopping and taking time for myself.
As anywhere else, it's easy to find laundromats. Prices vary from 100 KGS to 300 KGS per machine, depending on the place. You can also wash your clothes for free in the many rivers and streams.
Here are the contents of my bag.
Decathlon Forclaz 60 bag :
- 1 backpack (for the day)
- 1 money belt:
- riding jeans
- trekking trousers
- swimming shorts
- 5 pants
- 5 pairs of socks
- 2 decathlon shirts
- 2 t shirts
- ski coat
- waterproof bag
camcorder, Go Pro,I replaced all this with my Iphone!
- adapt USB current
- Sun hat
- 1 pair of spare glasses
- trekking shoes
- microfiber towel
- sleeping bag
- box of micropur
- box of anti diarrhoea
- survival blanket
- travel guide
What do I need to bring to make my trip easier?
To travel in the country, the 3 essential items I had and highly recommend you to take are:
Kyrgyzstan Traveller's HandbookThis is the only travel guide dedicated exclusively to this destination. The others include all Central Asian countries and are less comprehensive.
There are very few books on this rather confidential destination. This guide will allow you to learn much more about the history and traditions.
Since 2020, I have been listed in the
guide on Amazon
A box of micropur: To purify the clear water. In the mountains, yurt camps are set up in herder's territories. Waterways are full of animals and are dirty with faeces. Even if the water is clear, you must purify it to avoid getting sick. A box of micropur will also reduce your water budget. A bottle of water costs 1€, while a micropur tablet only costs 18 cents. See on Amazon
A survival blanket: This is the essential item to take with you on your trip. It takes up very little space and can protect you from heat, cold or humidity. It is even strong enough to be used as a stretcher. At less than 2 €, it would be silly to do without it. See on Amazon
You can also take along some accessories that can be very useful:
A solar shower It's a 20-litre water bag that heats up in the sun. Personally I used to wash in streams, but the water temperature is around 10° only. Most travellers did not wash during the several days of the horseback ride. If you don't like icy cold water, you can take this gadget with you and fill it with water a few hours before you arrive at camp so you can shower at the end of the day. See on Amazon
A money belt It's a normal looking belt in which you can hide up to 20 notes. It's the best way to hide your money. See on Amazon
Riding trousers: Personally, I hesitated a lot and I didn't take it because of fashion reasons. I couldn't picture myself arriving in a nomadic camp in such attire. If you are a good rider you can do without one, but if you are not used to riding, I advise you to take one. It's your choice between style and chafing pain. See on Amazon
Is there easy access to the Internet and 3g?
It is the ideal place to disconnect. First of all, it is 98% wilderness and wifi is not much available. You will always find some wifi in hostels and some restaurants but at a low speed.
It's free at the airport, they give you some, and then you can top up. "O" is the best operator for 95 soms = one week with 10GB of internet.
- To call Kyrgyzstan: the code is + 996.
- From Kyrgyzstan to France: the code is + 33.
Are there any useful applications to have on your smartphone?
As the speed is quite slow, it is wiser to download the apps before leaving. Whether you use Android or an Iphone, you absolutely need :
Maps.me - My favourite offline map app, it's free. You can geolocalise yourself and follow routes while offline. There are a lot of roads and trails, it's the best GPS for travelling.
How to be a prepared and responsible traveller?
I am not an example, I have often done things without thinking, which I regretted later.
To avoid these regrets, here are some of my tips and my travelling friends feedback.
Is it necessary to take out travel insurance?
Yes, as with any trip, you should think about insurance.
Travelling without insurance is stupid and can cost you a lot of money in case of problems.
In 2018, I ruptured my knee's cruciate ligaments in Togo and thanks to my insurance, my repatriation was easy and didn't cost me a cent.
Travel insurance is cheap or even free (prime visa insurance). Don't think about it and get yourself a good cover.
My accident in Togo allowed me to "test it for you" and I can guarantee you that I was very happy to know who to turn to and that I would be taken care of without having to pay anything.
This Canadian, who was travelling without insurance and suffered a Palu attack, relied on his family and friends to raise the $68,000 needed for his repatriation.
Do you have any travel insurance to recommend?
Learn from his experience, so as not to repeat his mistake.
ACS offers insurance with very good and cheap cover. I have had nothing but positive feedback from readers.
I recommend that you read my complete file on bank card travel insurance.
What do I need to know before going on a horseback ride?
2 essential things:
Make sure your horse is in good health.
Ensure you are safe by wearing a riding helmet (bomb).
2 subjects on which I had the chance to discuss with the French ambassador in Bishkek, in July 2021
You can find all the details in my article on horseback riding.
Are there any other activities with animals that I should take precautions for?
Yes, eagle hunting and Kok Boru.
These two activities are traditional and part of Kyrgyz folklore. You can attend private demonstrations or festivals.
A classic demonstration of eagle hunting consists of an eagle chasing a live rabbit, which leads to the death of the rabbit...
A game of Kok Boru consists of two teams of riders competing for a goat carcass.
To start the game, The sacrifice of a goat is needed.
You have two options:
Attend a demonstration at a festival, with full knowledge of the facts.
Attend a private demonstration, which takes place at your request. In this case, you can easily ask for the rabbit to be replaced by a decoy and for the goat to be replaced by a fake goat carcass.
These requests are becoming more and more common from travel agencies, and it is easy to find demonstrations that do not involve the death of animals.
How to avoid acute mountain sickness?
This ailment occurs for the vast majority of people above 3500m. Don't worry, in a classical tour of Kyrgyzstan, this is an altitude that you rarely reach. Song Kul is at 3000 m. You climb higher at the Ala Kul Pass (3850m) but you don't stay there long.
Thanks to Nathanaël (reader of the blog and member of an association that organises treks in Nepal) for all this information, which I recommend you double check with your doctor.
What are the rules to follow to acclimate?
Four main factors determine the occurrence of acute mountain sickness:
- Ascent speed,
- Altitude reached,
- Duration of the stay
Taking these criteria into account, we advise you to follow these rules:
-Don't climb too high too fast, on average 400 metres between each night above 3500m at the beginning of your stay.
- Avoid intense efforts at the beginning of your stay.
- Climb high enough to acclimatise, if you have to go to a very high altitude (over 5000).
- Drink enough water (have clear urine, be alert to signs of dehydration)
- Do not take sleeping pills, which encourage breathing pauses during sleep, which worsens hypoxia.
- Listen to your body and accept its limits.
How to recognise if you are suffering from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)?
AMS is manifested through different symptoms. Nathanael assigns points to them according to their severity. According to the score you can take the necessary dispositions:
- Headaches: 1 point.
- Lack of appetite or nausea: 1 point.
- Insomnia: 1 point - Dizziness: 1 point.
- Headache resistant to 1g of paracetamol: 2 points.
- Vomiting: 2 points.
- Shortness of breath at rest: 3 points.
- Abnormal or disproportionate fatigue: 3 points.
- Decreased urination: 3 points.
What should I do according to the score?
From 1 to 3 points: AMS light, take a level 1 analgesic such as paracetamol. Respect the doses of use. Continue your progression if the symptoms disappear.
> From 4 to 6 points: AMS moderate, same recommendations as above with, in addition, 24 hours of rest at the same altitude before continuing the progression. The maximum acceptable dose of analgesic before telling you that you should probably descend (if you have not already done so): 3 g of paracetamol (1 dose / 6h)
> 6 points: AMS severe, it is imperative that you come down in order to avoid an evolution towards life-threatening complications (cerebral or pulmonary oedema).
My buddy Christophe unfortunately had this experience in Nepal. He tells you about it in a very interesting way on his blog.
How do I manage my waste when trekking?
Several readers reported that their guides burnt the waste on site during the treks.
In France, this is not normal, but in Kyrgyzstan, there is no waste treatment plant.
Explaining to the guide not to burn the rubbish there makes no sense. If it is not burnt on the mountain in front of you, it will be brought back to town and burnt somewhere else...
The best you can do is to limit the amount of waste you incinerate:
Use your backpack instead of plastic bags, and limit your use of packaged goods by choosing fresh, locally produced food.
What remains can be incinirated there: You are being more responsable in managing your waste than to letting it go to giant landfills.
To stay on the same topic, waste is not the only source of pollution, you are too 🙂
You can limit your impact:
Avoid doing your business near water streams, it is a source of pollution.
If possible, bury your poo. This way it prevents the rain from washing it away (which pollutes rivers) and when left on the ground it prevents vegetation from growing.
When washing and washing clothes, keep at least 100m (or more) away from rivers. Soap (preferably to laundry detergeant) is perfectly biodegradable BUT NOT IN WATER ! (even soap that is commercialised as biodegradable) it has to be filtered through the soil to biodegrade.
Any last words of advice?
Yes, once you're there, don't forget that travelling is cheap because the Kyrgyz income is very low (in the countryside about 150€/month or less).
Think about it, for example:
When you take a collective taxi, the cost per person is very low for you, but high for a local. You might be tempted to buy all the seats and leave immediately instead of waiting. But then you would be depriving the locals of a much needed transport solution.
Of course there are many other things you can do to be a responsible and better traveller. I've made a list of things that seem essential to me and that I've realised in the course of various exchanges with my readers, are not necessarily known to everyone. If you have other elements to contribute, don't hesitate to leave them in the comments.
What are the people like in Kyrgyzstan?
Is it dangerous to travel alone as a woman?
As you may have noticed, I am not a woman. However, I have often been asked about the possibility of travelling alone as a woman.
I asked Coralie, from the Kyrgyzstan travel group, to share her testimony following her trip in September 2018:
"I went alone for three weeks last September, I had no problems with safety. It's one of the safest places I've ever travelled to, and as a woman, no worries.
Kyrgyz people are mostly surprised to see a woman travelling alone (i.e. without her husband, how is it possible?!) but they are curious and not pushy at all.
In big cities like Osh or Bishkek, or in tourist places (Kochkor or Song Kul), people are more used to seeing women alone.
I travelled a lot by local transport (mashrutka, collective taxis), it was very easy and I never felt in danger, knowing that the drivers are always men. I travelled a lot on foot, including in the cities, and I had very few solicitations, and none insistent from the taxis. Kyrgyz people are happy to help you with information.
I also found that there was a kind of solidarity between women: if they see you alone, they will help you, ask you if you need anything.
I often wandered alone in the evening, in town, no particular worries.
