Travel in the border areas with Kazakhstan, China and Tajikistan requires a border permit. This means climbing and trekking to Khan Tengri, Pik Lenin, the Ak Sai and Arpa Valley, treks in the high reaches of the Chong Kemin Valley as well as other places need some paperwork.
A full list of restricted areas exists in Russian.
Where to get it?
If you are organising your trip with a travel agency, they will do it for you. You can also apply yourself at an OVIR police station – we welcome your reports. Certain travel agencies will be happy to apply for you, but this will come at a cost.
To visit the Inylchek base camp and the Inylchek glacier, the ghost town of Inylchek, Pik Pobeda, Merzbacher Lake, Khan Tengri and other peaks in the area from the Kyrgz side, you will need a permit (propusk in Russian). If you are organising your trip with a travel agency, you will get the permit included with the price of your other tour services. If you want to do things independently and just need the permit, a lot of travel agencies will not be forthcoming.
Visit Karakol has been recommended to us as the most professional outfit of the bunch – they charge 25$. If you apply well in advance other agencies might be willing to do it as well, for less money.
As for a driver who charges reasonable money and is possibly the best driver in whole area, try Alexander. He has a UAZ jeep, a UAZ van and a Delica van. His phone number is +996 772 77 17 34. He doesn’t speak English, unfortunately, only Russian. He can get anywhere at any time of the year. He knows his vehicles well, always carries tons of spare parts, food, fuel, water, etc. He won’t let you stranded. He used to work around Kumtor, Inylchek, etc, so he knows the area well.
Chong Kemin border permit
You will need a border permit for the Chong Kemin valley if you intend to head into a 2km-wide border strip from Khan Tengri and Pik Maxim Gorki in the east to Peak Kantbastau and onwards to Korumbash pass in the west. An undefined part of Kemin district is also in the border zone.
Updates and questions welcome in the Chong Kemin border permit topic.