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Kyrgyzstan Horse Riding Adventure

Follow the footsteps (or hoof steps) of nomads, ancient warriors, and thousands of traders using the Silk Road. You’ll discover what life is like above and beyond the modern worries of today’s western culture as you make your way through perhaps the most pristine wilderness left on earth.

The range of mountains known as the Mountains of Heaven cover the entire country and are stunning in their grandeur. Wild and high, lush and green they are populated with primal forests, crystal streams sweeping steppe lands, and turquoise lakes. From every vantage you can look out and see a fantastic view of lofty snow-capped peaks. The adventure begins at one of the last great remaining Silk Road caravanserais in Tash Rabat and ends at the beautiful Son Kul Lake. Along the way you will cover the Alai region following a piece of the actual Silk Route trail. With such beautiful and untouched surroundings you’ll be feeling like an ancient trader in no time.

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Highlights:

  • Camping at night with Kyrgyzstan nomads Riding through the Mountains of Heaven
  • Swimming in turquoise rivers
  • Exploring an ancient Silk Road Caravanserai
  • Delighting in the sights and sounds of the bustling Osh Bazaar Sampling delicious local cuisine
  • Visiting the 11th century Burana Tower – a rare archaeological remnant of Kyrgyzstan
  • Sampling Kymyz, the national drink made from fermented mare’s milk Crossing the countries largest river, The Naryn, on horseback
  • Spending time with the mountain nomads, listening to stories about the joys and hardships of their way of life
  • Sleeping in a yurt
  • Arriving in the famous Tash Rabat caravanserai, complete with its arched entrance, domed roof and magnificent corner turrets

This is 15 days of adventure that will reconnect you with nature as well as your inner strength and sense of adventure. There is something remarkable that happens between humans and their horses as they spend day after day together. Both have distinct personalities and quirks and half the adventure is coming to know each other. You should be able to ride to an intermediate standard, be reasonably fit and in a decent state of health.

Itinerary

Day 1: Join tour in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan): Due to the arrival times of our suggested flights, accommodation for this night is included in the tour cost. Those on the suggested group flight will arrive in the early hours of Day 2. Hotel (no meals)

Day 2: Bishkek: After a restful morning at the hotel we will have a look around this city, one of the world’s more relaxed capitals, visiting the excellent museum and, time permitting, taking a wander round the bustling Osh bazaar. Accommodation: Hotel

Day 3: Bishkek – Kochkorka: After a late breakfast we will be driven east towards Lake Issyk Kul and onto the small village of Kochkorka, which is famous for its felt- making. Here we will stay in simple but friendly family run accommodation. En route we will visit the 11th century Burana T ower , one of the few archaeological remnants still to be found in Kyrgyzstan. Accommodation: Homestay

Day 4: Kochkorka – Son Kul: This morning we will continue onto the stunning 3,000m glacial lake of Son Kul. Here we will meet Nurgul and her family, along with our horses that will be with us for the next 10 days. This is a wonderful place to relax and prepare ourselves for the coming adventure. There should also be the opportunity for a first horse ride and in the evening, to sample the national drink, Kymyz (fermented mare’s milk). Accommodation: Yurts.

Day 5: Son Kul – Kurtka river: After breakfast we saddle the horses and leave the lake, heading south across the Uzun- Bulak Pass. We spend our first night in the wild camping by the side of the Kurtka river. Accommodation: Camp.

