Explore unique Ala-Archa, Jyrgalan, Son-Kul

Explore unique Ala-Archa, Jyrgalan, Son-Kul


Bishkek-Ala-Archa-Tar-Suu village -Cholpon-Ata - Karakol -Jyrgalan-Bokonbaevo – Kochkor – Song Kul -Bishkek


JyrgalanAccording to locals, Jyrgalan Valley is a region blessed by God. And they make a compelling case. Seven nearby peaks surround the valley, offering beautiful views and weather that is perfect for year-round adventure activities. Cool breezes filter down from the glaciers in the warm summer months, allowing for world-class trekking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. And during the winter, those same mountains protect freeride skiers from harsh winter winds, leaving miles of fresh snow for the taking. You could not design a destination whose contours were more suited to adventure tourism.

But as beautiful as it is — the natural lakes, rivers, and waterfalls are among the most stunning in all of Kyrgyzstan — the community of 1,000 local residents have seen their share of hardship. Jyrgalan Valley’s story is one of re-imagining and reinvention.

Son-Kul -is one of the most famous alpine lakes and mountain meadows in Kyrgyzstan. At an altitude of 3016 m (9895 feet) above sea level, Son-Kul is a startlingly blue lake surrounded by wide, fertile meadows that have long been used by nomadic herders for their animals. Son-Kul is only accessible in the summer (from roughly June to early September) since snow and ice block the road for the rest of the year. There are a number of yurt camps where visitors can stay for a taste of traditional nomadic culture, and the surrounding mountains are great for horseback rides or treks. Located roughly 100 km (60 miles) from Kochkor and 300 km (190 miles) from Bishkek, the road to Son-Kul takes roughly 6-7 hours, and though much of it is paved, some parts are gravel.

In the winter, temperatures at Son-Kul can reach as low as -20° C (-4° F), and there are roughly 200 days of snow a year. During this time, shepherds stay in nearby cities like Kochkor, At-Bashi, and Naryn, where there are more protected spaces for herds to stay during the long winter. This means that there is no one living around Son-Kul in the winter, and the lake itself is practically inaccessible. After the ice on Son-Kul melts in the late spring, the herds and their owners move up to the jailoo, to the broad, rich pastures around the lake. There are no permanent buildings around Son-Kul, only yurts, so people live the same way that they have for centuries

In the summer, Son-Kul is still relatively chilly because of the high altitude, with temperatures averaging only 11°C (52° F), and dipping below freezing at night. While the yurts often have small stoves that can heat up at night, there is no electricity and running water up at the jailoo. This makes Son-Kul a prime destination for those wanting to live like a nomad for a couple of days. Yurts are filled with thick mattresses (but not typical western beds) and blankets, and there are outdoor toilets not far from yurt camps. There are yurt camps that are specifically organized for visitors, and there are also the yurts of local shepherds who live at Son-Kul. Though many locals are friendly and welcoming, it’s best to coordinate your visit ahead of time to ensure you have a place to stay and food to eat.

The area around Son-Kul is also a rich ecosystem, with wetlands and mountains right next to each other. There are no trees on the high plains around the lake, but there are lots of herbs and plants that are used for their medicinal properties. Plenty of birds, including falcons and golden eagles, live around Son-Kul, and the mountains are home to deer, foxes, Marco Polo sheep, leopards, and wolves (though these animals tend to stay high in the mountains). The mountains around Son-Kul are popular for hikers and horseback riders, and long and short treks can be organized from the yurt camps at the lake.

Ala-Archa  One of the most visited places in Kyrgyzstan is Ala-Archa nature reserve. It is located 30 km from Bishkek in an area of 20,000 hectares, where there is everything: mountains, rivers, pine forests growing on the slopes of the mountains. It is these forests gave the name to the reserve. "Ala-Archa" means “variegated juniper” that fully characterizes the diversity of pine and spruce forests of the reserve. Every visitor discovers an amazing world of flora and fauna of Kyrgyzstan.

The reserve is a small valley inside the gorge, its ridges are covered with eternal ice, and the slopes are the finest spruce forests. The streams flow down from the glaciers on the slopes, by flow down streams of meltwater, which then are converted into Ala-Archa River.

Ala-Archa River, of a total length of 76 km, originates from the glaciers in the northern slope of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too. It has several tributaries: the Ak-Sai, Top Karagai, Teke-Terre, Tuy-Suu Adygine, Jindi-Suu. The river flows through the reserve, the green meadows, and slopes, covered with fir forests.

In 1976 Ala-Archa Kyrghyz State Park was created in Ala-Archa gorge, for the preservation of endangered rare species of animals, plants and the development of tourism and mountaineering. One of the main attractions of the reserve is unique wildlife. Here you can see the snow leopard listed in the Red Book, and high in the valley lives a rare bluebird that the Kyrghyz call "a bird of happiness." Lots of other amazing flora and fauna forms live in the reserve, where hunting is strictly forbidden

Another unique feature of the reserve is an alpine camp, located at an altitude of 2000 m above sea level. Such famous peaks as  Semenov-Tyan-Shan peak(4875 m) and Korona Peak (4860 m) are also on the territory of the reserve.  Semenov-Tyan-Shan Peak is the highest point of the ridge. Alpinists from all over the world gather here to conquer the summit.


“Manas” International airport – Bishkek

Arrival in international airport “Manas”, transfer to the hotel. Rest, lunch and city tour. 

