4 - 12
In this Kyrgyzstan hiking adventure, you will get the chance to discover the wild region of Tian Shan. From viewing glaciers and crossing white water rivers to bathing in natural hot springs this tour will be an unforgettable experience.
Even very few local Kyrgyz people know about this hiking route, which we have created in response to the growing popularity of trekking in the Tian Shan; albeit still very small in comparison to Nepal or Patagonia for example. Nevertheless, we prefer to have the mountains to ourselves, and this adventure provides you with the means of seeing one of the few areas of the world still unaltered by man.
The Kyrgyzstan trek ends in the well-known and unspeakably beautiful yurt camp of Altyn Arashan [‘Golden Spring’ in Kyrgyz], where you will experience spending the night in a cozy nomad’s yurt after bathing in the natural hot springs for which the valley is famous. Book today for this rare and completely unique adventure.
(Available as a small group tour or tailor-made holiday)
This adventure is the epitome of the road less travelled: Taking you into the very heart of nature, completely away from tourists, and with only a few local shepherds in yurts and their herds of free-roaming horses for company. We will hike across beautiful untouched valleys and high passes of the Tian Shan Mountains. There is also the great opportunity to ride horses through some of the beautiful valley pastures, to sleep in a yurt and bathe in the natural hot springs with a cold beer or two on our final night in the mountains.
3 star hotel
Most international airlines arrive into Bishkek early in the morning. Upon landing, you will be transferred to your hotel to check in - early-check ins with breakfast are included. You have the morning to rest after your travel.
At 12pm, you will meet your guide and embark on a walking tour of Bishkek. The capital of Kyrgyzstan, also known as the ‘White City’ – so called because many of the government buildings in Soviet times were built from the beautiful, locally mined white marble - is a fascinating city with vast plazas and dramatic monuments from the Soviet Era.
Our local tour guide will give us a welcome introduction to both the city and the history of the country, followed by dinner in one of the most well-known tea houses in the city, complete with traditional live music and dancing.
Accommodation: 3* Bugu Boutique Hotel or similar
3 star hotel
Our 5-6hr drive through the striking landscapes with stunning views of Yssyk-Kol ('Kol' means Lake in Kyrgyz) is pleasantly broken by a visit to the ancient minaret Burana Tower, built by the Karakhanids at the end of the 9th Century where we can climb to the top of this once important marker of the Great Silk Road, as well as visit the nearby museum and open air Balbals (stone figures). We continue our journey, stopping for lunch in Cholpon-Ata.
Tonight we stay in Karakol, a city surrounded by apple orchards, for which the area is famous, set against a backdrop of snow capped Terskey Alatau mountains. It is well worth a little explore and we recommend visiting the small mosque, looking more like a Chinese temple than anything else, and made of wood, with no nails whatsoever. This evening you will meet your hiking guides for the next six days. Led by Maks, his trusty crew have many years of experience leading groups in the Tian Shan under their belts.
This morning, from Karakol, we drive with Maks, for around 2 hours to a traditional Kyrgyz village from where we will embark on our first hike (9.2km, 600m ascent, taking 4-5hrs) to our campsite. This lies alongside the Jurgalan River, which swells to an impressive size in the summer, from snowmelt and the glacier located further up the valley.
There is no escaping the fact that we are immediately heading off the beaten track here.
After a delicious camp breakfast we will head up to the 3500m Jurgalan pass, headed for the Tyrgon Valley (13.8km, 630m ascent, 5-7 hrs walk &/ ride). This area is absolutely perfect for horse riding and we welcome beginners to have a go as the horses are well trained and a handler can assist you where necessary.
The Tyrgon Valley is a vast, grassy expanse, so more experienced riders can canter and gallop to their hearts content, until we cross the Tyrgon River by bridge. From here we can see the snow-capped mountains on the horizon with herds of horses left to roam free, whilst their shepherds camp in traditional yurts.
We are immersed in the depths of this wild mountain region; entirely self-sufficient with our trusty team of guides, horsemen and pack animals. We walk for around 5-7 hours today (10km, 700m ascent), where the views from the Tyrgon Pass (3500m) are simply breathtaking!
At night the stars come out in their full splendour as there is no light pollution.
From the top of Bosuchuk Pass (3400m) a completely new set of mountains, in the majestic Tian Shan range, open up to us. From this high point we will walk down to the bottom of Ailanysh Pass (8km, 530m ascent, 5-7hrs walking) where we will make a sheltered camp.
One of the best things about this adventure is the complete escapism into the wilderness and the silence of the mountains – we will really be getting into our stride by this point and becoming more accustomed to the nomadic way of life.
