NOMADasaurus Kyrgyzstan Tour 2019

ANNOUNCEMENT – Our 2019 Kyrgyzstan tours have just been released!

We are beyond thrilled to open up registrations for our exclusive tour of Kyrgyzstan, departing in August 2019!

After the huge success of our first two tours this year we have been inundated with requests to host more. We’ve tweaked the itinerary to make our customised Kyrgyzstan tour even better, and are proud to release details of the next one.

“A fantastic tour in a spectacular country. Alesha and Jarryd have used their vast travel experience to put together an absolutely superb tour, suitable for all ages of intrepid tourists who are ready for an off the tourist track adventure. One of the best tours I have ever done!” – Veronica, 2018 Kyrgyzstan tour participant.

Just like our personal travels, this tour of Kyrgyzstan is designed to be a fun, interesting and culturally fascinating experience, with a big focus on outdoor adventures. While the tour is professionally backed by a local, licensed tour operator, it is structured to be more like a small group of good friends exploring a wonderful country together.

The concept of our NOMADasaurus PhotoVenture Tours is simple – We seek out superb photography opportunities in offbeat locations, and mix our days up with exciting adventures. We have an incredible itinerary, but just like in real travel, things can change due to unforeseen circumstances. Perhaps we’ll come across a local kok boru match, or we encounter a phenomenal sunset and we halt the tour to capture spectacular photos. Weather can also play a part in our plans. We’ll be dedicated, enthusiastic, yet also flexible.

So why should you consider travelling to Kyrgyzstan? We’ve been lucky enough to travel to Kyrgyzstan five times since 2015, and it is honestly one of our favourite countries. The scenery, the people, the culture, the adventures, it’s a destination we love dearly, and want you to experience for yourself.

Having the opportunity to show 24 amazing people around Kyrgyzstan in 2018 was an incredible experience, and we are so pleased to say that each and every one of them left a piece of their hearts behind, just like we have.

“Take a leap into the unknown and stretch your horizons. Sleep in a yurt, explore wide open plains, ride a horse and learn to build a yurt. Experience the Kyrgyz culture and friendly people. Unmissable!” – 2018 Kyrgyzstan tour participant.

This brand new and personalised 14-day tour of Kyrgyzstan will start off in the surprisingly cosmopolitan ex-Soviet city of Bishkek, before heading into the mountains at Chong Kemin.

We’ll then drive to the high alpine lake of Song Kul, where we will have the chance to go horse trekking and hiking around the lake, and learn more about the nomadic shepherds that call this area home. To make it even better we will be staying in the best yurt camp at Song Kul! Staying in a yurt is a real Kyrgyz experience that you’re sure to love.

The next stop is Tong, on the edge of Issyk Kul. We’ll spend a few days taking part in eagle hunting demonstrations, learning how to build a yurt and checking out some traditional folklore shows.

Afterwards it’s onto Karakol, with a detour through the rock formations at Fairytale Canyon and the Seven Bulls. In Karakol you’ll feast on delicious ethnic-minority cuisine, go kayaking on the lake and visit the famous livestock bazaar.

The next destination of Jyrgalan is sure to become one of your favourite places on the planet. We have two and half days to explore this captivating mountain village, and will be spending lots of time horse trekking and hiking in the peaks surrounding the town.

To finish off this amazing trip you will see some of the oldest petroglyphs in Central Asia at Cholpon Ata, and even get to try a bit of trout fishing.

“Touring Kyrgyzstan with NOMADasaurus was an amazing experience. Jarryd and Alesha known the country very well and developed a well-paced and varied itinerary with the perfect mix of cultural and outdoor activities.” – Hope, 2018 Kyrgyzstan tour participant.

For the entire tour you will be transported in two, modern Mercedes Sprinter vans, and your accommodation will be a range of 3-star hotels, family-run guesthouses and traditional yurts. Included meals will be in reputable local restaurants or home-cooked meals with families.

