The jailoos are the pastures where Kyrgyz shepherds tend their flocks in the summer, and Lake Song-Kol is the jewel of the jailoos, a stunning 270 km2 of sparkling water at 3016 m, surrounded by 3700 m mountains on all sides. For the fullest jailoo experience, we will approach the lake via the mountains enclosing the western end of Kochkor Valley, moving from jailoo to jailoo and staying with shepherd families in remote meadows far off the beaten path. Enjoy homemade jam, fresh cream, bread still warm from the oven, and the best kymyz (fermented mare’s milk) around. The route traverses the remote Jumgal region and reaches Song-Kol via Jalgyz-Karagai (Lonely Fir) Pass on the north shore.
After early breakfast we leave Bishkek for Shamshy Gorge, 3-hour drive. On the way you visit the Burana Tower architectural complex (10-11th centuries, the Great Silk Road). Meet guides’ team in Shamshy gorge. Picnic lunch. Start trekking towards Shamshy pass (3 570 meters). Dinner. Stay overnight in tents before the pass. Trekking time: 4 hours.
After breakfast you continue the tour and cross the Shamshy pass (3 570 meters). Descend to SaralaSaz jailoo, which offers beautiful views of the Kara Moinok and Sandyk mountains to the south. After welcome tea in the yurt, you eat dinner and stay overnight in the yurt of a local shepherd. Trekking time: 6 hours
This day you spend crossing wide-open pastures till Iri Suu area. Eat dinner in Iri-Suu jailoo, and then take an evening walk over the hill into the beautiful Kashka-Suu River valley, where you can eat wild rhubarb and watch the alpenglow on the southern mountains. Overnight stay in tents. Trekking time: 4 hours
After breakfast at Iri-Suu, gear up for a long day through nearly-empty country. Begin by traversing the western end of the Kochkor Valley through scrubby dry terrain. After crossing the fast Karakol River, we climb 1000 meters over the Buchuk Pass (3400 m). On the other side, after a brief break for lunch on the trail, descend into the beautiful Sook Valley. Wild onions cover the high cold ridges, while lower down whole hillsides of wildflowers bloom. Eagles soar and marmots cry and scurry about. At day’s end, ford the Sook River and climb the green Kichi Saryk Valley Overnight stay in tent. Trekking time: 6-7 hours
After breakfast at Sook, you detour to the next valley west, the Kum Bel, for the best approach to the 3 600 m Kum Bel Pass. From the pass, we follow a ridge eastward and upward to the peak, 3656 m above sea level, with breathtaking 360° views and sheer drops to the north. Continue east, testing your walking skills down scree-covered hillsides, and eat lunch in a sheltered notch. Descend at last into the Kolduu Suu valley, and follow it down between dandelion-covered mountains to your yurt, in Kolduu Suu jailoo. Trekking time: 5-6 hours
After breakfast in Kolduu Suu, head south to the Kochkor – Jumgal road. Follow the road a short ways east to the Kyzart Pass, then strike south again. Within sight of the road, we cross Kyzyl-Kiya jailoo, an enormous, relatively flat sea of grass. Continue over the Chaar-Archa Pass (3 061 m) into the Chaar-Archa Valley and eat a tasty lunch by the racing river, with views of holy 4400 m Baba-Ata Mountain. Sated, ford the river and follow the trail over verdant hills to Kilemche Jailoo. The name means “like a carpet,” and this swathe of grass covers whole mountain ranges, with shadings as subtle as any shyrdak (shyrdak is a Kyrgyz felt carpet). Dine and sleep in a yurt, naturally. Trekking time: 5 hours
After breakfast at Kilemche, you spend the morning climbing to Jalgyz Karagai pass (3400 m), over the Song-Kol Mountains and into the lake’s basin. The morning climb affords wonderful views of Kilemche jailoo, and the pass itself is rocky and exciting. From the pass, Song-Kol is still distant, but as you traipse down the slopes, it gets larger and larger; the mountains on the other side get higher and higher, until finally the lake fills most of your field of view and the southern mountains tower above it. After lunch at Jaman Echki, we follow the lakeshore west to the TuzAshuu yurt which is located on the shore of the Lake. Upon arrival you meet your host family of Kyrgyz shepherds. Meals and overnight are in a yurt of the shepherds. Trekking time: 4 hours.
After breakfast we continue the trek heading to the western part of the Song-Kol Lake, to the Jailoo Tulpar-Tash. This day you walk along the Song-Kol lakeshore and enjoy different panoramic views of the lake. Arrival at Tulpar Tash and be welcomed by local shepherd’s family. Take the honorable place in the yurt and have a dinner. Trek time is 4 hours.
After breakfast at Tulpar Tash we trek tothe Song-Kol Mountain range from the north. Cross the Uzbek pass (3 400m). On the top of the pass you see the panoramic view to the whole Song-Kol valley. Descent to Jumgal valley, lunch at home stay in Kyzart village, afternoon transfer to Bishkek. You will arrive in Bihskek around 07:00pm. End of the tour.
The tours start upon request, please contact us. The itineraries can be adjusted individually to fit into your schedule and provide you with the best experience. Furthermore, we are happy to create tailor-made tours according to your wishes.
After having solved all the questions and programs confirming we issue an invoice for payment. You can make a bank transfer or pay upon your arrival time in Bishkek before the trip starts.
The price of the tour depends on the number of people and the season. According to the request and interest, we can negotiate the optimal price for your budget.
If you take a horseback riding option you need advanced horseback riding skills. Take a horse riding class for several times for getting prepared to ride a horse in the mountains for 4-5 hours every day.
Trekking optional also may request some prepared training. The altitude is high and you will cross several mountain passes, the highest one is Kum-Bel pass (3 600m). We recommend you train with sport or jogging 2-3 times a week in the run-up to your trip.
Clothing for hiking in temperatures from +25C to -0C. A detailed kit list will be sent to you when you book on.
Overnights during the activity tours you will have overnight for 8 nights and 4 of them in tents 4 in the local yurt camps. We provide you tent/mat upon your request.
We provide you with mineral water where it is available to buy on the way in the village shops when we travel by vehicle. In fact, will have bottled water for two first days. But during all trek-days, we will not able to carry the much mineral bottled waters, we take water from the springs and rivers for cooking and for tea-coffee after well boiling for sure. For drinking, you can use water filters. We offer you to bring the water purified pills from your side. In Kyrgyzstan, people used to drink from the rivers and spring source and we don’t use the water filters and any pure file pills. Therefore, you will not able to find the water pure file pills or portable filters in Central Asia at all.
The basic hints for travelers.