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Rock-climbing tour in Kyrgyzstan - Celestial mountains.

 Travel across Kyrgyzstan.

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere” 

Isabelle Eberhardt, «The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt».

Kyrgyzstan (capital – Bishkek). The territory of Kyrgyzstan is 198,500 sq. km. 94 % of the country is  covered with mountains that are among the highest in the world – Khan-Tengri 7010 meters above sea level and Pobeda 7439 meters above sea level peaks. Hot, dry summers alternate with cold winters. Kyrgyzstan is  also famous  for its unique Issyk-Kul lake 1600 meters above sea level, its water never gets frozen in winter. 
The main cultural sights of Kyrgyzstan are: Bishkek city, Burana Tower, Rock-Drawings in Cholpon-Ata, Tash-Rabat Caravan serai. Population – 4,5 mln. State system – republic. Monetary unit – som. Language – Russian and Kyrgyz. Religion - Islam, all others in a less degree. Climate - strong continental. Geograhically Kyrgyzstan is one of the most picturesque regions of the Central Asia.
It borders on Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. Mountains take up over two thirds of the territory, hence the diversity of landscapes, flora ans fauna, climatic contrasts. There a lot of rivers, waterfalls and lakes in the mountains.

Brief description of a route of tour on sights of the Kyrgyz Republic:

Bishkek - Song-Kul lake - Karakol - base camp "At-Dzhailoo" - glacier Inylchek - glacier Guiding - glade Merzbakher - base camp «Southern Inylchek» - natural boundary Karkara - lake Issyk Kul - Bishkek.

Distance of route: 1 486 km.
Season: From July, 5th till September, 1st.
Duration of tour: 14 days, 13 nights.
Best time for travel: July - August.

Detailed description of program of trekking in mountains Central Tin-Shan to peak of Khan- Tengri:

Active travellers in Kyrgyzstan. 