Your tour leader will be one half of NOMADasaurus! Jarryd will be joining you for the entire experience, giving photography workshops, answering any questions you might have and sharing his expertise from a decade on the road.

In addition there will be a certified, experienced Kyrgyz guide who is fluent in English. This will allow you to get an in-depth insight into the local culture, and ask any of the people you meet questions without fear of having words lost in translation.

“I would travel with Alesha and Jarryd anywhere!” – Randy, 2018 Kyrgyzstan tour particpant

While the itinerary is filled with exciting activities and cultural interactions, we’ve also left in some free time so you can pursue your own interests, practice your photography or simply relax in your beautiful surroundings.

This is going to be an incredible adventure to discover the highlights of Kyrgyzstan – an offbeat nation that is truly one of the most sensational travel destinations in the world.

 

  • 2019 Kyrgyzstan Tour Dates: August 3rd to August 16th
  • Duration: 14 Days
  • Start: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • Finish: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • Maximum Group Size: 14 people
  • Fitness Level: Medium to High
  • Trip Leader: Jarryd Salem (plus one local guide)
NOMADasaurus Kyrgyzstan Tours

Our happy guests on the first ever NOMADasaurus Kyrgyzstan tour!

2019 Kyrgyzstan Tour Itinerary

This is the very exciting, new-and-improved itinerary that we have put together for the second year of our PhotoVenture Kyrgyzstan Tours. We will be revisiting the best places from last year, as well as adding a couple of new destinations and activities!

Legend: B (Breakfast), L (Lunch), D (Dinner), S (Hot Showers), E (Electricity), W (WiFi)

August 3rd – Bishkek

Accommodation – 3 Star Hotel

Upon arrival at Manas International Airport in Bishkek you will be met by us in the terminal and transferred to our comfortable, 3-star hotel in the city. As everybody will be arriving at different times, today is a day of leisure. You can choose to relax in the hotel, check out one of the many lovely cafes Bishkek has to offer or go on a self-guided walking tour. There will be our first group meeting at 6pm, followed by a delicious dinner in one of our favourite restaurants in the city.

Meals Included: D

Facilities: S, E, W

Bishkek Kyrgyzstan Tour

Bishkek.

August 4th – Bishkek to Chong Kemin

Accommodation – Guesthouse

We’ll have breakfast at our hotel before leaving early in the morning for Chong Kemin, a beautiful village located in a valley. Along the way we’ll stop off at the 9th century minaret, the Burana Tower, and then continue to our guesthouse for a nice lunch. In the afternoon we will go for a mountain hike to get some beautiful views of the region. Dinner will be in the guesthouse.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, E, W

Optional Activities: Mountain hike – Free

Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan Tour

The Burana Tower.

August 5th – Chong Kemin to Song Kul

Accommodation – Luxury Yurt Camp

After breakfast in our guesthouse we will start driving towards the large town of Kochkor. Here we will have lunch with a local family known for their amazing handicrafts. After the meal we will be treated to a workshop on how to make the felt handicrafts that Kyrgyzstan is famous for. You will have the opportunity to purchase some handmade souvenirs before we continue the drive towards Song Kul, one of the jewels of the country.

This alpine lake sits above 3000m and is surrounded by nomadic shepherds, looking after yaks, donkeys, goats and horses. We will be staying in a luxury yurt camp, the best one on the lake, and isolated from the other main yurt accommodations. Once we check in to our yurts we will head out for a short walk and enjoy a sunset photoshoot. Dinner will be prepared by the family in the yurt camp.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, E

Note: Hot showers and electricity are available at this yurt camp, but there is no wifi or phone reception.

Song Kul Lake NOMADasaurus Kyrgyzstan Tours

Song Kul Lake.

