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Best Trekking Spots in Kyrgyzstan: Self-Guided Treks, Peaks, Remote Treks etc

Best Trekking Spots in Kyrgyzstan: Self-Guided Treks, Peaks, Remote Treks etc

Alex 16 days ago
By Alex | Thursday 5 December, 2019 5 December, 2019
Kyrgyzstan tours guides


Self-Guided Treks in Kyrgyzstan

Are you an independent traveler? Do you like the freedom of trekking at your own pase and to stop and take pictures or stop when you wish?  I have created a list of great trekking spots here in Kyrgyzstan where you can hike independently.  If you wish to hire a guide or to join an open group tour with a guide that knows the areas from first-hand account feel free to write me.  I can set you up with local guides and drivers to show you the best spots here in Kyrgyzstan.  If you would like to rent a 4x4 for your trip where you can do the hikes from the doors of your 4x4 let me know I can rent you a strong 4x4.  I hope you like the list that I have created and tell your friends about Kyrgyzstan!
Ala Kul Hike
Ala Kul is a beautiful, glacier-fed lake high in the mountains above Karakol.  It is a challenging hike, with lots of climbing, but well worth the trouble of getting there.  You must cross several boulder fields on the way up to the lake, so wear sturdy boots. And the lake is at an elevation of about 3,900 meters, so it can snow at any time of year.  The hike can be done in as little as three very long, challenging days, but four days is the standard time for this hike.  At Altyn Arashan there are hot springs and several guesthouses where you can soak in them.  It's a great way to spend the last evening on the trail.  It's recommend to spend the night at VIP Travel Guesthouse before the bridge.
Distance: 54.23 kilometers
Start: 42º22.955'47.3”N, 78º27.648'37.5”E; elevation: 3,753.6 meters
End: 42º29.79'10.5”N,78º31.424'9.44” E; elevation 3,562 meters
Pass: 42º19.587'23.6”N, 78º32.706'26.9” E; elevation 4,212.6 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 4,352 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): 4,706 meters
Difficulty: 4 (long and steep all the way up to the pass, with several boulder fields to cross).
You can get a taxi from Karakol to the starting point of this trek—the wood automobile bridge over the Karakol River.  From there, it's about 15 km. to the wooden footbridge over the river that leads to the trail to Ala Kul.  There is a campsite near the footbridge where most hikers spend the first night.  From the footbridge, the trail goes almost straight up what looks like a dry stream bed. After a couple of steep climbs, you reach a boulder field.  If you stay to the left (north), you will strike the trail again on the other side of the boulder field.  Soon after you will come to a small hut and campsite that is about halfway from the footbridge to the lake.  Continue up along the river, climbing and climbing until you reach the lake.  There are campsites both above the lake near the trail and below next to the lake.  From the lake, the trail climbs along the lake to the pass.  You will have views of the Takur Tor Glacier at the east end of the lake as you climb.  The pass is at about 3,900 meters.  The initial climb down from the pass is steep, but then flattens out.  Once you reach the Arashan River, stay on the left (west) bank until you reach Altyn Arashan, where there is a footbridge across the river and several guesthouses, some of which have camping spots.  From Altyn Arashan, the path drops pretty consistently and flattens out as it reaches the village of Asku / Teploklyuchenka, where you can catch a taxi or marshrutka # 350 back to Karakol.