I live in Paris, so something I wouldn't do in Paris, I wouldn't do in Kyrgyztan either, and if I had a bad feeling (which rarely happened), I would simply back track. Obviously, an encounter with a drunk guy is possible, there is no zero risk as anywhere. And Kyrgyz are rather "protective" of their tourists.
Concerning the outfit, apart from Arslanbob which is more traditional (trousers, top covering the buttocks and shoulders, and still...), I was clearly in comfortable travel clothes (clearly not my most elegant dress ahah). But I don't think wearing shorts if it's hot attracts any more inappropriate remarks or stares."
Who are the people I will meet?
Encounters with locals and other travellers can have a big influence on your opinion of the country.
The Kyrgyz are a nomadic people living in a harsh mountain environment. As a traveller you will meet people who are welcoming, warm and honest. I never felt unsafe in Kyrgyzstan.
If you choose this destination, it is probably because you are a lover of nature and wide open spaces and that you want to travel to a destination that is still confidential and off the beaten tracks. The travellers I met were all experienced backpackers, having had unique experiences in rather unusual destinations. I can guarantee that you will have amazing and inspiring discussions in each of your hostels.
The PDF version of the article.
Download the free PDF version (Ebook) of my guide to consult it everywhere even without wifi.
To go further:
This guide contains all the information you need to prepare your trip to Kyrgyzstan. My other articles are dedicated to more specific subjects. You can find:
My complete guide to prepare your horse trek in Kyrgyzstan. As a bonus, you will find the interview of Florent who bought a horse to travel solo.
My article dedicated to horse riding
My article dedicated to car rental in Kyrgyzstan.
Marie's bike trip and her advice.
The 10 reasons why you should travel to Kyrgyzstan.
Find more information on the facebook group, travel to Kyrgyzstan.
We also share pictures during winter to travel through our screens. Like this picture of Julien, thanks to him :
If you have any other questions, or advice, don't hesitate to leave a comment.
Hello Georges, thank you very much for your blog, it's a real gold mine to visit Kyrgyzstan !
I'm going to Kyrgyzstan with a friend for 8 days from April 23 to May 1, 2023; could you tell me if it will be possible to sleep in yurts on the lakes and to do treks on foot or horseback without too much snow?
Another question, as we unfortunately have only 8 days on the spot, does it seem feasible to plan a 3 days trek on horseback on the Song Kul lake (with Aigul) and a 4 days trek on foot around the Issyk-Kul lake ? Or cut the last 4 days in 2 days at the lake of Kol Ukok and 2 days at the lake of Issyk-Kul ?
Last question; at the Issyk Kul lake, what do you recommend as a trek on foot for 2, 3 or 4 days?
Many thanks for your help!
Hi, I'm glad you like the blog, thanks for the message. At your period the transhumance will not have taken place yet, you will have yurts for tourists at Song Kul lake but they are rare. The snow will still be present and the lakes may still be frozen. In view of the period, I recommend you to organize it 2 weeks before to know where are the weather and the height of the snow
Just a short message to thank you for all this detailed information!
Hi Asmae, thanks for your message. This kind of thank you is as nice as it is rare. Happy New Year and have a good trip
Hello GTLA ! Thank you for your blog which will help us in the organization of our trip. You mention shooting ranges, do you have any to recommend? Thanks a lot !
Hi, thanks, I don't have a shooting range to recommend because I've never been there. The best is to ask your hostel
Hello, and thank you very much for this blog precious in information!
We are leaving for 2 weeks and a half this summer at the end of July and beginning of August in Kyrgyzstan, in addition to the must-sees (ala kul, song kul, we will soon contact aigul), I was wondering what you would advise us for a 3rd trek between khol suu or sary chelez, I have the impression that there are maybe more things to group with khol suu (with at bashi and tash rabat) but I thought I saw that it was necessary to have a permit ? Is it also necessary a guide for this trek? Thanks a lot
Hi, Kol Suu is less far. You need a border permit, yes, the guide is not necessary but you need a vehicle with a driver.
[...] of information, I spent a lot of time on the blogs. A big thank you to GTLA blog, it is simply a nugget. It gives you an idea of the routes, the budget, [...]
Hello GTLA !
Thank you for your site, it's a real gold mine of information! It must have taken you a long time to gather all this information 🙂 Thanks for sharing it with everyone.
I'm writing to you because I'm going to Kyrgyzstan in mid-September 2021 and I'd like to do a 3-day horseback ride around Lake Son Kul with Aigul because you've written such high praise for it!
After that I would love to go on a 3 day trek with my partner not too far from the lake, we would love to see rocky landscapes and Kyrgyz mountains! I saw that you were talking about "Naryn (3 days)" but I wonder what you are referring to by saying 3 days? Have you ever done a trek there? Or maybe you have another idea for a trek that might be fun 🙂
Adrien and Orane
Hi, thanks and glad to know that the blog facilitates your trip. For the rest I'll write you an email with Aigul in copy, it's easier.
A big thank you to this blog and its admin ... relevance of the information, availability, ... it is a reliable and practical tool to prepare and live this wonderful experience that is Kyrgyzstan ! Thanks also to Aigul, with whom we organised our 3 treks : Ala Kul and Eki Narin (on foot), Song Kul (on horseback) ... she is flexible, available, reactive and the services offered were of high quality.
For all this and for the rest, a big thank you!
Thanks to you Fabrice for your nice message. It's really cool to know that the blog, the country and my local friends were useful to you. I look forward to seeing you again!
Hello and thank you for your blog. I have a different desire, which is to go skiing in this country in February. The questions are:
Will it be easy to find accommodation in the middle of nowhere at that time?
Will I be able to find transport during this period?
Thank you for your feedback
Hi, thanks for your message. At least in February the nomads are in the villages, there are no yurts. You will find transport between towns but some roads and passes will be closed!
Hi, thanks for this blog. I have already been to Kyrgyzstan by bike but now I am going on foot. If people welcome me for a night in a yurt, can I give some money and if so how much? (night, meal?)
My boyfriend and I have been dreaming of travelling to Kyrgyzstan (you saw I didn't make any mistakes 😉 ) for the last two or three years. But we still haven't been there. We hope to go this summer, but we'll have to wait and see. It's not easy to plan a trip at the moment... But anyway, I'm putting aside your very well-populated article! thank you 🙂
Thanks, glad you liked the article, it's always a pleasure to read this kind of comment. I hope you will go this summer. Keep me posted
Hello. Thank you for sharing your experience. I visited Kyrgyzstan in summer all those places, very beautiful around Issyk Kul lake and Song Kol lake. We did horse riding, hiking, sleeping in a yurt, eagle show. Your local contacts are very professional, everything was very well organised. Highly recommend
Thanks, I'm glad the trip went well, it's great that you liked the country and that you got to see some of my friends. Hope to see you on the road.
Hello Carlos (and the others too). I see that you have done some horseback riding. Can you tell me which part exactly?
My friends and I would like to do a 2-3 day horseback riding trip from Chon Kemin, do you have any info (name of a guide, route, organising agency, etc)?
Thank you in advance.
All answers can be sent here: firstname.lastname@example.org with Kyrgyzstan in the subject line
Your blog is really great, and especially very practical. So thank you very much for taking the time to write all this. I have requested to be added to your facebook group.
My partner and I are planning to spend two/three weeks there in July. I personally have travelled a lot. But my partner is not used to it and is not very reassured.
Is it hot enough there in July to camp without having to take a lot of gear?
I speak fluent English but is that enough, or do I need to have some basic Russian?
I hear of tourists being arrested or robbed in town, we plan to avoid the cities. What are the risks in the rest of the country?
Thank you for your help!
Thanks, glad you like the blog, I'll add you to the group. In Altitude it is often below 0 at night, so you need good equipment. It's good to have some basic Russian to facilitate exchanges. It's a pretty safe country, I've never heard that there is more racket than in France. With pleasure
Great website, well explained and a feedback that really helps to project! Thank you for what you have created, it makes me feel better about going.
When I read the "Where to stay" section you mention CBT and I don't know what that is?
We are planning to go in October or November with my boyfriend. My question is the following:
Is it still possible to stay in a host family? Also, I wonder how you manage to meet the locals, because if the country has recently been islamised, I would be surprised if you meet people in bars 😉
And last question : To have the chance to ride a horse for a day with the Kyrgyz... do you have to go through an agency ?
Thank you for everything
Hi Camille, glad you like the blog and find it useful.
The CBT is a community organisation.
At the time you want to go, there will be no more yurts, but you will be able to stay with locals in town.
As for the locals, you meet them everywhere, in the street, in the shops, in the bars. And yes, to ride a horse, you have to go through an agency.
Have a good trip
Thank you very much for this blog and these very detailed articles!
So I haven't read all the comments so maybe the question has already been asked:
When did you leave?
Do you have any feedback from people who went there in early May?
Thank you!!! 🙂
Thanks to you
I left in August, I invite you to join the group travelling to Kyrgyzstan, it will answer your questions
You must be used to it by now but a huge thank you for all the work you do on your blog, it is extremely informative. I wish I had you around when I was planning my trips to Albania or Jordan, it would have certainly saved me time.
I've had a fixed idea in my mind for some time, and that is Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan is the first destination I was interested in and it is obvious that there will be no trip to this part of the world without putting a foot there. However, after some research, it turns out that I also want to discover Uzbekistan.
In your opinion, and with 15 to 17 days on site (not including arrival and departure days), is it possible to make an itinerary combining both destinations and enough to enjoy each of them?
I know that the best is the enemy of the good, but the idea of combining Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan is really tempting.
Hi Lucas, thanks it's always nice to know that my work on the blog is useful to other travellers. Glad I could help you, sorry you had to read the Albania and Jordan articles before you left 🙂 .
Your idea is a nice one, I have not been to Uzbekistan, but I have two pieces of information to give you.
Firstly, 15 days in Kyrgyzstan is the minimum for me, it's a huge country completely left to nature, there's plenty to do.
Uzbekistan, from what I was told, is more a cultural destination, for the cities and the richness of the buildings, so for me it's all seen, it's the nature that I prefer.
This is only my opinion, it's up to you.
Thank you for this very complete article. My husband and I will be there from 4 to 21 August 2019! Yes, the plane tickets are already booked! We are still hesitating between taking a tour with a guide and doing it on our own. But, reading your article makes me want to go on an adventure and try not to take a guide (except for selected excursions of course).
For the month of August, do you have to book accommodation and excursions in advance or can you do it directly there? It would be too bad to arrive and be told "it's full" "there's no more room" etc.
