Contrasts of Tien-Shan 2022

The trip is a light version of the trekking program To the heart of Tien Shan” and considered to be one of the most popular trekking tours in Kyrgyzstan.

It includes trip to Son-Kul lake and skips the most difficult part of the trekking route – trekking to South Inylchek base camp. A helicopter will take you there. You will visit mysterious Merzbacher Lake and one of biggest glacier in the world – Inylchek glacier. The trip finishes at “South Inylchek” Base Camp at the foot of magnificent Khan Tengri peak (7010 m.) 

In the season 2020 “Ak sai Travel” will set up permanent tent camps all along the itinerary. It makes a tour so easy for trekkers.

If you book the trekking tour “Contrast of Tien Shan” with Ak-Sai Travel, you can stay in our tent camps all along the tour!

  • It makes your journey so much easier – no need to carry all heavy tents, pots, plates and other kitchen equipment, as well as food for the whole trek.
  • It makes your trip cheaper – you don’t need to hire porters, cooks and so on.
  • It makes your tour safer – you have connection in every camp. Upon arrival you will get a map with the route and all the tent camps marked, as well as a brochure describing the itinerary in details.
  • It makes the vacations more comfortable – every night you will stay in a warm tent; eating hot delicious European and national food.


The cost of the program in 2022:  2910 USD /pax

SGL accommodation in hotels:  130 USD per person.

SGL accommodation in tents:    85 USD per person.

National Horseback riding games on the shore of Son Kul lake:  150 USD per group

Felt production demonstration in Bokonbaevo village:   40 USD per group

Folklore show in Bishkek city: 100 USD per group for 20 min; 150 USD per group for 30 min.


Fixed departure date:  25th of July – 7th of August  2021.

Day 1 (25 July). “Manas” international airport – Bishkek

Drive: 30 km. / 1 h.

Arrival in Bishkek early in the morning. Meeting at the airport. Transfer to the hotel/Guest House. After short rest and late breakfast we have city tour in Bishkek. Lunch in local restaurant.

The capital and industrial centre of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek is a city of wide avenues, handsome buildings and Soviet heritage. The gesturing statue of Lenin can still be seen in the city’s vast central square, yet it is the permanently snowcapped Kyrgyz Alatau mountain range which towers over Bishkek providing a quite stunning backdrop. 

Dinner and overnight in hotel (900 m a.s.l.). 

Day 2 (26 July). Bishkek – Burana Tower – Son-Kul

Drive: 390 km. / 7-8 hrs. / + 900 m.

After breakfast depart to Son-Kul lake, on the road make halt on Burana Tower (old minaret) near Tokmok town.

That minaret was constructed in Balasagun town, one of the capitals of Karakhanid State existed in 12 centuries AD. Explore ruins of that important trading point at the Great Silk Road and visit a little local museum telling about that civilization. Also watch a collection of Balbals, Turkic ancient tombs.

After excursion lunch in the family house in Tokmok, where tourist can closer learn about life of local people.In the afternoon continue your journey to Son Kul lake, the second largest mountain lake in Kyrgyzstan.

Dinner and overnight in yurt camp (3050 m. a.s.l.).

Day 3 (27 July).  Son Kul lake.

After breakfast we will have horse-riding or hiking around area, then after lunch you can view horse show.

Today you step into the nomadic life at the Song-Kul Lake. Here, the Kyrgyz people still live in traditional simplicity. You enjoy horseback riding or just hiking, spend time with friendly Kyrgyz families and taste their fresh airan (yogurt) and kymys (a fermented national drink from mare’s milk).

Optionally: Horseback riding games played a vitally important role for Kyrgyz people. The main aim of these games was to teach children to ride horse professionally.  Nowadays it is an entertainment. You have a chance to watch various kinds of traditional Kyrgyz horseback riding games (Ulak Tartysh, Kyz Kuumai, Tyiyn Enmei, etc).

Dinner and overnight in yurt camp (3050 m. a.s.l.).

Day 4 (28 July).  Son-Kul – Karakol

Drive: 350 km. / 7-8 hrs. / – 1300 m.

In the morning you drive to Karakol town situated in the east of Issyk-Kul lake area, at the foot of the most picturesque mountains of Tien Shan.

This sleepy but very interesting old Russian town was first erected by Cossacks in the middle of 19th century and became an important garrison settlement.

On the way we will stop in Bokombaevo village and have a lunch in the family house.

Optionally: Felt production demonstration, together with the locals we will learn this ancient handicraft and get closer to the culture of nomads. In Bokonbaevo workshop masters specialize in production of huge carpets to cover a yurt or to put on the floor. They have invented unique machinery with a help of an old tractor parts. It serves well for brushing and pressing the wool.

Overnight in hotel /guest house (1650 m. a.s.l.).

