Kyrgyzstan is a relatively untapped treasure trove of incredible scenery, beautiful fleet-footed horses, extraordinary history, and enthralling culture. On our exploratory guided ride in this proudly nomadic, equestrian nation, we will skirt glaciers, waterfalls and canyons and cross hundreds of streams, rivers and mountain passes (some over 4000m high!), eventually reaching the fabled jailoos, the high summer pastures around which Kyrgyz culture still revolves.
For eight days, our sturdy, home-bred steeds will carry our entire world on their backs, and our luxuries will be incredible company, unforgettable scenery, uninterrupted time in the saddle and a profound sense of freedom. We’ll meet no other tourists, only shepherds tending their herds. And when we say ‘meet’, we really mean it! Prepare to sit cross-legged in ornately furnished traditional Kyrgyz yurts as our talented local guides facilitate amazing cross-cultural connections.
We will return from the mountains just in time for National Independence Day, when the people of Kyrgyzstan gather in their finery for the biggest celebration of the year featuring music, dancing, feasting, and edge-of-your-seat equestrian games! This will truly be the cherry on top of an incredible journey and leave us utterly spellbound by Kyrgyzstan’s beautiful people and timeless culture.
If an intrepid pack horse adventure through THE most phenomenal scenery imaginable sounds like your cup of tea, you must join us for our exploratory ride in the Mountains of Heaven.
- Horse Breed:Native Kyrgyz horses. Standing around 14.2-15hh, they are tough, elegantly built, surefooted and hardworking, with incredible stamina.
- Pace:This is a ride into one of the world’s most remote and challenging mountain ranges. While the horses carry all your gear, you’ll ride at a walk, and even then, you’ll be amazed that they’re able to navigate these sacred valleys and ridges. Where the terrain and conditions allow, you can get some speed up, but this is not the aim of the ride, and will only be possible once you reconnect with the support vehicles on the third day in the saddle.
- Weight Limit:A maximum of 90kg / 200lbs. *If you’re above this weight, please contact us for further assessment.
- Type of tack:Traditional Kyrgyz saddles resemble a Maclennan saddle, with a sheepskin-covered seat, a horn for roping, and felt/wool saddle blankets. Bridles have snaffle bits, with leather or rope reins.
- Group size:A minimum of 5 and a maximum of 8 guests, plus 1 Globetrotting guide.
- Time in Saddle:Between 4 and 7 hours per day, depending on the distance to the next campsite.
- Riding Ability:Suitable for intermediate to advanced riders who are saddle fit and have a strong sense of adventure. Please contact us if you are a beginner rider to discuss your suitability in detail. The terrain is very technical in places. If you are nervous, suffer from vertigo, aren’t capable of handling one or two horses on the ground, or can't mount from the stirrup (your guides can help!), this isn’t the ride for you. Not sure what your riding ability is? Watch THIS video to find out.
- Accommodation:In Bishkek (nights 1 & 13), you’ll stay at a 3-star hotel. In Barskoon (nights 2, 10 & 11), you’ll be staying at a charming family guesthouse in twin share rooms with two shared bathrooms.
On the ride itself (nights 3-9), you’ll be camping in good quality, fairly spacious twin share tents. There will be no showers available, unless you fancy a dip in a glacial lake.
- Ride Length:14 days, 13 nights with 8 riding days.
The price includes all transfers, full board, non-alcoholic beverages, and riding activities.
As part of this Guided Exploratory Ride, globetrotters will be guided by GT’s own Katy Willings, alongside the local team.
The price does not include international flights, travel insurance (compulsory), alcohol, or staff tips.
DEPARTURE DATES & RATESNEW! Secure your saddle seat NOW with a 10% deposit - as part of our 10x 10% payment plan!
|August 19, 2024 - Guided!
|September 1, 2024
|5 spots left
Should you wish to have your own room on the hotel nights and certain camping nights, an additional single supplement charge will apply.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?
The price includes all transfers, full board, non-alcoholic beverages, and riding activities. As part of this Guided Exploratory Ride, globetrotters will be guided by GT’s own Katy Willings, alongside the local team.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?
The price does not include international flights, travel insurance (compulsory), alcohol, or staff tips.
NB: gluten free and dairy free diets cannot be accommodated. We apologise for the inconvenience.
Accepted payment is by credit or debit card only. Depending on the ride you choose to book and your country of residence, there will be a 1.2% to 2.9% surcharge.
With our riding destinations, the currency is dictated by our ride partner in that country. Therefore due to fluctuating exchange rates we have to quote in the same currency.
ItineraryExpand AllCollapse All
Please note, this is a suggested itinerary only and subject to change at the discretion of your guides due to weather and other influencing factors.
Welcome to the fascinating city of Bishkek, globetrotters! Today the local team will meet us at the airport and drive us to Hotel Soluxe. Those who have some Zs to catch up on can rest at the hotel (perhaps after a tasty breakfast), while those with a little more energy head out to explore the city. In the evening we’ll reconvene for our first traditional Kyrgyz dinner at a hospitable restaurant a short walk from the hotel.