I'm looking forward to any good tips you have to share.
Hi Beatrice and thanks for your message.
That's cool, you already have a great trip planned for this summer.
You don't have to book anything in advance, you can do it there.
After that, it all depends on your desires and your budget. My exchanges with readers have made me realise that 15 days can be quite short and that it may be preferable to organise your trip a little before you leave.
Moreover, a guidebook can also allow you to go to more remote places.
In any case your trip will be cool and amazing.
If you want a guide, or to organize excursions in advance, do not hesitate to tell me, I have many contacts there. And if you want to do everything there, and you have questions, don't hesitate either. Have a nice evening
We would like to go in March 2021 for ski touring - would you have the coordinates of a local guide? Thank you in advance -
My friend Azamat has a ski touring camp in winter, you can contact him for me.
Have a nice day
I also found your website great! We are leaving on Monday with a lot of enthusiasm but also a little apprehension due to the novelty 🙂
2 small questions before departure:
Is it easy to withdraw tickets at the airport in Bishkek?
Do you advise to stop in Koshor to find a guide to do a horse trek to Song Kul lake or to go directly to the lake to find a guide?
If you know a good guide, I'd love to hear from him!
Thanks in advance! Have a nice day!
Hi and thanks,
I advise you to take some $ to pay your taxi and to go and withdraw soms in town, but you can very well withdraw at the airport.
For the guide go to kochkor and go through my friend Aigul, she is the best.
Have a good trip
First of all, thank you very much for all this information, it helps a lot.
Also, do you know if it is possible to raft in the Boom Gorge from Kochkor and return to Bishkek the same evening? I will be travelling with my 3 brothers and sister.
Thanks in advance for your answer
Hi with pleasure. It is possible to do it. Do you want to organise it there or book it in advance?
Thank you for all this useful information.
Great blog, a good summary of all the practical and useful information.
I'm planning to go to KGN, towards the end of August for 3 weeks.
I haven't seen anyone here talking about the World Nomadic Games in Tcholponata, do you have any feedback on this? Are the opening/closing ceremonies a must see? Which sports are the most "spectacular" or the ones where there is the most hype?
I noted for Jailoo tourism in Kochkor, also Aigul. Do you have any other contacts for "grouped" treks on foot or horseback around Karakol? Do you think Ala kul will still be accessible at this time? For the cold, I have merino wool that I took for Lapland, that should do it.
Hi Joris, thanks. I couldn't attend the World Nomad Games because I was leaving before but Aïgul is a fan, she clearly made me want to go. I went to the national party and to L'ulak tartish, it's spectacular. But as Aigul says, you can tell it better than me as I haven't been there.
Ala Kul should be accessible, but it all depends on the weather. The merino will do it. For Karakol ask Aigul, she is there and she will answer your other questions.
Have a good trip and if you go to the nomadic games, don't hesitate to let me know, I'm very interested.
Thank you for all the very useful information. We are leaving in July with our daughters, aged 8 and 6. We would like to take a car with a driver. Would you have any contacts for us?
Thank you for your help.
Hi there, it's a pleasure.
Good idea to go with your family, it's a great trip for children.
I'll send you a message about the driver.
Have a good trip
We are a 65 year old couple and we are finishing a 4 month trip to Asia with a (too) short stay in Kyrgyzstan. We arrive in Bishkek on May 28th and leave for France on June 5th. We want to do a horse trek and sleep in a yurt for a few days. Do you know if it is possible at this time? If so where and which agency to contact? (Jailoo tourism seems to have good feedback). Sorry to write late, but we had not planned to go to Kyrgyzstan. Thanks in advance for your answer.
I advise you to contact my friend Aigul. She speaks English. She can help you : Tel:
Have a good trip
From the beginning of September to the end of September / beginning of October! We have some experience already, such as the Tibetan Annapurna etc. Do you think there are enough yurts on our way in the mountainous regions or do you think it is vital to take my mini tent as a backup?
In early September there are still yurts everywhere. Late September, early October depends on the weather and the snow. Take your tent with you, it's always better in this kind of place. In any case, if you're a cycling fan, you'll have a great time there, it's cool.
Hello to you,
We're going to ride on our own on mountain bikes, just to ride on beautiful trails !!!! If you have any places to recommend, or to avoid, I'm interested! Blog very instructive thank you very much it's great !!!!!
Hi Fred, thanks. When are you leaving?
I'm only at the very beginning of the organisation of my trip next summer, but I've already gleaned a lot of information from the blog and the comments, so already a big thank you! Like many, I'm very interested in the contacts you've kept, could you send them to me?
With pleasure and thanks for your comment.
I will send you this. Have a nice trip
I wanted to thank you for this article which is very useful. I'm arriving in Bishkek on the 8th of July for 3 weeks with my boyfriend. We plan to sleep mainly in tents and if possible in a house.
Would it be possible to communicate me some contacts that you had there? (guides, good plans for horseback riding, night in Yurt)
Thank you for the information!
Thank you for this.
I'm sending this to you
Have a nice trip
Thank you for all this useful information!
I'm going with a friend for 2 weeks in August. Of course we are tempted to do some horseback riding, is it possible if we are beginners (having had similar experiences in Mongolia, it seems difficult to follow the rhythm, is it the same in Kyrgyzstan?) Moreover, is it really cold at night during this period, we plan to take just a duvet (0°) to sleep in the yurts/tents, is it enough?
Thank you in advance for your feedback!
Thanks to you
It's possible for beginners, the easiest way is to take a guide for you two. That way you can go at your own pace.
It's very cold at night at this time of the year, the duvet is not really interesting, there are blankets in the yurts.
I slept with my coat and 3 blankets, and I'm not at all chilly
have a good trip
Thank you for your answer! Indeed the nights look cold 🙂
Have you been to Kazakstan too? We're checking to see if it's easy to make a detour to Almaty and if the border crossing is relatively easy.
Have a nice day !
Great for your quick response! Thank you very much! We're going to try it like that, hoping that the distances between the yurts are not too long (we don't have a tent & with a bag that weighs a bit 😉 ms motivated!!)
We had a similar experience in the desert in Jordan, feeling obliged to go through an agency & so we were disappointed!
We'll tell you how it went when we get back! Anyway, thanks again for your reactivity! I'm sure you'll be happy to know that we'll be able to do it again... 😉
Excellent trip to you
I look forward to hearing from you
As ts, great site, bravo!!!
We are there with my friend here, currently on Karakok, & we were wondering if it was possible to do Song-Köl in autonomy or if it was necessary to go through an agency (to find the paths that lead to the yurts, if these yurts belong to agencies or individuals...). Also, is it possible to do it on foot?
Thank you for your answer!
On foot it is possible, the paths are very accessible. For the accommodation it is not necessary to go through an agency. Whether they are "tourist" yurts or not, you can always negotiate the night. If you have a tent, you can sleep near the yurts and "buy" your meals, I met a guy who was living in his tent near a "tourist" camp and eating in the camp. He had even managed to negotiate his way back on horseback with guides who were dismounting horses without riders. The only constraint was to follow their rhythm.
Have a good trip.
Hi! Thanks for sharing,
I was wondering if it is possible to travel on horseback for a week. In this case, do I have to find a guide directly in the city (=agency) or can I ask anyone in a village?
Will I be able to sleep in my tent during this trip or do I have to follow a route planned by the guide?
Thank you in advance,
No problem, it's cool.
If your idea is to take a horse and travel alone, I wouldn't recommend it. Apart from the fact that you have to know how to look after it, you have to feed it and water it. For that, the Kyrgyz leave them free, not tied up all night. The horses roam in the mountains and in the morning the guides go to pick them up. If you have never done this and you don't know the mountains, it seems complicated.
As for travelling for a week, it is possible, with a guide found in town, or a local farmer with whom you can agree on a price.
You can sleep in your tent and do the route you want, again you just have to make an arrangement with the guide.
Have a good trip and a good horseback ride
Great blog and thanks for sharing your good plans 🙂
I would have liked to book a 3 day horse trek to Song Kul lake with JAailoo (which seems to be the most recommended agency in terms of quality/price) but the website you mention does not exist anymore. Would you have an email address or would someone have the address of the new website to contact them?
Thank you in advance,
thanks to you
the email address is on the jailoo picture
the site is not working anymore and from the feedback I got they are very long to answer the mails (internet in the village is very slow)
You can write to them, but I don't think it's necessary to book. I hadn't done it, and I was in the middle of the season.
Have a good trip.
And wow!!! I can't wait to get there!
I'm leaving in September with my friend. We have 15 days to do a tour around the lakes.
We have very expensive quotes from agencies.
Do you by any chance have any contacts of 4×4 drivers on site? I would like to know if you have any contacts for drivers in the area...
Thank you very much in advance!
Thank you very much.
I'll send you some contacts in mp, but globally the 4×4 trips are very expensive, it's normal.
Have a good trip
Hello, very nice blog
We are going to Kyrgyzstan in September 2017 for 3 weeks
We would like to do two treks of 4 days each
Then the rest some trek here and there
What would you suggest as itineraries?
Thank you for your message
I don't have enough knowledge of the country to answer such a large question.
I hope my blog can inspire you and I'm interested if you can give me some feedback after your trip. It will allow me to add some information for others. Have a good trip
Hello Georges-Michel, bravo and thank you for this very complete article on this beautiful destination which is Kyrgyzstan 🙂
Would you have an email address on which I could contact you?
Thank you and see you soon
Thank you for all the information in your blog, very practical! We're leaving at the end of July for 3 weeks with my girlfriend and you've confirmed our choice! We're taking a tent and some camping gear, and we were wondering if, despite the summer, we should bring some warm duvets for the nights, or if a warm duvet (10°C) would be enough with a meat bag to complete the trip? Thanks in advance for your help!
Thank you very much
I always had good weather during the day, it was warm but the nights in altitude are very cool.
I am not at all cold and in the yurts I slept with my ski coat and 3 blankets.
It's better to bring warm duvets
have a good trip
Very interesting blog! Very well written! I'm going to visit this mysterious country this summer (July 25 to August 12). I'm going to visit this mysterious country this summer (from 25 July to 12 August). I had a question. Should I book my yurt nights and horseback riding now or should I do it once I'm in the country? On the CBT website it doesn't seem possible to book remotely. But I'm afraid that when I arrive in the country everything is full, especially at this time of the year. If you could enlighten me it would be great.
