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In this program with seven days of horse riding, Ecotour Kyrgyzstan combined horse riding in four different areas with visiting different parts of the country, including the famous Son-Kul and Issyk-Kul lake. You are welcome to join this amazing tour to experience riding horseback, explore the incredible scenery along the route, and taste the local cuisine that you might never try before. Come and gift yourself an unforgettable holiday!
In Bishkek, you will stay in a small pleasant hotel (Umai hotel or equivalent) close to the city center. During the tour, you will sleep in guesthouses, yurt camps, and a bed and breakfast.
After arrival, some rest, and a light lunch, together with your guide or interpreter, you can visit the town and get a first impression of Bishkek. You will stay in a nice hotel near the center with a closed-in garden. On the way to the first place to ride, you will stop at the Burana Tower, a remnant of a town on the Silk Road. The first place to ride is in Chon Kemin valley, a beautiful valley at 1400 meters to 2800 meters altitude, at the border with Kazakhstan with forests and alpine meadows. Here you will stay in a nice guesthouse at the edge of the village.
On the south side of Lake Issyk-Kul, you will spend a night in a yurt camp at the border of the lake. Here, you can swim or hike in the Badlands, the chalk or limestone hills surrounding the yurt camp. By car to Bokonbaevo, the district capital of the Tong region, the horses are waiting and you will ride up into the mountains to Temir-Kanat and stay at a yurt camp on a plateau above the village at 2450 meters. From here, you will have a nice view of the lake. The next days, you will ride in the mountains around Temir-Kanat, visit nomadic families, and ride up to the glacier behind the yurt camp.
On the way to the Son-Kul lake, you will stop in Kochkor, the center of felt making, for lunch. If you are interested, it is possible to visit Altyn Kol, a cooperative organization where women from the surrounding villages show and sell their felt products. In the afternoon, continue by car to Son-Kul, a beautiful lake at 3100 meters. Here, you will stay with family in a yurt camp family and will experience what the life of the Kyrgyz nomads is like. The next day, you can discover the area around lake Son-Kul on horseback.
Even in summer, the nights are cool, so bring enough warm clothes. The next day, you will descend by car over the Kara Keche pass to the Jumgal valley. In Kyzyl-Oi, a nice village located at the Kökomeren river, you will spend the night in a B&B. The next day, you can ride again and discover the hills around this village on horseback. From here, you drive back to Bishkek through the Suusamyr valley and through the Tor Ashuu tunnel. This is a rather long drive, till the tunnel, the landscape is very scenic.
After the tunnel, you soon reach the suburbs of Bishkek. You will stay in hotel Umai and enjoy the farewell dinner. On the next day, the transfer to the airport will be arranged. Please note that transportation between riding places is by own Mercedes minivan. An English-speaking guide accompanies you and will take care of everything. A horseman comes along to take care of the horses. It means you will have a driver, guide, and horseman doing the tour with you.
Arrival at Manas International Airport (FRU) where you will be met and taken to your hotel. You will enjoy an afternoon sightseeing in Bishkek with a guide or interpreter. Your night will be in the Umai Hotel or equivalent.
You will leave Bishkek after breakfast, visit the Burana Tower near Tokmok, and drive to Chon Kemin valley. You will stay in a guesthouse in a valley at 1400 to 2800 meters altitude.
You will go horse riding in Chon Kemin. At the end of the day, you will sleep in a guesthouse.
Today, you will go to the Sonun yurt camp on the south side of Lake Issyk-Kul (1600 meters). In the afternoon, it is time to relax, go swimming, and go hiking in the badlands. At night, you will stay in yurts.
You will travel by car to the village Bokonbaevo and then ride on horseback to the yurt camp Temir-Kanat at 2450 meters. Your accommodation today is in a yurt.
Today, you will ride up into the mountains till about 3100 meters, close to the glacier, in and around Temir-Kanat. At the end of the day, you will sleep in yurts.
You will travel by car first to Kochkor, visit Kochkor, and after lunch continue over the Kalmak-Ashuu pass (3340 meters) and descend to Lake Son-Kul (3100 meters). Your stay will be in a yurt.
Today, you will go horse riding around Son Kul.
By car, you will descend over the Kara Keche pass (3384 meters) to the nice village of Kyzyl-Oi and stay in a bed and breakfast (B&B).
Today, you will go horse riding in Kyzyl-Oi.
You will travel through the Suusamyr valley and the Tor-Ashuu tunnel before back to Bishkek.
You will be transferred 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 State 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.
The Burana Tower is a large minaret situated in the Chui Valley about 80 kilometers east of Bishkek. The tower was once part of the Karakhanid city of Balasagun. Balasagun was built by the Sogdians (an Iranian people) in the ninth century. It was still in use by the 11th century when the Burana Tower was built. Initially, the tower was 46 meters high but this has now reduced to 24 meters following several centuries of earthquakes and misuse. Partial restoration of the tower was carried out in the 1970s.
Initially, it is believed that the tower had an internal and external staircase, but now only the internal staircase exists. The city of Balasagun was overrun by the Mongols in 1218 and renamed Gobalik (pretty city). Following the Mongol invasion, the city started to go into decline but there are records of the Nestorian Christians using one of the graveyards until the 14th century. As well as the tower, there are the remnants of the old castle and three mausoleums.
A small museum has also been built, and on the grounds, balbals (gravestones) and petroglyphs from the surrounding area have been collected and are on display. Balbals thought to come from the Turkic word meaning 'ancestor' and the petroglyph carvings are thus thought to be of ancient ancestors. Interestingly some scholars think that Burana is a mispronunciation of the Arabic word monara (or munara) meaning lighthouse or minaret.
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.
Son-Kul, the ‘last lake’, was so named because it was the last lake where Silk Road caravans stopped on their way to China. The country’s second-largest lake, 29 kilometers by 18 kilometers, is virtually cut-off in the winter and freezes over because it is a fresh-water lake. Four rivers feed into the lake and the Son-Kul River feeds out and drains into the Naryn River. Situated in a basin surrounded by mountains, the area around the lake has forever been a 'jailoo' (summer pasture) for the nomads of the Kyrgyz Republic, and is still so today.
For many, this is the most beautiful place in the country, and certainly has some of the most stunning sunsets that you will ever see. When you are up there, seeing the small yurt encampments all around the lake and enjoying a magnificent sunset, let your mind wonder and try and imagine one or two Silk Road Caravans camped out on the edge of the lake.
All meals during this tour are included in the price.
Manas International Airport
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