This morning we’ll hit the road and head east to Barskoon, an ancient silk road village nestled on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Kul, affectionately known as ‘The Pearl of Kyrgyzstan’. The drive will take around six hours, including some stops along the way for lunch, scenery ogling and last-minute shopping (if you wish to buy some alcohol for our nights at the guesthouse, now’s your chance).
Arriving in Barskoon by mid-afternoon, we’ll be honoured guests at Shepherd’s Way Guesthouse. The owner, Ishen, will regale us with his wealth of local knowledge and folklore while the dining table is obscured by piles of lovingly prepared, home-grown produce. Before night falls, our guides will go over the plan for the coming days and give us a practice run with the gear we’ll be using. By bedtime, we’ll be feeling well prepared and BEYOND excited to begin our riding adventure in the morning!
After a luscious breakfast featuring freshly-plucked apples and apricots alongside various continental and cooked items, we’ll pile into the vehicles for a quick drive up the Barskoon Canyon, past the remnants of an old caravanserai. Then our horses will come into view and we’ll meet the crew and pair up with our trusty steeds.
Once our gear is packed securely on the horses’ backs, we’ll mount up and pick our way up through the forest along the isolated Sasyk-Bulak Valley. We’ll cover somewhere between 25 and 35 kilometres today before pitching our tents in a sheltered pocket of pasture and enjoying the simple pleasure of a hearty meal cooked over open flames. Rest assured you’ll sleep like a baby tonight, lulled by the whisper of wind in the grass.
Over the following six days, we will settle into the addictive rhythm of ‘eat, sleep, ride, repeat’. Crossing Tosor Pass, we’ll ride south-east of the Tien-Shan range, across hundreds of streams, rivers, forests, gorges and passes (some over 4000m high!). We’ll skirt glaciers, waterfalls and canyons, soothe our muscles in a hot spring, and eventually reach the fabled jailoos, the high summer pastures around which the Kyrgyz nomadic culture still revolves. We’ll meet no other tourists, only shepherds tending their cattle, sheep, goats, yaks and horses. And when we say meet, we mean it! Prepare to sit cross-legged atop decorative carpets in ornately furnished traditional yurts as we stop in for tea or kymyz, the summer speciality of fermented mare’s milk. You’ll soon find that the quality of your sleep after an invigorating day in the saddle and a wonderful campfire-cooked meal is unsurpassed.
Packing up our tents for the last time, we’ll set off across high pastures dotted with sheep, horses and yurts, emerging at around midday onto a dirt road near the imposing Barskoon Pass. Here, a vehicle will be waiting to take us back to Barskoon village. We’ll say our goodbyes to the incredible horses and crew, then return to the hot baths, nourishing food and cosy beds of Shepherd’s Way Guesthouse.
Tonight we’re also going to be treated to a recital of the Epic of Manas. This is a spine-tingling performance in which a Manaschi, or ‘bard’, sings the entire story of Manas, Kyrgyzstan’s national hero. Witnessing this time-honoured art form, we can truly say we’ve experienced the real Kyrgyzstan.
The R&R continues today with a (comparatively!) late breakfast and a day of sightseeing in the nearby city of Karakol. Shaped by centuries of trade, migration and exploration, Karakol is a melting pot of Central Asian cultures and a truly fascinating reflection of Kazakhstan’s past and present. The options include checking out Przhevalsky Museum (which commemorates equestrian explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky, namesake of Przewalski’s Horse), Dungan Mosque, great coffee bars and beauty salons, and of course picking up some locally made souvenirs and handicrafts. Lunch will be enjoyed at a family-owned restaurant, and on the way back to Barskoon we’ll sneak in a quick dip in a hot spring.
After bidding a fond farewell to Ishen and his beautiful family in Barskoon, we’ll commence our homeward journey along the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul. Our destination is the lakeside resort town of Cholpon Ata, home of the Hippodrome, which has hosted the past 3 World Nomad Games. Here we’ll check in to a lovely private lodge and hit the beach. Floating in the lake, we’ll bask in a very different view of the Tien Shan mountains than the one we had ‘between the ears’ earlier in the week.
Today is a big day for Kyrgyzstan, globetrotters – it’s Independence Day! One of the biggest celebrations on the national calendar, the festivities centre around the national sport, kok-boru. Essentially, this game involves two teams of men mounted on horses attempting to carry a headless goat carcass across a field to the opposing team’s goal. If you think polo is an adrenaline sport, wait until you see this! We’ll be joining in the celebrations in either Cholpon Ata or Bishkek, so get ready to sip kymyz, munch on fried dumplings and cheer for the brave locals and their horses!
In the evening, we will return to the city. The bustle of Bishkek will no doubt come as a shock, but the reliable WiFi, diverse cuisine and fancy sauna options will certainly help ease the transition back to modern life! The night is ours to enjoy however we please, all centred around a glorious group dinner full of laughter and fresh memories.
It’s time to say our goodbyes, globetrotters! Today we’ll be ferried to the airport in good time for our flights, reminiscing on two whole weeks’ worth of unforgettable adventures.
All transfers throughout this itinerary are included in the ride price, including complimentary airport transfers on the first and last days.
You can arrive and depart Bishkek anytime on days 1 & 14 respectively. Please ensure you inform Globetrotting of your flight itinerary prior to departure so that your airport transfers can be arranged.