Thank you in advance for your help
Thank you very much.
No need to book from a distance. It will be more expensive and it will never be full. The season is very short in Kyrgyzstan and they are organized according to it. A night in a yurt is a night on the ground squeezed between all the people who sleep there to be warm. Take care of your excursions at each stage.
And especially the weather can vary quickly, it would be stupid to have reserved a hike and to have to do it under the rain.
have a good trip
First of all a big thank you for the wealth of information you provide! Like many others, you gave me a real helping hand to prepare the trip!
Just a small point before buying the tickets: on the videos we can see that you are with two Dutch girls (+your cameraman?), but in the end you always met people with whom to travel or there are times when the Kyrgyz solitude is a bit heavy?
Good luck for your next trips, enjoy!
AHAHAHAH you made me laugh with my cameraman. It's the different buddies I made on the trip including the Dutch girls who filmed me nicely.
I always met people, when I was alone, like in my video where I go alone with my horse, it was a choice.
Kyrgyzstan is like any other destination, if you don't want to be alone you always meet nice people.
Have a good trip too.
Thank you! (and thanks for your quick response 😉 )
Oh lala, first of all a big thank you for your feedback on Kyrgyzstan. Your blog is really great and very useful.
My girlfriend and I are going there this summer and I am in the process of organising our trip.
Would it be possible to ask you some questions in private?
Thank you again and have a nice evening!
I will send you an email
Thank you very much for your site which is very precious in the preparation of our trip.
I am going to Kyrgyzstan with a friend for 17 days at the beginning of July and we would like to have some advice on our itinerary.
Is it possible to get local contacts for the following treks:
- Horseback riding from Kochkor to the Kol-Ukok/Kol-Tor lake for 1.5 days
- Horse riding from Kochkor to Song-Kol
Thank you in advance for your help,
you can reach Jailoo, the contact details are in the article.
Have a nice trip
Your website is great.
I didn't manage to find the name of your agency on your blog... We're leaving with 3 of us this summer for 15 days and are looking for nice treks.
Thank you for your help
Which agency are you talking about?
First of all, congratulations for your blog! What a job but what a help too! We are going away for a little over 2 weeks in August with our 3 (teenage children! 20, 17 and 14). We did the easy part, i.e. taking the ticket! But now we're trying to fine-tune our itinerary! We like it and we will probably follow it in the main lines!
Do we need to book yurts or other places to sleep well in advance?
Would you have any guide's details to give us?
We only speak English, is that a big handicap?
What map did you use and where can we get it?
Thank you for your help and keep on making us dream!
Hi, thanks for the nice service.
There is no need to book in advance, there are always places, you just sleep tight. English is not a handicap, having some Russian helps but you can always speak with your hands. Concerning the map, I didn't have one. I'll send you a contact in mp.
Have a good trip.
Thank you for all this enriching and very practical information!
I'm going to Kyrgyzstan the last two weeks of May. I would have liked to know what the climate was like when you want to do a bit of trekking but not very high level and not necessarily very high in altitude.
In relation to these treks, I would have liked to do them without a guide and sleep in my tent. Is it possible to do wild camping easily? (While respecting nature!)
In addition to walking, I would like to ride as much as possible (my riding soul has been attracted by this beautiful country). You mentioned renting a horse directly from a farmer, do you think it's possible to do that in every place I end up spending time on horseback? And in a more general way, to make evenings at the inhabitant's for compensation?
In fact, I am looking for a totally independent trip without any guide or organisation in order to remain free of my movements and not to depend on a programme. I don't necessarily want to spend time in the city either (one day max).
Thank you for your valuable information which allows me to plan my trip more precisely!
I have no idea what the weather will be like in May, but let me know after your trip, it would be cool.
You can do wild camping very easily, especially as there are plenty of water holes. It's up to you not to leave any trace of your passage. I think that for a fee you can rent horses everywhere, but I'm not sure if they'll let you keep them for several days without knowing you. As for the evenings at the inhabitant's, it is always possible. Kyrgyzstan is a country where it is very easy to travel independently.
Have a good trip.
Thanks for your nice blog.
I'm planning to leave for 3 weeks with my partner. I have a few questions:
- I would like to do 5-6 days of "freestyle" trekking with tent and duvets and sleep in families from time to time going at our pace. I wanted to start from Chong Kemin and reach the lake of Issik kul and Gregorivka valley (Chong Ak-Suu) by passing through tcholpon ata.
All on foot. Do you think it's better to leave with a tent and a map and have a pure freedom even if you get lost a bit or to book nights with families in CBT which would avoid carrying a tent/warmers/duvets. However, this obliges us to be in such a place at such a time and leaves less freedom (it would prevent us from staying a day in a place we like for example).
Also for atyln arachane, I saw that it was possible to do a 3-4 day loop passing through Ala Kul etc. Is it necessary to take a yurt in atlyn arashan then to make randos from there or is it better to make a loop of 4 with the tents. Is it possible to do the loop without a guide with stops in families?
My real question is, are the treks complicated and a 15kg bag with tent and everything will be a hindrance or would we not enjoy them more with a light bag without food or duvet but with a little less freedom (sleeping in yurts prepared by cbt).
Thank you for your advice! And by the way, if you have any contacts, I'm interested =)
Hi, thanks to you. To put it simply, you can always extend your stay in the yurts if you like the place. Kyrgyz people are flexible. It's up to you if you want to carry all your gear or travel lighter and sleep in yurts.
Your information was precious to me, thank you very much!
I'm planning to leave during the whole month of May totally unexpectedly (I found a return plane ticket for less than 300 euros!!!) and I would need some information especially concerning car rental.
Indeed I'm going to leave with a friend and we wanted to know if it was possible to rent a good car so as to have total independence and therefore the possibility of moving around in the mountains without any problems? And what would be the price of this rental /day or /week approximately? And if there are any necessary conditions to be able to rent a car (in France, for example, you have to be at least 25 years old and have one year of experience...). In reality, the only rental websites we found had rather expensive prices... Such information would be crucial for our final decision!
Thanks in advance for your help!
thanks, it's always nice to know it's useful.
I don't have any info on car rental, but I know that it is possible to drive in Kyrgyzstan for foreigners.
With some English friends, we bought a wrecked Lada (500$, prices are expensive) we had no problems and we sold it easily to other tourists.
I'll send you the contact of a friend who will inform you.
See you soon
Thank you for your blog which is really interesting.
I'm thinking of going away for the whole month of July with my parents, is it necessary to know how to ride a horse well for the excursions because I'm not great on a horse.
Thank you for your answer.
thanks to you.
It depends on what you call not top. But if you want to, you don't need to be an experienced rider. Your guide will adapt. Have a good trip
Hello, thank you for this beautiful article on this beautiful country 🙂 I would like to make a discovery and humanitarian trip to Kyrgyzstan and would like to know if you have addresses or contacts there that could help me find an association or other. I have time off in April, May and June 2017.
I thank you in advance. I have already looked a little on the net but I have not found anything conclusive. Best regards, Marie
Hi, thanks for your message.
I'll send you a mail
Thank you for all these tips!
Any good plans to share (accommodation/hiking/and others)?
I was planning to do :
- Bishkek (2 days)
- Around Bishkek (1 day) : Ala-Archa Gorge
- Kochor for horse riding (+ yurt) to Song Kol Lake (5 days)
- Arslanbob (3 days) : hiking (or mountain biking)
- Osh (2 days)
- Then OSH border crossing to Uzbekistan
Hi, thanks for your message.
all my plans are in the article, if you have any on your return, don't hesitate to share them.
Have a good trip
I have just discovered your site and find your information very useful and interesting.
I have booked a plane ticket from 15 August to 6 September 2017. I am going alone and would like to do several treks in the mountains. My budget would be 1000 euros for the 3 weeks, excluding flights. If you have the contact details of guides who could accompany me on the treks, it would be nice to send them to me by mp. If you have any suggestions for treks, I'd be interested too. Thank you very much.
I'll send you a message
Your blog is a marvel that makes you want to discover the country even more.
I am planning to leave with my family, including 3 older children (16-18-25 years old) for 3 weeks.
I have contacted a number of agencies but the prices are excessive. I'm a bit afraid with the kids to go on an adventure, though....
We are thinking of leaving for 3 weeks and would ideally like to spend about 10 days riding around and sleeping in the yurts of the locals to get a feel for their life and customs.
We would also like to organise hikes and if possible go fishing for a day.
I wonder if I should reserve all this for Bischkek or other cities, but which ones?
I haven't booked the plane tickets yet but it's very likely that I'll arrive in the middle of the night, do you know a cheap hotel that could send a car to pick us up?
I still have tons of information to ask you.....
Thank you very much.
I just sent you an email
Hello traveller friend!
In search of a surprise in Central Asia, I decided to go with a friend, for the coming summer, to Kyrgyzstan! Only, here I am invested in my very first adventure in an unknown land: I know absolutely neither the language, nor the customs, nor the culture! Obviously subject to study before my trip, other questions came up:
- Is it a good idea to take a tent with you to live the adventure independently?
- Is it possible to do a three-week horseback riding trip, spending each night in a yurt to guarantee the horses' rest? If so, what route would you suggest for such a project?
- How can you find out about "yurt relays" and their possibilities if you are unexpectedly thrown into the adventure?
- As you travel all over the country, and across the long and beautiful desert plains, did you have to plan your food for each day, or for each week?
Without any comfort whatsoever, I really think about a parenthesis anchored in the earth, where the harshness of the sleep will be equalled only by the beauty of the adventure!
Thanks to you 🙂
Thank you for your message, your choice of destination is ideal if you are in search of surprises and your questions are those that many must face before venturing into the unknown. Here is my contribution to try to answer them.
If you have enough experience and knowledge to hike alone in the mountains, taking a tent is a good idea.
It is possible to do a 3 week horseback ride, spending each night in a yurt. However, I don't have the skills and knowledge to suggest a route for you. I recommend you to get in touch with a local guide, such as "Jailoo Tourims" which I mention in the article. You won't find a horse to rent without a guide for several days. A horse needs plenty of food and water. The Nomads leave the horses free every evening and collect them in the morning (a horse should eat at least 50kg of grass a day), they know how to look after them. In short, a guide who knows the animals and the mountains is indispensable.
If you are trekking on your own, you can ask tourist agencies to provide you with a map with "yurt relays" that will offer you food and lodging. Otherwise, the yurts are inhabited by farmers, so they will always be able to provide you with food.
