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Heart of the Tien Shan
Walks Asia Kyrgyzstan Heart of the Tien Shan

Heart of the Tien Shan

14 Days | From £1,499 | Guided Group Departures

This adventurous expedition style trip takes you into the heart of the Tien Shan mountains on a challenging trek through breathtaking scenery. If you're looking for a true adventure and to get out into a mountain wilderness then this could be your trip of a lifetime.

14 Days | From £1,499 | Guided Group Departures

  • Beautiful mountain flora, alpine meadows and coniferous forests
  • The unspoiled Terksey Ala-Too Mountains
  • Spend time at the remarkable Lake Issyk Kul
  • Explore the Seven Bulls Gorge

From Bishkek we head to the former Cossack town of Karakol, famous for its wooden cathedral made without nails. We then head into the 'Seven Bulls' gorge along the southern shore of Issyk Kul to follow a linear route into the heart of the Terksey Ala-Too and discover a pristine landscape of forests, meadows and soaring peaks. Continuing deeper into the Terksey Ala-Too via a series of mountain passes, our trek leads us through a wild and magnificent part of the Tien Shan, so untouched it remains the realm of the snow leopard.

Along the way we make detours to explore glacial valleys to get close-up views of the high peaks. We exit via the Altyn Arashan gorge on the northern shores of Issyk Kul and devote a full day to relaxing by the 'Titicaca of Central Asia' before returning to Bishkek. Explore a genuine mountain wilderness.

Map of Heart of the Tien Shan
Day 1. Depart UK
Depart the UK for your overnight flight to Bishkek.
Day 2. Arrive Bishkek
Arrive at Bishkek International Airport and meet at the group hotel in Bishkek. Enjoy an afternoon of sightseeing and exploring the area.
Day 3. Drive past Issyk Kul to overnight at Karakol, visit the wooden cathedral here
Leaving Bishkek, travel overland to Karakol, built by the Cossacks in the 19th Century as a garrison. Enjoy a walking tour of Karakol and visit the beautiful wooden cathedral and Chinese mosque constructed out of wood, but with no nails used!
Day 4. Trek the Seven Bulls Gorge to Oguz Bashi Peak. Visit local yurts.
Drive up the Djety Oguz Canyon (Seven Bulls Gorge), an extraordinary formation of red sandstone cliffs, and follow a narrow mountain track that rises steadily through alpine meadows and coniferous forest, following the course of the Djety Oguz River. Walk to a waterfall in the afternoon and camp in a traditional yurt along the banks of the Jeti Oguz River.
Day 5. Trek deeper into the Terksey Ala-Too.
Leave camp and follow a trail leading upwards through a pristine alpine valley until you are above the tree line. The walking then becomes fairly level to camp beneath the Telety Pass. By now this remote and stunningly beautiful alpine wilderness will have become apparent.
Day 6. Ascend the Telety Pass; camp in the Karakol Valley
Climb steeply up to the Telety Pass where snowy peaks either side rise to over 5,000m and the views are spectacular. Then descend to reach the tree line once more and make camp tonight where the valley meets the Karakol Gorge by the Karakol River. There is the option to relax in a traditional Russina Banya (sauna) after this challenging day.
Day 7. Trek to the base of Karakolskii Peak
Walk deep into the heart of the Terksey Al-Too and a genuine wild, mountain area. Climb up through coniferous forest to then emerge into sub-alpine, then wild alpine meadow. You’ll trek to around 3100m to get close-up views of the spectacular Karakolskii Peak before returning to camp.
Day 8. Walk through Sirota area, passing stunning waterfalls
Cross the Karakol River and ascend once more to climb steadily through forest. Once above the tree line, continue your ascent to a beautifully wild and scenic camp location above the stunning Alakol Lake. Walking by the lake with its crystal pure waters surrounded by mountains makes a most dramatic setting. The Tien Shan sheep and ibex are known to frequent this area, as is the elusive snow leopard.
Day 9. Stiff ascent over the Alakol Pass past an alpine lake
A stiff scree ascent brings you to the Alakol Pass with wonderful views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains. From here descend to camp in the Altyn Arashan Canyon.
Day 10. Trek further into the Altyn Arashan Valley to view Palatka Peak
Head steadily up the valley through forest and into wild alpine meadow, take a left turn and follow the Aksu River up a subsidiary valley where you’ll be confronted with the enormous wall of rock and ice of Palatka Peak.
Day 11. Leave the Terksey Ala-Too by 4WD vehicles, drive to Lake Issyk Kul
You have the option of trekking out of the Altyn Arshan Gorge before meeting your vehicles, or be picked up from the camp. Drive back to Karakol before heading to the town of Cholpon Ata on the northern shores of Issyk Kul.
Day 12. A day at leisure to enjoy Issyk Kul Lake
Today is free to enjoy the second largest alpine lake in the world. Relax and enjoy mountain views or take a swim in its thermally heated waters. There is also the opportunity to visit the Cholpon Ata Petroglyphs, some of which date back to the 4th Century.
Day 13. Travel back to Bishkek, celebration dinner
Return to Bishkek overland, stopping along the way near Tokmok to visit the Burana Tower and explore the ruins of a former trading point of the Great Silk Road. In the evening enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner.
Day 14. Depart Bishkek, arrive UK
Depart Bishkek for your flight back to the UK. Arrive later that day.
  • Trip grade: C - Demanding
  • Duration: 14 days
  • Trip code: TKYR
  • GROUP SIZE : 4 Min - 14 Max
  • Max Altitude: 3,860m
  • Accommodation: Hotels x 5 nts, guesthouse x 1 nt, camping x 7 nts
  • Meals: 12 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 12 evening meals inc
  • Departs: July and August
  • IMPORTANT : Make sure your chosen holiday is guaranteed to run before you purchase your air tickets and make any other travel arrangements
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