"Trip to Arslanbob"
We've done several treks in Kyrgyzstan and have found that with the exception of the popular Ala-Kol trek near Karakol, there isn't a lot of information that could help people choose a trek in Kyrgyzstan. With a view to sharing information with other travelers, here's a trip report for our recent trek to the Holy Lakes on July 3-6, 2015.
A longer version with photos is on our blog
TLDR: this is a beautiful hike, not as scenically stunning as the central Tien Shan but with varied mountain and jailoo scenery and cultural interest around the Holy Lake. More strenuous than expected, with some four-point scrambling on a near-vertical scree slope to cross Friendship Pass. The "trail" consists of steep cow paths and horse trails with crappy, loose underfoot conditions. The cost of hiring a guide, porter, and cook adds up.
Holy Lakes trek 2015
Our first trek of 2015 was to the Holy Lakes near Arslanbob. The local CBT coordinator, Hayat, is quite a character and one of the key people in the CBT movement in Kyrgyzstan. He arranged a guide (Abdul), porter (Zia), cook (Ugun), food, and camping gear for us. The porter seemed a bit of an extravagance since we usually carry our own gear. However, we were cognizant that we were somewhat out of shape and the hike was at altitude with a steep pass on day two. Other CBT offices provide guide/cooks but this was not the case at Arslanbob. The functions of guide, cook, and porter should have been combined in two people, as they were in our later trek in Sary Mogul. We got the impression that Hayat tries to provide employment for as many people as possible and therefore over-staffs treks. We enjoyed the company of Abdul, Zia, and Ugun, but their wages brought the cost of the trip to around $100 per day.
Day One (Arslanbob-Holy Rock-Ridge above Holy Rock)
9am–6pm. Lunch 1.5hrs. Gained 1600m. Final camp was at 3200m
This was a long hot and dusty day’s walking. Thankfully, the CBT includes a horse and horseman to haul bags up to the first night’s camp. The first 3-4K you head North through the village past the old Soviet Turbaza (Summer Holiday resort). The main point of reference for the day’s walk is the distinctive cuboid Holy Rock, which can be seen on a hill top above the town.
We had lunch in a shady spot by the river in pasture lands. The cook prepared a delicious stew (dimlama) and we had melon for dessert. It was a real luxury to have freshly cooked food on a trek, but the time it took to light a fire, cook the meal, eat it, and clean up added a lot of time to each day’s walk.
We were warned that there was no water at the camp so we should stock up at a spring near the Holy Rock an hour before camp. However, the spring was a tiny trickle when we got there and although we eventually filled our bottles you might feel a little grossed out by the cow shit and slobber around the spring. It is possible that the spring will run out late season so our advice would be to keep filling bottles as you head up to the rock.
We sterilized the water from the spring with our Steripen. The guide drank the water directly from the stream and was a little sick the next day.
The Holy Rock was nothing particularly special but the views down valley were quite pleasant. The walk up to the campsite was steep in parts, crossing rolling green pasture and angling up slopes of wildflowers. A guide was useful to know which cow path to follow. This terrain would be a muddy, slippery nightmare in wet weather. Our camp was on a ridge below the Friendship Pass, which is the high point of the trail.
Day Two (Camp One-Friendship Pass-Holy Lakes)
Start time 7.30am. End time 3.30pm. Lunch break was 1 hour.
It was imperative to get an early start on Day Two. Thankfully, the weather was clear in the morning but the guide informed us that we should aim to get to the pass by 10am since the weather often turns by late morning. The backside of the pass is covered in snowpack so it is advisable to cross the pass early before the snow starts to melt and makes the walk down a little more treacherous.
We dropped down around 200m from the ridge to meet up with the obvious trail going left to right on the scree below the pass. The trail conditions were particularly rough as we headed up the slope. The scree was fairly unstable and it sat on top of a thin layer of dry and loose soil. On steep sections, the scree and soil crumbled underfoot. At times, we were scrambling up using hands and feet and needed the guide and porter to help us up. A couple of times, we inadvertently caused small rock falls as we scrambled up, which was dangerous for anyone walking below.
We hit a small patch of snow above the scree, which added to the fun! The snow patch was steep and was above a couple of patches of exposure. A slip up here could have been fatal. We headed over the snow without too much hassle and made it to the pass at 10.30. The backside of the pass was snowbound at the top and loose scree lower down. The snow was considerably more pleasant to walk on than the scree.
