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This two-week tour has been created for people who enjoy horse riding but possibly do not have the confidence or skill to undertake a hard trek. The group will consist of one to six people and eight or more horses. There will be one to four good guides and an English or German speaking interpreter will also be with you. So, if you are thinking of a perfect holiday to spend, this might be a right choice for you to have an unforgettable one.
Your accommodation would be at hotels, yurts, and local family's houses.
In Bishkek, you will stay in a small pleasant hotel close to the city center and on tour, you will sleep in a yurt, and several nights you will spend with local families. For nine days, you will be on horseback for four to six hours daily. You should be able to master step and trot and have some riding experience. You ride through green pastures along old animal tracks, sometimes using a dirt road. From time to time, you spend two nights in a village and ride from there in different directions into the mountains. You need to be in good physical condition. Do not expect luxury as you will be living the life of Kyrgyz nomads. The average altitude of the tour is around 2.000 meters.
Arrival at Manas International Airport (FRU) and transfer to the hotel. After a short rest, you will have a light lunch and then some sightseeing in Bishkek. You will stay in Umai hotel or equivalent.
You will be transferred by minibus to the Sonun yurt camp on the south side of Lake Issyk-Kul (1600 meters altitude). Here, you have time to relax and get used to the new time zone and changes in altitude. You can try swimming and hiking. Your overnight stay will be in yurts.
After going to Tosor canyon by car, you will see the horses and horseman waiting for you. Here, the horse-riding program starts, and today, you ride up the Tosor gorge to the Alpine meadows to the yurt camp Boz Salkin. This is a rather long ride through a beautiful landscape.
Today is a less strenuous program, horse riding in the mountains around the yurt camp Boz-Salkin. You can ride up to a viewpoint from where you have a wonderful view of the Issyk-Kul lake and the white-topped mountains of Kazakhstan. You will stay in a yurt at night.
You will ride from Boz-Salkyn to Temir-Kanat, a yurt camp located on a plateau (2.450 meters). The distance is 32 kilometers in total. Your overnight stay will be in yurts.
You will have a horse riding up into mountains to about 3,100 meters, close to the glacier, in and around Temir-Kanat. You will meet nomadic families and taste Kymus, the fermented mare milk. You will sleep in yurts.
Today, it is time to head west on horseback through small villages and stop in Toguz-Bulak where you will spend the night with a local family. In the afternoon, you will experience horse riding in the mountains.
You will spend the whole day riding in the mountains and around Toguz-Bulak and then stay with a local family.
Through the Kongur Ölung valley, you ride to Kol-Tor village. Here again, you will spend the night with a local family.
Today, you will go horse riding around Kol-Tor and then stay overnight with a local family.
Today, you ride over the Ala Bash pass to the village Tuura-Suu. Here, the horse riding ends. By car, you descend to the road around lake Issyk-Kul and will spend the night with a family in Kara-Tala.
You return to Bishkek. On the way, you stop to visit the Burana tower, a remnant of a town on the silk road. Here, you can also see Balbals (ancient gravestones) and petroglyphs (rock drawing). In the afternoon, you will have some time for shopping. At the end of the day, you will stay in Umai hotel or equivalent.
Time to transfer to the airport and departure.
There is a great variety of landscapes in Kyrgyzstan. High mountains with glaciers, alpine pastures, semi-desert, and lush river valleys, all are present. A great many Kaska Suu's, meaning "silver rivers" can be discovered in the mountains. You will find valleys with forests and naked, bare hills. Due to these different landscapes, you will find a great diversity of plants and animals. There are about 400 plants that only occur in this area, like some special kind of tulips and crocuses.
More than 300 species of birds, 30 kinds of reptiles and amphibians, and over 10.000 different insects live here. In the mountains live wild goats, ibex, and Marco-Polo sheep. About 60 percent of the snow-leopard population is living in Kyrgyzstan. The chance that you will see one is, however, extremely small. In the Tian-Shan, you can also find brown bears and wolves. The most common mountain animal however is the marmot.
Kyrgyzstan, officially the Kyrgyz Republic, is an independent state with its own constitution since 31 August 1991. Now, it is one of the democratic republics of Central Asia. The president, the head of the state, is directly elected by the people for a single seven-year term, and the parliament elected directly for a five-year term.
Initially called Pishpek by the Kyrgyz and then renamed Frunze (1926) by the Soviets, it became Bishkek in 1991 just before Kyrgyzstan declared independence. Bishkek is over 800 meters above sea level and sits in the Chui Valley just to the north of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too Mountains (4,855 meters) that provides a magnificent backdrop to the city. Throughout the year, it is possible to see the distant snow-capped peaks. The population is slightly over one million. The city is built mainly on a north-south, east-west grid system making navigation simple.
Probably the greenest of all Soviet cities, Bishkek still has an abundance of parks and open spaces. Wide streets and boulevards, along with all the trees and many cafes and coffee shops, make walking around the city an enjoyable experience. Three main museums are in the center of the city - the State Historical Museum, the Sate Museum of Applied Arts, and the Museum Under the Sky. Each is worth visiting. At the center of the city is Ala-Too square with a statue of Manas and the national flag that is guarded throughout the day.