Join an open group tour going to Ala Kol. 
Ala Kol Hike
Trek to Ala Kol Lake  

Tash Rabat to Chatyr Kul Hike
This is a great hike from Tash Rabat to Chatyr Kol.  It's long, so if you are taking camping equipment, you would probably want to do this in two days.  There is a yurt camp at the end of the hike near the Chatyr Kul lake, so you can do this with a day pack (the yurt is only open from ~July 1stto the 30thof August.  There are yak herds along the trek, so you are likely to encounter them.  They tend to be afraid of humans.
Distance (one way): 21.6 kilometers
Start: 40º51'47.3”N, 75º16'37.5”E; elevation: 2,978 meters
End: 40º43'10.5”N,75º17'9.44” E; elevation: 3,616 meters
Pass: 40º44'23.6”N, 75º17'26.9” E; elevation 3,996 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 1,338 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): 703 meters
Difficulty: 4 (long, but not too steep, except at the pass.
From Tash Rabat, follow the river up the valley.  About half-way up the valley (at about 40º46'37.9”N, 75º18'20.7” E), the river splits—follow the right (westerly) fork.  When you come to the end of the valley, you can continue straight up, which is a tough climb; left (where the path is); or right (westerly).  Any of these ways will take you to the lake, but you may have a hike to get to a yurt camp.  The right (westerly) pass leads straight to a yurt camp.  If you're camping, the left path is slightly easier.  Note that if you take the right path, you won't be able to see the lake from the pass: the climb down bends to the left, at which point the lake will be visible (if there are no clouds).

Join an open group tour going to Chatyr Kol.
Tash Rabat to Chatyr Kul Hike
Trek to Chatry Kul Lake
Shaar Waterfall
The Shaar Waterfall is the highest in Central Asia.  It's a three to four-hour trek, one way, by horse or on foot.  The trek is a pleasant one, but it includes quite a bit of climbing, some of it steep, and several shallow river crossings.  There are some camping spots at the falls and more along the way, so it would be easy to do as a two-day trek if you have camping equipment.  It’s possible to get camping equipment in Naryn City at a local tour company as well.

Distance: 29.5 kilometers (round trip)
Start: 41º09'40”N, 75º55'3.7”E; elevation: 2,207 meters
End: 41º03'51.9”N, 76º00'17.9”E; elevation 3,238 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 1,345 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): 359 meters
Difficulty: 4 (long hike with some steep climbs)
The trek starts at the southerly edge of the village of Bash-Kaindy, about a fifteen-minute drive from the town of At-Bashy.  You can arrange transportation with a taxi in Naryn City or in At-Bashy.  To begin, just follow the clear stream up into the mountains.  The trail climbs into the hills above the river after about 7 km. It doesn't drop down again until a few kilometers before the falls.  At about kilometer 25, a large branch joins the stream from the west—do NOT follow it or you'll miss the falls.  Once you reach the falls careful for falling stones or lose rocks.
Shaar Waterfall
Trekking to Shaar Waterfall Trek
Salkyn Tor Hike
Salkyn Tor is a national park located about 12 km east of Naryn City.  The entrance to the park is about 2 km. From the arch on the main road and there are toilets and picnic facilities near the entrance.  A beautiful river runs the length of the park.
Distance (one way): 13 kilometers
Start: 41º26'34.5”N, 76º11'3.4”E; elevation: 2,167 meters
End: 41º22'17”N, 76º13'34.6”E; elevation: 3,221 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 1,690 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): 660.5 meters
Difficulty: 4 (fairly challenging, but no technical climbing)
The hiking trail runs along the river and runs from the entrance area.  You cross three pedestrian bridges in the first couple of kilometers of the hike. Once past the third bridge, the trail continues, crossing the river at several points.  At a river crossing, watch carefully for the path on the other side, as it can be difficult to spot.  There are many nice camping spots along the way, and the river is never far from the path.  At about 10 km. there is a shepherd’s camp in a grove of pines on the east side of the river. It's concealed in the pines, so you may miss it.  Above that camp, the trail disappears, and it's a rocky scramble up to tree line. At the tree line, the river splits, but both sides go up to glacier, which is the source of the river.  There is a beautiful open valley at the top. Snow bridges covered the river at several spots in late June, and there is lots of snow at the top.
Salkyn Tor Hike
Salkyn Tor Hike
Ala Mischuk Hike
Bag a peak, right in Naryn! This hike takes you to the top of the highest of the triple peaks that loom over Naryn.  It will take you 8-12 hours, but the views are spectacular. It’s important to check the weather before you go because you will be very exposed to the weather.
Distance (one way): 7.31 kilometers
Start: 41º25'33.3”N, 75º57'2.3”E; elevation: 2,030 meters
End: 41º23'45.4”N, 75º56'7.7”E; elevation: 3,323 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 1,596 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): 308.5 meters
Difficulty: 4.5 (long and steep for most of the hike)
This hike starts just behind the large park across from the westerly automobile bridge that crosses the Naryn River.  Go through the park to the canal behind the park, then look for the small, concrete bridge that crosses the canal.  Across that bridge, you'll see some houses up on a ledge.  Climb up to the houses and along the street in front of them, which leads to a large valley.  Follow the valley past the first green valley opening on the right as you climb.  When you come to the second green valley (at 41º26'04”N, 76º06'17”E), follow it up through the trees.  It's a long, steep climb.  When you get up out of that valley, you'll see the peak above you up a long, steep, grassy slope.  Climb up an enjoy the views from the top of the Naryn area!