Lunch was on an overhang underneath some cliffs on the right side of the path down. After lunch, we hiked up a grassy slope to our right on an obvious trail. The view from the grassy ridge was spectacular. Fine views back up to the pass and at an overlook a little further on we got our first view of the Holy Lakes.
The trail conditions deteriorated once more and we really wished we had walking sticks since our knees and ankles were taking a battering. The last twenty minutes gave us some respite from the scree but added in the annoyance of slipping continually on the wild onion stalks!
The Holy Lake has a bunch of pilgrim’s huts for local villagers who come to make goat and sheep sacrifices at the Lake. We were invited into the camp to drink tea and eat bread (we passed on the offer of mutton) and then set up camp for the night.
Since a lot of sheep are slaughtered at the lake there is an abundance of mutton.. Despite eating almost no red meat at home, we decided to be more flexible about this in Central Asia. However, we maxed out at the Holy Lake. Chunks of dry mutton and mutton broth for dinner, and plov for breakfast, turned us off meat for the next few weeks.
Day three (Holy Lakes-Ontama)
Start time 8.30am. End time 6.45pm. Lunch stop 1.5 hours.
Day three starts with a gentle descent through pastures covered in wildflowers. You follow the stream that outflows from the upper lake to the lower lake (Paynav Kol). The trail bears left after the shepherd’s yurt on a well-defined horse path. The trail swiftly turns steep up a narrow canyon and the underfoot conditions deteriorated once more. Oh, how we rued the decision to leave our walking sticks at home!
The gorge tops out at a green pasture after an hour or so. We followed an obvious trail up through pasture land to the top of a green hill, where we could see back the way we came towards the Holy Lake. The views back to the massif reminded us of the wild views of the Olympic mountains in Washington state. The views in the other direction were a profusion of rolling pasture in every imaginable shade of green.
We headed left across a rare flat section of pasture. The trail descended down a steep slope towards an area known as the White Rocks. Beyond this giant outcrop of white granite, we saw the path ahead. We couldn’t believe our eyes. The next section had switchbacks! The first we encountered on the whole trail! It would seem that the typical Kyrgyz attitude to trail building is draw a line between two points and build a trail along the line. This made the trail grueling and particularly unfriendly toward knees.
At the top we took the trail to the left of the ridge. The mountains on the other side of the valley were beautiful in the late afternoon light and we were particularly looking forward to the sunset from the camp on the ridge that Hayat had described back in the CBT office. We saw yak grazing up on the high pasture above the valley. We briefly descended into the valley along animal trails before heading up to the saddle to camp.
Except we couldn’t camp at this spot. We found out later that a local shepherd had decided to set up for the night at this spot with 400 sheep! Our guide didn’t initially mention this and marched on beyond the camp without saying anything. We were confused about where we were going and how far we had to go. At one point he dropped off the trail and headed down the side of the hill. After a long day, another section of steep off trail slope was definitely not appreciated! Eventually, we stopped at a small flat outcropping to set up camp and Abdul explained why we descended from the sunset spot. One of the occasional frustrations with Kyrgyz guides is that they seem to be reluctant to keep you updated on changes to the itinerary, problems, or time to camp.
Anyways, we were bummed to miss out on what would have been a fabulous sunset but after a long day we were soothed by another delicious dinner and tea.
Day Four (Unknown campsite to Arslanbob)
Start time 9am. Finish 2-3pm. Lunch 1.5 hours.
The morning began with an off-trail descent in search of the proper trail. This section was pretty crappy underfoot but once we got the main trail it was pretty easy going all the way back to Arslanbob. The trail is mostly through Jailoo (pasture) and after a couple of hours Arslanbob comes into view. The last hour of the trek was through the shady walnut groves that Arslanbob is famed for.
Scenery: The hike takes you through quite varied landscapes. The dominant features were the snow-tipped peaks of the Babash Ata massif, the rolling green jailoos typical of much of Kyrgyzstan, and the blue-green alpine Holy Lakes. No glaciers or huge mountain ranges here: go to the central Tien Shan for that.