Day 6: Kurtka river – Ak Tal Chat: Today we come to Kyrgyzstan’s largest river – the Naryn. This river is a tributary of the famous Syr-Darya (antiquity’s Jaxartes river), which meets its end in the deserts of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the form of the dying Aral Sea. Here however it is a young a fresh waterway. We cross the river and make our way further southwards. Accommodation: Camp

Day 7: Ak Tal Chat – Black Lake: Today we follow the Ak Tal Chat and Mazar rivers before setting up camp just beyond the Black Lake. We hope to see nomads in this region and spend some time getting to know them. Accommodation: Camp

Day 8: Black Lake – Tuz Ashuu: Continuing our journey southwards we will climb to the Tuz Ashuu pass, high in the Tien Shan. Accommodation: Camp

Day 9: Tuz Ashuu – Tash Rabat: Having left the pass we will cross the main road to China and, like a thousand Silk Road travellers before us, ride up to the famous caravanserai. Here we camp up in the main valley and sleep in yurts. Accommodation:  Yurts

Day 10: Tash Rabat: Today we will have a rest day at this stunning location, where can ride, walk or just relax. Sheltering in the lee of a black granite cliff, in what must surely be one of the prettiest valleys in the country, this ancient Silk Road caravanserai, constructed of dark stone with a huge arched entrance, domed roof and corner turrets, appears like some ancient eastern castle, a mythical outpost fromsome long forgotten legend. Before it, sweeping out of sight behind a sheer ridge is a wide green valley, dotted with yurts and hundreds of animals: horses, cattle, yaks and sheep. A visit to Tash Rabat is certainly one of the highlights of any trip to Kyrgyzstan. Accommodation: Yurts

Day 11: Tash Rabat – Ak Sai River: Riding over a 3800m pass we then descend to the Ak-Sai river and follow the northern bank of the river eastwards. This is the only night of the trip where we will not have vehicle back-up and so we will take enough provisions and equipment to be self-sufficient for the night just as travellers of old used to. Accommodation: Camp

Day 12: Ak Sai River – Shyrpykty Pass: Ascending the At Bashy range we make our way very close to the Chinese border and spend our final night camping out in the wild. Accommodation: Camp

Day 13: Shyrpykty Pass – Naryn: Descending to the village of Kyzyl-Too, we will bid a sad farewell to our horses and then transfer by road the short distance to the small market town of Naryn where we will stay with a local family. Accommodation:  Homestay

Day 14: Naryn – Bishkek: We return to Kyrgyzstan’s relaxed capital and planning to arrive mid-afternoon, there should be time for shopping or sightseeing before a final dinner. Accommodation: Hotel

Day 15: Bishkek: The tour ends after breakfast. For those on WF preferred flight a transfer to the airport will be arranged.

Trip Notes

Duration: 15 Days

Price: From £2,695 (excluding flights)

Start Date: 12th August 2017

For flight information we can advise on the best route and airline and quote you via our flight partner

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

  • Full services of a Professional Tour Leader with local guides and drivers
  • Meal plan as detailed in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner) with mineral water as required.
  • All transport as outlined in the itinerary.
  • All accommodation
  • All entrance fees, as per itinerary

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED?

  • Visas (if applicable)
  • Local airport taxes
  • Tips (always optional, but some guidance will be given in the pre- departure information pack you’ll receive after booking)
  • Beverages & any costs of a personal nature.
  • International Flights
  • Airport transfers

Accommodation

Accommodation will be in hotels, eco-lodges & community owned guesthouses and will be in a decent 3* hotel in Bishkek, family home stays, yurts and two-man mountain tents. That said, there are few frills up in the mountains, but what you will witness in these breathtaking hills, with the unspoiled nomadic people who live among them, will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression upon you.

Any accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is subject to availability and if not available substitutes will be of a similar quality.

Transport on this tour will be horses! Jeeps carry all our equipment including personal items, tents food and drink.

Trip Grading:

Adventure Rating 8/10
Comfort Grade 4/10
Fitness Level 7/10
Cultural Interest 6/10

Please note that this grading is an indication only and should you have any concerns please contact the office.

Riding Ability: You should be able to ride to an intermediate standard, be reasonably fit and in a decent state of health. There may be certain points on the trip where you will be required to get off and lead your horse over steep, uneven terrain. You should also be happy with a camping lifestyle.

NB – Please bear in mind that for logistical reasons it may be necessary to alter our horse trek routes and the itinerary should only be seen as a guide.

