A 2 days program to link the former Kazakh capital Almaty to the Kyrgyz town of Karakol
During these two days you will see the most interesting spot on the way to Kyrgyzstan : the Charyn canyon, the first Kel Say lake, the Kaindy lake, Stones of Tamerlan
From Almaty, you head straight to Charyn Canyon. The walking tour will start in the “Valley of Castles". After lunch, you continue to the Shilik valley and visit of the first Kol-Say lake. Late in the afternoon, you drive back to Saty village. Dinner and overnight at homestay.
After breakfast, we drive to Kaindy Lake, taking picture and head to the border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. After formalities on the border, head to Karakol City. One stop more on the way to see the stones of Tamerlan.
Dear Nomad's Land - especially Alex Johnson. You have helped us during preparation of our trip, arranging border zone permits, transportation to mountains, advise in arranging maps and also being a contact person in case of emergency. We had arranged most stuff over internet beforehand. It was generally very helpful and I would recommend to our friends Nomad's Land for tracking in Kyrgistan. And there is so much to see in that country yet. It would be great to visit Kyrgistan again. Thank you.
We spent this summer three weeks with family (parents and adult children) in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, with a trip to the city of Kashgar in Sinkiang (China) .Nomads' Land organized all the Kyrgyzstan and China part as well as the trips to Uzbekistan. You can work with them with your eyes closed: impeccable organization, enthusiastic and passionate guide (also speaking perfectly French), good choice of accommodation and activities. Very pleasant preparation with Fabien, who is attentive and has concocted a trip to us. All for good value for money. Allow at least 10 days for Kyrgyzstan to really enjoy it. The change of scenery is total and the way of life is authentic. Expect "average" comfort but the superb landscapes and the amazing welcome of the Kyrgyz people will give you unforgettable memories. To fully enjoy it, nothing like walking: you will go on beautiful hikes: Altyn Arashan, Song Kul, Lenin peak ... They are all doable but still require good condition, especially that of Lenin peak (base camp to camp 1), which is quite long and demanding (allow 10-12 hours round trip), but it is the most impressive. To reach the south of Kyrgyzstan, you have the choice between a few hundred km of tiring tracks or to make a detour through China and the city of Kashgar. The road is excellent and the city itself is worth the effort (with the added bonus of "Western-style" comfort which feels good). However, it was necessary to endure two days of painful police checks between Kashgar and the border, with an occupying army (Han Chinese, from the east) omnipresent. So it's up to you to decide (knowing that this "detour" is quite expensive considering the short season and the few tourists). After Kyrgyzstan, we visited the cities of the Silk Road in Uzbekistan: Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Impressive and superb monuments, a very rich history, few tourists and a very pleasant atmosphere. The historic centers are not very extensive and can easily be visited on foot. Do not forget Khiva: it is the smallest of the three but the atmosphere is peaceful and timeless, you sometimes have the impression of going back 100 years. This trip was really exceptional, thank you again to Fabien, Murat and the whole team.
On your way
Charyn canyon (Sharyn) KZ
Charyn Canyon is a picturesque deep gorge in Kazakhstan, stretching for 154 km along the Charyn river valley, not far from the border with China and Kyrgyzstan. The dried up bed of the ancient river, a unique natural monument, more than 12 million years old, fascinates with its cosmic landscapes. Given the size and geological features of the Charyn Canyon, it is often referred to as the "younger brother" of one of the largest gorges of the planet: the American Grand Canyon. We can also observe a Relic Forest of ash tree. Reddish cliffs and abysses that are similar to castle towers, depths from 150 to 300 m, impress everyone who has been here. The most visited and famous is the site of the canyon, called the "Valley of Castles". Enjoy a walk along a narrow valley with fantastic-shaped walls.
It was declared a protected reserve in 1964 and today intagrated in the Charyn National Park.
Scythians kurgans of San Tash KG
The burial mound complex of San-Tash, which means "counting stones" or "read stones" in turik language, is situated on the bank of the Tiup river, near the Eastern border post with Kazakhstan A363, at an altitude of 1996 meter alt. Most of surrounding Scyths graves are dated from 6th till 1st centuries BC. But the pile of stones stay an enigm as it's linked with a Tamerlan legend that it was used to count how many soldiers died during battles.
The tomb is very similar to the Pazyrsky burial mounds in the Altai who was a Saka (Scythians) prince and typical of most of Sakas kurgan found from Ukraine till South of Siberia. There are in this aera more than 250 tombs, and many others disapeared in the soft grassland.
At the eastern tip of Lake Issyk-Kul, Karakol is a fertile garden town of wooden chocolate-box cottages and shady, poplar-lined avenues. Fringed to the east by the Terskey Ala-Too Mountains, which tower dramatically over its low-rise skyline, Issyk-Kul ripples 10 km to the west.
Karakol is the best base from which to explore the lakeshore and Central Asia's prime trekking and mountaineering routes. With the most spectacular parts of the Central Tien-Shan right on its doorstep and newly open to foreign visitors, the town attracts trekkers, hikers and climbers from all over the world.
Karakol and its surroundings have just as much to offer their less energetic visitors. Besides one of Kyrgyzstan's largest and most colorful bazaars, a nomadic livestock market and several good museums, its spectacular environs boast an endless array of truly unique day trips. Blood-red cliffs, hot springs, Scythian burial mounds, nomad camps and sandy beaches thousands of miles from the sea are all within easy reach.
The town was build since 1869, one year after Teplokluchenka (actually name Ak-Suu). There is a unique building in the center of Karakol - ancient wooden orthodox church. But you may visit also the zoo, the regional museum, the wooden mosque, the Panfilov park, the Park Victory, the museum and memorial Prejwalski.