Day 5 (29 July). Karakol sightseeing tour. Karakol – Karkara Base Camp

Drive: 120 km. / 3 hrs. / + 500 m.

After breakfast we have short sightseeing tour around Karakol.

Karakol town situated in the east of the lake area, at the foot of the most picturesque mountains of Tien Shan. This sleepy but very interesting Old Russian town was first erected by Cossacks in the middle of 19th century and became an important garrison settlement.

Visiting Dungan mosque, a unique construction in Chinese style, but serving as a mosque. Also you will see an Old Russian Orthodox Cathedral made of wood without any nails.

Lunch in local restaurant. Afternoon transfer to Karkara Base Camp, located 120 km. to South-East from Karakol town, the drive will take us about 3 hours. The road passes through Tup village, then continues to East towards checkpoint Karkyra. As we are going to enter the border zone, we must leave our border-permits here.

Dinner and overnight in tents (2200 m. a.s.l.). 

Day 6 (30 July). Helicopter flight to Inylchek Valley, trek to Iva Camp.

Trek: 10 km, 3-4 h, +100 m.

Breakfast. Helicopter flight to trek start point in Inylchek Valley to a place which called Prijim. Then we trek up along valley to the foot of Inylchek glacier. On the way you can see Nansen peak (5690 m) and Tuz pass (4001 m).

In 1902, Nansen peak was noticed by the German geographer Gottfried Merzbacher. Even he, who had seen the panorama of many mountains on the globe, such as the Alps, the Caucasus, the Himalayas and Karkorum, had a feeling of surprise and delight at the sight of the giant ridge that bounded the valley of Inylchek from the South. Its mighty snow-capped peaks of the most varied sculptural forms, of which the creative forces of nature are capable, are visible all the way from West to East. And in his opinion-this is one of the greatest Alpine paintings of the globe. “Among all the proud phalanx, the most magnificent is the peak that rises opposite the Tuz Ashu pass. It is difficult to conjure up a picture of the mighty, extended slopes of this giant, the wildness of its many crests, the splendor of the rapid glaciers, cut into a thousand different shapes and broken into endless fragments. I do not hesitate to extol this wonderful mountain range as the greatest in the Tien Shan mountains. He should certainly be given an appropriate name, ” wrote Merzbacher.

Dinner and overnight in tents (2900 m. a.s.l.).

Day 7 (31 July). Iva Camp – Glina camp.

Trek: 8 km. / 5-6 hrs. / + 200 m.

The Inylchek Glacier is the largest glacier and centerpiece of the Central Tien Shan. Extending 62 km in length with a width of over 3 km, the Inylchek Glacier is the third longest glacier outside the Polar Regions. It is estimated that the glacier holds enough ice to cover the entire country of Kyrgyzstan in three meters of melt water (Stewart, 2002). The first outside to travel into the area and visit the glacier was the European Pyotr Semenov in 1857. Climbing in the area began in the early 1900’s and continued through the 1930’s. Under Soviet rule, the permitting system restricted foreign access. It was not until after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that foreign climbers began to climb in the area (Stewart, 2002).

Breakfast. We take our lunch boxes and leave at about 9 am. Very steep ascents and descents take exhaust. We will try to go through to the right slope of the terrace. The trail crosses the terrace, later small rivers, washes out mountain slope, Putevodnyi glacier. We go up and down, up and down all the time. Lunch on the glacier at about 1 pm. Then we ascent another steep terrace along a narrow trail. The variety of terrains and the steepness of the slope trails will add some more adrenaline in blood. Arriving in Glina Camp we will have some tea or coffee and rest. The camp has got its name (which means “clay” in Russian) because of its location on a green clay field. Dinner at 6 pm

Dinner and overnight in tents (3100 m. a.s.l.).

Day 8 (1 August).  Camp Glina – Merzbacher Glade.

Trek 9 km, 5-6 h, +300 m.

Breakfast at 9 am. Again we trek up and down various terraces though have also about 10 km of straight path. Only once we trek across a small glacier, passing a river and have lunch on the shore of a small lake, swim and rest. It will be an hour left to get to the Camp. Upon arrival we have some tea or coffee, then dinner at 6 pm.

Wonderful views of Merzbacher lake open to us from the Camp.

Merzbacher glade is the last grassy place in the area located just across the unique Merzbacher Lake. There is a scientific research station on the glacier. Scientists from all over the world come working here every summer. They study glaciers moving, meteorological situation of the region and the lake Merzbacher itself. There is a large green area around which is flat enough for camping.

Dinner and overnight in tents (3400 m. a.s.l.). 

Day 9 (2 August). Merzbacher Lake.

Trek: 8 km. / 4-5 hrs.

Breakfast at 9 am. We take our lunch boxes and leave at 10 a.m. Across South Inylchek glacier up to Mertzbacher Lake. The glacier terrain is ice covered with rocks and stones, sand and mud. The trekking time both ways is 4-5 hours.