Culture: The lakes are a major pilgrimage spot for villagers so there is a fair amount of activity on the shore. However, beyond the occasional slaughtering of sheep it is difficult to ascertain any real religious ritual occurring. To be honest, it felt more like a local picnic spot than a site of great religiosity.
The trail was more grueling than we expected. There were a few personal factors that played into this. We were definitely out of shape, the hike was our first of the year, we were not acclimatized to the altitude, and we did not have walking sticks to help us on the steep slopes. However, even if the reverse was true it would have still been a tough hike. The trail conditions were not great, the temperatures were high, and there were a few scary moments heading up Friendship Pass. Most of the route consists of extremely steep ascents and descents on loose rock or dirt where it would be easy to twist an ankle. If you have a fear of heights or are not comfortable with scrambling on loose steep scree then do yourself a favor and hike elsewhere.
Osh to Kashgar via Irkeshtam
I made the trip at the end of June 2015. Figured this could help others planning the same. Don't take the overnight bus because you miss the incredible scenery. Plus, that bus crossed the border the same time we did.
This trip will take no less than two 2 days. The website below was of immense help. All the information was accurate at the time
NOTE: Stock up on snacks and plenty of water! There is absolutely none alone the way!
During your first day, you want to make your way to either Sary-Tash or Irkeshtam / Irkeshem / Erkeshtam / Erkeshtem. The marshrutka leaves the Osh bus station to Sary-Tash at around 2pm for 250 som. The bus is near the exit gate, away from the main area. The trip took about 4 hours. Sary-Tash is not the final stop so make sure you tell the driver when to get off. You should see a large gas station that divides the road. It is possible to get to from Osh to Irkeshtam in one day. You'll most likely get a ride from a truck driver, who will have to stay the night there anyway because of the border closing time. Pick the experience you want to have lol.
I met other traveller on the bus, and we stayed at Hotel Gostiniza? (on maps.me). Basically had the living room of a family's home. 500 som/night with dinner and breakfast. You would never guess, but there are many many other foreigners here, especially cyclists coming from/going to Tajikistan. Most of them stayed at the bright pink guesthouse.
We headed out early at 8am. Luckily we came across a passing marshrutka that was going to Irkeshtam. We paid 400 or 500 som each.
Here's what happened next:
9:11 checkpoint 1 finished
9:45 Kyr passport control
9:50 Get into random truck
9:56 Chinese passport check
10:00 walk along crazy line of trucks
10:15 first security check. You will give your passport to the Chinese immigration. They will check your bags. You will not get your passport back until you arrange transport with a driver . 400RMB/car no negotiation. You can wait for others who need to cross as well.
11:40 Passport check #2
12:52 Arrive in Uluqat (Border city)
2:25 We were told to get back in the car and driver gets our passports back from agent
2:34 Dropped off at passport control
3:15 Start lining up. Go thru border in groups
3:35 Finish border check.
We talked to the Osh overnight bus driver who crossed the same time we did, and he agreed to take us to Kashgar for 40 RMB/person. Alternatively taxis from the border are 50RMB/person. Bus arrived at the international bus station. It was about a 20-25 minute walk to the Old Town Hostel from there.
How to Cross Xinjiang’s Irkeshtam Border to Kyrgyzstan
Border crossing from Xinjiang into other countries in Central Asia isn’t necessarily difficult, but getting reliable, up-to-date information is. Take the Irkeshtam border crossing for an example – it’s one of the most common ways to travel from China to Kyrgyzstan and yet I have a hard time finding any published info on the process.
Thanks to the input of several travelers, I would like to present a simple “how to” to make crossing the Irkeshtam border easy for future travelers.
A map of how to cross the Irkeshtam border from China to Kyrgyzstan
*Special thanks to Sim Yi Hui and Jon LaRosa as well as Lee and Galen from Silk Road Hitchhikers for their contributions to this article.
Irkeshtam Crossing from Kashgar
Most people base their journey into Kyrgyzstan from Xinjiang’s western city of Kashgar, although technically you could bypass the city and go straight there from Highway 314. For the purpose of this article, however, we’re going to assume that you’re waking up in Kashgar.
The following is an hour-by-hour account of how to find your way across the Irkeshtam border (all times listed are Beijing Time despite the common use of local time around here).
