We had such amazing and varied experiences that it is almost hard to put into words.
A Family from Florida

Chon Kemin to Karakol: The Best of Northern Kyrgyzstan

This eight-day itinerary will take you on a grand adventure through northern Kyrgyzstan: from military mountain truck to horseback riding, shopping for goodies at exotic markets, swimming in hot springs and spending time at wild beaches rimming one of the world’s most ancient and picturesque lakes, you will see the best this rugged part of the world has to offer. Starting and ending in capital city Bishkek, get ready to explore both the culture and nature of Kyrgyzstan, on this trip filled with opposites and juxtapositions. 

Highlights   Pricing
  • Observe the intricate process of felt carpet making Visit petroglyphs fields, local historical museums, and cultural centers
  • Peruse exotic bazaars and oriental markets Explore stunning mountainscapes on foot or by horseback
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Day by Day Itinerary

View Bishkek � Airport Manas in a larger map
Day 1
Arrive in Bishkek

Arrive in the large capital city of Bishkek to begin your tour of the northern part of the country. After you are met at the airport by our guide and you get settled in at your hotel, you will have the chance to explore this relatively new city by car or by foot. Highlights include the Philharmonic House with the Statue of Manas, Central Square, Lenin's statue, the National Historical Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts. After enjoying the local sights and sounds, you will have your first dinner at the "Supara” ethnic complex.

Day 2
Bishkek - Kochkor - Cholpon-Ata

Today, you’ll set off for a journey around Issyk-Kul Lake: at approximately one mile high, this is the world’s second-largest mountain lake, and despite the snowcapped peaks around it, it never freezes, earning it the name that translates to “hot lake” in Kyrgyz. On the way there, you will visit Burana tower, from the Karakhanid period (10th century), and afterwards, travel to Kochkor village where you’ll visit the local Women’s Handicraft Co-operative and observe the process of felt carpet making. After lunch at the co-op, you will travel to the northern shore of the lake for dinner and spend the rest of your evening in a comfortable local hotel.

Day 3
Cholpon-Ata- Karakol

On the third day of your journey, you’ll take an exciting excursion to the Aytmatov "Ruh Ordo" Cultural Center, where you’ll visit five chapels of world confessions - Catholicism, Islam, Orthodoxy, Buddhism, and Judaism - and explore a stone garden featuring rock engravings, prehistoric monumental structures, and petroglyphs dating back to 500 BC. Later, you’ll head to Karakol, around 2 hours away, the fourth-largest city in Kyrgyzstan, about 93 miles from the Kyrgyzstan-China border, where you’ll enjoy a traditional Kyrgyz folkloric dinner with Kyrgyz national music and songs.

Day 4
Karakol - Altyn-Arashan - Karakol

Today, you’ll have a full day to explore the remote Altyn-Arashan valley, journeying there on a Russian military mountain truck! Enjoy the natural beauty of the valley: with natural hot springs and a green valley dotted with yurts and horses, it is perfect for a hike and a picnic lunch. Bathe in the thermal hot spring before you enjoy your picnic; then, return to Karakol for dinner at a Dungan family’s home.

Day 5
Karakol - Jety-Oguz gorge - Barskoon gorge-Bokonbaevo (Manjyly-Ata)

This morning, you will drive to Jety Oguz gorge, a lush valley with striking red sandstone rock formations, particularly in the shape of the “Seven Bulls”, which the valley is named after. Then, you will drive to Barskoon gorge, where there is a nice mixture of fir trees, berries, and herbs and a spectacular view of Issyk-Kul Lake. Enjoy a pleasant hike and a picnic lunch in a meadow before driving to Bokonbaevo (Manjyly-Ata), around 2 hours away, where you’ll enjoy dinner, yurt accommodation, and a wonderful sunset in a unique place called Manjyly-Ata - located between two small villages, it is known as the “Valley of the Sacred Springs”, as legend says the springs have healing powers.

Day 6
Bokonbaevo (Manjyly-Ata) - Kalmak-Ashuu (Chon-Kemin Valley)

Spend your morning enjoying the 17 major “sacred springs” of Manjyly-Ata, also enjoying the opportunity to swim on a wild beach. Next, you’ll drive on to the Chon-Kemin valley (around 2 hours away), where you’ll see beautiful mountain and sea views while enjoying dinner, and overnight in the ranch style “Ashu” Hotel.

Day 7
Kalmak-Ashuu - Bishkek

Witness the famous horseback game Ulak Tartish (buzkashi/kupkari), a wild, traditional sport of nomads who played on horseback throughout Central Asia; then, take a horseback riding trip yourself, or hike around the local area. Enjoy a lunch at “Ashu” Hotel before heading back to Bishkek (1 hour) for your farewell dinner and night in the hotel.

