Issyk-kul, Ala-kul, Song kul and Kol-Tor in 7 days

Kyrgyzstan. Home of Tian-Shan, or as we Kyrgyz call it, Tenir-Too. Both titles aptly name the grand mountain range as The Celestial Mountains. Their thawing  glaciers replenish the great lakes Isyk-Köl, Son-Köl, Köl-Tör and Ala- Köl – the Pearls of Kyrgyzstan. Needless to say,  the lakes are transparent/clear water and clean. In this tour, we will explore these four lakes (two of which are located 3000 metres above sea level), stay in a traditional Kyrgyz yurt, ride horses and enjoy authentic local dishes.

Price includes: 4x4 car and driver, fuel, personal guide, breakfast, lunch and dinners, accomodation during the tour (excluding hotel in Bishkek), entrace tickets.



  • Day 1. Bishkek – Burana – Cholpon-Ata.

9:00 a.m. Pick up from hotel in Bishkek. Burana tower – a UNESCO world heritage site -- is two hours (90km) away. Burana is the only surviving building from Balasagun city – the medieval capital of the mighty Karahan state, the perfect place to learn about the Silk-Road and Kyrgyzstan’s past. After an excursion in the museum and the surrounding  stone sculptures, we will have ‘dimlama’:a delicious stew of lamb and vegetables. An afternoon drive of two hours (200km) will take us to our guest house in Cholpon-Ata – the town with active nightlife where World Nomad Games took place.

  • Day 2. Cholpon-Ata – Karakol – Altyn-Arashan.

8.00 a.m. We start our second day by visiting an open-air rock art gallery. There you may  admire prehistoric petroglyphs of the nomadic people – from Scythians to modern Kyrgyz people – untouched two thousand years. Many are drawings of deer and mountain goats; they are  related to the widespread belief in Bugu Ene, the deer mother, and protector of infants and warriors. After a two hour drive (140km) we will have a lunch in a local restaurant and prepare for a hike. We will walk about 5 hours (13km) to arrive at Altyn-Arashan – a stunningly beautiful pasture with sky-reaching peaks, herd animals and steaming hot springs. The night will be spent in a nearby guesthouse. Altyn-Arashan gorge

  • Day 3. Altyn-Arashan – Ala-Köl lake – Altyn-Arashan.

8.00 a.m. Wake up is as early as possible, for today is the most important day of our tour – we will visit one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Central Asia. However, it will not be easy to get there. The hike to the lake usually takes 5-6 hours (12km) -- hard work, but well worth it. After a one-hour break with lunch (lunch boxes taken there ourselves), we shall head back for dinner and well-deserved rest in Altyn-Arashan.

  • Day 4. Altyn-Arashan – Karakol – Jeti-Ögüz – Fairy Tale Canyon – Bokonbaevo.

9.00 a.m. After breakfast, we return to the Karakol town via an old Soviet car UAZ. These are off-road cars that were manufactured specially for military purposes. We will visit  two main religious sites in Karakol – the Dungan mosque and the Russian Orthodox Church (both of which are unique examples of wood craftsmanship and Kyrgyz history). Afterwards, we will visit the red sandstone formations of Jeti-Ögüz-- Seven Bulls in  Kyrgyz. It is named so because the huge red rocks resemble great big bulls. We will also view the rocks from a different angle, where it resembles a mammoth instead, and have a lunch right at the feet of these majestic beasts. The next spot is Fairy tale canyon (100km – 1.5 hours from Jeti- Ögüz). We will get there in the evening, right before sunset, when the unique colours and relief of the canyon can be best seen. After a short hike climbing the natural “Great Wall of China” and observing the  Wall of A Hundred Faces, we will drive to the Bokombaevo town (35km – 30 minutes) where we finish our busy day with supper in a nice local guesthouse. Overnight stay in the guesthouse.Fairy Tale Canyon

  • Day 5. Bokonbaevo – Kochkor – Son-Köl lake.

9.00 a.m. Our next spot is Kochkor town (120km - 1.5 hours). On the way to the town we will see sky-reaching Tian-Shan mountain range, which is the beginning of Tibet. After a short walk accompanied by lunch in Kochkor town, we continue our drive to Son-Köl lake (130km - 2.5 hours). A 50km-section of the road is bumpy, but we will take several breaks so you can rest, take photos and enjoy the beautiful sceneries. In particular, sceneries of Karatal-Japyryk national park. We will get to the lake by the evening so you can enjoy one of the most gorgeous sunsets one can experience in Kyrgyzstan.  A calm ride on horseback surrounded by a peaceful atmosphere will make the car ride worth it. Dinner and overnight stay in a yurt camp.Sunset in Son-Kol lake

  • Day 6. Son-Köl lake - Kochkor - Kegeti valley.

9.00 a.m. After breakfast we have 2 hours of free time. You can swim in the lake, ride the horses, go on a  short hike or do a combination of these activities. Following this, we will make our way back to Kochkor town (115km - 1.5 hours). This time we take another road which is shorter but no less beautiful. After lunch in Kochkor we will join  a mastery class on making the traditional carpet - Shyrdak -- you will be taught to make your own. Shyrdak is made 100% of wool and completely hand-made. Recently, Shyrdak was added to the global lists of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. After shopping (optional) in a souvenir shop (shyrdaks are available there too) we head  to Kegeti valley, right at the foot of the 5000-meter high Kyrgyz Ala-Too mountain range. Dinner and overnight in a guesthouse.Köl-Tör lake

  • Day 7. Köl-Tör lake - Bishkek.

9.00 a.m. Today we will make a hike to the last lake in our program -- Köl-Tör lake -- located 2700 meters above sea level. It takes no more than 3.5 hours (7.5km) for  70% of the path is less than no more than 15º slope. We will have take our time having a picnic by the lake, walking around, enjoying the nature, taking pictures (and even sleeping by the lake as I often do). We return head back in the afternoon or whenever you choose. After a coffee/tea break in a guesthouse,we drive back to Bishkek (90km - 1 hour). In Bishkek we will have some time to  check into your hotel and a shower. Our last (farewell) dinner together will be in a nearby restaurant, a nice ending to our fulfilling trip.

Number of days: 7
Covered regions:
Bishkek City
Osh City
Included services:
Accommodation (Hotel/Guesthouse)
Accommodation (Homestay)
Entrance tickets (e.g. museums, parks etc.)
Beverages (non-alcoholic)
Car (with driver)
Fuel, Petrol
Bus/Train tickets
Domestic flight tickets
Not included: Hotel in Bishkek; Consular fees paid upon collection of the entrance visa to Kyrgyzstan; Visa support and International airfares; Personal insurance and items not mentioned above.
What to bring: Boots, sunscreen, warm and waterproof clothes, sunglasses.
Transport: SUV 4x4
Tour season:
Tour categories:
Private tours
Cultural tours
Adventure tours
Offroad tours
Sightseeing tours
Winter tours
Special Event tours
Wildlife tours
Highlight tours
Photo tours
Hiking tours
Horseback riding tours
Circle tours
Short tours
Budget tours