August 6th – Song Kul

Accommodation – Luxury Yurt Camp

We’ll wake early to catch what will hopefully be a gorgeous sunrise, and then have breakfast in the dining yurt. In the morning the whole group will take part in a half-day horse trek to visit some ancient petroglyphs and take in a spectacular panoramic view of the landscape. Lunch will be back at the yurt camp. In the afternoon the family will put on a boorsok show, teaching us how to make this famous, doughy snack that is a staple all around the country, and then there will be free time to relax before dinner. If the skies are clear we’ll do an astrophotography workshop to learn how to capture images of the Milky Way.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, E

Optional Activities: Horse trekking – Included in price

Milky Way Song Kul Lake Tour of Kyrgyzstan

The Milky Way over our yurts in Song Kul Lake.

August 7th – Song Kul to Tong

Accommodation – Luxury Yurt Camp

In the morning we’ll have breakfast with our family at Song Kul before saying goodbye and driving down to Kyrgyzstan’s other legendary lake – Issyk Kul. Here we’ll stay in another high-end yurt camp near the shores of the lake. We’ll have lunch at the accommodation and then head off to what promises to be one of the highlights of the trip – an eagle hunting demonstration, hosted by a world champion! We’ll be given a close-up experience of how man and eagle have worked together for centuries in Central Asia, and you will have the opportunity to pose for photos holding the eagle yourself. There will also be a number of other traditional sporting demonstrations. In the evening will have dinner and a traditional folklore show.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, W, E

Eagle Hunting Demonstration

Some of the crew from our second tour group posing with the Salbuurun Federation and their eagle hunters.

August 8th – Issyk Kul

Accommodation – Luxury Yurt Camp

We’ll have breakfast in the yurt camp and then set off for a half-day horse trek into the mountains. The views will be amazing, and after you’ve worked up an appetite we’ll return to camp for a delicious lunch. In the afternoon we’ll visit a nearby village that is famous for building yurts, the awesome domes we’ve been staying in for the last few nights. Here we’ll take part in a yurt-building demonstration from the world record holders for the fastest time to erect a yurt. We won’t be in a rush though – instead this will be a hands-on experience so you can learn how to build your own yurt! Afterwards we’ll head back to the yurt camp for dinner and another special show.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, W, E

Optional Activities: Horse riding – Included in price.

Build a yurt Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tour

Learn how to build a yurt.

August 9th – Issyk Kul to Karakol

Accommodation – 3 Star Hotel

We’ll hit the road on an early start and start off the day’s adventures with a visit to Skazka Canyon, also known as Fairytale Canyon. This spectacular sandstone formation is like one giant playground for adults, and we’ll spend around an hour to climb all over the gorgeous canyon and take pictures of the rainbow-like formations. Afterwards we’ll continue on our way towards Jeti Oguz to get a gorgeous view of the Seven Bulls rock formation. In the late afternoon we’ll arrive in the cool town of Karakol, and check in to our awesome 3 star hotel. Dinner will be in an excellent local restaurant.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, E, W

Skazka Canyon Kyrgyzstan Tours

Skazka Canyon.

August 10th – Karakol

Accommodation – 3 Star Hotel

After breakfast we will go on a walking tour of Karakol city with a local guide and visit the famous Dungan mosque, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and other highlights of the city.. For lunch we will be experiencing a traditional cooking class with a Dungan family. The Dungans are a Chinese-Muslim ethnic minority group that fled persecution in their homeland and settled in the valleys around Karakol. After learning about their history and visiting one of their mosques you will be taught how to make ashlanfu, one of their most famous dishes. Then enjoy one of the most amazing feasts you can imagine.

The afternoon is free, then we will head off on a sunset kayaking mission on Issyk Kul. This is a brand new activity, and having the opportunity to go for a paddle around the stunning lake is definitely not to be missed. We’ll finish with dinner in a great local restaurant.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, E, W

Dungan Meal Karakol

Enjoying the spread at the Dungan meal.

