Find your ideal cycling holiday
Kyrgyz Republic (with flight)
17th June 2019 - 30th June 2019 (14 days)
The Kyrgyz Republic is a small but geographically spectacular country – a Central Asian Shangri La, often referred to as the Swiss Alps of Asia. This is an adventurous and challenging tour. 75% of the route will be on poor tarmac or unsurfaced roads, and the terrain is very mountainous. The route circumnavigates Chui Province south of Bishkek, crossing the high passes of the Celestial Mountains (over 3,000m) and following river valleys to Lake Son Kul and, finally, to Issyk Kul Lake.
Outside of Bishkek there is an almost complete absence of tourist infrastructure. Participants should be prepared for basic conditions, overnighting in tents and yurts, with four nights in guesthouses and two nights in a hotel in Bishkek. Proposed riding distances are between 30 and 85km, but re-routing may be necessary according to weather and road conditions, especially over the high passes. There will be vehicle support from an experienced crew.
- Holiday Type Guided
- Tour Manager Pat and John Ashwell
- Grade Tough
- Booking Status Places Available
- Accommodation Hotel, Guesthouse & Camping
- Board Basis Half Board
- Travel Arrangements Air
- Road / Off Road Off-Road
- Holiday Style Moving-on
- Vehicle Support Full Vehicle Support
- Holiday Ref 03193
Monday 17th June
Fly from London Heathrow to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines flight TK1980 departing at 1130 and arriving at 1720. Onward flight TK348 to Bishkek, departing at 2135.
Tuesday 18th June
Arrive Bishkek at 0545. Vehicle transfer to hotel. Assemble bikes. Rest of day at leisure. Stay 1 night (hotel).
Wednesday 19th June
Vehicle transfer to avoid busy road and tunnel, then cycle to Kyzel-Oi. 53km (90m total ascent). Stay 1 night (guesthouse).
Thursday 20th June
Cycle to Chaek and on to Bashkaingdy. Camp near Kara Keche. 85km (993m total ascent). Stay 1 night (tent).
Friday 21st June
Cross Kara-Keche pass (3300m) and descend to Son Kul lake (3100m). 54km (1215m total ascent). Stay 1 night in yurt camp on south side of the lake.
Saturday 22nd June
Cycle to the north east of Son Kul Lake. 40km (184m total ascent). Stay 1 night (yurt).
Sunday 23rd June
Leave Son Kul Lake and cycle over Kalmak-Ashuu pass (3317m) then continue to Tolok. 47km (512m total ascent). Stay 1 night (guesthouse).
Monday 24th June
Cycle to Sary Buluk then out and back ride up a scenic side valley. Continue on good tarmac to Kochkor, home of felt making. 72km (370m total ascent). Stay 1 night (guesthouse).
Tuesday 25th June
Cycle alongside the Orto-Tokoy water reserve to Kara-Tala on the south side of Lake Issyk-Kul. 62kms (215m total ascent). Stay 1 night (guesthouse).
Wednesday 26th June
Climb into the mountains along a beautiful, but sometimes rough and steep road, to a yurt camp near Tuura Suu (2200m). 28kms (636m total ascent). Stay 1 night (yurt).
Thursday 27th June
Continue through the Kongur-Ölöng valley over the Ala Bash Pass (2365m) to the yurt camp at Temir-Kanat (2450m). 58km (826m total ascent). Walk 1.4km up to the campsite. Stay 1 night (yurt).
Friday 28th June
Walk down 1.4km from the campsite, then cycle to Bokonbaevo and on to Lake Issyk Kul. 28km (130m total ascent). Stay 1 night (yurt).
Saturday 29th June
Vehicle transfer to Bishkek. Stay 1 night (hotel).
Sunday 30th June
Transfer from hotel to Bishkek airport for Turkish Airlines flight TK345 to Istanbul, departing at 1025 and arriving at 1325. Onward flight TK1983 to London Heathrow departing at 1835, arriving at 1945.
Accommodation & Meals
Two nights are spent at a 3-star hotel in Bishkek, half board, based on two sharing, and four nights are spent in a guesthouse, half board, based on two/four sharing. One night is spent wild camping, two people sharing a tent, and five nights are spent in yurts (four people per yurt). Single rooms/tents are not available. All camping kit will be supplied with the exception of sleeping bags and sleeping mats. Meals are half board, with lunch provided on all cycling days and on the transfer day to Bishkek.
Vehicles for transfer of luggage and participants/bikes when necessary will accompany the group on all moving-on days.
Passports, Visa & Health
EU citizens must hold a passport that is still valid for at least six months at the end of the tour. A visa is not required. Holders of non-EU passports are advised to check whether they require a visa.
There are no compulsory health-related requirements for EU residents, though it is strongly recommended that you are vaccinated against Typhoid and Hepatitis A and B. Tetanus and polio vaccinations should also be up to date at the time of travel. You should contact your doctor at least 3 months prior to travel to obtain these vaccinations and the latest advice to travellers.
Our Booking Conditions stipulate that, for holidays outside the UK, travel Insurance is mandatory. Details of the level of cover needed and other conditions you should check are stated in the Booking Conditions. CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any costs that may be incurred due to insufficient insurance cover.
The price of £1,865 is based on a minimum number of 12 people taking part in the tour and is calculated at a rate of 1.12 Euros to £1 sterling (based on exchange rates published on www.x-rates.com on 14 September 2018; please note Booking Conditions, clause 3). If there are insufficient bookings by 8th April 2019, we will contact you and return all monies paid. although in certain circumstances the holiday may still run at below minimum numbers but at the same price.