Our 6-7 hour hike (13km with approx 500m ascent) &/or ride, takes us up to the beautiful remote freshwater lake where we can stop for lunch, depending on our timing. The water is so fresh it is possible to drink it and we will take on supplies. After no-doubt a few Kodak moments, we will continue on up to cross the Ailanysh Pass at 3671m, to take in more stunning views, before descending to the bottom of Ortok pass where we will make camp.
Crossing our final pass (Ortok, 3609m) with views of a glacier, we descend into the well-known Altyn-Arashan Valley [‘Golden Spring’ in Kyrgyz] where will stay in a traditional nomad’s yurt. After hiking for 6-7 hours (14km, 840m ascent) we can wallow in the natural hot springs and buy beer to celebrate our journey through the Wilds of Kyrgyzstan! It is fun to get back into the mountain community – especially knowing that you will have been somewhere very few people (even locals!) have set foot.
3 star hotel
We are collected from the valley in Ex- Soviet 4X4 transportation and driven back on rough mountain tracks alongside a raging torrent of a mountain river. After picking up any gear you may have left behind in Karakol town, we bid goodbye and thank you to Maks and will be sped back to the capital for dinner and drinks for our final celebratory night in the capital exploring a bar or two.
Leaving the stunning landscapes of Kyrgyzstan is going to feel all wrong but ‘normal life’ awaits you. Time to plan your next escape!
Extra night's stay before or after the tour at the same hotel at the start / finish of the tour.
Carbon Compensation is not the perfect solution, and it is important to first reduce our carbon emissions as much as we can, yet trees remain an excellent natural technology to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow global warming.
For every client and guide who attends a YellowWood Adventure, we donate £30 to our partner charity WeForest to plant 15 trees to (over) compensate for the carbon footprint of the tour.
We also invite our clients to match this with an optional additional £30 for another 15 trees to be planted to help compensate for the carbon footprint of their international flights.
WeForest run many tree planting and tree maintenance projects such as this seedling nursery in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil and many other projects in other countries including Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania & India.
Click Here to find out more about their amazing projects around the world.
We fully believe in, and practice, Responsible Tourism, using hotels run by locals. We put time and effort into building our relationship with them to ensure you have a a great trip.
We choose hotels based on cleanliness, comfort, safety, proximity to our route (to avoid unnecessary extra travel), and a warm client welcome, as well as reliability in their service to us. Some hotels will be basic, and in modern buildings and or in towns. Wherever we can, we will choose smaller more characterful, individual hotels, but in areas where tourism is still developing, this may not be available.
An aspect of our adventures is to escape the ‘trappings’ of modern Western lifestyles and to experience new things which is exciting and memorable, and reflects the countries we are visiting.
This is adventure travel and on occasion the advertised services at a hotel , guest house or camp (eg wifi, or hot showers!) may not be functional on our arrival.
This tends to occur in the smaller, more remote hotels. Very rarely a hotel lets us down and we are required to find alternative suitable accommodation that might not be our first choice.
This accommodation on this adventure involves hotel stays, wild and Yurt camping. The list below gives information on our first choice of accommodation for this adventure. Where hotels and refuges are fully booked or unavailable, we will use an alternative of a similar standard, and equally well situated. We will provide you with an accurate list of accommodation, with contact information to leave with relatives, prior to departure on your adventure.
Bishkek (2 nights): 3* Navat Boutique Hotel or similar
Karakol (1 night): Green Yard (3*), 14 Novostroika Street, Karakol, 722360, Kyrgyzstan. Tel: +996 555 451515
Camping (5 nights): We wild camp in the heart of the mountains on this adventure, under the canvas of YellowWood 2 man tents. We have horses to carry all our camp equipment, and our guides will assist with setting up, but please be aware that camping facilities are basic. There are no toilet facilities - you need to find a suitable spot away from the group and waterways, use a trowel, and carry your own toilet paper, burning it after use. Washing is done in the stunning mountain rivers, which is totally exhilarating!
Yurt Camping (Day 8): A yurt is a large felt tent made from sheeps wool, which results in a warm, cosy and waterproof shelter. The centre of the yurt houses a metal wood burner with a chimney for all smoke to escape through the roof.
The yurts house either 2 or 4 simple but comfortable beds with plenty of extra blankets to pile onto your sleeping bag (please bring a winter season bag), should you feel chilly. If you are travelling with a group of friends then we are happy for friends to share a yurt (4 people), or YellowWood can arrange the rooming for solo travellers to share with others of the same gender.
Toilet facilities are shared and in a separate ‘hut’. There are taps and running water in the camp for washing. We use traditional nomadic yurt camps where electricity is available between 18:00 and 22:00 and there is no mobile signal. Please note that part of this adventure is to escape the ‘trappings’ of modern Western lifestyles.
Unless you have booked a single room (where they are available) and paid the single room supplement for those nights, you will be sharing a twin room with another client (of the same gender). Only 3 nights of this itinerary are based in hotels, where single rooms are possible. All other nights are in tents or yurts where you will be sharing with someone else of the same gender.