Sandwiched between the Northern and Southern branches of the glacier lies the mysterious Merzbacher Lake, which form every summer and then, sometime in August, burst through the ice banks and the waters flow into the Inylchek River.  (Actually, the timing varies – for example in 2012 it happened on 10,July.)  In reality, only part of the lake drains – the lake, which is 6 kilometres long and one kilometre wide, is in fact divided into two by a bridge of ice and whilst the lower half empties regularly, the upper part is always full of water. Also, the lakes empty twice a year – once in the summer and once in the winter – but most people only know about the summer event. In 1903 the German geographer and mountaineer, Gottfried Merzbacher, first discovered the lake while leading an expedition into the Tian Shan Mountains aiming to reach the summit of Khan Tengri.  Forced back by ice, from their originally intended route through the Byankol Pass and along the Semyenov and Mushketov glaciers, they attempted a different approach – along the Enilchek glacier.  Once again they failed, but they had shown that Khan Tengri was in fact on a ridge and not in the centre of that particular knot of the Tian Shan Mountains as had been thought.  The expedition will be better remembered, however, for the discovery of the mysterious lake that now bears Merzbacher’s name.

Dinner and overnight in tents (3400 m. a.s.l.).

Day 10 (3 August). Helicopter flight to South Inylchek Base Camp.

Flight: 30 km. / 20 min. / + 700 m.

Today we have helicopter flight to Base Camp “South Inylchek” located on confluence South Inylchek and Zvezdochka glaciers.

Base Camp “South Inylchek” is open from 5 of July till 31 of August every year and might be interesting not only for alpinists, but also for usual travelers, who would like to enjoy the views of beautiful mountains on the flight by helicopter.

The Base Camp is ideally situated in the heart of North Tien-Shan at the South Inylchek glacier approximately at 4100 m. above the sea level. It has a picturesque view of Khan-Tengri (7010 m.) and Pobeda (7439 m.) peaks.

Dinner and overnight in BC tents (4100 m. a.s.l.). 

Day 11 (4 August). South Inylchek base camp.

Trek 15 km, 5-6 h, +/-150 m.

Rest day at South Inylchek BC or Radial hiking to Khan-Tengri Peak (7010 m. a.s.l.).

The beautiful pyramid of Khan Tengri is without doubt the Jewel of the Tien Shan. It is the second highest mountain in this most northerly and remote of the great Asian mountain ranges. Among the local people, the white peaks are known as “The Mountains of Heaven”. Khan Tengri peak was first climbed by a Soviet expedition in 1931, via the West Col and West Ridge. Since then, most of its ridges and faces have been climbed – all by Soviet teams.

Dinner and overnight in BC tents (4100 m. a.s.l.). 

Day 12 (5 August). Helicopter flight to Karkara helicopter pad – Issyk Kul Lake.

Drive: 200 km, 3 h, -2500 m.

Breakfast. Helicopter flight from BC to Karkara helicopter pad. Transfer to Issyk-Kul Lake.

In the afternoon three hours drive to the Issyk-Kul Lake, lunch on the way.

Issyk-Kul is the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America.

Measuring 182 km long by 58 km wide, the lake appeared as a result of volcanic activity. It is heated from below by thermal activity and never freezes even in the depths of winter. In the summer the water temperature reaches 25-28 degrees centigrade (warmer than the air) and you can swim in the lake enclosed on all sides by the snowy peaks of the Tien Shan Mountains. Extremely deep and nicely warm over the centuries the lake has been something of an oasis in this inhospitable mountain environment. With diverse flora and fauna Issyk-Kul Lake and the surrounding environments are rightly considered to be one of Central Asia most remarkable locations.

On arrival to northern shore of Issyk-Kul lake check in to the hotel.

Dinner and overnight in hotel. (1650 m. a.s.l.).

Day 13 (6 August). Issyk- Kul – Bishkek

Drive 250 km, 5-6 h, -800 m.

Breakfast. Time at leisure. Lunch.

In the afternoon transfer to Bishkek through tight Boom Gorge where boisterous Chu River, so much loved by rafters (routes up to 6th category difficulty!), cuts its way.

Optionally: During dinner we take the unique opportunity to listen to the Manaschi (a singer performing the national Kyrgyz epos, Manas) and see Kyrgyz folklore show. The musicians in traditional Kyrgyz costumes present you a wide range of national musical instruments – starting from Komuz (a three-stringed wooden musical instrument) to Chopo Choi (wind instrument made of mountain reed). You hear the fascinating singing of young Kyrgyz ladies and men and learn more about the traditional music and poetry of Kyrgyz.

Arrival to Bishkek. Farewell dinner in restaurant.

Accommodation in hotel (900 m. a.s.l.).

