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Kyrgyzstan - The Shepherd's Way Cycling Holiday

The Shepherds Way

Day 1: Bishkek

redspokes Kyrgyzstan cycling tour begins in Bishkek. On arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Later in the morning you have the opportunity to go on a city tour. Bishkek's principal buildings date from the Soviet era, but you will learn about the history of Bishkek from its origins to the present day. The tour includes Victory Square, Oak Park with its stone sculptures, Old Square, The House of Parliament, Ala Too Main Square, White House, Manas Hero Square, City Hall and many other interesting places.

No tour of Bishkek would be complete without a visit to the noisy, colourful Asian Bazaar where all kinds of goods are on sale. You will have about an hour to enjoy the sights and sounds, goods, fruits, vegetables, and other goods. This evening we will eat in a traditional Kyrgyz restaurant. Kyrgyzstan is the country of nomads and almost all dishes consist of meat but if you are vegetarian you will be catered for. After dinner if you wish you can walk to the main Square Ala Too where there are colourful fountains and lights to enjoy.

Accommodation: Hotel

Day 2: Bishkek  - Balykchy - Kochkor

Today we drive to Issyk Kul Lake; the largest mountain lake in Central Asia, and the second largest in the world: 180km x 60km. We have a stunning view of the pure blue water and surrounding Tien Shan Mountains with their snow white peaks. The water is about 22 degrees and many people come here in summer time. In former times the lake was considered sacred. Nobody was allowed to swim or even to touch the water. In the 19th C people started to swim and fish here. There was a thriving city here on the Great Silk Road, many caravans came en route from China to Rome. There are also Stone Warriors 'Balbals' here: 7/8th C statues which commemorate famous soldiers killed during war.

After lunch we will begin our Kyrgyzstan cycling tour riding from the lake to Kochkor. We pass the Karakujur River and a few houses before we begin a gentle climb. After cycling our first pass of the tour at 2170m we follow a road close to the picturesque OrtoTokay Reservoir. Set against a dramatic backdrop of mountains, the waters shimmer in a variety of shades of blue and green. This was Kyrgyzstan’s first reservoir built in 1956. Its main purpose is irrigation of agricultural land. We continue a little further cycling on gently inclining road to reach Kochkor.

Cycling Distance: 57km (35 miles)
Total Climb: 361m (1184ft)
Total Descent: 121m (397ft)
Accommodation:  Guesthouse (B,L,D)  

Day 3:  Kochkor - just before Jalpak Bel Pass

Today is not as easy as it first seems, a gentle incline continues throughout the day; a good warm- up for the challenging mountain passes we will be cycling tomorrow. We set off from Kochkor riding along an asphalt road and turn to cycle on unpaved track, rarely used by cars as we head deep into the heart of Tien Shan Mountains. Our Kyrgyzstan cycling route continues on winding roads along incredible gorges. Fitness will win over technical experience on this section of the ride. We pass through places where life has hardly changed in hundreds of years and encounter the nomadic inhabitants of the region. 93% of mountainous areas in Kyrgyzstan are home to nomadic people. At 3000m it will feel chilly this evening.

Cycling Distance: 96km (60 miles)
Total Climb: 1,285m (4,252ft)
Total Descent: 179m (587ft)

Accommodation: Tent (B,L,D)

Day 4: Jalpak Bel Pass- Eki Naryn

Today our Shepherd's Way mountain biking adventure continues, offering completely different views of the evermore enchanting Kyrgyzstan. The highest point of the day is the Jalpak Bel Pass at 3348m. As we cycle in the Central Tien Shan Mountains, along the Terskey range riding on unpaved road. Our route boasts some of the most spectacular mountain biking you could ever wish for, with steep climbs and descents and stunning views of the river in the valley beneath us.

Tien Shan is the Chinese name. The Kyrgyz name is Tenir Too meaning 'Celestial Mountains'. The Tien Shan Range is one of the largest in Asia, stretching across several countries although 2/3 lie within Kyrgyzstan including the highest point Victory Peak - at 7 437m.

Cycling Distance: 65km (40 miles)
Total Climb: 588m (1,929ft)
Total Descent: 1,620m (5,315ft)

Accommodation: Tent (B,L,D)

Day 5: Eki Naryn - Naryn

We continue our cycle in the heart of the Tien Shan Mountains, with more stunning climbs, thrilling descents and unforgettable views. We're very likely to encounter more nomadic shepherds grazing their cattle in the mountains, moving from one pasture to another. The nomads still live in traditional yurts during the summer months and keep to their unique cultural traditions.

We're climbing again today but the gradient becomes easier as the cycling day progresses. The route is mixture of dirt and paved road and quite rough at times and we will feel the challenge of the varied road surface as we cycle. Naryn is a small town built right in the gorge with mountain slopes on either side. There will be an opportunity to do laundry today.

Cycling Distance: 67km (41 miles)
Total Climb: 575m (1,886ft)
Total Descent: 761m (2,497ft)

Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 6: Naryn - Kurtka

Our Kyrgyzstan cycling tour continues through mountain landscapes as we ride further onwards on traffic-free unpaved roads with more challenging climbs and exciting descents along meandering valley and mountain.  Tonight at camp you can indulge in the unique flavors of kymzy, a delightful beverage crafted from the nourishing milk of mares, truly capturing the essence of local culture and taste.