8am – Kashgar: Wherever you decide to stay in Kashgar, most travelers decide to begin their journey at the International Bus station on the northern edge of town. From here you can find taxis that will take you to WuQia Zhen (in Chinese: 乌恰镇, known locally as Ulugqat). Taxis are usually rented for anywhere between 120-150 which, if you travel as a group of four, could be equally split to make things cheaper (this is the case for many places around Xinjiang). The journey should take a little over an hour.
10am – WuQia Zhen: You should arrive in WuQia Zhen early but your goal is to make it to the Chinese Border Processing Center at around 10am. One account of getting here referenced a golf cart that drove travelers from the road to the processing center. Border personnel will arrive at 10am but likely won’t begin processing your passport until 10:30am. It is during this time that you need to arrange for a vehicle to take you across the border. It is virtually impossible to hitchhike. A taxi from here should cost about 100RMB per person or 400RMB for the car.
10:30am – Border Processing Center: Once everybody begins working, the actually processing of your passport should take no longer than 15 minutes. At this point you jump into your taxi to begin the journey.
Chinese Irkeshtam Border Processing Center
12pm-1pm – Checkpoint: depending on the speed of your driver, you should arrive at the intermediate checkpoint between 12:15 and 1pm. This should’t be more than a cursory passport check but don’t be surprised if they ask you to step out of the car.
1pm-2pm – Final Checkpoint: An hour after the first checkpoint you’ll reach the final checkpoint about 4km away from the Kyrgyzstan border. Unfortunately, like most everywhere in Xinjiang, lunch break starts at 1:30pm and usually lasts until 4:30pm. Unless your driver is particularly speedy, expect to waste a few hours at this final checkpoint waiting for patrol officers to report back for duty at 4:30pm. You should probably have a lunch prepared as all you’re likely to find is a small store and maybe a hole-in-the-wall place to grab some food.
4:30pm – Final Checkpoint: At this point a lot of different things could happen. Chinese border guards are unpredictable and could let you right through or give you grief for a few hours. They may take your passport or they may just glance at it. Be prepared for anything. Once given the green light to pass, your taxi is no longer useful to you. One traveler describes having to board a “Chinese big truck” while another describes a “very nice bus”. Either way, it seems that transportation to the final 4km to the border is provided.
5:00pm – Kyrgyzstan Border: One traveler describes having to change transport at the Kyrgyzstan border (which he walked across) an then take a taxi to the Kyrgyz customs processing center. The one thing to note with this is that unless you already have Kyrgyz Som (money), you’ll probably have to exchange your Chinese Renminbi at the border for a terrible exchange rate.
5:30pm – Kyrgyzstan Processing Center: Unlike the Chinese border crossing, Kyrgyzstan will likely only take about 15 minutes. They will look at your passport, possibly write down the number and then stamp it.
5:45pm – Entering Kyrgyzstan: At this point you have a choice to make, especially after all the travel you’ve already done. You can try to negotiate transportation to Osh (another 4 hours at least) or you can take a much shorter ride to Sary-Tash (only 1 hour). A shared taxi to Sary-Tash should run you about 60-100 Som (approx. US$1-2 or 6-12 RMB). A shared taxi to Osh will run you between 1,000 to 1,500 per person (approx US$18-28 or 110-170 RMB).
Congratulations! You’re now in Kyrgyzstan. At this point you can hopefully find your way to a nice hotel to lay down and rest.
Special Notes | Irkestam Border
There are a few notes and warnings that I want to give for those considering crossing the Irkestam border in Xinjiang. This may not always apply, but it’s good to hear what has happened in the past.
First, sharing a taxi with Uyghur passengers could slow you down. It’s sad, but it’s a fact. One traveler was held up at the border for an extra few hours because his fellow travelers were Uyghur. It’s blatant discrimination but as one traveler told me “If you can, try to find Han Chinese to share a car with”. Perhaps easier said than done.
Second, cheaper transportation isn’t better. It seems that it is possible to hitch a ride to Osh with a truck driver in Kyrgyzstan for half the price of a taxi…but it might cost you an extra 2-4 hours on the road. Is US$10 really worth the headache?
Third, remember the time change. This might not be hard if you’ve been living off of Xinjiang’s “local time” that is two hours behind the official Beijing time, but just remember that once you cross the border into Kyrgyzstan, you’re now officially two hours behind Beijing.