I wish you a great adventure and remain at your disposal.
Have a good trip.
Thank you for this great feedback, I have trouble finding people who have been there to talk about it!
I wanted to go there by myself for a month and a half next summer, and I'm starting to look into it now because I'm really looking forward to it, but also because I was wondering if it was a good choice of trip for a single girl... Have you met any? I'd love to have some contacts too, if you have the time!
Thanks a lot anyway,
I'm looking forward to reading you!
Thanks for your message.
I'll send you this in mp
See you soon.
Thank you very much for this very informative post!
I'm looking for contacts for a tour of the country for about 20/22 days. Could you share some contacts for hiking and/or horseback riding?
Thank you very much!
Hello, thank you,
I'll send this to you in mp
Hello, thank you,
I'll send this to you in mp
Thank you very much for this wealth of information on your blog!
We are also going to Kyrgyzstan from 12 to 30 September.
We are thinking of travelling mainly in the centre of the country and are wondering whether Issy-Kul and the hikes around Karakol are really worth it, or whether, depending on the climate and cold, and the length of our trip, it would be better to focus on the centre of the country?
And if not, we would like to hear from you about excursions on foot or on horseback, especially around Song Kul.
Thanks again for all your information!
Hi, thanks for the message. Sorry to see you've already left, but I was in Colombia for a month. Enjoy the trip. Have a good trip
Thank you for your article + all the comments/responses. It is very enriching.
I am going with a group of 5 people for 1 week only (unfortunately).
We are planning to do a tour to Song Kul Lake for 3 or 4 days and a stopover in Kochkor to see Naryn.
What do you advise?
I'm looking for contacts too!
Again, many thanks to you for your feedback.
Thank you for that.
The Song Kul Lake is really cool, go through the agency indicated on the blog, it's the nicest and the cheapest.
Kochkor is an essential step to prepare Song Kul, but otherwise it's a lost village and without interest.
Naryn, I do not know.
Have a good trip
Hi gtlaThank you very much for this feedback. It is complete, clear and makes you dream!
I'm going to leave for 3 weeks from mid-September to early October.
Do you think that the period will allow me to travel solo despite the cold weather? I'm very interested in the contacts you've kept over there too. I don't really ride horses but I am a great walker and I will follow your advice on hitchhiking...
I thank you in advance for any help you can give me. Stef
Thank you for that.
Travelling solo, yes, but I don't think everything is easy to get to. I don't know the country at this time.
I'll send you a contact.
Have a good trip.
Great blog and thanks for the info! I'm leaving on the 19th for a fortnight in KGT and travelling alone. I was thinking of spending a night in Bishkek and then going straight to kochkor. Everything I see on the internet is overpriced, do you still have contacts for guides there for trekking and horse riding on Son Kul and Issik Kul?
Thank you very much! Cécile
Thanks, I'll send you this.
Have a nice trip
Thanks a million for all this information! We just arrived in Bishkek and we still have some questions.
Do you think it's better to do song kul and then issyk kul or the opposite ?
We haven't booked anything in advance yet for the treks, do we need to ? Especially if we want to do a 3 days horse riding ?
Have you been to Barskoon or Tamga?
Do you advise to do a trek from Naryn/Kochkor to Song Kul (and in this case from which city)? Or is it better to do a 3 days trek around Song Kul?
Is the night bus bishkek>karkol dangerous for 2 girls?
If you have any contacts there (Karakol, trek from jeti oguz, barskoon, rama, kotckor...) we are interested 🙂
Thank you very much 🙂
Clara and Clementine
Hi Clara and Clementine
Thank you, so do you like Bishkek?
I think it is better to do Song Kul and then Issyk Kul. Song Kul is much more spectacular and exotic. It's perfect to start with. You don't need to book in advance. Just arrive the night before.
I have not been to Barskoon or Tamga.
I think it's best to do at least 3 days around Song Kul, it's a really impressive place.
I don't think the night bus is dangerous.
I will send you my contacts.
Like everyone else here, I too would like to thank you for all the wonderful advice you have given in this blog!
I'm going to Kyrgyzstan just for 9 days from September 9th to September 17th and I would like to spend these 9 days sleeping in a yurt possibly in a beautiful landscape 😉
Which place would you advise me?
Thanks in advance
Thanks, I like your question, if I understand correctly you want to stay 9 days in the same place.
If I were you I would go to Song Kul Lake. It's beautiful and you have yurts scattered everywhere. Real "tourist camps" and herders' yurts. You can stay and eat in these different types of yurts and the scenery is spectacular.
I had met a traveller who went up with his tent and stayed there for several days. He rented horses to farmers for the day and even came back down to town with guides who brought horses. In short, you will have a magical time.
Have a good trip.
Thank you for this very complete blog. This type of article is very practical and interesting!
We are going to Kyrgyzstan next Tuesday and leave on August 22. So we have 11 days there.
Here is the itinerary we would like to do:
- Bishkek/Koshkor (lake song kul)
- Koshkor/Karakol (Altyn Arashan and lake Issuk Kul)
What do you think? Is it too ambitious? Do you have any advice for us?
Can you also give us information about local agencies?
Thank you for your help!
See you soon,
Hi Asma, thank you for this.
The route is cool. Karakol has no interest, it's just a base for hiking. There is no reason to stay in this city otherwise.
I don't have more advice than what you can find on the blog.
For Song Kul, I advise you jailoo
Have a good trip
I'm going to Kyrgyzstan on August 10th. My trip was initially cancelled and I learned yesterday that I could in fact go. I have few days to organize myself and so a big thank you to you, because your blog helps me a lot !
I would like if possible to have your different contacts to save time and to benefit from your experience.
I might have more questions later on...
I can't wait to be there!
Thanks for sharing!
Hi, with pleasure.
Good news, I wish you a good trip, I'll send you an email.
After reading your feedback and all the comments on it, I'd like to say a big fat THANK YOU!
I also travel this way and I have never come across such an informative and clear feedback before!
So thanks again for taking the time to think about us, it's great!
Have a great future trip 😉
Thanks for your message, it's great to hear. I made this blog to help travellers find information that is not always easy to find on the internet and it's always nice to know that it is useful.
Have a great trip too.
Thank you for all the advice and information. We are leaving for 3 weeks in September and would like to do a 6-7 day trek around Karakol. Would you have a guide to recommend? or rather a self-guided version?
I don't know of any guide to the Karakol side.
Just the hostels on the blog.
If the weather is good, you can do it as a stand-alone version.
Have a good trip
Good evening gtla
,Bravo for writing this article.
I am leaving on 31 August for Bishkek.
Question: is the 60 l and 8 kg bag still accepted in the cabin? I am travelling with Pegasus.
Thank you for this article.
Thanks, that's cool
When I left, there was no problem. I took this company again last November, to go to Lebanon, no problem.
Have a good trip.
We are leaving for 15 days, with arrival in Bishkek planned for this Friday. I just came across your website and the videos of your trip, it's great, thank you very much and bravo for the time you spend on it !
Would you have a list of contacts / places you recommend for 2 weeks there? I understand from the comments that you can organize yourself there without planning too much in advance.
Thank you very much!
Thank you, it's nice to know that you liked the site and the videos.
I will send you my contacts.
Have a good trip.
Thank you very much for this article which helped me a lot. I'm planning to go to Kyrgyzstan with one or two friends, and for the moment the most expensive quote for an organised tour I found for 12 days is 800 euros per person... But when I read the comments, I have the impression that we can manage for much less!
So, if you have any contacts, I'm interested 🙂
Otherwise for the itinerary, we were thinking of doing 3/4 days of horse riding in Son Kol, Jeti Oguz and Fairytale canyons on the way, 3/4 days around Karakol (Altyn Arashan, Karakol gorge, Alakul lake), then a stop north of the lake, we don't know yet before going back to Bishkek.
Thanks in advance 🙂
Hi Berenice, thanks
I'll send you some contacts, you'll see with them, but you should get away with it for less.
Have a good trip.
Thank you very much for all this information!
I'm going to Kyrgyzstan at the end of August and I'd like to have a little precision concerning the sleeping bag you brought. I plan to spend a few nights in my tent between 3000-3500 m, I have for the moment a 0°C comfort, do you think it's enough? I'm hesitating to buy a -5°/-10° one because it seems that the nights are quite cold...
Anyway, I'm looking forward to your advice on this matter 🙂
Thanks in advance!
It's a pleasure.
I took a decathlon ultralight duvet 15°, it is completely unsuitable!
I think that 0° is not enough.
I am not cold and the nights are freezing. In the yurt, I was never alone and I slept fully dressed with my coat and 2 or 3 blankets.
A -10° is completely suitable.
Have a good trip.
Great blog, thanks a lot! I'm leaving for 15 days in a fortnight with a friend. We changed our minds after reading you and we're going to do a "last minute" itinerary, leaving directly for Kochkor from the airport via Bishkek (unless we find someone willing to take us directly without going through the bus station?), then follow your advice with CBT Jailoo tourism (is that the one you recommend?). Then, the idea is to ride for 4 days to Song Kol. But I have the impression that there are a lot of people on the north-east bank, so I'm not necessarily excited about it. What do you think?
What about the transport from Kochkor to the south bank of Issy Kul? We should find?
And finally, we are considering a 6 day trek from Djety Oguz. But I must admit that I'm not sure I can do it without a guide (despite a good experience of trekking in the Alps and elsewhere). Do you think we'll regret always being accompanied? I have the impression that doing everything on your own via Ala Kul is a bit risky.
Thanks again for your precious advice!
Thanks, that's cool.
To go directly to Kochkor, with the hitchhiking and by paying everything is possible there.
The cbt is well jailoo tourism, I put back the photo online at the moment jailoo
Song kol is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in my life. It's a bit crowded, but it's horsemen or trekkers like you and me and you live in real nomad camps, it's absolutely worth it.
For Kochkor - south of Issy Kul, you can easily find collective taxis or hitchhiking.
Finally, for your trek from Djety Oguz, 6 days is a lot, it's better to take a guide in case of storm and it's always nice to have a local who knows all the secrets of the mountain.
Have a good trip Ben
Thank you for all these precisions! Your article will be very useful to me! I'm leaving the day after tomorrow for Kyrgyzstan for 3 weeks with a small diversions via Kashgar. Have you heard about the Torugart passage from other travellers? Difficult?