Day 8

Today is your departure day from Bishkek. After being transferred to Airport Manas, it will be time for you to check in for your international flight, which will whisk you back home or on to your next exciting destination.


Suggested Accommodations

Hyatt Regency Bishkek

Hyatt Regency Bishkek

This stunning, modern destination in the center of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek proudly holds the title of the only five-star hotel in the country. Within 35 minutes’ drive from the airport, this luxury hotel is surrounded by all of Bishkek’s sights of interest and history including The Museum of Fine Arts, Dubovy Park and the State Opera. What’s more, within the hotel, the facilities are first class. A range of 178 stylish rooms and suites are fitted with the latest amenities and guests can enjoy 24-hour concierge service for any and all their needs. Food lovers will be delighted by the range of cuisines, from authentic Mediterranean meals to laid-back barbecues by the pool. Meanwhile, the chic lobby bar and Opera Lounge are perfect spots for pre-dinner drinks or a romantic night cap. The comprehensive range of facilities on offer in the health club includes an outdoor pool, a spa with treatment rooms and a well-equipped gym so that guests can enjoy relaxation and reinvigoration during their stay.

Royal Beach, Three Crowns

Royal Beach

Enjoy a summer’s stay at Royal Beach resort, located along the spectacular shore of Issyk-Kul lake - the largest in Kyrgyzstan. Guests can choose between the main hotel lodge, which holds 66 rooms, and smaller cottages scattered across the grounds. The resort features luscious gardens and easy access to the beach, where guests can rent sailboats and jet skis, or just soak up the sun and swim in the sea-like lake. The resort features several on-site bars and restaurants, spread out across the grounds, so all there really is to do is sit back, soak up the sun, and enjoy the moment. 


Three Crowns

Three Crowns Hotel (or 3 Korony Hotel) is situated on the picturesque shores of the Issyk Kul lake in the town of Cholon Ata, about 300 miles from Bishkek. With large rooms, modern bathrooms and widescreen TVs, this hotel really stands out as a popular choice for families, tourists and businesses. The 50 or so double and single rooms also have refrigerators, bathrooms with baths, safes, telephones, and free Wi-Fi. In the vicinity of the hotel there is a sauna, swimming pool, fitness and massage. For the the sports and games enthusiasts, a large area has been designated for a billiards table and ping-pong. Closeby, families can enjoy a kids play area with plenty of fun and games to keep them occupied. 

Green Yard

Green Yard

In the northern Kyrgyzstan town of Karakol, it’s hard to find any better place to stay than the award-winning, family-run Green Yard Guest House. Take its location for starters. Set in the foothills of the majestic Tien-Shan mountains, the area offers spectacular views and trips to the nearby ski resorts or majestic gorges are only minutes away. The rooms too, are bright, warm and comfortable, with a choice of ‘luxury’ or ‘standard’ to cater for different tastes and budgets. All rooms come with satellite TV, refrigerators, Wi-Fi and a private bathroom with bathtub - perfect for a long hot soak after a day of enjoying the slopes or mountain adventure. The hotel’s restaurant downstairs cooks up both national and European dishes whilst also providing a cozy and family-friendly atmosphere. 

The Yurt Camp of Roza & Ishen

The Yurt Camp of Roza & Ishen

Set up camp alongside the spectacular alpine Song-Kul lake in northern Kyrgyzstan, in a traditional yurt - a round, portable tent. This lake, which sits at an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet, is the largest freshwater lake in the country and features spectacular views. Spending the night under the stars in a traditional yurt provides great insight into local nomadic lifestyle, while also allowing guests to get back in touch with nature and the area’s stunning surroundings. Though the interiors may be rustic, the luxury of this splendid, remote outdoor location makes it oh-so-worthwhile. 

Ashu Hotel

Ashu Hotel

Experience village life in comfort at Ashu Hotel, a charming guesthouse in the Chon-Kemin region of Kyrgyzstan. This unique hotel oozes tradition and tranquility: from the colorful decor and the outdoor eating area and garden to the majestic display of mountains in the distance, guests find themselves completely immersed in Kyrgyz culture while enjoying first-class service. Choose between a single or double room in any of the mountainside cottages and enjoy extra amenities including the on-site conference hall, traditional cuisine and day trips to the spectacular Chon-Kemin gorge.

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Victoria was struck by the stunning landscapes of Kyrgyzstan, as well as the fresh, clean air and the amazing hospitality of its people.
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