Day 1. “Manas” international airport - Bishkek (40 km, 1 hour).  
Arrival in Bishkek early in the morning. Meeting at the airport. Transfer to the hotel or guest house. After breakfast a short sightseeing tour in the city. The capital and industrial centre of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek is a town of wide avenues, handsome buildings and Soviet heritage. It is the permanently snow capped Kyrgyz Ala-Too mountain range which towers over Bishkek providing a quite stunning backdrop.
Visit Manas Monument, the main national hero of the Kyrgyz people. Lunch in local restaurant.  Then excursion to the State History Museum and walking tour around main Ala Too Square to watch ceremony of changing of the Guard of Honor, Independence Monument, and finish at the Old Square with Government House.
Transfer to the Victory Square to finish the city tour by short excursion there. After excursion tourists may go shopping in the largest department store in the city – TSUM and a colorful oriental bazaar. Farewell dinner in restaurant. Overnight is in hotel
Day 2. Bishkek – Burana Tower – Son-Kul (390 km, 8 hours, + 900 meters). 
Breakfast. Transfer: Bishkek - an architectural complex «Burana Tower» (72 km, 1 hour). Arrival on an architecturally-archeological museum «Burana» ruins of ancient site of ancient settlement Burana. Visiting of museum open-air - Stone statue monuments with image Turkomans VI - X centuries, here is collected more than 80 various Stone statue.
Visiting of collections the mill millstones found at excavation in territory Burana of site of ancient settlement (X - XII c.c., millstones from mills of our time and millstones XVIII - beginnings XX с.с. Visiting of museum Burana Tower, the pottery of different forms and the sizes, utensils from glass, ceramic and bronze fixtures, manual grain bruiser, Kairaks with Arabian and Nestorianism writing, potter's water pipes, subjects of arts and crafts, bronze coins here is presented.
Visiting of monuments Epigraphy which are presented gravestone stela with inscriptions in the Arabian language, on stela sayings from the Koran, name, year of death of the late are include. Visiting of tower Burana Tower. Burana Tower - minaret of XI century. Initial height Burana of minaret was 45 meters now height of tower makes 24,6 meters.
Visiting of the central ruins where there is hill in the sizes 100 х 100 meters and height of 10 meters which where there are rests of palace complex or temple existed here up to X centuries. The excavation lead on hill, on the top surface here have opened inhabited constructions X - XII c.c. And burial places XIII - XIV c.c. The end of excursion.
The further transfer: an architectural complex «Tower of the Burana» - settlement Kochkorka - pass Kalmak-Ashuu of 3446 meters above sea level - lake Song-Kul of 3106 meters above sea level (318 km). Arrival on lake the Song-Kul, accommodation in yurts camp, a dinner and overnight.
Day 3. Lake Song-Kul.
Breakfast. High-mountainous jailoo in vicinities of lake Song-Kul for the Kirghiz shepherd the best. Here for the summer drive the herds of horses, herds cattle and flocks of sheeps many shepherds Naryn of area.
Foot walk on coast of high-mountainous lake, trip to stones Manas (Tash-Tulgasy), visiting yurts the Kirghiz shepherds, acquaintance to nomadic life of the Kirghiz shepherds. Lunch. Today you step into the nomadic life at the Song-Kul Lake. Here, the Kyrgyz people still live in traditional simplicity. You enjoy horseback riding or just hiking, spend time with friendly Kyrgyz families and taste their fresh airan (yogurt) and kymys (a fermented national drink from mare’s milk), also you will view horseshow. 
In second half of day walk on horses in vicinity of mountains towering above lake Song-Kul, photographing of panorama on lake. Returning in yurts camp. Dinner and overnight in yurts.  
Day 4. Lake Song-Kul - pass Kalmak-Ashuu - settlement Kochkorka - Orto-Tokoi a water basin - town Karakol (414 km, 7 - hours, - 1300 meters).
Breakfast. Transfer: Lake Song-Kul - settlement Kochkorka (130 km). Arrival in settlement Kochkora, visiting of a craft workshop, walk on a local market. After settlement Kochkorka the settlement Ottuk will be the first settlement at southern coast of lake Issyk Kul, we shall see all southern part of lake Issyk Kul in the extent more than 200 kilometers. Soon we shall see the largest water basin Issyk-Kul of a hollow - Orto-Tokoi.
The further transfer: settlement Kochkorka - settlement Ottuk - settlement Bokonbaevo (152 km). On a way we shall visit village Bokonbaeva in which local handicraftsmen will show us indicative manufacturing of carpets (40 minutes - 1 hour). Together with local residents we shall participate during manufacturing carpets, we shall feel culture of nomads.
In settlement Bokonbaevo inhabitants produce greater felt carpets for a floor yurts. At manufacturing felt carpets use ancient recipes and traditions. Transfer: settlement Bokonbaevo - town of Karakol (132 km). Arrival in the town of Karakol, transfer to hotel, accommodation, a dinner and overnight.
Day 5. Karakol 1700 meters above sea level “At-Jailoo” Base Camp 2500 meters above sea level (200 km, 5 - 6 hours. + 800 m).