August 11th – Karakol to Jyrgalan

Accommodation: Local Guesthouse

Today we’re going to wake up before sunrise and head to the famous livestock bazaar in Karakol. Here hundreds of local farmers and herders get together every Sunday during the summer to buy and sell horses, goats, sheep and cows. It’s a manic, dusty, loud place, but is very interesting. We plan to go early as most of the trading actually starts around 3am, so this way we’ll beat the tourists and see it while it is still busy.

Afterwards we’ll head back to the hotel for breakfast and to shower before driving out to Jyrgalan, our favourite place in all of Kyrgyzstan! This mountain village proved to be everyone’s favourite as well on our last two tours, and we’re sure you’ll fall in love with it. We have a couple of days jam packed with adventure for you, and we’ll start with a hike in the afternoon before enjoying a traditional Finnish sauna and dinner with the local family.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, E, W

Jyrgalan Tour of Kyrgyzstan

This is the view 5 minutes from our guesthouse in Jyrgalan.

August 12th – Jyrgalan

Accommodation – Local Guesthouse

As tempting as it is to simply relax around the village of Jyrgalan, the real beauty is out in the mountains, and that’s exactly where we’re headed today. We’re going to go on a full-day horse trek to a beautiful alpine lake. Lunchboxes will be provided, and we’ll return again to the guesthouse for dinner. For those that don’t want to horse trek for an entire day, there are plenty of other options to do around the village or the mountains. Options will be discussed.

Meal Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, E, W

Optional Activities: If you would prefer not to ride a horse in Jyrgalan you can go on a number of guided hikes depending on your ability, or relax at the beautiful guesthouse and explore the village.

Horse Trek Jyrgalan

Horse trekking in Jyrgalan. Just one of the highlights on our Kyrgyzstan tours.

August 13th – Jyrgalan

Accommodation: Local Guesthouse

Today we have another full-day guided hike planned, this time to a nearby mountain ridge that offers gorgeous views over the border into Kazakhstan. It’s of moderate difficulty, so decent fitness is required. Lunchboxes will be provided along the way. We’ll have dinner back at the guesthouse.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, E, W

Optional Activities: If you would prefer not to go on a full-day hike you can choose to relax at the guest house, or go for a half-day hike instead.

Jyrgalan Hiking Kyrgyzstan Tour

Hiking around Jyrgalan.

August 14th – Jyrgalan to Cholpon Ata

Accommodation: Local Guesthouse

Today we say our reluctant goodbyes to Jyrgalan and drive towards Cholpon Ata, one of the biggest towns on Issyk Kul’s north shore. For lunch we will visit a golden trout mountain farm and try our hand at a bit of fishing. For lunch we’ll have a delicious fresh fish spread, and then continue to the ancient petroglyphs spread out over hundreds of boulders in an open sky museum, and check out the new Rukh Ordo Cultural Centre. We’ll be staying in a lovely guesthouse in town, and have dinner at a nice restaurant in Cholpon Ata

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, E, W

Petroglyphs Cholpon Ata

Petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata.

August 15th – Cholpon Ata to Bishkek

Accommodation: 3 Star Hotel

It’s a short 3-hour drive to Bishkek, so we will have a leisurely breakfast and then get on the road. When we arrive back in the city we’ll check in to our hotel, and the afternoon is free to relax, pack your bags or get in a last bit of souvenir shopping. Lunch is included today, and we’ll have a final group dinner in the evening.

Meals Included: B, L, D

Facilities: S, E, W

August 16th – Depart Bishkek

The final goodbyes will be sad, but it’s onto the next adventure! We’ll transfer you to the Manas International Airport in time to catch your departing flights.

Jeti Oguz Kyrgyzstan Tour

Jeti Oguz.