Finally, Lee from SilkRoadHitchHikers.com shared with me that it might work best to shift this schedule two hours later (i.e. starting at 10am instead of 8am). The reason for this is that even though he arrived at the border before the 1:30pm lunch break, they still wouldn’t process him to go through. He contends that you might as well just sleep in and arrive around 3:30pm-ish to wait for them to open up again at 4:30pm. Any plan that involves sleeping in sounds good to me!
So that’s it! I hope this has been helpful in your planning. If so, please share this or leave a comment below. Thanks!
Kilometers across Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek – Naryn – 360 km
Naryn – Songkol – 150 km
Bishkek – Osh – 660 km
Naryn – Cholpon Ata – 255 km
Bishkek – Songkol – 400 km
Songkol – Suusamyr – 140 km
Suusamyr – Toktogul – 232 km
Osh – Sarychelek – 350 km
Suusamyr – Bishkek – 200 km
Karakol – Jetioguz – 35 km
Balykchy – Kochkor – 60 km
Kochkor – Songkul – 100 km
Bishkek – Toktogul – 360 km
Talas – Suusamyr – 220 km
Sarychelek – Chychkan – 180 km
Chychkan - Songkul – 260 km
Songkul – Osh – 796 km
Osh – Jalalabad – 100 km
Osh - Kazarman – 240 km
Kazarman – Naryn – 200 km
Songkul – Toktogul – 390 km
Songkul – Jetioguz – 360 km
Osh – Kazarman – 240 km
Bishkek – Kyzyloi – 190 km
Kyzyloi – Songkol – 170 km, 250 km via Sarybulak
Osh – Uzgen – 55 km
Osh – Achycktash base camp – 380 km
Osh – Irkeshtam – 288 km
Osh - Sarytash – 200 km
Osh - Sarymogol - 220 km
Sarymogol - Tulparkul - 25 km
Kochkor – Suusamy valley – 130 km
Karakol – Kochkor – 260 km
Osh – Kyzylart – 360 km, 7 hours
Osh – Chychkan – 480 km
Bishkek – Chychkan – 250 km
Date: 16 July, 2016
Location: Saryoi summer camp, Alay region
Organised by: Visit Alay and CBT Alay
Supported by:“Bai-Alai” Small Business and Income Creation Programme of Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation financed by SDC.
Arrival at Saryoi summer camp. Folklore music.
Welcoming guests and opening speeches. Visiting handicraft vendors. Folklore music.
Demonstration of Kyrgyz Nomadic Movement.
Demonstration of setting up a yurt. Rope dragging. Yak pulling.
Horse games: Wrestling on a horse.Coin picking up. Horse contest.
Festival closing. The following program is for those who stay overnight
Free time to walk around and experience the shepherd’s life.
Go to bed
Entrance fee: 400 soms including lunch and participation in all festival activities.
Transportation: 400soms from Osh to Sary Oi each way.
Extra options to make to most out of your trip to Saryoi summer camp:
Overnight stay in a yurt after the festival is 900 soms per person per night, including dinner and breakfast.
Overnight stay in a yurt after the festival and a day trek to Chyiyrchyk summer camp the next day.
Breakfast in yurt.
Guided trekking to Chyiyrchyk summer summer camp including picnic lunch on the top of Kumbell pass at 3100 meters.
Meet your taxi going to Osh city, one hour drive or stay the night in a yurt at Chyiyrchyk summer camp
Arrival in Osh city
Price of the lunch is 250 soms and the taxi to Osh city from the Chyiyrchyk summer camp is 300 soms
Note:other travel itineraries can also be arranged. Contact our office for more information.
Visit www.visitalay.kg to have more information:
Where is Saryoi summer camp?
Where is Chyyiyrchyck summer camp?
What is Folklore music?
What is Setting up a yurt?
What is Souvenir exhibition?
What is Ulaktartysh?
What is Tyiyn – Engmei?
What is Kyz Kuumai?
What is Arkan Tartysh?
What is Er engish?
Why festival? To help our guests, tourists to experience our culture and traditions in depth, and feel the real Kyrgyz hospitality.
What is nomadic culture? Kyrgyz people used to be nomads since old times. They used to move to find a place for the livestock. In spite of the technological and social developments, kyrgyz people still follow this culture nowadays.