Breakfast. After a breakfast short walk on the town of Karakol. Karakol is at east coast of lake Issyk-Kul, at bottom of majestic mountains Tien-Shan. The town based by Russian cossacks in the middle of XIX century, for military garrison for immigrants. Visiting Dungan of the mosque constructed in the Chinese style and Troisk of Russian orthodox church. A lunch in local cafe. After lunch transfer to At-Jailoo base camp.
The road passes through a number of villages, then continues up along the canyon Turgen Ak-Suu towards Chon-Ashuu Pass 3808 meters above sea level. Descent to Ashuu-Tor valley. On the way we pass by Koilu and Sary-Dzhaz rivers. Later we drive along Sary-Dzhaz river to the check point Echkilitash as we are going to enter the border zone, we must leave our permits here. Sary-Dzhaz river is one of the largest in Kyrgyzstan.
Lunch on the way. The river has a length of 200 km and carries its water into Inylchek river which flows to China About 1 - 1.5 hours drive through a village and along Inylchek river, arrival in “At-Jailoo” camp. Dinner and overnight in tents.
Day 6. Camp "At-Dzhailoo" - a glacier Southern Inylchek - camp «Iva» 2900 above sea level (18 km, 5 - 7 hours).
Breakfast. Hiking: «At-Dzhailoo» - camp «Iva». Hiking with our backpacks on the road. We take lunch boxes and will leave the camp in order to be able to cross At Jailoo river before 9 am while there is still little water and the water level is low. We cross its freezing cold water, but it gets more difficult the later we do it. Within an hour we reach a place called Prijim. If the water level allows, we walk and easily cross another stream here. 
Our way passes on an extensive valley of the river Inylchek, places overgrow small islands woods. Our way passes along the river Inylchek to the beginning of glacier Inylchek. On a way the kind on glacier Inylchek, peak Nansen of 5697 meters above sea level which will settle down in the south from our next camp opens. In the north opposite to our camp there is a pass Tyuz in height of 4000 meters above sea level and peak the Battleship which divides Southern Inylchek on Northern Inylchek.
Otherwise we have to ascent and descend a steep and overgrown path which takes us about an hour extra. All depends on the lake Mersbakcher. Whether it is the time when the lake opens and its water rushes down, or it has already or vice versa not opened yet, then we are lucky! Still it is highly recommended to bring along the sandals which you can wear when crossing the river and streams. A lunch in a way. Arrival in camp «Iva». Accommodation in tents, a dinner and overnight.
Day 7. Camp «Iva» - a moraine of glacier Inylchek - camp «Glina» 3100 meters above sea level (8 km, 5 - 6 hours. + 200 m).
Breakfast. The Inylchek Glacier is the largest glacier and centerpiece of the Central Tien-Shan. Extending 62 km in length with a width of over 3 km, the Inylchek Glacier is the third longest glacier outside the Polar Regions. It is estimated that the glacier holds enough ice to cover the entire country of Kyrgyzstan in three meters of melt water (Stewart, 2002).
The first outside to travel into the area and visit the glacier was the European Pyotr Semenov in 1857. Climbing in the area began in the early 1900’s and continued through the 1930’s. Under Soviet rule, the permitting system restricted foreign access. It was not until after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that foreign climbers began to climb in the area (Stewart, 2002). We take our lunch boxes and leave at about 9 am. Very steep ascents and descents take exhaust.
We will try to go through to the right slope of the terrace. The trail crosses the terrace, later small rivers, washes out mountain slope, Putevodnyi glacier. We go up and down, up and down all the time. Lunch on the glacier at about 1 pm. Then we ascent another steep terrace along a narrow trail. The variety of terrains and the steepness of the slope trails will add some more adrenaline in blood. Arriving in Glina Camp we will have some tea or coffee and rest. The camp has got its name (which means “clay” in Russian) because of its location on a green clay field. A lunch in a way. Arrival in camp «The Glina», accommodation in tents. A dinner and overnight in tents.
Day 8. Camp «The Glina» - a lateral moraine of glacier Inylchek - camp «Glade Mersbakher» 3400 meters above sea level. (9 km, 5 - 6 hours. + 300 m).
Breakfast at 9 AM. Hiking to glade Mersbakher. Glade Mersbakher - last island the greens, located nearby to unique lake Mertsbakher. On a glade there is a research station. Scientists from all world come here every summer. They study movement of a glacier, meteorology in region and lake Mertsbahera. A lunch in a way. In this extensive green territory there is our camp «Glade Mertsbakher». Again we trek up and down various terraces though have also about 10 km of straight path.
Only once we trek across a small glacier, passing a river and have lunch on the shore of a small lake, swim and rest. It will be an hour left to get to the Camp. Upon arrival we have some tea or coffee, then dinner at 6 pm. Wonderful views of Mersbacher lake open to us from the Camp. Mersbacher glade is the last grassy place in the area located just across the unique Mersbacher Lake. There is a scientific research station on the glacier.
Scientists from all over the world come working here every summer. They study glaciers moving, meteorological situation of the region and the lake Mersbacher itself. There is a large green area around which is flat enough for camping. Arrival in camp, accommodation in tents, dinner and overnight.
