Upon arrival at the international airport you will be met by your guide who can take you on a tour of the city viewing the beautiful avenues of Bishkek. The permanently snowcapped mountain ranges of Kyrgyz Alatau provide a stunning backdrop to the city. View Manas Monument, the State History Museum, the changing of the Guard of Honor at Ala Too Square among other sights. During dinner you can listen to traditional Kyrgyz musicians before a night in a local hotel.
Day 2: Overland by road to Karakol town
Our drive encompasses Issyk-Kul Lake, the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. It is heated from thermal activity and never freezes even in the depths of winter. In the summer the water temperature reaches 25-28 degrees centigrade (warmer than the air) and you can swim as you gaze at the snowy peaks of the surrounding Tian Shan Mountains. You will also pass the ancient minaret Burana Tower, built by the Karakhanids at the end of the 9th Century. You can climb to the top of this once important marker of the Great Silk Road. In Karakol we stay at a friendly local homestay.
Drive to Jety Oguz gorge where we will begin our trek. Here you can see the well-known redsand rock formations of ‘The Broken Heart’ and ‘Seven Bulls’. The slopes are covered with the Tian Shan blue spruce; down to the fast mountain river, which you will follow until you reach Kok Jaiyk (‘Flower Meadow’).
Hiking over Teleti pass, at 3800m it has fantastic views of the surrounding high mountains. The descent takes us through alpine meadows then through forest to the picturesque campsite in Karakol valley.
At the discretion of the guide, the group may be able hike up to see the glacier at the foot of Peak Karakol. This is a beautiful hike that takes you up above the treeline along the fast-flowing glacial river where you can get some great shots of the mountain.
A walk through pine forests takes you up to Sirota hut which is a lovely place to relax and have lunch. After this you will continue on up above the treeline on a steep ascent to the shores of the mesmerising turquoise waters of Ala Kol Lake where you will camp.
Day 7: Hike over Ala Kol pass to Altyn Arashan to bathe in hot springs
The Ala Kol pass is the highest of the trek and the views are well worth it. From there it is a much-welcome descent through the vast landscape down to alpine valleys filled with flocks of livestock and horses roaming free. Reaching the river, you follow this until arriving at the yurt-dotted camp of Altyn Arashan. Here you can bathe in the relaxing natural hot springs. You can even buy beer from the local guesthouses.
Day 8: Hike back to the road for collection by car to Karakol town, transfer to Bishkek
A short hike of no more than a few hours brings you back down out of the mountains where you will be collected. After picking up any gear you may have left behind in Karakol town, you will be sped back to the capital for dinner and drinks before your final night in your hotel.