Looking for an adventurous destination
, seldom in the news, undiscovered and with rugged nature? The omnipresent mountains
and nomads living in their yurts in Kyrgyzstan are a challenge for anyone who is looking for something different.
Kyrgyzstan will offer you many opportunities for hiking and horseback riding
in unspoiled terrain. A treat for the nature-lover!
It is your own responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents for your trip. You should have a minimum of 6 months validity on your passport beyond your return travel date.
Generally speaking a visa is not required for entry into Kyrgyzstan but please check this information in good time before your trip commences as this information is always subject to change. You can check which documentation is required through a site such as this one
If you do need to organise visa(s) in advance of travel then you should do so either through your closest relevant embassy or through an agency such as CIBT
Accommodation and transport
During this trip in Kyrgyzstan, we have access to a private (mini) bus, so we can stop at beautiful places in nature along the way. All transfers between hotels/homestays are included however airport transfers are not
Bishkek airport to hotel: 40 km/ 40 minutes
Bishkek to Kyzyl Oy : 200 km/ 4 to 5 hours
Kyzyl Oy to Naryn: 320 km / 6 to 7 hours
Naryn to Bokonbaevo: 310 km / 5 to 6 hours
Bokonbaevo to Karakol: 200 km/ 4 to 5 hours
Karakol to Tamchy: 180 km/ 4 hours
Tamchy to Bishkek: 220 km/ 4 to 5 hours
Note: The above times are approximate. Weather and road conditions play a major role. Your journey takes you through the impressive mountain scenery of Kyrgyzstan where our driver must tackle high mountain passes, deep ravines and bad roads.
During this tour through Kyrgyzstan you will stay in a hotel in Bishkek where you sleep in a 2-persons room with private bathroom. Your stay in Bishkek is on bed and breakfast .
In Kyzyl Oy, Naryn, Bokonbaevo, Karakol and Tamchy you sleep in "homestays" (in peoples' homes). The bathroom is usually shared here. There is usually hot water. Also in the homestays will you stay on a bed and breakfast basis. In Tash Rabat and Son Kul you spend the night in a yurt.
You don't need to bring a sleeping bag or sleeping mat with you. Each homestay offers mattresses, beds, blankets and pillows. It is handy to bring a sleeping bag liner and hand towel with you however.
Note: It may happen that you have to share a room with several people. Make sure you are prepared for this.
Wifi is important for many travellers in order to maintain contact with home. Your hotel in Bishkek has wifi. However, keep in mind that the quality and speed of the internet is certainly not optimal everywhere, or even fails in its entirety. In the 'homestays' no wifi is available .
Travellers who book alone can share a 2-persons room with a fellow traveller. Using this format, we of course try to keep same sexes paired together. You can also choose to sleep in a single room (only in Bishkek!) This must be specified when booking and you will pay a single supplement. In other places a single room is not available.
A local English-speaking tour leader is available to guide you every day during your Kyrgyzstan tour. Tour leaders have good knowledge of the history of the area and are well educated in being able to deal with their guests. They are usually students who have not yet been 'abroad', so they can sometimes find it difficult to estimate how life in other parts of the world can be. However, our local tour leaders in Kyrgyzstan are enthusiastic and like to make everyone happy.
Kyrgyzstan has many national holidays and commemoration days: New Year's Day (January 1), Russian Orthodox Christmas (7 January), International Women's Day (March 8), Labour Day (1 May), Constitution Day (May 5); on Victory Day (May 9), the end of the Second World War is celebrated, Army Day in Kyrgyzstan (May 29) and Independence Day (August 31).
Islamic holidays in Kyrgyzstan
There are also Muslim festivals such as the Feast of Sacrifice (October 4, 2014) and the Eid after Ramadan (July 28, 2014). Ramadan is observed from 28 June to 27 July 2014 but for large parts of the population daily life goes on unchanged.
Nowruz (March 21) is a widely celebrated festival as in Iran, also in Central Asia. The festival heralds the beginning of spring (in Iran also the beginning of the New Year). A few days before Nowruz is the time for khashar
, making sure that all homes, towns and villages look neat and tidy.
Our tours are led by trained, local English speaking tour leaders. We know that our travellers appreciate being accompanied by these local tour leaders who, compared to their counterparts (living outside of the destination) have more detailed knowledge of their country. He/she knows the area well, can provide background information and ensure that the trip goes smoothly. He/she knows what to do if something were to go wrong, but is not a "walking encyclopedia". Therefore we would like to refer you to study a good travel guide (book) in advance of travel.
Your tour leader understandably expects a tip at the end, if she/he has completed the job well. Shoestring pay the tour guides a wage which is higher than that of most adventurous travel companies. Our guideline for tipping is between € 1, - and € 2, - per passenger per day (the equivalent thereof).
This tour is classified as Category C
The difficulty of our travels varies greatly. Added to this is the fact that travel difficulty is a very personal perception. To give an impression of the difficulty of a particular holiday we have developed a classification system.
Light travel for everyone to do. Short distances, good hotels, travel at a slow pace.
For everyone to do as well. Sometimes long distances. Good hotels and camping facilities, sometimes an adventurous overnight experience, travel at a normal pace.
Good to do for anyone who prepares themself well and is flexible. There are tougher parts of the journey, such as longer distances or walking tours. Several nights can be spent in basic accommodation.
A relatively difficult journey, travelling long distances, often primitive accommodation or tents, and challenging walking tours.
This 2 week trip through Kyrgyzstan is a Category C
tour. It can be made by any reasonably healthy individual. There are a number of days with long hours of travelling. Roads in Kyrgyzstan are often not the best and you will be following mountain passes and deep ravines – difficult terrain. Keep in mind you are going through a developing country, with a much lower standard of living than you are used to. It is possible the weather or a lack of proper road maintenance makes roads inaccessible and in such cases we may have to take an alternative route. This makes a flexible and positive attitude more important than physical fitness. You mainly stay in ‘homestays’ which are cosy and provide an authentic experience but are primitive.
We know that travelling to remote corners of this planet has its effects. At Shoestring we really try to make an effort to keep our impact to a minimum. We try to avoid the use of plastic water bottles on our treks through Nepal and we do not dump our litter during our trips through Africa. All of our staff have been trained to take special care to ensure we make as little impact on the environment as possible.
Furthermore we support a lot of local projects which are mostly related to clean drinking water or making sure that children get vaccinated against illnesses such as tuberculosis. On most tours you will be able to visit some of the projects we support through our local agents. Find out more about the different projects Shoestring are involved with, how you can make a difference and our environmental policies here
Travel insurance, including medical repatriation insurance, is mandatory. It is not included with our packages and it is your responsibility to purchase suitable travel insurance. Make sure that it covers all the activities that you are likely to undertake, such as rafting and trekking. Many ‘free’ insurances that come with banking packages, credit cards etc, are quite often inadequate to cover you on our tours, so make sure you check the policy before you travel. You should enter your travel insurance details via your my.shoestring account and you are required to give a copy of your insurance policy to your tour leader upon arrival. Without proper insurance like this, you will not be allowed to join the tour as we will not be able to respond adequately in case of an emergency if you do not have the right insurance.
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More country information about Kyrgyzstan
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions about Kyrgyzstan