Supporting you on your holiday will be an experienced member of the YellowWood Guiding team. They will be joined by local city guides in Bishkek and a local hiking guide, for the duration of the trek.
This ensures you the perfect balance of information and support on your trip, with your Kyrgyz guides offering insight into local life and customs, as well as routes during hiking, whilst your Yellow Wood guide ensures the smooth running of your adventure.
Your group will be any number from our minimum group size of 4, up to a maximum of 12 clients. This number works really well with the ratio of guides, and ensures an optimal level of service to you during your adventure.
We get clients booking alone, as couples and in small groups of friends. If you have a larger group of friends or family who are interested in having their own customised trip, then please let us know and we can cost it out for you. Our links with in-country travel experts often mean that we can assist you in developing a personalised itinerary.
Your itinerary involves trekking over passes and through mountain valleys, both of which will include rough terrain, steep gradients and some scree and boulders at varying times. To get the most of out of this adventure, you need to be a regular walker and in good physical condition. The terrain requires that you are used to walking up and down hills for extended periods of time. You do not need to be experienced in trekking however. Any hiking is undertaken at the natural pace of the group, with regular stops. Walking boots are essential on this adventure.
You will be carrying just a day pack with camera, spare layers and a bottle of water. All other equipment is carried on horses.
As with all active holidays, the fitter you are, the more you can relax and enjoy the stunning route, and the better you can cope with challenges such as the outside elements.
You are advised to get into a regular walking pattern before the trip as convenient.
NB: If you have bought new hiking boots for this adventure, this is the right time to wear them in, not on the trip itself!
Your YellowWood adventure starts at the airport in Bishkek. We understand that arriving into an unfamiliar airport can be very daunting, so we aim to give you as much information here as possible, to help you prepare.
Flights are not included in the cost of your holiday, and whilst we are happy to help advise you, responsibility for booking the correct flights rests with you. We recommend that you use a comparison tool such as www.momondo.co.uk or www.skyscanner.net when searching for flights. We will send you a Flight Information Sheet with further pointers on which flights to book for your a
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. We also receive notifications direct from the FCDO so we are always aware of the ‘status’ in our destination countries.
Manas International Airport is the main international airport in Kyrgyzstan, located 25km NW of the capital, Bishkek. It is a small, though fully functioning, airport with 2 ‘terminals’ that you may arrive into, at different ends of the same building.
You will be met at the airport by your YellowWood guide and a local driver for transport to the Silk Road Lodge (approx 40mins)
It is not necessary to fill out any visa forms on the plane, but on disembarking, you have a couple of jobs to do.
Toilets can be found in the arrivals lounge.
On arrival at the Silk Road Lodge, you will be welcomed and have time to settle into your room.
Once the group have all arrived (they may be on a variety of different flights), you will be heading to a local restaurant for lunch and a trip briefing. This will be followed by a very interesting City Tour of Bishkek to kickstart your holiday!
Holiday insurance is essential for all Yellow Wood Adventures. Unfortunately anyone without insurance is not able to take part in the holiday, so please make sure you arrange cover. We recommend sorting your insurance when you book so that if you have problems during the run up to your holiday, and need to cancel, you are covered, particularly in the light of effects that the pandemic has had on travel.
Prior to the holiday, we will ask you to send us details of your insurer, policy number, 24 hr emergency assistance contact details and the name, address, and telephone numbers of your NOK or persons to be notified in the event of an emergency.
Your insurance needs to cover you for hiking /trekking (and horse riding if you are going to be doing this) with the following fairly standard inclusions:
We would also recommend that you have cover for the following optional items:
For information on Kyrgyzstan, such as climate, weather, language, social norms, food & drink etc, please have a read of our Country specificinformation.
This was a fabulous trip, at least as good as portrayed on the website. Both Uk staff and local guides were excellent and the feel of the whole trip was informal, personal and friendly but well organised. I would certainly go with YellowWood again.
Tian Shan Mountains, 2022
Tian Shan Mountains Wild, 2019
Tian Shan Mountains Wild, 2017
Tamara Parsons-Baker, UK
What a standout trip to the Tian Shan Mountains with YellowWood. If you are looking for awe-inspiring views and an adventure that you will never forget, then look no further! A professional but friendly service with great guides, communication, accommodation and morale support when you’re on the ascent. A delightful company that offers total immersion in nature. I can’t wait to do it again
Tian Shan Mountains Wild, 2019
The trip was a true adventure with a good dose of magic dust added; we all felt the effect of it! I cannot recommend the trip to Kyrgyzstan highly enough and I want to be part of more ‘off the beaten track’ adventures as they are added to the YellowWood portfolio – like Mongolia! Sam is a travel inspiration, nothing is too difficult and everything taken in a stride.