- Return flight from London Heathrow to Bishkek
- Vehicle transfers in Bishkek between airport and hotel
- All other transfers as per the itinerary
- Support vehicles to transfer luggage and camping equipment
- 2 nights hotel, sharing room, half-board
- 4 nights guesthouse, 2/4 people sharing room, half-board
- 1 night fully serviced camping, 2 people per tent, half-board
- 5 nights yurts, 4 people per yurt, half board
- Services of a Krygyz English-speaking guide plus support crew for cooking on camping nights
- CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours costs
Price Does Not Include
- Travel to and from London Heathrow
- Turkish Airlines cycle charge (90 Euros each way)
- Drinks with lunches and evening meals
- Lunches on three days
- Gratuities for guide and driver (budget £40)
- Any other personal expenses
- Travel Insurance
A deposit of £190 per person is payable upon booking, with the final balance of £1,675 per person to be paid ten weeks prior to departure, by 8th April 2019.
Should you be forced to cancel your booking for any reason you must notify us in writing. Cancellation charges are as follows:
Written notice received:
Before 8th April 2019
From 8th April 2019 through to departure
The Area Covered By The Holiday
Whilst the politicians freed from the governance of the former USSR are trying to discover their own identity, the Kyrgyz pastoral majority still cling to a traditional way of life, grazing flocks on the high pastures during the brief summer months, then abandoning their yurts for the relative comfort of small villages in the harsh winter. Ethnic Krygyz make up the majority of the country’s 5.7 million people, followed by significant minorities of Uzbeks and Russians.
The tour starts from Bishkek with a vehicle transfer to avoid a busy road and a long tunnel. We start cycling into the Suusamyr valley and alongside the Kokomeren River to the district town of Chaek. Continuing on to the mining town of Kara-Keche, we will cross several high passes, some over 3000m, before descending to lake Son-Kul, the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan. It is situated in a valley between two mountain ranges at the altitude of 3016m. The lake is inhabited by ten species of fish, and on its shores you can see up to 70 species of birds. We will spend two nights beside Lake Son-Kul, staying in traditional felt yurts, usually occupied by nomadic herdsmen. They will vacate their homes to provide accommodation for the group and will also cook our evening meals.
From the lake we will cycle over the beautiful Kalmak-Ashuu pass (3,317m) where we are likely to see yaks and marmots, with a long winding descent to Tolok before reaching the tarmac road and the turn to the town of Kochkor, the centre of felt making. The women from the surrounding villages have started a cooperative shop where they sell their products. It is interesting to visit the shop, named Altyn Kol (meaning ‘golden hands’).
From Kochkar, we cycle alongside the Orto-Tokoy water reserve then turn towards the south shore of famous Lake Issyk-Kul, the second largest mountain lake in the world, at an altitude of 1,607m. It is fed by numerous rivers, springs and snow melt. The lake's southern shore is dominated by the ruggedly beautiful Teskey Ala-Too Range of the Tian Shan Mountains.
We will cross more passes before cycling to Bokonbaevo then continue from there by vehicle to Bishkek.
Potential participants should consider the realities of a wilderness adventure with its almost complete lack of creature comforts and the long distance to good medical facilities. The roads are often rough and unsealed and, as with all mountain roads, there is the possibility of needing to re-route, which could increase the day’s planned distance. The support vehicles will be on-hand to move the group should the need arise.
Rides & Rest Days
This is a unique, adventurous and sometimes demanding tour best suited to experienced enthusiast adventure cyclists with a pioneering spirit. Riding surfaces will include improved single vehicle dirt/gravel roads, rocky ascents and descents over passes. Daily distances, 30 - 85km, are reasonable to allow for the difficult terrain. Although not technical mountain biking, good bike handling skills over a variety of terrains will be required. Vehicle assistance will be available. It may be necessary to change this itinerary should conditions dictate.
Accommodation & Meals
We will stay in a 3-star hotel in Bishkek and spend four nights in a guesthouse, but on most nights we will use shepherd’s yurts or tents, where camping kit (with the exception of sleeping bags and mats) will be provided. Note that hot water will not be available at all of the camping venues. Rooms in guesthouses will be shared by two or four people, tents will be shared by two people and yurts by four. Breakfast and dinner are included on all days, and lunches are included on all cycling days.
The maximum number of participants will be 12 excluding the Tour Manager(s).
Weather & Clothing
The Kyrgyz Republic experiences extremes of weather year round. When camping at altitude, night temperatures could be close to freezing. Rain cannot be ruled out. It is essential that you bring clothing suitable for all conditions plus a 3-4 season sleeping bag.
Cycles & Equipment
A lightweight mountain bike, preferably with front suspension and minimum 50mm tyres, will be most suitable, but a sturdy tourer or cyclocross bike, with the widest tyres you can fit, will suffice if you have previously and happily used it on rough terrain. You will not need to carry luggage, but a bar bag or rack-top pack will be useful for spare clothing, camera, sun lotion, snacks etc.
Your kit and possibly your bikes will be loaded into vehicles and transported over rough ground. Please bear this in mind when packing. Smart luggage will not be suitable and paint damage to your bike could occur. You could minimize this by the application of tape or pipe lagging to your frame.
You should be able to carry two water bottles. Clean drinking water is included. Each participant will be expected to carry sufficient spares and tools to deal with punctures and minor repairs. Once we leave Bishkek cycle spares will not be available. Helmets are not mandatory but if you do not intend to wear one, please check that your travel insurance will cover you in the event of a claim.
Maps & Guides
A map showing an outline of the route, route sheets, daily profiles and gpx tracks for Garmins will be provided. The support crew will help with route finding.
Travel Insurance & Advice
Before booking you should check the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice or on 0845 850 2829. Please ensure that your travel insurance covers you for cycling above 3000 meters.
There will be very few opportunities to spend money other than in Bishkek. Currency can be exchanged at Bishkek airport. Budget £40 per person for crew tips.