Trekking in the Central Tien-Shan - ITMC Travel

Adventure & cultural tours in Kyrgyzstan

Trekking in the Central Tien-Shan


Best season: July – August

Location: Central Tien-Shan, Kyrgyzstan

Duration: 13 Days

Highly recommended: All tourists must have medical insurance for the particular activities with a minimum coverage of USD 35 000.

Border permit is required and must be arranged preliminary. Paper work takes 5-6 weeks.

Secrets of the Central Tien Shan attract a lot of travelers again and again. It is full of secrets even today. For example, the secret of Merzbacher Lake, which disappears every year in late July for 2-3 days. It fills up again and keeps water for the whole year. The other secrets are the names of two world famous giants, legendary peaks Khan-Tengri and Pobeda. The proposed trek lead to Inylchek Glacier, to the foot of these peaks. The programme will give you a chance to touch these mysteries, to feel yourself as a pioneer of these severe and beautiful spots. The trek is elaborated for well physically trained people, who are prepared for multi-day hiking at the high altitude and to staying in tent camps.

1st Day. Arrival in Bishkek

Your guide will meet you at the airport Manas upon arrival and arrange your transfer to the comfortable hotel situated in Bishkek (35 km). After breakfast and a short rest you will go out for city tour. You will visit the most interesting sights of Kyrgyz capital. You will walk along the square located near the Philharmonic Society, which is decorated with statues of epic Manas heroes; Ala-Too and Victory Squares. Victory Square construction was finished in 1985 by the 40th anniversary of Victory day. You will walk along the narrow paths of the Osh Market (bazaar), where you can choose something delicious from a huge variety of nuts and dried fruits. You will see open-air art gallery and, for sure, souvenirs’ shops, where you can find some interesting things for you and your relatives, caring the bright color of national culture.

2nd Bishkek – Karakol Town

Today you will go to the Issyk-Kul region, where the pearl of Central Asia is located – the famous Issyk-Kul Lake. On the way you will visit the ruins of the medieval town Balasagun. Only one tower named Burana and bases of rich people tombs (dating from the XI-XII centuries) remind about the city. Burana is a minaret, built here in the XI century.  But let’s talk about Issyk-Kul Lake. It is located at the altitude of more than 1,600m above the sea level and it is one of the largest high altitude lakes in the world. It has a name “Kyrgyz Sea”, because of its impressive size (178 km length and 60 km width), incredible water purity and clarity. The lake is surrounded with snow-covered ridges of the Tien Shan from all sides. Famous Russian traveler Semenov-Tian-Shansky called the Issyk-Kul “aquamarine in a silver frame of mountains”. All this pictures you will see during your trip to Karakol town. We will care about comfortable accommodation in the hotel for you.

3rd Day. Karakol – At-Jailoo Range

We will arrange your transfer to the valley of the Inylchek River today. Spruce-covered slopes of the Terskey Ala-Too Range replaced by many-meter giant falling rocks and cliffs all the way up to the Chon-Ashuu pass (3822m). Here you will feel the cold breath of neighboring glaciers and snowfields. We will descent to the valley of Sary-Djaz River and pass the border control and go to the wide valley of the Inylchek River further. The valley starts from the glacier with the same name. This is exactly the glacier valley; surrounding rocky slopes are smoothed by ancient glacier.  After 20km of impressions we will reach At-Djailoo called place. Here we can set up our first camp. You will have some time to walk around during the time which your cook needs to prepare dinner.

4th Day. Trekking to Inylchek glacier

Today is the first day of trekking. We will start a long journey of 18 km trekking along the bottom of wide valley. The first challenge is crossing the At-Jailoo River (007). The main thing is to strictly follow all the instructions of the guide, who will always help you in difficult moments. The next challenge is to pass sharp turn of the Inylchek River towards the rocks. We have to climb up to a steep path to the left side of the valley for more than 180 meters and pass through the Caragana bushes. After the descent into the valley, you can refresh in a small waterfall; water stream falls down from a steep rocky slope here. We will come to the place of our second camp after some more efforts. Camping cite is located at the foot of the Nansen peak. The peak rises almost three kilometers above our camp. The Inylchek glacier, the largest glacier in Tien Shan, starts one kilometer far from here and continues almost 60 km.

5th Day. Trekking to so-called “Glina (Clay)” place (5 hours)

We will continue our trek in the morning to the left moraine of the Inylchek glacier and further walk along the moraine and from time to time along the glacier. The glacier is covered with a moraine case and looks like a real chaos, mix of dirty ice and stones of various sizes. Here are giant blocks of marble and different Calcites, Quartzite, Pyrite, Jasper and many other minerals. You will meet numerous of lakes during the trek, some of it you will go around. The opening views are fascinating. In general, mixed feelings and impressions are guaranteed for you. The camp will be established at a small meadow located at the left moraine of Inylchek glacier.

6th Day. Trek to Merzbacher Glade, 3420 m.