Bishkek – is the capital and industrial center of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek is a city of wide avenues, handsome buildings, and Soviet heritage. The gesturing statue of Lenin can still be seen in the city’s vast central square, yet it is the permanently snowcapped Kyrgyz Ala-Tau mountain range which towers over Bishkek providing a quite stunning backdrop. 
We visit
Manas Monument, the main national hero of the Kyrgyz people. Then excursion to the State History Museum and transfer to the main Ala-Too Square to watch the ceremony of changing of the Guard of Honor, main governmental buildings, and finish at the Old Square with Parliament House. 
We drive to
Victory Square to finish our excursion visiting the ZUM department store for souvenirs. 


Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner 



Bishkek – Ala-Archa National Park

We will visit Ala-Archa National Natural Park which is a very popular area for having a picnic, trekking, horseback riding and making kebabs among Kyrgyz people. The national reserve is rich with great mountains, long rivers, pine forests growing on the slopes of the mountains and various fauna and flora. We will walk to the mouth of a mountain to see the panorama of the view of the park.

Altitude: 1600m - 4860m, area of 2280 ha; temperature- +25-280C,


Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner 


Bishkek - Burana Tower - Tar-Suu village

We will visit Burana tower and the museum of artifacts, walk to the open-air museum of balbals (stone statues), rock paintings, milestones, grindstones.

Chon-Kemin valley is famous for its high mountains, sparse forests of spruce, juniper, birch, maple, mountain ash and with others. There is the only a guesthouse in Tar-Suu gorge surrounded with fir trees, which can be seen from the windows of a guesthouse.

After arriving in the guesthouse you will have time to relax, walk around and enjoy the view.


Accommodation: 2-bed rooms, the bathroom is inside of rooms, Wi-Fi, no signal for phoning

Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner

The altitude of Tar-Suu gorge: 1800m, +15-250C


Tar-Suu village – Open-air museum of Petroglyphs - Cholpon-Ata hotel

After breakfast, we will visit the open-air museum of Petroglyphs located just outside the city center of Cholpon-Ata. The 42 hectares of the museum are dotted with stone circles, tombs, balbals, and a variety of petroglyphs. These petroglyphs date from the 2nd millennium BCE up to the 4th century AD. Further, we will have a rest near the shore of the lake (swimming)


The altitude of Cholpon-Ata: 1633 m

Temperature: +16-280C, the shore of the lake: ~ 16-200C

Accommodation: hotel *3, (bathroom is inside of your room, king-sized bed, wifi)

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner


Cholpon-Ata – Grigoriev gorge and Semenov Gorge - Karakol

We will visit Semenov and Grigoriev gorges with 2 hours hiking to the beautiful Holy lake.

Picnic in Semenov Gorge


Altitude in Semenov and Grigoriev gorges: 2000-2300 m

Temperature: +15-220C

Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner 


Karakol – Jyrgalan Valley - Eki Chat Yurtcamp

Jyrgalan Valley is a mountainous place that is a nice place for trekking and horseback riding.

We will go for trekking to Eki chat yurt camp. It takes 2 hours to get there.


Accommodation: Eki chat yurt camp

Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Altitudes of Eki Chat yurt camp: 2621m – 2258m

Temperature: +15-220C


Eki Chat Yurtcamp – Jyrgalan - Djety-Oguz - Fairytale Canyon/Sakazka Canyon - “Bel-Tam” Yurt Camp

After breakfast, we will start our trekking to Jyrgalan, where our car will be waiting for us.


We will drive to Djeti Oguz Gorge where we will pass “Broken Heart” rock and Seven Bulls to take pictures. The next point is the Fairytale Canyon/Skazka. Amongst the weird rock formations, there is a ridge, which resembles two walls of fortification, something like the Great Wall of China, rising vertically out of the surrounding sandstone. The place is quite small and we can walk there in 30-40 minutes. Further, for 2 hours we will drive to Bel-Tam where we will have a rest, swim in the lake.


Accommodation: “Bel-Tam” yurt camp (Shower and toilet is common outside of yurt)

Lunch can be as a picnic or in one of the yurt camps in Kok-Jaiyk Valley

Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Altitudes: Kok-Jaiyk - 2800 m, Fairytale Canyon - 2200 m, Bel-Tam yurt camp - 1611m

Average temperature: +15-260C


Son-Kul lake -Bishkek

After breakfast, we will ride to the hills to see the panorama of the lake. After lunch, we will drive to Bishkek. Dinner will be in one of the ethnic restaurants in Bishkek. End of tour


Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner


Note: the tour can be shortened or prolonged upon your request


Home flight

Morning transfer from the hotel to the airport. Home flight.

0 review for Explore unique Ala-Archa, Jyrgalan, Son-Kul



-All transfer + an experienced driver + off-road vehicle (Toyota 4runner or Toyota Sequoia)

-Accommodations: 8 overnights –4 in the hotel,  1 in guesthouses, 3 in yurt camps

-Meals: 9 - breakfasts, 9 – lunches (2 of them are picnics), 9 - dinners

-Tour guide

-Local guides for accompanying


1. Horse riding in Chon-Kemin

2. Horse riding in Song-Kul

-Yurt building show

-Eagle hunting show

-Dinner in Kyrgyz ethno restaurant after coming to Bishkek

-Stopping to take photos on your requests