Despite Karakol's status as the administrative center of the Issyk-Kul region, it has only 75,000 residents and a gentle, small-town atmosphere.
Almaty - one of the major cities of Kazakhstan, located in the southeast of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in the foothills of Zailiyskiy Alatau; the city's population is about 1.5 million inhabitants.Although Almaty is not anymore capital of the republic, the city is still the financial, economic and cultural center of Central Asia.
Picturesque mountains are the hallmark of Almaty. You can enjoy views of the cable car climbing to the highest point of the city of Kok-Tobe ("Blue Mountain"), located at an altitude of 1,130 meters above sea level. From this summit offers a magnificent view of the mountains and the city. It is especially beautiful at night when the city is illuminated with colored lights.
Two big rivers - the Big and Small Almaty flow down from the mountains and provide the city with fresh water reservoirs and fountains fill the coolness and freshness.
Kolsay lakes KZ
There are 3 mountain's lakes which are strung along the Kolsay river. The source of the river Kolsay start from the South at the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, in the Kungey Alatoo range :
- The lower lake is about 1 km long, 400 meters wide, and 80 meters in depth. It is accessible by road and has guest-houses and campsites. (altitude: 1818 meters).
- The middle Kolsay Lake (Mynzholky - meaning "1000 years old"). Five kilometers upstream from the lower lake, the middle lake is the largest of the three, and reaches a depth of 50 meters. (altitude: 2,252 meters). It is considered the most scenic of the three Kolsay Lakes. In one day, you can hike from the lower lake to the middle lake and back.
- The upper lake is situated six kilometers above the middle lake, the upper lake is surrounded by spruce trees and alpine meadows. It is 6 km from the Sary-Bulak pass and Kyrgyzstan. (altitude: 2,850 meters). Today the access to the upper lake is restricted and you need a special permit.
All glacial lakes of the region are located at altitudes of 3200–3500 m closer to the central part of the Kungei Alatau range. Most of these lakes are not stable, the water level often change, appear and disappear. You may have in mind that in the hot summer months, the moraine dams of these lakes sometimes break through and form mudslides, which are dangerous for tourists. The main causes of mudflows are torrential rains, slipping of glaciers and moraines into moraine lakes, breakthrough of natural dams created by avalanches or debris on rivers.
In order to protect this unique environment, the State National Natural Park "Kolsay Lakes" was established in 2007.
Kaindy lake KZ
Kaindy Lake is located on the northern slope of the Kungei Ala-Too mountain range at an altitude of 1867 meters above sea level among a dense coniferous forest, which culminates at 2900 m. alt.. The top of the valley rises to nearly 3400 meters and marks the border with Kyrgyzstan. The bottom of the valley joins the village of Saty. Kaindy Lake lies in the second valley further east than the first lake Kolsay. The length of the lake is about 440 meters, by 110 meters wide , the greatest depth of the lake is 30 meters.
Translated from the Kazakh language, Kaindy means “Birch”. This name was given to the lake because of a large birch grove planted once by people five kilometers below the lake. The current size of the lake results of the Zhalanash-Tyup earthquake on March 25, 1978, with an amplitude of about 7 points. It seems that the lake appeared for the first time after the Kemin Earthquake in 1911. The age of the Schrenk and Tyan-Shan spruces in the lake is not clear. Some trees in the water have not yet rotted, but most of the rotten trees are under water. The peculiarity of this lake are the visible dry trunks that rise above the surface of a cold lake, giving it an amazing and unique appearance.
What is included
All transportation in a private vehicle
All airport transfers
Accommodation as described in the program
Meals (3 per day)
Bottled water & tea
All the activities listed in the program
Entry fees at national parks and/or border zones listed in the program
Entry fees at museums and historical sites listed in the program
Domestic flights mentioned in the program
A contribution to our sustainable development projects
Organisation of the trip & local taxes
What is not included
International banking fees (PayPal, ...)
Travel & repatriation insurance
Visas / LOI (if applicable)
Alcoholic and soft drinks
Additional costs due to unexpected personal events (health, loss of luggage, ...)
Tips for guide & driver (always optional, always appreciated)
Through various ecotourism projects and initiatives, Nomad's Land aims to increase awareness of ecotourism and responsible travel, for a sustainable development of the tourism sector.
Rural development in Nepal
The Nepalko Sathi association leads its actions in favor of the Sherpas of Khembalung in the Arun valley (Province of Koshi). Nepalko Sathi
From Tumlingtar airport we reach by jeep the small town of Kahandbari where we are greeted by Kibutie and his family. From there, we climb to the small village of Gontala, in the heart of the actions of Nepalko Sathi (three days of walking), then we go up to Saissima, where Tendi Sherpa is rehabilitating the hamlet of his childhood. From Saissima it is possible to continue and make a loop towards Makalu and the impressive surrounding peaks (under tent).
Beyond the Glacier, a short film over the water in Central Asia
Conflicts over water in Central Asia are at the heart of the short film Beyond the Glacier, directed by David Rodríguez Muñiz in 2019. An interesting documentary that takes the form of a journey, from the glaciers of Kyrgyzstan to the sea of Kyrgyzstan. Aral.
Silk Road Yurt Camp
Another yurt camp that Nomad's Land is supporting so that shepherds of Song Kul Lake can get extra income from tourists. With the family of Sagyn and Jumabek, we have prepared this camp in order to keep all the nomadic authenticity. You can participate in the daily activities of nomads. Not far from the camp, you can access the shores of the lake but also the petroglyphs hidden in the nearby mountains.