Kyrgyzstan hiking advice – places and people

Share rides, hikes & tours in KG. Find partners for Torugart crossing to Kashgar.
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petraroxanna
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Kyrgyzstan hiking advice – places and people

Post by petraroxanna »

Hello all!

I'm planning to do a hiking trip to Kyrgyzstan in mid- to late-June. The idea is to break my time off into 2 treks, one longer one (something like 6-8 days) and one shorter one (2-4 days). I know June can still be cold in some places, and perhaps some trails are still closed, so any advice on whether to avoid a certain hike because it will almost definitely be closed would be helpful! Or any suggestions on specific treks I should do would also be amazing (I'm early into the research on it so any advice is useful).

As well, I would ideally not like to do the longer distance trek on my own but I also don't want to do it guided. Not many of my friends are big hikers so I would ideally like to find someone/people also doing treks there around the same time – not sure if there is a hikers group on Facebook or somewhere else where you can find other hikers or if there are places to meet other hikers in Kyrgyzstan ... literally any insights. or suggestions would be helpful at this time.

Thanks in advance for anyone who can help :)
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jrobi6
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Re: Kyrgyzstan hiking advice – places and people

Post by jrobi6 »

Hello!

I was hiking in Kyrgyzstan last summer. It will surely be a memory of a lifetime. :)
I did the Ala-Kul trek in 3 days late June, the lake was still frozen, so I could only see the turquise colours of it next to its shores, a week later (around june 30 the ice already melted). The pass at 3900 was covered with melting snow, so it is hard to avoid getting wet, tho no crampoons or etc. was needed. In Kyrgyzstan in my opinion if you are fit enough and do your research you can hike anywhere you want (ofc below 5000 m) without a guide. During our trek to Ala-Kul we were camping, warm sleeping bag is highly recommended, it gets around 0 C at 2900 m.
If you are planning on a 6 or more days hike near Karakol you can use Altyn-Arashan to relax and refill your supplies, there are some guesthouses if you are fed up with camping.
Ala-Archa is also stunning, you can walk in the river valley or hike up to Ratsek-hut (or even further up). If I were you I would plan my shorter hike in that area. It is really easily accessible too.
Sary-Chelek can be a nice excursion, even getting there is adventurous and beautiful, however it takes time.... Can be around 10 h from Bishkek.
Water purifier was really useful during trekking as there are many horses, cows and other animals who don't really care about keeping the springs clean. Gas for camping stove is really hard to find, we didn't manage to do so at Osh bazaar (I am sure they sell around there, but lack of Russian knowledge stopped us.) We found one in Karakol at Toktogula road (Sport Мастер I think, it was a sport bolt at least around there)

In Bishkek Apple hostel is recommended, they also organise programmes and you are likely to meet other backpackers too. And the hostel is just next to the main busstation where you can take marschrutkas to basicly everywhere.

On Alltrails you can find some routes.
Tell me if you find any hiking groups, I wasn't looking for them a lot, but I didn't really find one.

From the top of my head, these things came to my mind, but feel free to contact me ([email protected]) or whatsapp (I can PM you my number) I can send you some pictures also.

Have a great journey!

Best,
Robert
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willemspie
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Re: Kyrgyzstan hiking advice – places and people

Post by willemspie »

Yes, you can hike 6 to 8 days above Karakol, crossing from one valley to the next. You can start in Jety Oguz for instance. The detour upvalley till the base of Karakol Peak is also recommended. The question is the snow situation on the passes in June.
For a different short trek, you can consider Song Kol.
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Lomtikirok
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Re: Kyrgyzstan hiking advice – places and people

Post by Lomtikirok »

So happy for you traveling to the new country! There are plenty of beautiful places to explore in Kyrghystan but do make sure to check for any trail closures before setting out. As for finding hiking partners, you should check out travel forums or social media groups for hikers in Kyrgyzstan. You could also consider a local hiking club or reach out to tour operators who can connect you with other hikers. If you still need to find accommodation, book it at https://happylife.es. Good luck with your planning, and have a great trip!
Last edited by Lomtikirok on Fri Feb 24, 2023 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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petraroxanna
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Re: Kyrgyzstan hiking advice – places and people

Post by petraroxanna »

Thanks Robert for all your insights and suggestions really helpful as I've started my research too!
Do you have any longer hike recommendations 6+ days? Can be anywhere really in Kyrgyzstan, since I'm only starting to plan it now I'm very flexible in where I go. I was thinking either staying in Karakol region, Osh region, Song-Kul area, or virtually anywhere else interesting.
I also read it should be fine to rent some of my gear in Kyrgyzstan – namely tent and sleeping bag. Did you also find that the case? Is there also anything recommended to rent gear wise (outside of the normal trekking stuff)?
Thanks so much for letting me know
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petraroxanna
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Re: Kyrgyzstan hiking advice – places and people

Post by petraroxanna »

Thanks willemspie for the advice as well, was mostly looking south of Karakol but I'll do some extra research on above Karakol. Do you have any trail maps for treks above Karakol that I can check out?
The snow will definitely be the biggest question even in late June, hopefully it will clear up in most places when I'll plan to be out for treks, but good to have the reminder to check :)
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willemspie
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Re: Kyrgyzstan hiking advice – places and people

Post by willemspie »

Above Karakol is well South of Karakol.
You can download Soviet topographical maps to prepare your trek from different websites, I use https://maps.vlasenko.net/
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Kasia
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Re: Kyrgyzstan hiking advice – places and people

Post by Kasia »

When I was in KGZ last year (June + July), I liked Karakol + Jyrgalan for hiking and trekking more than Sary Chelek (transportation is a pain in the ass) and Song Kol (better on a horse).

For a longer trek in the Karakol area you could start or end your tour in Jyrgalan - easy to be reached from Karakol. Thanks to Destination Jyrgalan and some bloggers you will find plenty of info online. You should look into the Ak-Suu Transverse (Jyrgalan - Jeti Oguz, 8-10 days).

In Karakol you can rent trekking and camping gear at Ecotrek - they are very helpful with information on trek and weather conditions, and they can bring you in contact with trekking partners. Or just hang around at Duet Hostel / Meeting Point café: many like-minded outdoorsy travellers, superb maps, info on treks, accomodation, transportation...and good food, too.

If by chance you pass Altyn Arashan, do yourself the favour of a rest day there and soak in one of the indoor or outdoor hot springs. Extra bonus: in case of bad weather you can travel easily hitchhike down to Karakol.

Safe travels!
Kasia
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