VisitAlay office in Osh:
Project Coordinator: Talant Toksonbaev
280 Kurmanjan Datka Str., 2nd floor, hotel Alay, Osh city
Mobile: + 996 555 077621
tags: activites in osh, yurt stays in osh
The report of Visit Alay project actvities is attached in both Russian and English. See the attchement below.
CBT Sarymogol is a local NGO located in Sarymogol village. It was registered and began to work in 2007. The goal of the group is to promote jailoo tourism in Alay valley and help locals to generate profit from offering services to tourists. Over the last 6 years, it has developed trekking, hiking and yurtstays. CBT Sarymogol runs its office in Sarymogol village to attract tourists to its destinations. Currently, it has seven twenty members actively involved in developing the organization.
”Sary-Mogol” does not say us something, but if you want to reach Lenin Peak, you should go first to Sary-Mogol Village, which is situated on the foot of Lenin Peak. Pamir-Alay mountain ranges constitute the basis of mountainous system of South Kyrgyzstan.The highest point, Lenin Peak, is situated in Alay Valley, and rise above Chon-Alay Range – 7134 meters above sea-level. These ranges have an alpine relief, thus the highest areas covered by snow and glaciers. In Osh oblast there are 1,5 thousand glaciers, with total volume of 1546,3km3. The biggest glaciers are in Chon-Alay Range (total area of 693, 3km2,and in number of 215). Amongst these glaciers are Korjenevsky, Lenin, Korumdu.These are ideal places for those who want to enjoy visiting of jailoo - high altitude summer pastures, ride on yaks, drink tasty kymyz (fermented mare’s milk) and see the high-mountainous lakes. Group of CBT Sary-Mogol can help you if you are interested in getting to know these attractions; they also can organize folklore show, national horse games with your participation. The nights would be pleasant in a yurt on the shore of Tulpar-Kol, on the foot of Lenin Peak and give you the impression that the world is at your feet, since Milky Way is the only thing above!
http://cbtkyrgyzstan.kg/images/stories/site/office.gif" >Sary-Mogol village, Alay Region, Osh Oblast, Kyrgyzstan
http://cbtkyrgyzstan.kg/images/stories/site/phone.gif" >phone:++996 773 50 59 39, ++996 556 09 26 27
It is based in Kashkasuu village of Chong Alay region. It has a yurt camp at Achick Tash base camp of Lenin Peak. Here it offers:
- accommodation in yurts with full meals ( 30 Euros)
- transportation to/from base camp (7500 soms)
- documentations to the base camp as permits
- Luggage horses
Achyck Tash base, Lenin Peak, Chong Alay region, Osh oblast
mobile:+ 996 552244100, 0778653444
Contact person:Bakytbeck Egemberdiev
The guest house "YURT CAMP ALAI" began to operate in 2010. At first it was opened as a guest house and offered only lunch service for tourists. Now it offers: yurtstay, short day trekking around the village, demonstration of shyrdak (felt making). Many Tour Companies stop by here to arrange a lunch for their tourists on their way to Sarytash village and beyond. Here at this place you can have local dishes as besh barmak, kattama, bооrsоk.
The guesthouse amenities include:
- Breakfast (buffet)
- Complex lunch (European, national)
- Complex dinner (European, national)
- WI FI
- Shower, bath
- Shop bar
59 T. Beketaev Str., Chakmak village, Alay region, Osh oblast
mobile: + 996 777 01 97 24/ 559 28 05 82/ 773 00 79 73
Visit Alay is a tourism development project in Alay and Chong Alay regions. The goal is to help the region to become tourist destination. Now these two regions Alay and Chong Alay are being promoted under the brand Visit Alay. It cooperates with all the tourist organizations and infrastructure of Alay valley. In summer of 2015, it opened two Tourist Information Offices in Osh city and Sarymogol village to attract foreign tourists and promote the tours of the region. The current website is being developed to demonstrate all possible information ranging from tours to sightseeing of Alay valley. Therefore, all the information, photos and tour contained in this website belong to Alay and Chong Alay region
Visit Alay is financed by the BAI ALAI Program. BAI ALAI Program is aimed to reduce poverty in Alai and Chon Alai regions through increased income and (self-) employment - in particular for women and youth. This will be achieved by facilitating the rise of local and regional markets, leading to reduced inequalities and improved perception of life perspectives, especially for local youth.