What’s Included

  • Accommodation: Twin rooms in 3-star hotels and local guesthouses. Maximum 4 people to a yurt, 2 people where there is availability.
  • All meals mentioned in itinerary.
  • Transport: Two air-conditioned, modern Mercedes Sprinter vans for all passengers throughout the entire tour.
  • Airport transfers: Pick up and drop-off at the airport for your flight when arriving and departing on the designated dates in this itinerary.
  • All activities included in itinerary.
  • English-speaking, certified and experienced local guide.
  • Photography workshops and advice.
  • One trip leader and photography expert (Jarryd Salem from NOMADasaurus).
  • Two litres of bottled or filtered water per person, per day.
  • Entrance fees to museums and archeological sites.

What’s Not Included

  • International airfares to and from Bishkek.
  • Travel insurance (mandatory to join our tour). We recommend 1Cover for Australians and New Zealanders, and World Nomads for other nationalities, but please do your own research on travel insurance providers.
  • Any meals or snacks not included in itinerary.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Optional activities.
  • Tips for drivers and local guide (Optional)
Karakol Tour Group

One of our tour groups in Karakol.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a visa to visit Kyrgyzstan?

For many nationalities a 60-day visa waiver program is granted for free when landing in Kyrgyzstan. There is no need for a letter of invitation or to visit your embassy beforehand. Double check your status with this article before committing.

What is the food like in Kyrgyzstan?

Food in Kyrgyzstan is surprisingly hearty and delicious. Noodle dishes and soups are common, as are fried samosas and vegetables. The most common meat is mutton, beef and chicken. On our Kyrgyzstan tours we eat in high quality restaurants and enjoy home-cooked meals in local guesthouses.

I’m a vegetarian. Will I be ok with the food in Kyrgyzstan?

While most traditional meals are served with meat in Kyrgyzstan, all the places we will be eating at are used to serving tourists and can cater to vegetarians. Please keep in mind that the variety of fresh fruit and vegetables isn’t as plentiful in Central Asia as they are in other parts of the world, but the food will still be delicious.

If you are a vegan you will have a very hard time in Kyrgyzstan, as dairy products are used in the preparation of many dishes. Please seriously consider this before booking your trip.

Is Kyrgyzstan safe?

We are very pleased to say that Kyrgyzstan is one of the safest countries in all of Asia. Crime is low, and petty crime against tourists is very rare. Unlike some of its neighbours, Kyrgyzstan is also relatively free of political and religious turmoil. There is one region of the country that has some issues, but we won’t be travelling anywhere near it. Safety is our number one priority.

What is it like sleeping in a yurt?

The yurts we will be staying in are large, spacious, have a solid floor, and while they typically sleep 4-5 people, on our tours we’ll be doing our best to try and keep the numbers at 2 maximum to a yurt. We have upgraded our yurt accommodation this year to be of a higher quality, and you will be provided with proper mattresses and blankets.

What is the other accommodation like?

We will be staying in a mixture of 3 star hotels and local, comfortable guesthouses. In most destinations we have selected the absolute best options for accommodation in each town and village.

Is there a single supplement?

While in previous years we have had single supplements, for 2019 we have decided to do away with them as our new itinerary measn that while there are plenty of excellent twin accommodation, single rooms aren’t as plentiful. After much consideration we believe it is best not to offer it as it will not result in excellent value for the customer. If you are a single traveller you will be paired with another person for the duration of the tour.

What will the bathroom facilities be like around the country?

In all of our accommodation western-style toilets will be available, even at the yurt camps. Facilities ‘on the road’ might not be so glamorous, and if you need to use a bathroom in one of the gas stations or restaurants en route you may find they are squat toilets.

Our accommodation in Song Kul, Tong and Chong Kemin can only offer clean, shared bathroom facilities. Please keep this in mind before booking our trip.

Will there be WiFi or phone service?

There will be wifi or phone service available in all places except for Song Kul. The speeds do vary from quite fast in Bishkek and Karakol, to very slow in smaller towns and villages. 3G and 4G is available in many places around the country.

