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Best Hiking Trails in Kyrgyzstan

Overview

This Central Asian country has been described as the Switzerland of Central Asia due to its numerous and stunning mountainous landscapes.  Ninety percent of Kyrgyzstan is mountainous, with many hiking opportunities.  Best of the ‘stans’ to visit for mountain hiking, in many people’s opinions.  Newly formed country as of 20 years ago (used to be part of USSR).

Capital: Bishek

When To Hike in Kyrgyzstan?

June – September
May; October: For lower altitudes
November – May: Cold and snow
Climate: Continental – warm summers and cold winters; trekking at beginning of season can be treacherous due to landslides/avalanches.

Accessibility of Hiking

Medium to Hard: While there are some established trails, there are very few that are actually well marked.  High altitude hiking here with scarce amenities/facilities.  There are some resources on trekking in Kyrgyzstan but it might be best to book a local guide or a trekking company (use Trekking Union or CBT), plenty on offer to choose from.  

Transportation required: Public transport to some trailheads; sturdy vehicle (4×4) to access others

Where to stay in Kyrgyzstan for hiking:

  • Karakol
  • Bishek
  • Sary-Tash
  • Naryn

Top Places to Hike in Kyrgyzstan

The Tien Shan and Pamir-Alay mountain ranges dominate this country. There are 13 national parks and 10 state reserves. The northern, central and eastern parts seem to be more visited compared to western and southern parts. The map highlights some of the main areas. Highest Mountain: Jengish Choksu (7439 m).

Filter out hiking places of Kyrgyzstan by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Osh Oblast

  • Kyrgyz-Ata National Park 
  • Alay (Alai) Valley: a fabulous place for hiking, and staying at yurtstays, organized through CBT

Issyk-Köl

  • World’s second largest alpine lake; a great place to access hiking from the various towns along the lake; Karakol is on the southern coast and is a great base for hiking
  • Ala-Kul is popular
  • Jyrgalan Valley – https://jyrgalan.com/ 
  • Ak-Suu Traverse is popular

Naryn Oblast

  • Region has various areas for hiking, such as:
  • Köl-Ükök
  • Lake Song-Köl
  • Salkyn-Tor National Park  (17km east of Naryn)

Issyk-Ata Valley

Alamedin Valley

Kegeti Gorge

  • Köl Tör Lake is a beautiful spot here

Ala Archa National Park

Kyrgyzstan's Long Distance Trails

Many multi-day treks can be done here, the possibilities are endless.  Here are a sample of some of the more established ones:

  • Best of Alay Mountains Trek – 7 day trek
  • Ak-Suu Traverse – 7 day trek
  • Kyzart – Song Kul – 3 day trek
  • Kol-Ukok – 2 day trek
  • Ala-Kul – 2 day trek

Kyrgyzstan's Walking & Hiking Resources

Kyrgyzstan Hiking Books: No hiking specific books

  • Kyrgyzstan, Bradt Travel Guide, 4th Edition, 2019, by Laurence Mitchell
  • Lonely Planet Central Asia, 7th Edition, 2018 by Stephen Lioy, Anna Kaminski, Bradley Mayhew, Jenny Walker 

 

Kyrgyzstan Hiking Associations:

 

Best Hiking Trails in Kyrgyzstan:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from trail maps/apps, websites, and tourist offices:

  • Kol Tor Lake
  • Ak-Suu Traverse
  • Kegeti Gorge
  • Mount Uchitel – Ala Archa National Park
  • Kyzart – Song Kul
  • Kol-Ukok
  • Ala-Kul
  • Koshkul Lakes
  • Lenin Peak Base Camp

Easy Hiking Trails in Kyrgyzstan:

  • Kel-Suu Lake
  • Ak-Sai Waterfall
  • Seven Lakes Trek

 

Kyrgyzstan Hiking Websites:

 

Kyrgyzstan Official Tourism Site:  

 

Kyrgyzstan Hiking Apps:

 

Kyrgyzstan Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • Horse trekking

Other Important Points

  • One of the few Central Asian countries where many foreigners don’t need a visa to enter
  • There’s a yurt stay system which makes long distance trekking much more accessible, CBT’s are a big thing here (and more so in comparison to the other Central Asian countries)
  • Northern Kyrgyzstan seems to have better infrastructure than southern Kyrgyzstan and more tourists spend time in the north
  • No costs to hike here, but areas that border other countries (such as China) will require border permit
  • Names are spelled differently (Kul/Kol/Köl)