In 2013, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) launched a new private sector development program in Osh oblast, southern Kyrgyzstan. The BAI ALAI Programme supports specifically the remote and mountainous areas of Alai and Chon Alai during its ten years implementation.
The program BAI ALAI is financed by the Government of Switzerland through SDC and is being implemented by the consortium of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation and Aga Khan Foundation.
DESCRIPTION: Visit a Kyrgyz summer camp (jailoo) to experience traditional nomadic life. Join in as your Kyrgyz host milks the mares for the essential ingredient of Kyrgyz’s national beverage, kymyz. Taste national dishes in an authentic yurt. Spend a day walking or riding among the fragrant juniper forests, valued for their medicinal benefits. Relax near the cool springs and streams. Join the shepherds herding their flocks. Conquer the high rocky slopes of the Alay mountains.
ITINERARY: Osh city – Kum Bell Pass 3150 m – Saryoi summer camp - Osh city
Day 1. Osh city –Chyyrchyck Pass 2400 m – Kumbell Pass 3150 m - Saryoi summer camp
Departure from Osh city. One hour drive on Pamir Highway takes you to the Chyyrchyck Pass. Start trekking. Trek three hours to get to the Kum Bell pass. See shepherds busy with making bread and milking mares. Have lunch at the top of the pass. Enjoy the stunning beauty of great Alay valley. Descend through the pass amongst dense junipers. Arrive at locals’ camp and be accommodated in your yurt. Participate in shepherds’ life. Overnight and dinner are in a shepherd’s yurt.
Day 2. Asankorgon mountains – Donguzbulak gorge – Osh city
Breakfast. Morning life seems to be busy with milking cows and making creams. Walk up to the next pass at the foot of Asankorgon mountain range, 2700 m. Have lunch on the top of the pass. Enjoy the beauty of rocky mountains. Descend the pass and arrive at an unpaved road. Two hours walking takes you to the main road. Meet your driver and return to Osh city.
DESCRIPTION: Camp with Kyrgyz families who spend their summers tending and protecting their herds of sheep. Follow ancient trails as you move from jailoo to jailoo. Your surefooted horses will find their way along wild river gorges and up winding paths through the rocky landscape. As you approach the summit of Kumbell Pass, the air becomes cold and fresh. At the top, you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the sweeping expanse of the Alay valley.
ITINERARY: Osh city – Kum Bell Pass 3150 m – Saryoi summer camp – Airybell Pass 3000 m – Tepshi summer camp - Osh city
Day 1. Osh city –Chyyrchyck Pass 2400 m – Kumbell Pass 3150 m - Saryoi summer camp
Departure from Osh city. One hour drive on Pamir Highway takes you to the Chyyrchyck Pass. Meet the horses and receive a short instruction on riding. Ride three hours to get to the Kum Bell pass. See shepherds busy with making bread and milking mares. Lunch at the top of the pass. Enjoy the stunning beauty of great Alay valley. Descend the pass amongst dense junipers. Arrive at locals’ camp and be accommodated in your yurt. Participate in shepherds’ life. Overnight and dinner are in a shepherd’s yurt.
Day 2. Airybll Pass 3000 m - down to Tepshi summer camp
Breakfast. Head up to the breathtaking pass Ayirybell through ancient trails . Lunch at the top. Descend toward summer camp Tepshi. Participate in shepherds’ life. Overnight and dinner are in a shepherd’s yurt.
Day 3. Karabulak village - down to Osh city.
Breakfast. Ride down from the pass to reach main road (3 hours). Enjoy riding down through the yurts of nomads and experiencing the Kyrgyz life in these gorgeous mountains of Karabulak village. Meet your driver to return to Osh city.
Jashtileck is the small village located in Chong Alay region. It is 5 hours’ drive by taxi to get there from Osh city. The village is in a big gorge with the river running in the middile. Almost all the guesthouses are right at the entrance to the gorge and located along the river. Locals here grow the potatoes well known in Osh region. You can fish troutes in the river. The yurts of shepherds are located just 13 km from the village. From theses yurts, you can go further and do multi day treks.
Longitude 72° 2'45.25"E