July- August / 10 days / $1590 per person
Route: Almaty – Assy River – Chilik – Karkara – Turuk – Saary Zhas – Ak Bulak – Karakol – Almaty
Mountain Biking in Central Asia Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
Cycling with horses across the grasslands of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, rocky roads running alongside roaring rivers, this is mountain biking in this part of Central Asia!
From Almaty we take you off the grid and into the heart of the Tien Shan mountains that include the marble pyramid of Khan Tengri (7010 m) and Pobedy Peak (7439 m). Snow-capped mountains provide a stunning backdrop for our mountain biking adventure through valleys with lush pastures and up to passes and plateaus that are teeming with grasslands and wildflowers. The only traffic will be the occasional horseman and we’ll meet nomadic Kazakhs that have moved their flocks of sheep to high pastures.
We start biking from the Turgen River Gorge and the landscape quickly changes from pine trees to open rolling grasslands. Everyday we’ll bike up dirt roads to the top of passes, have adrenalin-inducing downhills and then camp next to rushing rivers as we weave our way to beautiful Karkara Valley.
The adventure continues as we climb to the top of Aktog Pass (3480 m) and the Chon Ashu Pass (3820 m) and descend to Karakol town near famous Issyk Kul Lake.
We transfer back to Almaty and celebrate our cycling accomplishments! This is a tough off road mountain biking tour as not only is the cycling challenging, we are riding at high altitudes and in extreme weather conditions. This all makes for a true adventure for those that want a unique biking experience with spectacular high mountain scenery.
We will cycle 520 kilometers in 9 days of riding. This is a tough trip due to the altitude and the terrain. We gain elevation slowly to ease acclimatizing and never sleep higher than 3100 m. Due to the remoteness of the terrain we’ll be camping.
Rough, rocky dirt roads, grasslands, and single track at altitude make this a tough trip. High level of fitness and technical experience strongly recommended.
9 for 8 nights It is the combination of conditions – altitude, weather, topography and overall environment – that makes this a challenging tour and a test of sustained riding. Vehicle support, which allows cyclists the option to get into the truck as needed, is available on all cycling days.
Biking Conditions: The road surfaces are a mix of paved and dirt roads, and a few sections of single track. The paths will be very rocky in sections and therefore good technical skills on a mountain bike are necessary.
Suitability: This trip is designed for the experienced cyclist with a high level of fitness. The lack of oxygen at the high altitudes we’ll be cycling at, as well as the climbs we’ll be doing, means that this is a tough trip and you’ll enjoy it much more if you have a good level of stamina and fitness. The distances and gradient each day are not extreme, but getting into the best shape possible for the trip will ensure you get the most from your holiday.
- Day 1. Almaty – Assy river 47 km
- Day 2. Zhenishke village 65 km.
- Day 3. Chilik river 50 km.
- Day 4. Taldy Su village 46 km.
- Day 5. Karkara BC 80 km.
- Day 6. Turuk river 40 km.
- Day 7. Saary Zhas river 52 km.
- Day 8. Ak Bulak Valley 70 km.
- Day 9. Karakol town 40 km.
- Day 10. Almaty
*9 breakfasts, pack-lunches and dinners *1 night in “yurt camp” on a multi-share basis (3-,5-,6-persons) *8 nights fully supported tent accommodation on a twin-share basis * tents and foam sleeping mats while camping * toilet and shower tents *private vehicle transportation *support vehicle while cycling *all water and snack food while cycling * entry fees to NPs* border permit *local guide-biker *medical kit.
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Day 1. Almaty – Turgen Valley – Assy River
We start from Almaty city early in the morning. We’ll have a three hour drive to the Turgen River Gorge to the Zailiysky Alatau National Park entry (1800 m). Here we start riding on a rough jeep track that follows the Turgen River to the end of the valley. Here we start to climb 12 km. to the top of Assy Pass (2650 m) where we’ll have a break for lunch. The sky is big and the grass is a vibrant green and the panorama is endless. We also have views here of snowcapped peaks in the distance. We have chance to visit local Kazakh nomads in their yurt – portable summer house. There are many of them on green grass plateau with horses and cows around. We descend for 35 km following the Assy River down to our campsite nestled in amongst green trees.
Tented Camp. Ride 47 km. B L D
Day 2. Sary Bulak River
We have a long day ahead of us as we have another pass to conquer today. We have a short but tough climb to reach the lofty summit of Zhambas Pass at 3150 m. Once we’ve reached the top the riding is undulating as we cross the Ashyk Dala Plateau where we’ll not likely to see another person unless they are on horseback.It’s a long and exhilarating descent for 23 km along the Zheniska River to reach our camp beside the Sary Bulak River (1600 m). All the riding is off road.
Tented Camp. Ride 65 km. B L D
Day 3. Chilik River
Today starts with a climb up but the switchbacks make the gradient easy. We traverse across the Beskaragay Mountain Range and ride through grasslands and fields of wildflowers, including edelweiss. A tough and rocky road leads us through a steep hillside that will test even the strongest of cyclists. We gradually make our way down to the Chilik River where we share our camp with horses and cows grazing nearby.