Cycling Distance: 99km (61 miles)
Total Climb: 367m (1,204ft)
Total Descent: 647m (2,123ft)

Accommodation: Tent (B,L,D)

Day 7: Kurtka - Son Kul South

We begin riding today with a challenging uphill cycle along a snaking route to the summit; at over 3346m the peak is higher than any Alpine pass and a great spot for a group photo. We follow a narrow road along the top of the mountain peak which leads us to the most famous place in Kyrgyzstan - Son Kul Lake. This is a wild mountainous area with a large nomadic population.

Remote from civilization, Son Kul Lake is a real encounter with unspoiled nature. At the end of the day we arrive at our camp. Tonight we will be staying in Yurts: a genuine Kyrgyz nomadic experience that will take you back in time. Made from felt and wood and held together with wooden sticks and strips of leather, it takes just one hour to collapse or to erect a yurt.

Cycling Distance: 37km ( 23 miles)
Total Climb: 1,179m (3,868ft)
Total Descent: 258m (846ft)

Accommodation: Yurt  (B,L,D)

Day 8 Son Kul Lake Rest Day

A day to experience and enjoy Nomad culture. This morning there is time to visit local ancient petroglyphs, created more than 2 000 years ago by shamen, and enjoy a panoramic view of the Son Kul Lake. Later you can ride a horse along the lake shores amidst beautiful scenery and feel the wind in your hair. There is also the opportunity to learn how kumis (a fermented drink) and kurts are made. Kurts are very salty or small cheese balls and a typical Kyrgyz snack.

Accommodation: Yurt (B,L,D)

Day 9: Ride around Son Kul Lake

Today we cycle around Son Kul Lake in beautiful surroundings at altitude ranging from 3016 - 3113m. All around are rolling hills as far as the eye can see and we encounter many nomadic families. You are likely to be offered Kumis, the Kyrgyz national drink. Kumis is fermented mare's milk; an alcoholic drink with an unusual taste. Son Kul is over-looked on the south shore by theMoldoo Too ridge. The lake is 59km long and 23km wide. The name Son Kul can be translated from Kyrgyz as 'the last lake'. Although the winter climate is very harsh, in summer time the area is a haven for nomads and their grazing herds. Besides sheep, goats, cows and horses you may see yaks and even camels. Sunsets at Son Kul are absolutely stunning. Once seen never forgotten. 

Cycling Distance: 89km (55 miles)
Total Climb: 414m (1,358ft)
Total Descent: 414m (1,358ft)

Accommodation: Yurt (B,L,D)

Day 10: Son Kul Lake - Chaek

Leaving beautiful Son Kul Lake, we cycle toward the small town of Chaek beginning on narrow rough road. After our first 25km we reach Kara Kache, a small mining village. We continue on to ride over the Kara Keche pass and downhill on towards Chaek completing the last 15km of the day on relatively flat road.

Cycling Distance: 78km (48 miles)
Total Climb: 636m (2,086ft)
Total Descent: 1,860m (6,102ft)  
Accommodation: Guesthouse (B,L,D)

Day 11: Chaek - Kyzyl-Oi

Today you will enjoy more lovely scenery. Again we are likely to encounter nomads along the way. Setting off with a downhill ride we cycle to Kyzyl Oi through the Red Rocks Gorge. We enjoy riding through remote mountains and small villages. It is a stunning route of dirt track, old paved road and small villages. There is plenty of time to meet and engage with the friendly locals, always quick to smile and return a Salaam Alaikum. The rural areas of Kyrgyzstan remain unspoiled, traditional and rich in culture. At the end of the day we reach Kyzyl Oi. Views of these red mountains are absolutely breath taking, and there is no better way to end this fantastic, unforgettable cycling day. 

Cycling Distance: 43km (27 miles)
Total Climb: 370m (1,171ft)
Total Descent: 320m (1,214 ft)

Accommodation: Homestay (B,L,D)

Day 12: Kyzyl-Oi - Baytur

Our final day on the bikes will be mainly uphill. We ride through the beautiful Suusamyr Valley. The valley abounds with stunning panoramas encompassing mountains, verdant forests, glistening lakes, and meandering rivers. This breathtaking locale stands proudly as one of the premier tourist havens in Kyrgyzstan. Visitors flock to indulge in an array of exhilarating activities, including  rafting expeditions,  horseback rides, heart-pounding paragliding adventures, and even the unique seasonal tradition of partaking in kumis, a detoxifying drink made from mare's milk.

Cycling Distance: 56km (35 miles)
Total Climb: 710m (2,329ft)
Total Descent: 110m (360ft) 
Accommodation: Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 13: Baytur - Bishkek

Today we drive to Bishkek city. Once over the Too Ashuu pass, which is more than 3,000m high, we make a dramatic descent. The road takes us through the southern part of Kyrgyzstan with scenic views all around. This route is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Kyrgyzstan. We have a farewell dinner in Bishkek at 8 0'clock this evening. Afterwards we can go for a walk and enjoy the night scenes of the city.

Accommodation: Hotel (B)

Day 14: Bishkek

redspokes Kyrgyzstan cycling tour ends today. You will be transferred to the airport for your journey home. Chon Rakhmat! Ak Jol - Thank you! Have a good flight!

If you need assistance or wish to discuss the tour, please feel free to call us on +44 (0) 1463 417707.

Alternatively, you can email us on office@redspokes.co.uk for more information on this adventure holiday.