Horse Trekking in Kyrgyzstan: Though we feel horse trekking in Kyrgyzstan represents one of our best forms of adventure holiday, we wish to make it clear that they are not for everyone. Riding through the Tien Shan Mountains – crossing rivers, canyons and high mountain passes – is an adventure in the true sense of the word; although exhilarating and amazing fun it can be hard work, tiring and at times even hazardous. Out there in the wilds anything can happen – be it a river in spate that needs to be crossed, dramatic weather changes, there may even be snow, a rockslide blocking the trail, or an unforeseen change in the planned route – and its important you are both aware of this and able to deal with it.

Pace of the Ride: Although there will certainly be times when you will be able to have a good canter across the open steppe – and this should happen at least once a day – it is important to make clear that horse treks through mountains are almost always of a slow nature as you cross rugged terrain. Accordingly you can expect to cover about 20 – 25kms a day on average, with an average of 7 hours in the saddle each day.

Horses: The horses are of the tough local Kyrgyz breed, which are similar to Mongolian ponies although a little taller and finer often with some Akhal Tekhi blood. They are around 13.2hh to 15hh, sturdy, sure-footed and used to rough mountain terrain. They are easy and fun to ride and willingly canter for miles through open grassy meadows. Tack is local style and local horsemen are on hand to tack up, un-tack and look after the horses.

About Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan, or the Kyrgyz Republic to give it its proper title, is one of the most beautiful countries on earth.The Mountains of Heaven that stretch across its length and breadth are lush and green, high and wild, dissected by sweeping steppe lands, primal forests, crystal streams and turquoise lakes. And far away, scratching the belly of the endless sky, is a never-changing vista of lofty snow-capped peaks.

The country rises in altitude from 400 metres in the Ferghana Valley to the 7,437 metre summit of Peak Pobeda. Over 90 percent of the land is over 1,500 metres, and 41 percent is higher than 3,000 meters. A third of the country is permanently covered in snow.

But despite the immense natural beauty of this landlocked Central Asian, Silk Road republic, it is the people themselves that bring Kyrgyzstan to life and on all our tours you will stay with local families with whom we developed special friendships. Whether visiting the home of the late Sogan Bai – the eagle hunter of Issyk Kul – or Nurgul and her family at Son Kul, or Nazira in Tash Rabat, you will find ordinary folk with proud nomadic traditions, an indomitable strength and great sense of hospitality.

To learn more about the Kyrgyz nomads and our relationship with them, please click here. The Kyrgyz are descendants from tribes from the Tuva region of Russia, which migrated to the area in the 13th century, during the rise of the Mongol empire. Kyrgyzstan formed an integral part of the Silk Road and in 1876 was incorporated into the Russian empire and later the Soviet Union.

When that union dissolved in 1991, Kyrgyzstan became independent. In March 2005 a popular uprising known as the Tulip Revolution forced Soviet-era president to flee the country. He was replaced by President Kurmanbek Bakiev. But the history and culture of this fascinating country has always been shaped by its geographical position, as for centuries it was the gateway to the west for invading warrior tribes and Silk Road traders alike.

Today it makes for an incredible adventure travel destination, providing the intrepid tourist with wonderful horse treks, cultural tours and activity holidays.

Operator

“This operator is a multi-award winning adventure travel company specialising in small group tours and tailor made holidays to some of the most extraordinary destinations across the Indian sub-continent, Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, Latin America and Europe.

We love their unique, original itineraries – whether they are for small group travel or individually created for tailor made clients – allowing you to take journeys that venture beneath the surface of the region.

This operator concentrates on the locations they know and love. They don’t source itineraries from other agents, nor do they run the same tour over and over (thus creating a ‘tourist circuit’, spoiling an untouched region). Instead, they rarely run any group tour more than a couple of times a year and they are on routes they have discovered for themselves, to give a truly authentic, off-the-beaten-track experience.”

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