Ala Mischuk Hike

Ala Mischuk Hike
Eki Naryn Hike
This hike starts at Akel's Yurt Camp, just over the second automobile bridge after (north) of the village of Eki Naryn.  There are many jeep and trekking paths in the area, and they all lead to beautiful pastures.
Distance (one way): 3.45 kilometers
Start: 41º35'11.66”N, 76º26'37.8”E; elevation: 2,356.4 meters
Top: 41º34'42.78”N, 76º25'39”E; elevation: 2,740 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 116.13 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): 27.37 meters
Difficulty: 2 (easy hike, some modest climbing)
From Akel's Yurt Camp, start out on the jeep path into the mountains.  You can continue to follow the jeep path, or head up one of the steeper but faster footpaths.  Just above the tree line you will reach a broad plateau.  From there, there are many paths into the jailoos (pastures) and surrounding mountains.  It’s a great spot to spend the night or a great spot to get off the beaten path and meet real Kyrgyzstan.
Eki Naryn Hike
Eki Naryn Hike
Birinchi Mai Hike
This easy day hike goes directly into the mountains from the village of Birinchi Mai (May Day).  It's a beautiful hike that passes many yurt camps, where local families stay for the summer while their animals are in the high pastures.  If you're lucky, you may be invited into one of their yurts for a cup of tea or a glass of kumiss (horse milk).  The route starts a few kilometers outside of Birinchi Mai, but it’s certainly possible to hike directly from the village.  The path continues much farther into the mountains too, so this could be made into a multi-day trek.
Distance (one way): 2.46 kilometers
Start: 41º8'22.1”N, 76º2'47.6”E; elevation: 2,499 meters
End: 41º7'8.8”N, 76º2'42.7”E; elevation 2,707.5 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 208.5 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): .27 meters
Difficulty: 2 (easy hike, some modest climbing)
The trail follows the beautiful river that flows through Birinchi Mai.  You can either hike directly from the village, or take a taxi to the described starting point, and skip some less-interesting scenery.  The trail climbs steadily, but is not too steep. There are many beautiful picnic spots along the trail, and you're never far from the river.  It’s possible to make this into a two-day hike where you sleep in the tent and reach a nearby peak the next day.  The view from the mountain pasture is great and it’s possible to meet locals living in Yurts in this untouched area.
Birinchi Mai Hike
Birinchi Mai Hike 
Chetch Dubo Hike
This pilgrimage trek is very close to At Bashy and leads to a good panorama of the entire At Bashy valley. Chetch Dubo is sacred to the Kyrgyz people, and many Kyrgyz people come to the sacred spring with petitions for healing or other gifts.  Almambet, the best friend of Manas, the hero of the Kyrgyz national epic, is buried at Chetch Dubo.  According to the legend, when Manas and Almambet went to war in China together, Almambet asked Manas to bring his body back to Kyrgyzstan if he should die in battle. Almambet did die, and Manas fulfilled his promise by bringing Almambet's body back to Chetch Dubo, where he was buried.
Distance (one way): 2.6 kilometers
Start: 41º7'46”N, 75º45'12”E; elevation: 2,077 meters
End: 41º8'58”N, 75º45'25”E; elevation: 2,165.6 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 116.13 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): 27.37 meters
Difficulty: 2 (easy hike, some modest climbing)
While it is possible to hike from At Bashy, the trail is not very interesting and crosses a shallow stream several times.  The easier route is to take a taxi toward Terek Suu and Kara Suu, then have the driver let you off at the entrance road to Chetch Dubo, and that's the starting point for this hike. From the road, you walk about 1.66 km to a family compound. To your left as you face the hill, there is a small mosque, and the holy spring is just beyond the mosque.  Continue up past the compound and stay to the right as the path climbs to the top.  At the top, you may find a ring of rocks marking Almambet's grave and a flag marking the top.  Enjoy the view of the whole range on this easy one day hike.