And could you send me your contacts there? I will start with 3 days around Song Kul, go down to Naryn, cross the Torugart, 5 days around Kashie, come back via irekstam, go back to Osh and plan to hike 2/3 days on the Karakol side in the last part...well, ok it will be a race...;) but at least I will see different landscapes...
Thanks in advance,
Thank you for your message. I haven't heard of the Torugart passage. But if you do and can give me some feedback, I'll be happy to add it to the blog. I'll send you my contacts in mp.
You are 2 days away from paradise. Have a good trip, enjoy.
Thank you for your message. I haven't heard of the Torugart passage. But if you do and can give me some feedback, I'll be happy to add it to the blog. I'll send you my contacts in mp.
You are 2 days away from paradise. Have a good trip, enjoy.
Thank you for this fascinating story, I plan to leave in a week in this country. My difficulty, apart from getting there at the last minute, is to get around independently, I'm a photographer and want to stop whenever I want, which excludes public transport. I have two or three weeks, would you have a contact for a car with a driver, at a reasonable price, or is it possible to drive alone? I found two agencies for the rental, but I don't know if driving without gps, or simply without directions in English is possible... For the evening I saw that the CBT allowed to stay without problems. Can you advise me? Thank you for your experience!
Thanks to you
I sent you an email.
Have a nice trip
Super your blog, it's nice to leave with some information!
Could you give me some contacts there (guides, good plans for horseback riding, night in Yurt)
Thanks in advance.
Thanks, I'll send you a mail.
Have a good trip
I have just discovered your site and would have liked to ask you a few questions if possible before my departure next Monday... Here is roughly the route I intend to take with my 3 children (11, 13 and 15 years old) ; )
A guide will normally be waiting for us at the airport and we leave with him for 9 days horse riding in the Toktogul and Son-kul region. Then back to Bishkek, from there fly to Osh (What do you think about the safety of internal flights?)
A few days in Osh then direction Tashkent (Uzbekistan) by taxi and or bus. From Tashkent, train to Bukhara. We stay there a few days. Then bus to Samarkand. We stay there for a few days. Then back to Tashkent and then Osh. Finally, we would go to Issy Khol or the surrounding area for a few days before flying back to Bishkek!
For the horseback riding, the guide told me that we would sleep in tents and yurts. I was not thinking of taking sleeping bags to relieve the weight of the bags we will carry for a month but just meat bags... The guide will provide us with blankets but I wanted to know if in the guesthouses and youth hostels, there were also blankets or others. The question is if I should take the sleeping bags or not ; )
Several people have also strongly advised me against hitchhiking, what do you think?
You know the program. Maybe you could give me some advices, informations, addresses or others... And for the rest, your informations are very complete and I take the opportunity to thank you for this sharing!
Thank you very much,
Hi Dominique. Thanks for your message.
It's really cool to do this with your 3 children, it's a great trip.
To answer your questions, I did not take internal flights. The people I met who did have problems and I didn't hear about any accidents, which is reassuring.
For sleeping bags, there are blankets everywhere. However, in the mountains it is very cold at night, so it is better to be well covered. If you are cold, take your sleeping bag. On horseback, your bag will be carried by the horse, you will not have it on your back.
Hitchhiking in Kyrgyzstan (I have not been to Uzbekistan) is safe in my opinion. Everybody does it there. Depending on the destination you pay your driver or not. It is an institution.
Have a good trip
Hello GM, thank you for this great site. I'm leaving in the first half of August. I had an organized plan that just fell through. As I already have the plane tickets, I'm going all the same, alone... So I'm in the process of making my circuit between what was planned and what you did. Do you think it is possible to do Bishkek, Yssy-Kol, Kochkor and Son-Kol lakes and then go down to Naryn and At-Basky in 2 weeks? Did you take a specific insurance? or do you recommend things to do absolutely or not at all in 2 weeks? Thanks in advance. See you soon
I have not taken any insurance except my visa card.
I think it's possible in 2 weeks but it's express. It all depends on how you like to travel.
I think I wouldn't go to Naryn and At-Basky if I were you but I like to travel slowly.
Have a good trip.
Hello! Thank you for your very informative site (to be original :))
I'm also going to Kyrgyzstan at the beginning of September and wanted to organise a 3 or 4 day horse trek in Song Kul. I have contacted the CBT in Kochkor but the price seems high! I saw that you went through an agency that allowed you to join a group? Do you have the contact details of this agency? Thanks a lot!
Thanks to you.
CBTs are clearly overpriced. I'll email you my agency details and add it to the blog. Many people ask me for it.
Have a good trip.
Your page on Kyrgyzstan is a mine. We must thank you for that.
I'm leaving in 10 days and I would have liked to have some information about Jailoo tourism in Kotchkor, I read some comments about them on some forums - quite old now - which were not very nice. So I wanted to know what you thought: are they reliable? Are they ok in terms of prices? No tricks with a guide who drops you halfway? These are some of the remarks I saw on the various reviews of dissatisfied people.
Thank you for your reply!
Hi Carl. Thanks for your comment.
In Kochkor there is Jailoo and Jailoo tourism.
One of them is expensive and not friendly. I think it's jailoo.
The other one is very cheap and friendly (jailoo tourism). So I took it. In addition, in the end we end up sleeping and eating in the same place as the other agencies. I send you the picture of the address by mail. Have a good trip
Thanks again for your very complete and enjoyable article!
I'm going to Kyrgyzstan at the beginning of August for 3 weeks. By any chance, do you have any contacts of rafting or canyoning guides?
For the moment, my itinerary is not fixed. I could read that the activity was mainly developed in the Chouy valley, but considering the number of rivers in the country, I imagine that other spots are exploited. I have trouble finding precise information on the internet, as most whitewater activities are offered by tour operators, and cannot be dissociated from the overall trip.
Perhaps you can enlighten me.
I wish you a good continuation and many other beautiful trips!
Hi Marine. Thanks, I hadn't done any rafting or canyoning but I'll send you a contact who should be able to help you.
Keep me informed.
Have a good trip.
How did you manage to get water on the trail? Are there any water points?
We are leaving this summer for 5 weeks with our family (2 children aged 13 and 11); if you have any addresses of agencies or camps for treks
Thank you in advance for your answer,
Good day to you,
Hi, in the mountains there are many streams. I used to take the water from the streams and sterilize it with micropur. The water is apparently clean but it snakes through animal droppings and the hikers who did not use micropur were all sick.
Have a good trip
Like everyone else, a big thank you for your article, very useful. I'm printing it out and will keep it with me during my trip!
We are leaving for 3 weeks in August in this beautiful region (10 days in Kyrgyzstan, 10 days in Uzbekistan), and I still have a few obscure points before finalizing our itinerary...
We plan to go to Karakol, Kochkor, Bishkek, and Osh (in that order); we will then cross the border there. We will do a 3 day trek to Song Kul Lake, so your info is very interesting!
We would also like to go to Altyn Arashan, Jety Orguz and/or Ala-Archa. Are these sites that we can visit in one day or should we consider a 2 days trek? Because in this case, we will have to make a choice!
And I would also like to know if you have the time, the contacts of travel agencies, trekking, horseback riding etc!
Thanks in advance for your answer!
Good day to you
Hi Juliette. Thank you and nice to travel a bit with you.
Your 10 day itinerary sounds like a good one.
Ala Archa, I haven't been there, so I can't answer you.
Jety Orguz, having been there, if you have a choice to make, don't go. It's really not spectacular compared to the rest of the country (from what I saw).
Altyn Arachan, I spent 3 days there and only left because it was about to rain. It's beautiful, and it's the starting point of many hikes. To get there you already have a 3 hour walk, so it's hardly possible to do it in one day.
I'll send you some contacts
Have a good trip.
This description is great, it reassures me that it's easy to travel there.
We're leaving with my girlfriend for 10 days (only) at the end of July.
I would have liked to trek 2-3 days to Karakol (Ala Kol lake and Skazka canyon sound great!), stay 2-3 days around Song-Kul for some horse and yurts, then drive to Toktogul (I hear the road between Arslanbob and Bishkek is beautiful - can you confirm?)
Do you think it's too much to do in 10 days? (we're 25 so we're not afraid of the road and the pace, just afraid of missing the plane back!)
I thought I would go through an agency but your story and your answers to the comments convince me otherwise... To be seen
Taking into account that we don't speak Russian at all...
Anyway, if you have any advice or contacts, you have my email!
Thanks in advance
Hi Antoine ! It's doable in 10 days but the transport is long. For horse trekking, go through an agency. For one day you can manage on your own, but nobody will rent you a horse for several days without a guide. I will send you some contacts. Have a good trip
We are planning to leave for a month between mid August and mid September. Thank you very much for your very well done article. Could you also send me some contacts if possible? Do you think it is possible to rent a car without a driver? I can't find any precise information on this subject. Thanks in advance!
Hi Fanny, thank you.
I'll send you this by email.
I don't think it's possible to rent a car without a driver. But you can buy a car, but it's expensive. The LADA I bought with my English friends cost us 500$, even though it was a wreck. But we sold it easily.
Your site is great 🙂 Rarely seen so much useful information gathered in the same place... A big thank you !
We are planning to go to Kyrgyzstan this summer with a lot of desire for hiking and horse riding. Can you give us some contacts ?
Thanks again !
Thanks, I'll send you this
Have a nice trip
Hello I will spend 10 days in Kyrgyzstan in August. I am interested in your contacts in order to organise my stay (even if I don't speak English). I also have some questions to ask you.
Hi Damien, I'm sending this to you. Have a nice trip
Thank you for the useful and very informative site.
I am also leaving this summer and would like some contacts as well.
Thanks in advance;
I am sending this to you
Have a nice trip
I'm trying to finalise my itinerary by reading your comment and others on the forum...... We are thinking of leaving for 3 weeks, at the beginning of August..... I'm a bit undecided as I don't speak Russian and don't have the time to learn it...... Is it still possible to manage and organise things on our own? We are used to go to South-East Asia.... For the hikes? How difficult is it? If you have any tips or addresses to suggest to me..... I bought the Petit Futé but it's not great.....;
In advance, thank you and congratulations for your comments and answers to all these people
You can manage and organise yourself there without speaking Russian. You can take a Kyrgyz lexicon, it's very practical. But in 1 month you have time to learn the basics of Russian with assimil. You have different levels of difficulty for the hikes, I'll send you some contacts. Thanks to you and have a good trip.