Tented Camp. Ride 50 km. B L D
Day 4. Kensu River
Today we hit some tarmac as we follow the asphalt road from Saty village for 28 km to Zhalanash village (1700 m). We’ll ride through the quaint villages with their white and blue picket fences and have time to pop into a local store where abacuses are still used. The riding will be mostly flat today with a few undulations and though we are on roads, they will be in poor condition, and we will see very little traffic. We camp near to the Kensu River.
Tented Camp. Ride 45 km. B L D
Day 5. Base Camp Karkara
Today we enter into Kyrgyzstan riding through rolling grasslands on a good road to reach the beautiful Karkara Valley. This section was once part of the Silk Road, traversed by Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Chinese traders. We spend the next two nights at Base Camp Karkara (2200 m) staying in “walk-in” tents, and have use of hot shower, a traditional sauna close to river and the bar! Base Camp Karkara is literally the jumping off point for expeditions to summit Pobedy Peak (7439 m) and Khan Tengri (7010 m) and we’ll meet some of climbers here.
Base Camp Karkara. Ride 80 km. B L D
Day 6. Base Camp Karkara – Turuk River (option heli-biking)
Today we say good bye to base camp and ride up 20 km along Karkara river to junction of three mountain rivers Kokzhar, Dzhalanach and Turuk with a few yurts of Kirgiz nomads. Follow main valley along Turuk river we’ll arrive our next camp place at 3100 m. neighborly with nomads.
Tented Camp. Ride 40 km. B L D
Option: helibiking from 3300 m. mountain (down-hill 12 km).
We’ll be using the same helicopter the climbers use for heli-biking! With our bikes onboard we fly up to 3300 meters and then make a unforgettable 1000 m descent on grasslands, switchback trails and forest dirt roads to our road up to Turuk River.
Day 7. Aktog pass – Saary Zhaz River
Today is important day – cycling up off road through grasslands with snowcapped peak as your back drop, it doesn’t get much better than this! We follow Turuk River to the Aktog Pass (3480m). The views back across to the spectacular Central Tien Shan snow Range and the black pyramid of Khan Tengri worth trying capture on your camera. In 1857 Russian explorer Peter Semenov came here first and described Khan Tengri Peak and Tien Shan Range for the World Civilization. A long descent takes us down to Kyrgyzstan Saary Zhaz River Valley where we’ll camp tonight at 2700m.
Tented Camp. Ride 52 km. B L D
Day 8. Chon Ashu Pass – Ak Bulak Village
Today – longest last cycling day. We follow few km. the Sary Zhaz River on an undulating road until we see the switch backs of our climb up to the top of Chon Ashu Pass (3820 m). Our legs are strong now so we’ll have no problem with this 25 km. climb. Once we reach the top we take a well-earned break to admire the view before we have a long and fast descent. We freewheel down to our riverside camp in the upper part of the valley near Ak Bulak village, that feeds Lake Issyk Kul – the second largest mountain lake in the world.
Tented Camp. Ride 70 km.B L D
Day 9. Karakol town, Issyk Kul Lake.
We follow poor asphalt road 40 km.to a famous Kakakol town – a Russian military outpost founded on July 1, 1869. Karakol has population more then 70 000 and now is one of Kyrgyzstan’s major tourist destinations, serving as a good starting point for the excellent hiking, trekking, skiing and mountaineering in the high central Tien Shan to the south and east. After 2 hrs. riding we’ll come to gest house “Yurt Camp” in a center of Karakol, where hot shower and lunch waited us. Our cycling part of travel is finished. We’ll transfer to city beach to swim half of day in salty Issyk Kul Lake water, have a barbecue and back for city sightseeing tour at evening. Overnight in yurta.
Karakol. Yurt Camp. Ride 40 km.
B L D
Day 10. Karakol – Almaty
Today early in the morning we’ll take our transport back to Almaty which takes hall day. After 110 km. we’ll cross border to Kazakhstan on same point as Day 6. Then we stop en route for lunch at Charyn Canyon National Park. This stunning gorge has the look of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Our trip ends upon arrival to Almaty.
Price $1590 per person
50% discount for children under 15 years old
Minimum group size 6 persons
Option helibiking $2400
Local m. bike with spare parts 10 days hire $200
- Interpreter’s service;
- entrance fee for the border region;
- ecological duties;
- heli-biking on MI 17 (optional);
- family-tent for 2 persons in Karkara BC;
- yurt camp in Karakol (3-6 persons in one yurt)
- trekking tent and matts for 2 persons on the route;
- cooking team;
- insurance of local staff;
- three meals a day;
- mess-tent with tables and chairs;
- sauna or shower in Karkara BC;
- toilet and shower tent on the route;
- evacuation of debris from camps;
- escort of 2 tracks (4 WD).
Price doesn’t include: hotel and meals in Almaty; airport transfers; personal equipment (bike, spare parts, helmet, gloves, sleeping bag, e.t.c.); rescue, visa support, bar bills.