In fact, all through the city, you will find statues. Unlike many Soviet countries, Kyrgyzstan did not destroy all its Soviet monuments, and many can still be seen. There are three main bazaars in the city, the most famous of which being the Osh Bazaar, the largest and a must to go and visit. No central shopping exists, but there are malls (both old and new) scattered around the city. Bishkek is a relaxed, easy-going city that is fun to walk around. First references to the city date back to the 1820’s when it was named Pishpek.
It was given status by the Khokand authorities who built a fortress to monitor the Silk Road and collect taxes from trading caravans passing through. The status of the city was further enhanced under Russian rule (from 1886) when it was made the capital of the Russian Kara-Khirgiz Autonomous Oblast, Russian Turkestan. With the onset of the Soviet Union, the city was renamed (1936) Frunze in honor of Mikhail Frunze, a Bolshevik military leader born here. In 1991, the city was again renamed, this time to Bishkek. Bishkek was reputed to be the second greenest Soviet city.
At 1,600 meters above sea level, it is the world’s second-largest mountain lake. 182 kilometers long and 60 kilometers wide, and in places over 700 meters deep. Issyk Kul means ‘warm lake’, so named because even in the most severe winters, surrounded by towering snow-capped mountain peaks, the lake never freezes. But you will not be surprised to learn that swimming in the lake before June is a truly invigorating experience. Over 110 rivers and streams flow into the lake, but none flow out. The level varies, but it is maintained at a sustainable level by water diversion and evaporation.
Although often described as saline, the lake is only about 20 percent as salty as normal seawater. The south shore has the Terskey Ala-Too Range of the Tian Shan mountains as an incredibly beautiful backdrop. The northern shore is more developed for tourists, while the south shore is an amazing area that demands exploration. The level of the lake is now about eight meters higher than in medieval times, and villages have been found under the waves. Lake Issyk-Kul was a stopping point on the old Silk Road, and there have been reports of a large city at the bottom of the lake.
Lake Issyk-Kul is sometimes referred to as the pearl of Kyrgyzstan. It seems that once upon a time there lived a cruel ruler who fell in love with a girl of celestial beauty. He ordered his men to kidnap the girl from her native village and bring her to his palace. However, the girl loved a common shepherd and so she rejected the Khan’s love. The young djigit (youth) managed to save his sweetheart and rode away with her. Upon hearing this, Khan sent his best warriors after them. They were caught and the girl was brought back.
This proud beauty declared that she preferred death to captivity and threw herself from a tower window. The Khan, however, did not escape punishment for his evil-doings. At the moment of here, death clean mountain water rushed down to the valley where his Khan’s palace was situated and completely filled the valley and created lake - Lake Issyk-Kul. A point of interest - amongst the flooded buildings in Lake Issyk-Kul is the ruins of a monastery.
Whose monastery and why and by whom it was destroyed are still unknown, but over time there have been many different religions in this territory including Shinto, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Visiting Kyrgyzstan without seeing Lake Issyk-Kul is like going to the barber’s shop and forgetting to have your haircut. But how was Issyk-Kul formed? Yes, there are many eminent geologists who can give you no end of explanations as to the formation of Issyk-Kul, but what is the truth? The creation of Issyk-Kul goes back to the time of Alexander the Great.
Many people are surprised when they find out he reached Central Asia, but yes he did get here and enjoyed the walnuts, but that is a story for another time. One of Alexander’s adversaries was a Persian called Rustem who was the ruler of Andijan, and whose lands extended as far as the area around what is now Lake Issyk-Kul. Unfortunately, Rustem and his army were no match for Alexander and his hordes. However, he did put on a good show and Alexander was much impressed.
As a last request, Rustem asked that his body and those of his people who had been slain in battle and the remains of his ancestors be put somewhere where they would never be found and would stay inaccessible and undisturbed for all eternity. Alexander moved inexorably eastwards and soon took over the lands around what was to become Lake Issyk-Kul. Being something of a decent chap Alexander decided to grant Rustem’s last wish. Following his conquest of the region, a local girl had fallen in love with Alexander and she told him of a local well that was powerful enough to flood the whole valley if the lid was left off.
Upon Alexander’s instructions, the bodies of Rustem and his followers were placed at the bottom of the valley. Alexander then removed the lid from the well and the whole valley was flooded ensuring that Rustem would lay undisturbed forever. So next time you are up at Issyk-Kul and enjoying a quick swim and a lakeside picnic just think, Alexander the Great may have just been there before you.
Over the centuries, many different peoples settled in Kyrgyzstan. Uzbeks, Dungans, Russians, Tatars, and others joined the Kyrgyz and brought their cultures, habits, and cooking traditions. Many traditions quickly spread over the country, but some remained characteristic only for certain groups.
Thus today, in Kyrgyzstan they have a great cultural potpourri. However, there is one tradition that all the ethnic groups have in common - for the guest, the best is just good enough.
At Ecotour Kyrgyzstan, they continue this tradition. In their yurts, they only serve fresh and ecologically grown food produced in the region. With love and care, the cooks prepare national dishes as well as the distinct food of the ethnic groups.
Manas International Airport
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