I travelled for years as a backpacker (at the time of the paths of Kathmandu) then as a professional (photographer and lecturer) and since then with my wife. Always independent and without agencies. Alpinism, trecks so quite a lot of experience. Bravo for your site. Very clear, very useful. No endless blah, blah, blah and no interest. Finally a useful site to prepare the bulk of the trip.
We're going to Kyrgyzstan in a few days and we'll keep your advice.
Thank you Jean-Pierre, it's a great pleasure. Have a good trip to you both.
Thank you very much for all this information. We are planning to go this summer and do you have any info on renting cars without a driver and is it possible to do wild camping? Thanks
Thank you Sylvie for your message. I don't have any info on car rental, you can take a private taxi, the rates are quite interesting. For wild camping it's the norm there as it's a nomadic country. Bon VOyage
I read with a lot of attention your account and the answers you gave me. It's a mine of information. Thank you. Can you give me your contacts for the song kol lake and for karakol where I would like to do several hikes?
Hi Monique, thanks, I'll send you this
Your trip must have been wonderful.
Do you think that I can find equipment such as parkas for hiking?
Thank you in advance,
there you can find quality equipment. I remember that I had met travellers who had lost their luggage during their stopover in the plane. With the insurance money they were able to buy it all back there.
Have a nice evening.
Hello Georges Michel!
I thank you for all this information, your blog is very interesting!
I'm turning to you because I'm planning to go to Kyrgyzstan for 15 days and I would like to ask you some questions about my itinerary.
I leave you my email address.
See you soon I hope
Thanks, I'll send you an email. See you soon
We are from Quebec and we are going to see my son who is working in Bishkek for 3 weeks next May. Thank you for your very interesting site which is very useful (even if we have a "regular" there for a year), as much for the main rudiments of the Russian language (document that I will bring), as for the advice on the conversion of the KGS into Canadian dollars. Your site really makes us want to go! And we are also planning to pack for 5 days. We are really looking forward to discovering this country surrounded by mountains and its people. We will have a thought for you.
Camille and Luc
Hello Georges Michel
Thank you for your testimony and all this information!
I am going to Kyrgyzstan in May with my partner and I would like to ask you some questions about our itinerary...
I'll leave you my email.
Thank you in advance
Hello to you,
My girlfriend and I are going to Kyrgyzstan this summer and this little guide looks very good.
Thank you Fabien, have a good trip
Very nice blog, with good and practical information !
I'll arrive in Kyrgyzstan around the end of august, beginning of september, (I'm doing the silk road from Turkey before), and I'd like to join China to go directly to Nepal, do you think that the trip is nice to do (the crossing of Kyrgyzstan to join the border with China I mean 🙂 ), or it's better that I take the time to see what there is to see, and make a big trip at the end ?
Second question, I've only ridden once on a dada, is it possible to do a few days trek with a happy nag?
Thanks for your answer 🙂
Thank you, Kyrgyzstan is a splendid country, if you have time to venture into the mountains, to do some hiking, don't ask, do it. You won't regret it.
As for horseback riding, yes, even if you are not experienced, you can trek without worries. The guides will adapt to your level and give you a horse that suits you.
Have a good trip
Hello Georges-Michel, I just wanted to say THANK YOU! Thank you for this precious sharing and this testimony ... the images, the videos, the advice! It's huge, I'm doing, for a school work, a presentation on this country, these videos have been a huge help to me! The teacher gave me Kyrgyzstan hoping to complicate my life, in terms of documentation etc. and well thanks to you he will get his "money's worth" hehehe.
I took the liberty of using some passages
I took the liberty of using a few passages for my video montage (which will only be broadcast at school of course) but as I am only allowed 6 minutes, I had to remove, against my heart, a few passages, too bad I would have liked the class to see the whole of your videos, I hope to give them the desire to do so when they return home after my presentation 😉 thank you again of course.
Thank you for your message, it's always nice to receive a thank you message, but it's especially nice to know that not only did you enjoy the videos, but that you are using them to do a school assignment and to introduce your classmates to this beautiful country. I hope that my video passages will not lower your grade 🙂
I wish you a good presentation to your classmates and your teacher. You were right to use my videos, if it can help you, that's what it's for.
I'm really curious to see your work and tell me how your presentation went.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for this site which really makes you want to discover KZ! I bought tickets for a trip from October 19th to November 1st, because it's the period when I have holidays, but I know that it's not the ideal period. Do you think I will be able to enjoy this beautiful country, or are you advising me against going?
I would like to see the beautiful canyon between Bishkek and Balyktchy, hike between Karakol and altyn-arashan, then see the Skazka canyon, then Kochkok, and if possible go up to the Song Kol lake and ride a horse for a few days, if the weather permits...
Thanks for your message, it's cool that you're going there, it's a country that really deserves to be known. I don't advise you to go at this time. I would advise you not to make a programme before going and to arrange your programme according to the weather. I think it must be quite cold in mid October. I know that the Song Kul lake is frozen and the organised horse riding stops mid September. At the time you go there, there will be no more yurt camps, there is no more grass for the animals, the peasants go back down to the valley.
But for sure, depending on the weather, you will always find farmers who will organise horseback riding in accessible places.
Keep me informed.
Have a nice trip
Re bonsoir, I posted a comment this afternoon but it no longer appears. I don't know if there was a problem or if it was not accepted.
Thank you in advance.
The comments don't appear right away, I have to validate them. I have a lot of spam and I validate the comments before they appear.
Sorry! and I received your answer by email! let's keep it up 😉 !
First of all, great blog! I wish I had the motivation to do the same after each of my trips!
I'm tempted to go for a break, for about 10 days around the first 2 weeks of May 2016. (I know it's a bit short) but it's always better than nothing. I'm trying to organise a small tour for 2
If you have any tips for an express itinerary to do a bit of everything (especially villages, beaches/lakes, horseback riding, with locals...)
We can also exchange information by e-mail if it is more convenient for you.
Thank you in advance!
Thank you for your message
I'll answer you by mail.
and i forgot to ask you what is their relationship with dogs? i wonder if mine will be able to accompany me... are they used to domestic dogs?
As for the relationship with your dog, they are farmers, they live surrounded by animals. They won't have any problems with him. Your only risk is to lose him in the mountains (I met a local guide, who had lost a horse for 2 days and he was a local).
Hi friend! I'm planning to go to Kyrgyzstan for 3 weeks in June and I'd like to do mostly horseback riding (I'm an experienced rider) so I thought I'd go through a tour operator that offers organised treks, the best price I found was through this agency: Kyrgyzasia. I'll have to check with them again for a June departure... the proposed price is 1300€ for - The organisation and coordination of the trip
All accommodation costs in full board
The service of a French-speaking Kyrgyz guide
The stocking horses
Equipment (tent, stove, dishes etc...)
Transfers on site
Do you think it would be better to find a similar service on site for a lower price?
Thanks for all your information!
Hi Charlotte. Thank you for your message.
Before I clicked on your link, the price seemed very interesting, but if I understood correctly, it is the price without the flight.
I think you can find cheaper locally. I'll send you some contacts of locals with whom I've remained friends.
In June, not everything is accessible. Ask around, but for example the Song Kul lake should not be accessible yet.
As for the services offered by your agency:
The French-speaking guide does not seem to me to be essential. You are an experienced rider, in the middle of the mountains, you don't need to understand everything the guide tells you and the exchanges will be all the more fun.
I don't think the horse is essential either. During my trek in Song Kul, I left the bare necessities in my bag and the rest was waiting for me in town, my girlfriends did the same and all our bags fit in 2 saddlebags on the guide's horse.
The equipment is the same. It's nicer to stay in yurts and live in contact with farmers. Moreover, at night it is quite cold and yurts are much warmer than tents.
Don't hesitate if you have any questions.
GM thank you for the information.... This reassures me because all the people around me strongly advise me against going alone and so far away...
I should maybe take the opportunity to ask here if there are people interested in accompanying me during 2016.
Thanks again for everything.
I will send you my return from my trip....
You will not risk anything in this country. In Bishkek, you will surely meet other travellers who will travel with you. There are few travellers but they are easy to meet. I will be happy to read your return. See you soon.
are you still looking for someone for september? i'm looking for 4 weeks
can you contact me on voyageforum? ( nickname : asafar)
SEE YOU SOON
and thanks a lot to g-michel for the mine of information!
Chris, Isa, hello 🙂
I don't know if your project is still on, but I'm thinking of going there at the end of August/beginning of September, just to discover a new way of life!
If you're thinking of looking around, don't hesitate to let me know: "AliciaOu" on the voyageforum website 😉
I would like to go to Kyrgyzstan for about 2 weeks. Maybe at the end of August and beginning of September. Do you think the country is safe enough for a woman to travel alone? I would like to travel on horseback and do a tour of a few days.
And thanks again for all your information, you go over the pictures very well, the accompanying music is good too.
Happy New Year.
Thank you for your compliments, it's nice. Don't hesitate to go to Kyrgyzstan. Travelling alone in this country is not a problem, for a man or a woman. To travel on horseback, as for the rest, I advise you to learn some basic Russian, your trip will be even more enjoyable. GM
I discovered your story while looking for information about renting in Bishkek. It's instructive and full of information, thank you.
My husband and I, creators of the association La Terre en Marche, walkers on the Silk Road from Venice to China, wish to stop to spend the winter in Bishkek (2 to 3 months, to see)
Have you by chance kept contacts in Bishkek who rent flats by the month or might know someone who rents by the month there?
Have a good trip!
And thanks in advance.
Sabina and Jerome
Hi Sabrina. Thank you for your message, I'll send it to you by email. Have a nice trip
My name is Lucas and I am 19 years old and I would like to go to Kyrgyzstan for 24 days from August 10th 2016 to September 3rd. I would like to ask you some questions to be sure of my destination.
First of all, is it a good idea to go alone, at 19 years old, with no knowledge of Russian or Kyrgyz? Knowing that I would like to sleep in a tent (not dangerous?) for part of my trip and the rest in a yurt and go horse riding without a guide.
Is the wifi easy enough to access in the big cities? And the telephone network?
Thank you in advance for your reply,
Going alone is a good idea and it is not dangerous. I advise you to learn a little Russian with Assimil and to take a Kyrgyz English lexicon (in my article). People who speak English are rare and it will make your life easier and your exchanges with the locals nicer. But, even without it, you can still find a way to communicate.
Sleeping in a tent is not dangerous, if you take the necessary precautions for anyone going alone in the mountains, mainly to check the weather.