Chetch Dubo Hike
Chetch Dubo Hike
Seyil Bulak Hike
Seyil Bulak is a pretty hike along a small stream at the eastern edge of Naryn.  The start is accessible by the No. 2 marshrutka or by taxi. There are several nice picnic spots along the valley.
Distance (one way): 2.41 kilometers
Start: 41º25'42.8”N, 76º4'5.8”E; elevation: 2,090 meters
End: 41º24'42”N, 76º04'47.6”E; elevation: 2,269 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 220 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): 44.81 meters
Difficulty: 2 (easy hike, some modest climbing and must cross stream)
You can reach the start of this hike—a small stream running into the Naryn River—by taking the No. 2 marshrutka nearly to its eastern end.  As you leave Naryn on the marshrutka, the road drops down and makes a turn to the right.  The stream is just at the turn. Hike up the path along the stream. There is a mud-brick home about 200 meters up the path.  Stay on the eastern (left) side of the stream past this home.  The valley then opens up, and the path runs on both sides of the stream.  You will come to a narrow, abandoned irrigation system on posts.  Again, the valley opens up, then narrows again.  Stay to the eastern (left) side of the stream at this second narrows, as the trail ends on the other side.  The trail runs above the stream for a bit, then dips down again to a very pleasant meadow.
Seyil Bulak Hike
Seyil Bulak Hike
RTC/NikiKimi Hike
This is a challenging hike that gets you into the high pastures above Naryn, with views over the Naryn and At-Bashy Valleys, all the way to At-Bashy and surrounding villages.  Most of the climbing is in the first 5 km. at each end, although there is plenty of climbing throughout.  It is a long day trip, but could be shortened by doing only one leg, or by taking the direct route from one leg to the other, rather than going higher into the mountains.
Distance (complete route): 20.6 kilometers
Start: 41º25'32.6”N, 76º02'46.8”E; elevation: 2,065 meters
Highest Point: 41º22'36”N, 76º04'43”E; elevation: 3,320.5 meters
End: 41º25'17.65”N, 76º01'45.6”E
Total elevation gain: 1,517 meters
Total elevation loss: 1,502 meters
Difficulty: 4 (fairly challenging, but no technical climbing)
The start of this hike is at the east end of Naryn, accesible by taxi or by the no. 2 marshrutka.  Go past the Han Tengri hotel (the ending is at the top of the hill past the Han Tengri), past the small mosque, and get off at the school, just past the mosque on the left (north).  The trail follows a small stream that is just an empty streambed for most of the year.  Follow the road up from the main road along the streambed.  After 600 m. The road goes left over the streambed and into the hills for about 150 m. before returning to the streambed and the last house in town.  The trail climbs steeply along the stream and passes through a narrow, rocky gap after about 2.2 km.  Just after passing through the gap, the trail climbs into the hills to the right to a pass. At the top of the pass, you will see a small homestead down in the valley to the left.  Follow the beautiful, green, fenced pastures along the stream until the fencing ends.  Shortly after the fencing ends, at about 3.5 km., you will see the ruins of a mud-brick homestead to the left.  Follow the branch of the trail that goes up into the hills to your right BEFORE the ruins. The trail climbs steeply with a couple of switchbacks to another homestead and fenced pasture.  Continue up over the next ridge into a wide mountain valley.  You will see the foundation of an old homestead just over the ridge.  Climb up the valley to the top.  Enjoy the views, then head back down.  Once back at the foundation, stay left over the ridge and follow the jeep track and path down to another homestead.  The farmer's name is Marat.  If you're lucky he may offer you a cup of tea or a glass of kumiss. Continue down the valley past Marat's homestead until you reach a dirt road and houses, then out to the main road, just up the hill from the Han Tengri Hotel.
RTC/NikiKimi Hike
RTC/NikiKimi Hike
Kashka Suu Hike
