Song-Kol Lake Pastures

Kyrgyzstan

 1450

The lake surface glimmers in the sun by day and reflects the starlight by night. The white mountain tops emerge on the horizon and all around spread the summer pastures, dotted with clusters of yurts. The horses nicker anxiously and the riders slowly sip koumiss. It’s a clear sign that we set off to scout!

  • Days overall
    9 days
    Days in saddle
    7
  • Group size
    10
    Available
  • Standard
    nomad territory in the wild
    Luggage
    15 kg
    Food
    local cuisine, vegetarian/vegan meals unavailable
  • Skills
    walk, trot, gallop

Local clans in Kyrgyzstan are a great bunch of people. They invited us to ride in beautiful places across their mountainous country. It’s one of the must-see-and-ride places if you are a true horse rider. The breathtaking trail runs through the mountains and along lake shores.

The green pastures of middle Asia are a totally different world. It is far from the civilization and the time passes slowly. The horse is the best way to get around and there is no better place to rest after a full day in the saddle than a hospitable yurt. The pastures lay asleep in the tight embrace of the surrounding mountains with the Song-Kol lake glimmering blue in the middle.

Our mounts are brave, hardy horses. They are very calm and have great motor coordination, so much needed on the narrow mountain paths. While they stand little chance racing against our Moroccan, Romanian our Ukrainian horses, they are by far the safest and most comfortable means of transport in Kyrgyzstan.

What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • Accommodation in the Bishkek hotel and yurts and tents on the road
  • Full alimentation (except alcohol)
  • Transfer from and to the Bishkek airport (on the first and the last day of the trek)
  • Entry tickets to the Ala-Archa park and the Burana Tower
  • Company of the local guide
  • A horse with a full tack
  • A tourist insurance covering high-risk sports
What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Flight ticket to and from Bishkek
  • Minor expenses (souvenirs, extra snacks, alcohol, etc.)
  1. Day 1 Arrival

    The companions arrive in Kyrgyzstan. Riders are transferred to the hotel in order to check in and refresh. In the afternoon, we will go for a trip to the Ala-Archa park in the Tian Shan mountains.

  2. Day 2 On the Silk Road

    After early breakfast, we get on a minibus or cars that will take us to Shamshy Gorge. We’ll get a chance to see the Burana tower, guarding the Silk Road since the 10th century. We will get there around midday. After having our lunch, the guides will assign horses and the party will embark towards the Shamshy pass (over 3500m). On the other side, a beautiful view of the Sarala-Saz pasture spreads out. We spend the night in tents.

  3. Day 3 Summer pastures

    The party traverses the extensive pastures and gets a chance to speed up. We will reach the Iri-Suu village in the evening. After dinner, you may take a walk along the Kashka-Suu river, taste wild rhubarb and see the mountain glow. We spend the night in tents.

  4. Day 4 The land of eagles and marmots

    The trail leads through a desolate wilderness. We first cross the western side of the dry Kochkor valley, then the Karakol river and the Buchuk pass (3400m). On the other side of the mountain range, the party enters a fairy-tale land – the Sook valley. The slopes are overgrown with flowers and wild onion, eagles soar in the sky and the marmots whistle from their hideouts. We reach the Kichi Saryk valley in the evening and spend the night in tents.

  5. Day 5 Mountain ridges

    After breakfast, the party faces the challenge of the Kum Bel pass and then continues east, along the mountain ridge (3600 m). The view is breathtaking. The terrain starts to descent for the rest of the day. We arrive in Kolduu Suu in the evening and spend the night in a yurt.

  6. Day 6 The lake view

    We travel south-east. The landscape is very diversified and ranges from the mountain passes to the pastures’ seas of grass. By the end of the day, we are awarded with the sight of the Sing-Kol lake and spend the night in a yurt.

  7. Day 7 Along the lakeshore

    On that day, the party spends less time in the saddle – around 4 hours. The road is easy and pleasant, leading along the lakeshore. The party arrives in the yurt in Tulpar Tash, greeted with a festive supper.

  8. Day 8 The last glance at the Song-Kol

    The trail leads towards the Uzbek pass (3400m) which offers an astonishing lake view. On the other side is the Jumgal valley, where the companions will have their lunch and part ways with the horses. In the Kyzart village, the party gets into cars that take them back to Bishkek. Last supper takes place in the local restaurant.

  9. Day 9 Leaving Kyrgyzstan

    This is the day we fly back home. All companions are taken to the airport.

The guide might modify the route according to weather conditions and group's riding skills.

During the first couple of days, we travel through uninhabited lands. We will be camping in tents accompanied by horses, marmots, and eagles. All riders will be asked to help with pitching tents. On the fourth day, we will enter the areas of summer pastures and spend the nights in yurts.

In Bishkek, we will spend the night in the hotel.

The cook will be responsible for preparing the meals on the road. It is a typical shepherd diet: lots of meat and vegetables. The Kyrgyz cuisine is generally quite fattening and heavy, but very tasty nonetheless. We will draw water from the crystal clear springs.

Attention! There will be no access to the shower during the trek. We suggest that you equip some handy hygiene products. However, you are free to embrace the Kyrgyz climate and give up on washing until we’re back in Bishkek 🙂

 

Equipment

We use Russian saddles in Kyrgyzstan. Bearing in mind the colorful pillow serving for a seat, they remind of the Caucasian Tusheti saddles, but their construction differs visibly. They are known for being comfortable and work well in hilly terrain. We’ll be attaching our luggage to them, so it’s good to equip straps and a string.

Considering the horses’ temper (the Kyrgyz mounts are patient, forgiving but a bit lazy), we recommend using a horsewhip.

Moreover, we recommend using mountain clothing instead of typical riding gear. Above everything else, you should take good, waterproof boots instead of Jodhpur boots.

What you should take with you

The path of the Kyrgyzstan trek leads through the mountains inaccessible for cars. Because of this, the horses will need to carry all our luggage. Its weight can’t exceed 15 kg per person. Everything needs to be packed in a waterproof backpack or a sack that can be easily attached to the saddle.

  • passport
  • cash, preferably USD or EUR
  • electronics, e.g. camera
  • small bags or a handy backpack (for documents, wallet, bottle of water)
  • a canteen or any other handy water container (e.g. a plastic water bottle)
  • sleeping bag flashlight, a headlight may come in handy
  • sunscreen
  • headcover against the sun
  • waterproof trekking boots
  • raincoat
  • toilet paper