Horseback riding without a guide is possible for a day, but for several days it seems complicated.
Farmers will not rent a horse to someone if they are not sure that he will know how to feed it, water it and look after it. Also, horses sometimes run away, so how can you find him if you are alone, in a place you don't know, several hours away from his owner. If you go for more than one day, take a guide.
Wifi and phone are available in the big cities, but internet can be very slow.
At your disposal.
Excellent blog that gave us valuable information! We went from 12 to 25 September.
Budget on site: 225€/pers. for 2 weeks.
In Bishkek, the Tunduk Hostel has been run for a few months by a Frenchman who knows the country very well: very useful for a good start to your stay.
Avoid Suusamyr before mid-October, unless you feel the need to be alone in the middle of the still green nature...
Excellent, glad you're appreciated. If you have any other information to share, don't hesitate. Have a nice evening.
We are flying to Kyrgyzstan from 12 to 30 September. We were a bit worried that it would be late due to weather conditions, can you tell me how it went for you?
Thank you very much for your feedback,
Just a few lines to tell you
that our trip went very well
We rented a vehicle without a driver
for a duration of 16 days: little problem to find our way around. No problem to find accommodation (we had not booked anything)
Very pleasant country, very good reception of the population
See you soon
Good evening Denis, thank you for your feedback. It's cool that you enjoyed the trip. If you have any information or contacts to add, don't hesitate to contact me and I will update the article. @+ Voyageusement
Hi! We are leaving on Sunday for 3 weeks, and we thank you for this post!
Would you have any contacts of families to give us to sleep in yurts? The ones with whom you have good memories.
Thank you in advance!
Morgane & Lucie
Hi Morgane and Lucie!
Thanks, I'll send you this by mail.
Have a nice trip!
Great, thanks for the quick response and have a nice trip too!
Hello, thank you for all this information! I'm also leaving on the 24th of August with my husband and prefer to organise myself there in general, but your story brings me some practical questions : :
- Are there any ATMs at the airport? If not, did you have any dollars in your pocket before your departure?
- when we stay in a yurt at the inhabitant's place near Song Kul lake, I assumed that they provided blankets to avoid taking my sleeping bag, do you think it is really necessary to have a sleeping bag?
- to book an excursion to Song Kul, you advise to organize it from Kochkor rather than Bishkek if I understand correctly. I would like the agency's contact details if you have kept them...
Thank you in advance!
I'll answer you quickly, I'm abroad and I only have my phone. I had dollars before I left, it's more practical. They give you blankets, you don't need a duvet. The agency is Jailoo Tourism, you'll see it when you arrive, no need to contact them. Have a good trip
Thank you for all the information on your site. Two of us are going to Kyrgyzstan from August 24th to September 7th. We will do the same itinerary as Emeline (but without the horse I prefer hiking ^^).
If you have any contacts, I'm interested 🙂
Thank you in advance
Hi! I'm emailing this to you
Thank you for your answer.
Between 700 and 800 euros is the minimum price proposed (price per person) for a tour there, so excluding air tickets, what do you think?
For the moment we are thinking of going on our own because we haven't found what we want to do in our prices yet... So yes, if you can give us some contacts it would be interesting for us!
The budget of your trip seems perfect but not enough for three weeks, did you bring your tent or did you always sleep in a yurt or hotel?
ps: your video is great! 😉
Hi, yes it seems quite expensive. 700€ is 50€ per day. For example I paid 83€ for 3 days around the lake are kul. The price included the guide, the meals, the nights in the yurt and the horse rental. There were 3 of us, so the price of the guide was divided by 3, but not the rest, that's 28€ per day.
I didn't have my tent, I slept in a hostel, hotel or yurt. The prices of accommodation and food are not high. The only expense that can be very high is the transport, if you want to take uncrowded mountain tracks. But if you take the collective taxis or buses, the budget is very correct and you support the locals. I will send you some contacts by email.
First of all, congratulations for all your information about your trip
For my part the departure is planned from 22/08
Is it possible to rent a vehicle without a driver, is the road network correct
Are all the directions written in Cyrillic?
Hi Denis, thanks for your message.
It is possible to drive legally in Kyrgyzstan. I bought a Lada at the end of the trip with two English friends. You can have an overview of this adventure with Roxane on this link http://youtu.be/bTr3n4iQcKQ. You can rent a car without a driver, but unfortunately I don't have any rental company to tell you. The main roads are very good but not very numerous. The secondary roads are more like tracks than roads. Finally, all the indications are in Cyrillic. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate. Have a good trip
Thank you very much, your article is great and gives a lot of information, which completes well the lack of guidebooks on this country 😉
With a friend we have chosen to go to Kyrgyzstan for a fortnight in September. As we are not at all experienced in the mountains, we hesitate between booking a tour in advance ("levoyageautrement" - "rencontresboutdumonde" etc...) or organising ourselves directly there... You seem to say that it is not too complicated to travel independently? Don't you think that we risk losing time over two weeks? Does 700 euros for a 2 week tour seem expensive to you compared to the prices of local agencies?
Thank you very much!
It's always cool to know that my article can help travellers, thanks.
Travelling independently is quite simple, I don't think you risk losing time. You arrive in a city in the evening, book your departure for the next day. If you want to book in advance, I have kept contacts in the city. I can pass them on to you.
700€, it is for which services? it is a price for 2 or by person?
See you soon
Super site with lots of good information that will be useful to me very soon because I'm going to Kyrgyzstan for 2 weeks in early September!
I was thinking of doing a quick visit of Bishkek, 3 days of horse riding at Song Kul lake and then a trek above Karakol (I found 5/6 days treks in autonomy easy to do without a guide!) and back to Bishkek (I prefer to plan a lot of trips, even if I have to add the Ala Archa canyon if I have time.) what do you think?
another small question concerning the horseback ride. did you book and negotiate the ride directly on site or did you book it from France?
in general i don't book anything in advance and i organize myself there but as i'm only going for 2 weeks i wanted to try to optimize the ride in advance to be sure to have space and a departure on the desired day.
I had also spotted on forums the jailoo tourism agency rather than the CBT. By any chance you have not kept their contact?
Hello Emeline, thank you for your message. Your itinerary is perfectly adapted to the duration of your trip, in 3 days in Song Kul, you have time to do a nice hike, to see the lake and to spend time with the nomads. Then 5/6 days above Karakol is perfect to enjoy your trek without rushing. If you have time to go to Cholpon Ata, on the way back from Karakol, it's a must see, even if the tourist season will be over.
I booked my hike, directly when I arrived in Kochkor in the evening, they have departures every day. In Karakol I rented my horse directly from a farmer. In any case, it is not necessary to book in advance.
I can't find the jailoo tourism website anymore, the link on my website is dead. I'll see if I still have their business card. Otherwise I kept the contact of a guide I met near the lake, but he didn't work with Jailoo. I can give him to you, if you want, he speaks very good English.
Have a good trip, enjoy.
I'm going to Kyrgyzstan in one month and your story has fascinated me. A simple message to thank you for sharing your experience!
Hi Agnes, thank you for your message, it's very nice. Don't hesitate to contact me if necessary. Have a good trip
first of all, thank you for sharing this experience on the internet, your website helps us a lot in the organisation of our trip,
We are planning a motorbike road trip from Hanoi to Bangkok with two friends.
We are planning to do Hanoi -> Ho Chi Min in 8 days.
After reading your site our opinions differ on this last point. I am of the opinion that it is quite feasible by passing through the interior road (as you say on the site the traffic is better), especially as we are confirmed bikers for a long time with the habit of eating the road.
So I have a few questions to ask you so we don't get stuck there.
Are the roads so bad there? The traffic outside the cities does not allow to ride at a correct speed? In your itinerary details, you do 250km in 7 hours on the longest routes => 35km/h average. Do the conditions really not allow you to ride faster? Or did you take breaks or ride slowly to enjoy the places you rode? Or maybe you had a lot of mechanical problems?
Thanks a lot, I'm looking forward to your answers =) And thanks again for the site!
Thank you very much for your answer! I'm leaving in a month so I might have more questions by then 🙂
Hello ! Your article is very interesting and gave us a lot of useful advice.
We had a small question concerning the accommodation, in order to lighten the weight of the bag, we thought of doing without a tent. Do you think we will find places to sleep every night? We have the same question about the stove.
Thank you in advance for your response 🙂
You can do without a tent and a stove.
You have 2 solutions:
Either you book nights with local people via travel agencies (you can do this without taking a guide, they show you on the map the location and the name of a family).
Or you ask for hospitality in a yurt at random, there will always be room and board for a backpacker, around the rates indicated in my article.
If you have any other questions don't hesitate.
Have a good trip!
Hello ! Thank you very much for this great story ! I am also thinking of discovering Kyrgyzstan for 15/17 days... with my daughters aged 12 and 15... Do you think it's possible with children?
Thank you again for all the details, it makes me want to go there 🙂
Hi Luna, thanks for your comment.
Yes it is possible with children, this summer I met a family with 3 much younger children.
They were doing a horseback ride with a local guide. Don't hesitate, it's a great country.
Thanks for your advice... I had also thought of these two lakes so that makes me feel better... 🙂
Hi Angéline. Thanks for your comment. In 15 days, if you don't want to run and enjoy the country, you can start with a hike around Song Kul, then continue around Lake Issy Kul, which will offer you the possibility to hike in another type of panorama. Finally you can finish in Cholpon Ata to enjoy the beaches and rest a bit. The country is beautiful and all the places are more attractive one than the other, but in 15 days, it is better to concentrate on 1 or 2 key places. Have a good trip and don't hesitate if you are looking for contacts there.
Hello. Thank you very much for this guide which will undoubtedly be very useful to me. I am leaving next Sunday and I don't speak Russian or Kyrgyz. Would you have any contacts who speak English or French, especially for organising hikes or horseback riding. Also, have you organised your treks from Bishkek or as you go along?
Thank you Christmas
I've organised everything as I go along.
I'll send you an email.
Hello, I really enjoyed reading your article. The tips are very practical: thank you!
I am also planning to go to Kyrgyzstan this summer (July 2015) but unfortunately I only have 15 days maximum there. What do you think are the must-sees? I'm struggling to plan an itinerary that won't make me run from one place to another... Thanks in advance.
I plan to travel to Kyrgyzstan this summer, this little guide is very informative! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thank you for your comment. Kyrgyzstan is a beautiful country, full of surprises. Don't hesitate if you need information or contacts there.