The tour guide, leader and drivers will have access to phones in case of emergency.

What transport will you have organised for us?

We have organised two modern Mercedes Sprinters with a capacity of 17 people each to transport the group around. This ensures we won’t be overcrowding the vehicles and will have room for luggage. This also allows us to have one van available in case of emergencies.

What is the weather like in August in Kyrgyzstan?

While temperatures around 40 degrees are possible in Bishkek, up in the mountains of Jyrgalan and Son Kul the temperature can drop to below freezing at night. Please bring adequate clothing for any conditions. We will be sending out a complete packing list to confirmed participants on this tour.

Will we be at altitude during this trip?

Yes. The highest altitude we will be reaching on this trip is in Song Kul, which is just over 3000m above sea level. On some of the hikes in Jyrgalan you can reach altitudes of over 3500m. If you have ever had any issues with altitude sickness before please seek medical advice before booking this tour. If you do experience any altitude sickness during the trip we will immediately take you to lower elevations.

Can I charge my electronics during the tour?

In all of the hotels and guesthouses except for Song Kul there are electrical outlets to charge your devices. Our accommodation in Tong also has limited electricity in some of the yurts and dining area. We recommend bringing a USB power bank to keep your accessories charged.

What is involved with the photography aspect of the tour?

The tour leader will be on hand at all times to answer any questions you may have about photography, whether it is about settings, composition, lighting, technical gear, editing, etc. He will also be holding informal workshops throughout the tour such as how to use Adobe Lightroom, how to shoot astrophotography, and more.

Can I take pictures of the people in Kyrgyzstan?

Yes! In general the people in Kyrgyzstan are very friendly and open to having their pictures taken. Usually all it takes is a smile and to ask if you can, and they’ll happily pose for you. In some places like the markets and bazaars the vendors prefer not to be photographed, so always ask before pointing a camera in their face. Our local guide can always assist when communicating with people.

What kind of fitness level is required to join this tour?

A decent level of fitness is required to take part in this tour, as many of the activities involve hiking, horse trekking and spending time at altitude.

If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with some of the adventure activities you can choose not to do them, and other, lighter alternatives will be found for you.

Is there an age limit for this tour?

There is a minimum age of 18 to join this tour. There is no maximum age limit to join, but please keep in mind the fitness levels as specified above.

How much spending money should I bring with me?

ATMs that accept foreign debit cards like MasterCard and Visa are available in Bishkek and Karakol, so you can choose how much spending money you want once you are in the country. As a general idea though USD$200 should be plenty for snacks, alcohol and souvenirs for the 14 days.

 

Kyrgyzstan Tour Group

Book your spot today!

Tour Cost – USD$2150

(Maximum 14 People)

  • A non-refundable deposit of USD$500 is required to secure your position on this tour.
  • The remainder of the cost is required by 1st of May, 2019
  • Payment can be made via PayPal.

As places are limited we will be sending out payment details in order of when the registration forms have been received. The earlier you complete the form, the sooner we will send you the payment information.

Once you receive the payment information you will have 24 hours to pay the deposit before we forward details to the next person in line. For this reason we recommend only completing the registration details once you’re ready to pay the deposit. Thanks very much for your understanding.

Cancellation Policy

If for any reason you need to cancel your position on this tour you will forfeit your deposit (unfortunately we will be using the deposit to pay for accommodation and activities as soon as it is received. We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance with trip cancellation options.)

If you have already paid in full this is the percentage of refund available:

  • Before 28th February 2019 – 100% of total trip cost (minus deposit)
  • Between 1st March and 31st March 2019 — 70% of total trip cost (minus deposit)
  • Between 1st April and 30th April 2019 – 50% of total trip cost (minus deposit)
  • After 1st May 2019 – No refund available.

If we cancel this tour for any reason, whether it is personal or political, you will receive 100% of your money back, including deposit.

 

August 3rd Tour – 6/14 places remaining!

 

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