Kashka Suu is a beautiful, unspoiled region of Naryn Oblast, full of clear rivers, glaciers, canyons, caves and pristine lakes.  The Arpa River bisects Kashka Suu and the deep river valley is spectacular. The sandstone spires and hoodoos near the yurt camp are unlike any others in Kyrgyzstan. Ibex are plentiful and some lakes are full of trout.  There are a few jeep tracks through the area, and trails tend to be well-maintained as they are used by hunters.
Distance (one way): 37.48 kilometers
Start: 41º0'30.6”N, 74º27'56”E; elevation: 2,809 meters
End: 40º51'55.24”N,74º21'50.03” E; elevation 2,927 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 2,831 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): 2,478 meters
Difficulty: 3 (some steep climbs, but nothing too steep—the climb into and out of the Arpa River valley is steep, but short).
Cave:  40º57'7.84”N, 74º21'2.99”E
Yurt Camp:  ~40º57'7.12”N, 74º22'27.48”E
You will definitely need help getting to Kashka Suu, as there are no taxis or marshrutka (or roads) past Jerge Tal.  There are the ruins of a couple of ancient fortresses along the road from Baetov—Cholok Korgon, just east of the village of Konorchok, and Shyrdakbek Korgon, just north of the village of Shyrdakbek.  The history museum at Baetov has more information about them.  The starting point for this trek—the Arpa River valley—is spectacular and is also the site of an infamous event in Kyrgyz history: in 1916, as part of the Urkun, a revolt by the native Kyrgyz against Russian invaders, Russian forces lined up hundreds of Kyrgyz revolutionaries on the edge of the bluff, shot them, and pushed the bodies over the edge.  Some historians estimate that half of the residents of northern Kyrgyzstan died in the Urkun.  Between the starting point and the yurt camp, there are five or six small lakes, some of which are crystal clear and filled with trout.  There is a small cave at the base of a bluff near the yurt camp, but the entrance is hidden by brush.  As you hike, keep an eye out for ibex and Marco Polo sheep, as there are many of them in the region.
Kashka Suu Hike
Kashka Suu Hike
Kol Suu (Kol Tethri)
Kol Suu is a spectacular glacial lake set in a rocky canyon whose shear sides drop almost straight down into the lake.  It's difficult to get to, but is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Kyrgyzstan. It is located in the southeast of Naryn Oblast, near the Chinese border.  Plan ahead because it’s not easy to reach and it takes 1 day to get to Kol Suu from Naryn in a local style taxi.  It’s always a good idea to take a strong 4x4 to reach Kol Suu.
GPS Coordinates: 40º42'28.2”N, 76º23'26.7”E
Elevation: 3,524 meters
The lake lies behind a natural dam and is about 17 km. long.  There are several springs at the base of the dam that are the source of the river that runs through the valley leading up to the lake.  Because the walls of the canyon that holds the lake are so shear--at least at the northern end--it's not possible to explore very much of the lake on foot.  And because there is a narrow bend in the lake at the north end, visitors see only about 20% of the lake from that end.
There are two roads to Kol Suu: one running east and south from At Bashy, which takes about ~five hours, and the other running past Tash Rabat and around the south side of Chatyr Kul before turning east toward Kol Suu, which takes about ~nine.  The road is very rough and there are several river crossings, where there is no bridge and where the water level is above the floorboards on even a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Because the lake is near the Chinese border, anyone going there needs a special permit. There are manned military checkpoints with gates on the two roads into Kol Suu, so you can't go without a permit.  The officials at the checkpoints also check for passports, so if you go, take your passport with the permit.
*As of July 2018, the Kol Suu lake is dry and it makes it a great spot for trekking and horseback riding.  The locals in the area say that the lake will fill in the spring of 2019 since there is a lot of ice and snow in the area.

Join an open group tour going to Kol Suu this summer. 

Kol Suu (Kol Tethri)

Kol Suu Trek