Today trekking to the Merzbacher’s glade will take very short time. This is the last green glade on the way to the base camp. You will see a lot of rocks from Inylchek moraine at your left side and virgin peaks of Inylchek-Too Range – at the right side. The height some of the peaks can reach up to five thousand meters above sea level. The glade is exact place where the famous scientist and traveler Gottfried Merzbacher saw the amazing lake first time. It was named after him later. The green glade of Merzbacher is the last relatively comfortable place for the camp on our way to the foot of two Kyrgyz seven-thousand peaks, which is full of flowers and covered with green grass pleasant for your eyes. Further along to the route up to the end of the trek in the base camp you will see only the glacier and moraines.

7th Day.  Radial trekking to Merzbacher lake, 3300 m.

The rest day.  For anyone who wants to do hiking this day we can offer excursion in the area of Mertzbacher Lake. You will walk among the seracs, will see the bottom of ice crevasses, and many streams and small rivers fall down into these crevasses with a noise, and will enjoy the panorama of the lake with floating icebergs from the top of one of the seracs. If the lake has fallen down, these icebergs you will see on the bottom. You will need to cross the glacier through all this piles of rocks and other wrecks which have been brought by the glacier from its summits. Such path continues about 3 km of difficult terrain. If this part of trekking path will be difficult, we can have some rest at the Merzbacher Glade to be prepared for a further equally complicated two-days trekking path to the base camp.

8th – 9th Day. Trek along the Inylchek Glacier to the Komsomolsky Glacier and further to the base camp (4050 m), (7-8 hours of trekking every day).

There are two long and difficult trekking days, but it seems these days will be the most interesting. We will move along the central moraine of Inylchek Glacier. The surrounding peaks will became higher and higher. All of them summits here are above 5000 meters. We will stay in a tent camp in the area of confluence of the Inylchek and Komsomolets Glasiers, directly on the glacier. That is why it is very important to have warm sleeping bags and warm clothes. We will cross Inylchek Glacier again next day. Our goal today is to find an ice bridge over numerous rivers do a zigzag in the glacier. It will be the first time when you see the world famous peaks Khan-Tengri and Pobeda. We will go along the Central moraine up to the base camp. There are a lot of climbers from different countries in the camps. Finally here we will be able to relax, communicate with mountaineers and feel the spirit of real alpinism.

10th Day. Rest day or circular trek to the foot of Khan-Tengri peak. Reserve day for the helicopter flight.

Trekkers, who would like to walk to the foot of Khan-Tengri or Pobeda Peaks, can do it today. Plans for this day should be discussed with your guide in the previous day during delicious dinner. If you do not want to walk any more, you can stay in the base camp and enjoy the seven-thousand Tien Shan view or have a talk with climbers and find new friends.

11th Day. Helicopter flight to Karkara (35min.). Transfer to Issyk-Kul Lake (190km, 3-4 hours).

This busy morning starts from the packing of backpacks and waiting for the long-awaited helicopter, which is very important here: it is food, transport, evacuation, and much more. As soon as you listen the sound of engine, everything in the camp begins to move excitingly. It is time to say goodbye to the hospitable base camp. We will fly to Karkara base. You will see your hard way to the base camp at the Inylchek Glacier from the window of helicopter, Mertzbacher glade and Mertzbacher Lake, the valley of the Karkara River. After landing in Karkara helipad we will arrange your transfer to the Northern side of Issyk-Kul Lake. Could you imagine that just now you were among the ice, felt the cold breathe of seven thousand giants, flinched from the night crashing of avalanches, and now you are basking at the warm Issyk-Kul sand. On the way you will visit the open-air Museum of Petroglyphs in the vicinity of Cholpon-Ata.

12th Day. Issyk – Kul  – Bishkek (260km, 4 hours of driving)

Today we are not in a hurry, everything can be done slowly: enjoy your breakfast, pack your luggage and be prepared to go to Bishkek. We will arrange your accommodation in the hotel where you can have some rest before to walk out for last-minutes shopping.

13th Day. Departure

Morning check out at the hotel. 35-minutes transfer to the airport.

1 person – USD 6115

Group of 2 people – USD 4165 per person

Group of 3 people – USD 3305 per person

Group of 4 people – USD 3170 per person

Group of 5 people – USD 2900 per person

Group of 6 people – USD 2850 per person

Group of 7 people – USD 2645 per person

Group of 8 people – USD 2605 per person

Single supplement for accommodation – USD 168 per person per programme(available in Bishkek, Karakol and Issyk-Kul Lake only)

Price includes the following service

  • English speaking Mountain Guide for trekking;
  • Cook for trek
  • Porters to carry food and kitchen utensils only
  • Twin bedroom accommodation in the Hotels
  • Tent accommodation based on two people sharing one tent.
  • Meals: full board during the trek and at Lake Issyk-Kul, Breakfast in the Hotels
  • Land transport as stated in the programme (Airport-Airport)
  • Shared helicopter flight from Khan-Tengry Base Camp to Maida-Adyr Camp or Karkara for tourists and Guide
  • Border permit
  • Excursions and entrance fees

Additional services available at extra cost

  • Porters to carry personal belongings – USD 440 per porter per programme
  • Kyrgyz visa support (if required) – USD 45 per person
  • Kyrgyz visa fee (if required) – USD 70 per person
  • OVIR registration – USD 15 per person
  • Lunches and/or Dinners in Karakol and Bishkek – approx. USD 7-15 per person per meal