Sophie Omer-McWalter, London
This trip was one of the best I've ever done. Getting into the Tian Shan mountains was really quite magical; experiencing the scenery and feeling isolated from the rest of the world, thanks to the personalised feel of the trek, was unrivalled. The quality of the food was also a highlight, and I was catered for as a vegetarian (in a very non-vegetarian place!). Kyrgyzstan is a relatively undiscovered gem, and it was lovely to do a road-less-travelled style trip. Thanks to Sam and YellowWood for taking us on a genuine adventure with a fantastic itinerary. I look forward to joining some more non-traditional trips when possible!
Tian Shan Mountains Wild, 2018
I recently went with YellowWood Adventures to the Tian Shan in Kyrgyzstan. This was a brilliant trip to a less-frequented area, camping, with food, tents etc carried by horse. Organisation was excellent, with time to check out Bishkek and Karakol. The YellowWood personnel were a pleasure to deal with and the local guide and horse wranglers superbly competent and friendly. I'm already planning two more trips with YellowWood. I highly recommend them.
All adventures can be tailored as private bespoke trips.
Please contact us for more information:
+44 207 846 0197
Select dates & add any extras or 'Add on' adventures. Complete our Booking Form
Check out our Covid-19 friendly booking conditions & check the box to agree to our Terms & Conditions.
'Make Booking': You will be redirected to secure WorldPay to make your deposit (£300/$400/person) payment (receipted), if booking >56 days before your adventure or full payment if 56 or <56 days before your adventure. Your monies are held securely by the Travel Trust Association.
Your booking will show as 'pending' in your YellowWood online account.
Enter booking information for all guests in your party.
We will be in touch as soon as we are able, to confirm your booking or discuss any availability limitations. Do not book transport/flights until we have emailed you to confirm your booking (receipt of your booking form is not confirmation). We will change the status of your final invoice from 'Pending Approval' to 'Outstanding', when it becomes payable online.
This payment is due 56 days before departure date (we send reminders).
Contact us with any questions about your adventure or booking.
+44 207 846 0197
To help you choose the right adventure for you, we have given each itinerary a grading that relates to the level of Walking / Trekking you will experience during the trip. This grading can be found on the Yellow map on the adventure page of the website.
All of our trips involve a level of general activity so are designed for people who are in good health, enjoy the outdoors, and have a taste for adventure and some level of fitness. As will be clear from our destinations, the climate (and altitude) may be different to that which you are used to, so please take this into consideration when choosing the most suitable holiday.
Please read our Adventure Itinerary & Essential Information for more information and don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to chat through whether you have found a suitable adventure for you.
You need to be in good physical health to enjoy your active holiday, but you don’t need to be an experienced hiker. These itineraries offer a mix of sightseeing and easier walking for around 2-4hrs a day, with the emphasis on sights and cultural experiences.
Walks will be well marked or on defined pathways, and often around sites of interest. The expected amount of descent/ascent will depend on the landscapes of the destination, but will not exceed 400m/day, and will often be much less. Walks are at low altitude (below 3000m).
You will not be required to carry more than a day sack with water and essentials. Ensure you are aware of the weather conditions likely in the destination you are visiting and have a pair of comfortable and worn in walking shoes/boots.
You need to have a good level of fitness and be a regular walker for these adventures, with ideally some trekking experience. You can expect to be walking for 3-6 hours per day, not including rest stops, normally on good trail paths but with some uneven surfaces at times.
You will not be required to carry more than a day sack. You may be walking in more challenging temperatures. You will generally be walking at low altitude (below 3000m) but may walk at altitudes up to 4000m. The amount of ascent could be up to 800m in a day but will frequently be less. You may walk on consecutive days.
Ensure you are aware of the weather conditions likely in the destination you are visiting and have suitable clothing for this adventure.
You need to have a good level of fitness with previous experience of trekking. Extra training before your trip will ensure that you get the most out of your adventure. Areas will be remote and terrain uneven.
Expect to walk for 5 – 8 hours a day, not including breaks, with some very steep ascents and descents. You will be walking at altitude (over 3000m but not higher than 5000m).
Ensure you are aware of the weather conditions likely in the destination you are visiting and have suitable equipment/clothing for this adventure (see the packing list for your adventure).
Please check individual itineraries for details of what you will need to be carrying with you.
Get in touch via our Enquiry form to check our availability, discuss the adventure and check we can meet your needs.
Complete our Enquiry Form; contact details, additional requirements (eg diet or health requirements) & questions you may have. Include as much information as you are able to, so we can help you with the detail you are looking for
Click on 'Send Enquiry' (receipted).
We will be in touch as soon as we are able, to answer your questions and help you plan your adventure.
+44 207 846 0197