Day 14 (7 August). Flight back home.

Drive: 30 km, 1 h.

Early in the morning transfer to the airport. Departure back home.


The cost includes:

  • accommodation in Asia Mountains Hotel or similar in Bishkek – 3 nights
  • accommodation in Amir hotel or Green Yard Guest House in Karakol – 1 night
  • accommodation at the Hotel at Issyk-Kul Lake – 1 night
  • accommodation in yurt on Son-Kul lake – 2 night
  • accommodation in already installed tents with 3 times meal (hot dinner, hot breakfast and lunch as packed box) starting from Karkara BC till South Inylchek BC – 7 nights (Please note, you do not need to set up your tents, they will be set in advance + cook will be waiting for your with hot meal when you arrive!)
  • FB during whole program
  • Escorting Guide during the whole program
  • porter service during the trek (*please read about baggage allowance on trek below)
  • all the transfers according to the program
  • three helicopter flights from Karkara BC to Merzbacher glade, from Merzbacher glade to South Inylchek BC and from South Inylchek BC to Karkara BC
  • horseback riding on Son-Kul (half day)
  • entry and ecological fee
  • border zone permit

For groups 6 person and more:

  • horse-games show on Son-Kul
  • demonstration in Bokombaevo production of huge carpets
  • folklore show in Bishkek

The cost doesn’t include:

  • visa support and visa fee (if necessary)
  • all optional deviations from the main itinerary
  • beverages and meals not included in main menu
  • personal expenses (extra luggage, room service, medical expenses/insurance, etc.)

Additional Info


For this trip you will need the following:

  •  4 season sleeping bag
  •  walking boots
  •  waterproof jacket and trousers
  •  fleece jacket or similar
  •  warm hat and gloves
  •  sunglasses
  •  a daypack of around 40 liters
  •  head-torch and batteries
  •  2 x 1 liter water bottles
  •  sun cream.
  • A down jacket, pair of sandals and walking sticks are recommended.


Always on the tables: honey, jam, sugar, condensed milk, dried fruits, cookies or sweets, salt, pepper, ketchup.


Each breakfast consists of porridge and additional dish.

Additional dish: omelet with bacon, omelet with cheese, fried sausages, pancakes, cheesecakes, scrambled eggs with sausage, boiled eggs.


Each supper consists of salad, soup, main dish and dessert.

Salads: funchoza(starch noodles), rice with crab sticks, eggs with fish, cabbage with carrot, greek salad, beans with onion, cod-liver with eggs.

Soups: minestrone, kesme, lentil puree soup, rice soup, pumpkin puree soup, fish soup and soup with dumplings.

Main dish: kuurdak, pilaf, stew with spaghetti and cheese, dymlyama, stuffed pepper, lagman, befstroganof with rice.

Dessert: cakes, waffles, fruits and rolls.


Consists of main dish, fruits or dried fruits, processed cheese, bread, chocolate, water (cold tea with lemon or compote)

Main dish: fried chicken, smoked chicken, smoked duck breast, cheese sandwich, cutlet, boiled eggs, meat pate.


Luggage allowance on trek – Your baggage on the trek will be carried by porters. The packed weight of your trek bag whilst trekking should be no more than 12 kg of personal belongings. For 1kg extra you pay 12 $ per program (the whole trek). It is possible to leave travel clothes or other items not required on trek in our office – we will deliver them to Karkara Camp on your arrival there after BC.

In the season 2021 “Ak sai Travel” will set up permanent tent camps all along the itinerary. It makes a tour so easy for trekkers. If you book the trekking tour “Contrasts of Tien Shan” with Ak-Sai Travel, you can stay in our tent camps all along the tour!

  1. It makes your journey so much easier – no need to carry all heavy tents, pots, plates and other kitchen equipment, as well as food for the whole trek.
  2. It makes your trip cheaper – you don’t need to hire porters, cooks and so on.
  3. It makes your tour safer – you have connection in every camp. Upon arrival you will get a map with the route and all the tent camps marked, as well as a brochure describing the itinerary in details.
  4. It makes the vacations more comfortable – every night you will stay in a warm tent; eating hot delicious European and national food.

By Joining this trip YOU :

  • Acknowledge all the TERMS & CONDITIONS :
  • YOU have read all the above paragraphs and YOU know, understand, and appreciate these and other risks that are inherent in The Activity. YOU hereby assert that your participation is voluntary and that YOU knowingly assume all such risks.YOU acknowledge the agreement freely and voluntarily, and intend by completing this form and unconditional release of all liability to SGTREK PTE. LTD.


For any queries related to the event do contact below person:
Phone: +65 92700908 (WhatsApp)
Email :

This trip is organized by: 
Reg. No. 201816267K
STB License No. 03160

Address: 28A, Kandahar Street
Singapore 198889
WhatsApp: +6592700908

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