Day 9. Mersbakcher Lake (10 km, 4 - 5 hours).
Breakfast at 9 am. We take our lunch boxes and leave at 10  am. Across South Inylchek glacier up to Mertsbakcher Lake. The glacier terrain is ice covered with rocks and stones, sand and mud. The trekking time both ways is 4 - 5 hours. Sandwiched between the Northern and Southern branches of the glacier lies the mysterious Mersbacher Lake, which form every summer and then, sometime in August, burst through the ice banks and the waters flow into the Inylchek River. 
In reality, only part of the lake drains – the lake, which is 6 kilometres long and one kilometre wide, is in fact divided into two by a bridge of ice and whilst the lower half empties regularly, the upper part is always full of water. Also, the lakes empty twice a year – once in the summer and once in the winter – but most people only know about the summer event.
In 1903 the German geographer and mountaineer, Gottfried Mersbacher, first discovered the lake while leading an expedition into the Tien-Shan Mountains aiming to reach the summit of Khan-Tengri. Forced back by ice, from their originally intended route through the Byankol Pass and along the Semyenov and Mushketov glaciers, they attempted a different approach – along the Enilchek glacier.  Once again they failed, but they had shown that Khan-Tengri was in fact on a ridge and not in the centre of that particular knot of the Tian-Shan Mountains as had been thought. 
The expedition will be better remembered, however, for the discovery of the mysterious lake that now bears Mersbakcher’s name. Returning in camp “Glade Mersbaksher”, dinner and overnight.
Day 10. Glade Mersbakchera - base camp «Southern Inylchek» 4100 meters above sea level (15 minutes).  
Breakfast. Today flight by the helicopter in base camp «Southern Inylchek». Here it is possible to take pleasure in remarkable kinds of surrounding grandiose peaks Central Tien-Shan - peaks Gorkiy, Tchapaev and three-tops both the most highest and well-known peaks of Khan-Tengri and the Pobeda.
In camp we are expected with warm reception of the attendants. “South Inylchek”  Base Camp is open from 6 of July till 31 of August every year and might be interesting not only for alpinists, but also for usual travelers, who would like to enjoy the views of beautiful mountains on the flight by helicopter. 
“Southern Inylchek” Base Camp is ideally situated in the heart of North Tien-Shan at the South Inylchek glacier approximately at 4000 m. above the sea level. It has a picturesque view of Khan-Tengri (7010 m) and Pobeda (7439 m) peaks. A lunch. Walk in vicinities of base camp. A dinner. Overnight in tents. 
Day 11. Base camp «Southern Inylchek». 
Breakfast. Foot walk to root of a mountain peak Khan Tengri (15 km, 5 - 6 hours, + 150 meters). Rest day at South Inylchek BC or Radial hiking to Khan-Tengri Peak (7010 m).  The beautiful pyramid of Khan Tengri is without doubt the Jewel of the Tien Shan. It is the second highest mountain in this most northerly and remote of the great Asian mountain ranges.
Among the local people, the white peaks are known as 'The Mountains of Heaven'. Khan-Tengri peak was first climbed by a Soviet expedition in 1931, via the West Col and West Ridge. Since then, most of its ridges and faces have been climbed - all by Soviet teams. Lunch in a way. Returning in base camp «Southern Inylchek», dinner and overnight. 
Day 12. Base camp «Southern Inylchek» - base camp "Karkara" – Bishkek – Issyk-Kul lake (200 km. – 2500 m).
Breakfast. Flight by the helicopter in Karkara (40 min). Transfer to Issyk-Kul Lake. In the afternoon three hour drive to the Issyk-Kul Lake, lunch on the way. Issyk-Kul is the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. Measuring 182 km long by 58 km wide, the lake appeared as a result of volcanic activity. It is heated from below by thermal activity and never freezes even in the depths of winter.
In the summer the water temperature reaches 25 - 28 degrees centigrade (warmer than the air) and you can swim in the lake enclosed on all sides by the snowy peaks of the Tien-Shan Mountains. Extremely deep and nicely warm over the centuries the lake has been something of an oasis in this inhospitable mountain environment.
With diverse flora and fauna Issyk-Kul Lake and the surrounding environments are rightly considered to be one of Central Asia most remarkable locations. Arrival to the hotel, accommodation, rest, overnight and dinner in hotel.
Day 13. Issyk-Kul lake – Bishkek (250 km, 5 - 6 hours.  - 800 m).            
Breakfast. Time at leisure. Lunch. In the afternoon transfer to Bishkek through tight Boom Gorge where boisterous Chu River, so much loved by rafters (routes up to 6th category difficulty!), cuts its way. Arrival to Bishkek, transfer to hotel or guest hose, accommodation in guest house. Optionally: During dinner we take the unique opportunity to listen to the Manaschi (a singer performing the national Kyrgyz epos, Manas) and see Kyrgyz folklore show.
The musicians in traditional Kyrgyz costumes present you a wide range of national musical instruments – starting from Komuz (a three-stringed wooden musical instrument) to Chopo Choi (wind instrument made of mountain reed). You hear the fascinating singing of young Kyrgyz ladies and men and learn more about the traditional music and poetry of Kyrgyz.  Dinner and overnight.
Day 14. Bishkek. 
Early in the morning transfer to the airport. Departure back home.

