Tailor-made Tour 11 days from £2495 per person

tour enquiry Dates & Prices

  Places Visited: Bishkek, Issy-Kol, Karakol, Bokonbayevo, Kochkor, Naryn, Song Köl, Bishkek

Departure 22 June 2024 - Return  02 July 2024

Experience Kyrgyzstan's sublime landscapes and fascinating nomadic culture, one of our most popular tours led by Central Asia expert Joan Pollock. The route covers the most rugged, mountainous stretch of the old Silk Road between China and Uzbekistan – a region of sun-lit snow peaks, vast blue-green glacial lakes and pastures dotted with yurt encampments.

The trip coincides with the annual Shyrdak Festival of Felt Art, where you can watch the country’s top artisans craft beautiful rugs and buy the finest quality Kyrgyz rugs and carpets. In addition to seeing some of the most spellbinding vistas in Central Asia, you’ll also get to experience life in a genuine nomads’ camp and sample traditional Kyrgyz and Uyghur cuisine, art, and architecture.

Accommodation will be in comfortable, well-run hotels and authentic yurt camps in beautiful locations. The weather in late June and early July is optimal, with warm, mostly dry and sunny weather and night-time temperatures comparable with those of northern Europe.

Joan Pollock

About Joan Pollock: Joan started her career as a nurse but moved to guide trips to Asia in the 1970s, accompanying some of the first organized tours into China and the Soviet Union. Over her decades of travel in many countries since, she has formed longstanding attachments to certain communities, notably Kyrgyzstan and the inhabitants of the remote Himalayan valley of Spiti, where she founded a charity focussing on the health and education of children. In 2016, ‘The Spiti Projects’ (www.spiti.org) was awarded a United Nations grant to construct a solar-powered community centre. Joan is a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and a keen photographer. A selection of her work appears at www.joanpollock.co.uk.

Holiday Types

Adventure Holidays


Travel Arrangements

  • Group Size 6 -16 people
  • Internal Travel Internal travel by mini bus/coach, dependant on numbers
  • Accompanying Guide English-speaking guides throughout, accompanied by Joan Pollock
  • Accommodation 10 nights
  • Meal Plan Half Board at all places


Itinerary for Kyrgyzstan - Art of the Nomads

Day 1

On arrival, the group will be met by our local representative and transferred to the hotel. Afternoon visit the city’s national square, Ala-Too – a striking example of Soviet-era, Neo-Brutalist architecture. If we’re lucky, soldiers will be slow goose-stepping around the state flagpole as part of the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

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Day 2

Today we’ll continue our sightseeing in Bishkek with a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, which holds a splendid collection of felt rugs and paintings. Later we’ll continue to an embroidery workshop and bustling Osh Bazaar – the city’s main source of fresh produce, as well as old-style ‘ak kalpak’ hats and painted shepherds’ trunks.

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Day 3
Bishkek – Issyk-Köl

A busy day today as we leave the capital for Cholpon Ata, on the northern shores of Issyk Köl Lake. En route, the group will pause at the iconic Burana Tower, sole surviving vestige of an ancient Silk Road city. Dotted around it is a superb a collection of 1,500-year-old ‘balbals’ (anthropomorphic gravestones carved by Turkic nomads) and much older petroglyphs. We’ll arrive at Cholpon Ata in time for a quick tour of the excellent Nomad Museum before supper.

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Day 4
Issyk-Köl - Karakol

The morning’s focal point will be a visit to Cholpon Ata’s famous petroglyph garden, an impressive archaeological site scattered over a 42-hectare boulder field above the lake. Among the rocks are an incredible assemblage of prehistoric stone circles, tombs and grave markers, as well as the petroglyphs themselves. This unique site spans an estimated 2,500 years of human ritual art. Afterwards we’ll continue on to Karakol.

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Day 5

Dating from the late-19th century, Karakol’s architecture vividly reflects its Russian roots and over the course of the day we’ll see some striking vestiges of Tsarist times, foremost among them the town’s onion-domed Holy Trinity Cathedral. Another highlight is a well-curated museum dedicated to the explorer, Nikolay Przevalsky. We’ll also drive out to the Jety Oguz valley to see the ‘Seven Bulls’, a row of spectacular blood-red crags framed by a backdrop of snow-streaked mountains. In the evening, the group will attend a cooking demonstration and supper with a local Uyghur (Chinese-Muslim) family.

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Day 6
Karakol – Bokonbaevo - Kochkor

An activity-rich day begins with a drive along the southern shore of Issyk Köl lake to the impressive Barkskoon Valley, where we’ll pause for a short, 15-min walk to a waterfall before continuing on to Bokonbaevo to watch a display of eagle hunting. Later we head towards Kyrgyzstan’s handicrafts hub, Kochkor. On the way, the bus will stop at Kyzyl-Suu village to visit a yurt workshop where we’ll be shown how nomads’ tents are made and assembled, then continue to a felt-making centre to watch traditional Kyrgyz rugs and ‘elechek’ hats being created in time-honoured fashion. Accommodation will be in a local homestay.

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Day 7
Kochkor – Naryn

Today we’ll drive to Naryn, a market town on the former Silk Road crammed on to the floor of a sheer-sided valley. In the afternoon you’ll be at leisure to explore the town at your own pace, and perhaps visit the local museum. Later the group will be treated to a traditional Kyrgyz supper of ‘besh-barmak’ (meat broth) and ‘boorsok’ (a type of fried dough).

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Day 8

A highlight of the trip awaits today as we visit the annual Shyrdak Festival in the village of At-Bashy. ‘Shyrdaks’ are the traditional felt rugs made by Kyrgyz nomads from sheep’s wool. You’ll see literally hundreds of them for sale, with a broad range of contrasting colours, patterns and styles. Some of the finest makers in Central Asia will be demonstrating their art, making this the best souvenir shopping opportunity of the tour!

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Day 9
Naryn - Son-Köl

A memorable drive after breakfast takes us over the picturesque Moldo-Ashuu pass to Song Köl, a high-altitude lake enfolded by expanses of grassland and snow peaks. Spending two nights at a Yurt camp here will enable us to get familiar with the traditional lifestyle of the Kyrgyz nomads, amongst the rural tranquillity of the summer pastures dotted with grazing cattle, mountains and the lake itself. We have the evening to continue learning about the nomads and savour Song Köl’s wonderful views and sample life in a Kyrgyz yurt encampment. You’ll have the opportunity to take walk, spot birdlife or perhaps enjoy a spot of horse riding. At some point, guests are also sure to be offered the famous local delicacy, fermented mare’s milk (‘kumis’).

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Day 10
Son-Köl - Bishkek

An unforgettable road trip through a landscape of epic proportions takes up most of the day as we drive north from sleepy Song Köl to Bishkek over the great Ala-Too mountain range. Arriving late in the afternoon, there will be time to visit the atmospheric Osh Bazaar before tomorrow's departure.

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Day 11

Today you will be met at the hotel and driven to the airport for your return international flight home.

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Tailor-made Tour 11 days from £2495 per person

What's included

✓   10 nights' accommodation

✓   Internal travel by shared vehicle

✓   English-speaking local guides throughout, accompanied by Joan Pollock

✓   All guided sightseeing noted on the itinerary

✓   Meal Plan: Half Board throughout

✓   Single Supplement: £290 per person.



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