The Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan High Mountain Loop is perfect if you want to get high - high up in the mountains, that is! They call the Tian Shan Mountains the Mountains of Heaven, and you’ll understand why once here. Alpine lakes and high pastures abound, alongside the funkiest rock formations you’ll ever see. This little corner of Kazakhstan and northern Kyrgyzstan is unmissable. Check out Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city, and although no longer the capital, still its most important. Also on the agenda is Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. This ten-day tour is suitable for anyone who loves natural beauty alongside a little city life.
Arrive at Almaty International Airport (ALA) and transfer to your hotel.
Today you’ll enjoy an Almaty city tour. You’ll visit Panfilov Park, named for the Panfilov Guardsmen, 28 heroes who died fighting the Nazis in World War II. In this park is Zenkov Cathedral, Almaty’s oldest building, built entirely of wood with no metal nails. There’s also the WWII memorial complex with its eternal flame.
From there we’ll go to the Green Bazaar, the Central Mosque, and Republic Square with its Statue of the Golden Warrior to symbolize Kazakh independence.
After the city tour, we’ll drive to the Medeu Gorge, about 15 miles from Almaty. We’ll check out the huge Medeu Dam, which protects Almaty from destructive mudflows from the Tian Shan Mountains.
From the top of the dam, enjoy the view of Medeu Skating Rink, the world’s largest high mountain skating rink. surrounded by magnificent mountains.
Then visit the top of Kok-Tobe hill for an unforgettable view of Almaty from the observation deck. This is an unmissable sight for all visitors to Almaty, connected to the city by cable car.
There’s a 1,200ft tall TV tower here, visible all over the city and set amid a popular amusement park. Don’t miss the popular monument to The Beatles!
After enjoying the attractions of Kok-Tobe, take the cable car back down to the city center, enjoy dinner, and head back to your hotel.
Overnight in Almaty.
Today we’ll visit the Charyn Canyon. This a unique, natural monument, stretching 95 miles along the banks of Charyn river, east of Almaty.
If this reminds you of the Grand Canyon, we’ll forgive you. Charyn comprises similar, stratified, 12 million-year-old red sedimentary rock, and the canyon walls rise to 1,000ft high.
The Valley of Castles is the most interesting place in the Charyn Canyon. The rock formations are spectacular here.
From here we’ll head towards the Kolsay Lakes where you’ll spend the night in a guesthouse in Saty Village
The Kolsay lakes are a system of 3 picturesque lakes located 205 miles from Almaty. Locals call these lakes the “Pearls of Northern Tian-Shan”, with good reason. This area is famous for its tranquil, untouched nature.
You’ll also find the famous sunken forest of Lake Kaindy in these parts. This place is stunning and formed after the 1911 Kebin earthquake, when a massive landslide formed a natural dam. This dam flooded a valley filled spruce trees. Now, over 100 years later, these trees lie preserved under the water forming a spectacular site.
Once you’ve experienced these magnificent lakes, we’ll head back to your Saty Village guesthouse to spend the night.
Time to say goodbye to Kazakhstan. Today we’ll cross into neighboring Kyrgyzstan via the Kegan border and head through the stunning Karkara gorge. On the way we may stop for lunch at a race horse breeding farm.
Once we arrive in the Kyrgyz town of Karakol, we’ll show you around. Check out the wooden Russian Orthodox Cathedral, the Dungan Mosque, and the local bazaar. If you feel like it, the Prjevalsky Museum is worth a visit.
You’ll spend your first night in Kyrgyzstan in Karakol.
After breakfast we’ll drive to Jeti-Oguz on the eastern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul.
37 miles west of Karakol, on the northern slopes of the Terskey-Ala-Too mountains, Jeti-Oguz is one of the most beautiful places in Kyrgyzstan.
For 15 miles on both sides of the gorge, fir trees grow; at first in small clumps, and then they merge into a huge forest mass. Jeti-Oguz opens into the wide, forested Kok-Djayik valley. Throughout this forest zone, there are amazing subalpine and alpine meadows called djailoo. This is the Kyrgyz word for summer pastures where people graze their animals.
In the spring and summer, Jeti-Oguz turns into a flower wonderland. The silver stars of Edelweiss, alpine daisies and asters, and nard (golden root) all bloom. During fall, Jeti-Oguz is a colorful canvas the myriad of trees turn orange and red.
While in Jeti-Oguz, take a horseback ride to check out the 7 Bulls and Broken Heart stone formations. Eat lunch in a yurt and hike to a beautiful waterfall.
You’ll stay in a traditional yurt overnight.
After breakfast and taking in the Terskey-Ala-Too Ridge’s view, we’ll continue on our way.
The Southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul is picturesque, rich in virgin beauty. You’ll see the Barskoon Gorge, known for wonderful waterfalls and the Arabel Pass, gateway to glaciers and beautiful mountain plateaus.
From there, it’s onward to the Fairytale Canyon. Here you’ll find a host of bizarre, colorful sandstone formations in many shapes.
There are animals, castles, a dragon, something that looks like the Great Wall of China, and other magical sites.
And the amazing thing about this place is that all these formations are natural, the result of years of sculpting by water, sun, and wind.
At the end of this day we’ll end up in the village of Bokonbaevo, famous for its eagle hunters. We’ll visit the home of a local eagle hunter and learn about this ancient way of life. You’ll also get the change to hold an eagle in your hands! There’s a felt factory here you can visit, too.
Tonight we’ll dine and stay in Bokonbaevo, in a local guesthouse.
After breakfast we’ll leave Bokonbaevo and drive to Kochkorka village for lunch and a craft show to learn how the Kyrgyz make their carpets. There’s also a handicrafts museum to buy souvenirs.
Then it’s a transfer to the mountain lake Son-Kul, icebound for much of the year and open only during the summer.
Here you’ll eat and overnight in local yurts.
Today is a transfer day where we take a long drive to Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan.
Relax during the drive and enjoy the scenery of this beautiful Central Asian country.
We’ll arrive in Bishkek during the late afternoon or early evening. Check into your hotel and enjoy dinner.
Today is all about exploring Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s interesting capital city. After breakfast we’ll show you Ala-Too Square and the changing of the guard in Victory Square. You’ll also visit the Manas Sculptural Complex and the Osh Bazaar. After lunch you’ll have free time to explore the city on your own and go shopping.
Enjoy the last evening of this tour in your Bishkek hotel.
Today it’s back across the border into Kazakhstan. The journey from Bishkek to Almaty takes almost four hours. Once in Almaty you’re free to stay here on your own or head to the airport and travel home.
Included in the package:
We’d rather take a loss than let you down. We guarantee that any tour you booked will happen even if the group is not full. If that occurs, we might adjust certain technical details like driving you around in a mini-bus or sedan instead of a coach, or letting you join one of our partners’ scheduled departures, but we’ll still take you to places we promised.