The price includes for tour “Celestial mountains”:
accommodation in “Asia Mountains” hotel or similar in Bishkek  - 3 nights, accommodation in “Amir” hotel or  “Green Yard” Guest House in Karakol – 1 night, accommodation at the Hotel at Issyk-Kul Lake  – 1 night,  accommodation in yurt on Son-Kul lake – 2 night,  accommodation in already installed tents with 3 time meal (hot dinner, hot breakfast and lunch as packed box), starting from “At-Jailoo”  till  “South Inylchek” Base Camp  – 7 nights (Please note, you do not need to set up your tents, they will, be set in advance + cook will be waiting for your with hot meal when you arrive!), full Board during whole program,   escorting Guide during the whole program,  porter service during the trek (please read about baggage allowaitional nce on trek below),  all the transfers according to the program,  helicopter flights from “South Inylchek” Base Camp to “Karkara” Base Camp, from Mersbacher to “South Inylchek” Base Camp, entry and ecological fee,  border zone permit.

For groups 6 person and more for tour “Celestial mountains”: 
horse show on Son-Kul, horseback riding on Song-Kul lake (half day), folklore show, demonstration in Bokombaevo production of huge carpets. 

Luggage allowance on trek for tour “Celestial mountains”: 
Your baggage on trek will be carried by porters. The packed weight of your trek bag whilst trekking should be no more than 12 kg of personal belongings. 1kg. extra –  $12 per programs. 
It is possible to leave travel clothes or other items not required on trek in our office – we will deliver them to Issyk-Kul Hotel on your arrival there after Base Camp. 

The price  doesn’t include for tour “Celestial mountains”:
visa support and visa fee (if necessary), all optional deviations from the main itinerary, beverages and meals not included in main menu. 

For this trip you will need the following for tour “Celestial mountains”:
4 season sleeping bag, walking boots, waterproof jacket and trousers, fleece jacket or similar, warm hat and gloves,  sunglasses,  a daypack of around 40 liters,  head-torch and batteries,  2 x 1 liter water bottles, sun cream.
A down jacket, pair of sandals and walking sticks are recommended. 

Alexander Petrov