Located in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous region with remnants of ancient civilizations and nomadic living, still practiced today. In addition to its beautiful and rich history and culture, its an open landscape of mesmerizing naturescapes that are good for the avid hiking enthusiast, so here are our answers to some of your questions for Kyrgyzstan Hiking and Trekking.
Some Common Questions About Hiking and Trekking in Kyrgyzstan
1. Question: Do I have to be an experienced hiker to enjoy hiking in Kyrgyzstan?
Answer: No. There are many hiking trails in Kyrgyzstan that are easy to follow and are good for anyone who wants to take up hiking. One of the best hiking trails in Kyrgyzstan for a new hiker starts from Jeti Oguz gorge called Elcin Peak.
It is a great day hike that isn’t technical and follows a fairly straight path. It is one of the highest peaks to visit near Karakol and only takes about 3 to 4 hours and less than 15 kilometers in difficulty.
One of the most beautiful parts of the trail is that you will see many horses along the way, some yurts and even some local shepherds.
However, trekking communities also have multiple ways that you can see Kyrgyzstan in multi-day trips where you can utilize more of your skillset if you are an intermediate/advanced hiker, and as always, if you’re going new, you can always take a guide with you to get you the best experience possible.
Websites like WikiLoc, also have options for you to see trails provided by users, which is a great way to see what other people have hiked and what their feedback is.
2. Question: How much does it cost to go hiking in Kyrgyzstan?
Answer: The cost can vary depending on where and what trails you decide to take. Some areas require you to purchase a permit, especially if you are going somewhere that has trekking trails with regioning neighborhoods.
Some National Parks include an entrance fee as well. However, if you decide to take a trip in Kyrgyzstan and want to ensure that you have great access to the outdoors and good access to semi-nomadic life along the way, you may choose to take a guided trip that has all of these elements included.
The answer for that is Global Tribes.
3. Question: Where can I stay while doing multi-day hikes?
Answer: Thankfully for any avid hiker, Kyrgyzstan has many places to stay along the way for also a great cultural experience in semi-nomadic life.
You can choose to stay in a Yurt where you can meet some local families and even in some experiences, you can even put together a Yurt. Most Yurts have options for you to also enjoy breakfast and dinner included.
There are also many guest houses that you can stay in and diverse ways to enjoy accommodation that is far from hotels.
If you are bringing along your own hiking equipment that includes camping, you can also choose to stay alongside the meadows and live your own nomadic experience. Just make sure you are considerate of weather conditions as weather in Kyrgyzstan can be unpredictable.
4. Question: What are the best seasons to go hiking or trekking in Kyrgyzstan
Answer: Being covered in almost 90% mountainous terrain, Kyrgyzstan is a perfect place to discover some undiscovered and untouched landscapes. With crystal clear clarity in the lakes as well, you have plenty of opportunities to cool down and relax. However, weather conditions in Kyrgyzstan can be quite unpredictable. High season for adventuring in Kyrgyzstan is about July and August to early September, however, even with the high season and great weather, the elevation brings about unpredictable weather conditions to be aware of.
If you want to hike at lower elevations, you can most likely visit mid September to late-October in places such as Fairytale Canyon or Konorchek Canyon.
With this, we highly suggest coming prepared with waterproof gear, layers to put on if the weather falls cold and anything to keep you safe and ensure that you have a safe visit.
Also remember, that anytime you approach bad weather, it is a time to stop and simply wait for it to pass, not to continue for safety reasons.
5. Question: How do I horse trek in Kyrgyzstan?
Answer: Trekking is also popular amongst…you guessed it horses. Horses are a very sacred and important part of Kyrgyz culture and there are many activities you can do by horse, such as the horse games or folkloric shows, if you are interested in seeing some of the sides of the culture.
However, horse trekking is also a unique and popular thing to do in Kyrgyzstan, you can take a horse around for a hike about 6-8 hours, but we only suggest this to intermediate horse rider, otherwise, try trekking with a horse for a few hours to get the experience, if you are a beginner.
6. Question: What are some of the best places to hike in Kyrgyzstan?
We have made a list for the best places to hike, and here it is:
- Ala-Kol via Karakol Valley and Altyn Arashan
- Konorchek Canyon
- Travelers Pass
- Ak-Sai Glacier in Ala Archa
- Seven Lakes Trek in Sary Chelek Nature Reserve
1. Ala-Kol via Karakol Valley and Altyn Arashan
Rated as a semi-difficult trek, the best time of year to go on this expedition is in the high season. It will take several days, up to 4 to be exact and about 40 to 65 kilometers in distance.
It is a great place to get some views and then at the end, you can enjoy going to some wonderful hot springs, which have been known to have some healing properties to locals.
Ala-Kol is one of the more popular hikes in Kyrgyzstan, so you can also opt for a less daunting trek if you want to just do something for the day as there are many guides and people you can take with you.
2. Konorchek Canyon
It is your adventure, do as you please with it! Konorchek Canyon can be done from about April to May and then again from September to October. It is a moderate hike and has been offered compared to popular red rock destinations such as Uta. It is only about 10 kilometers but has a wonderful desert landscape.
Konorchek can be often compared to Fairytale or Skazka Canyon which are very popular to many many travelers coming into Kyrgyzstan, but there are many more things to do in Konorchek Canyon, so dare we say to go visit all?
3. Travelers Pass
Another great one day hike, being about 12 kilometers in distance and a semi-difficult route. At the top, you will enjoy one of Kyrgyzstan’s largest mountains, Tulpar Kol.
Peak Lenin is also deemed as one of the easiest meter peaks to visit in the world, so now you also have the chance to cross off another thing on your bucket list.
4. Ak-Sai Glacier in Ala Archa
A glacier close to the capital?
That is correct! Ala Archa National Park is a great destination for a day-trip from the capital city and close to a glacier!
With absolutely beautiful views and even more of a unique opportunity to see a glacier, you will be enamored with its plenty of flora and fauna, it makes for an especially interesting route if you are coming from the capital!
It is mostly a flat trail, where you have the opportunity to also arrive in the waterfall camping area!
5. Seven Lakes Trek in Sary Chelek Nature Reserve
This trip is another great short distance trek that takes about 4 hours and is 11 kilometers in distance. Deemed as easy, it is a great place to see six out of the seven alpine lakes that are in Sary Chelek Nature Reserve.
Known to many people as an accessible route all year round, it is at a lower elevation, so that means you won’t have to worry about its accessibility when it is not peak season.
So whether it is going on a multi-day hiking trip or a small day trip or going and hiking for the day, you’re more than likely to enjoy more than one way to see and explore hiking and trekking in Kyrgyzstan.