The Kyrgyz Republic was one of the first of the ‘Stans to become independent from Russia and travel the sometimes turbulent road to find its own identity. Kyrgyzstan, often referred to as the Switzerland of Central Asia is a land of rolling high altitude grass-lands, endless snow capped peaks, huge lakes, and raging rivers. Add to this an intriguing history, a friendly and unique culture of people who have learned to thrive in hot summers and freezing winters; great (and not so great) vodka and you have the perfect recipe for a fantastic and adventurous cycle tour.
You will gain a real insight into the ‘Land of the Kyrgyz’ while challenging your legs over high alpine mountain passes, across endless rolling grasslands, alongside raging rivers and tranquil lakes. Spend the night in traditional yurt camps, local home stays and camp in wildflower filled valleys. Sample sensational regional food, locally brewed kumys (fermented mare’s milk) and Russian beer and join us on our newest ‘favourite’ cycle tour.
Start: Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek
Finish: Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek
Arrive in Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek. Meet your fellow bikers and enjoy our first meal together.
A ride to get acquainted with your bike as we explore a nearby mountain valley.
Cycling Distance: 35km
A transfer into the mountains gives us a huge change of scenery and climate followed by a stunning Kyrgyz valley and river ride.
Cycling Distance: 55km.
Cycle down the valley through a continuously changing landscape from barren rocky gorges to lush green farmland.
Cycling Distance: 45km
We gain altitude today up the first part of a 3000m plus pass and camp in the remote river valley.
Cycling Distance: 40km
We conquer our first mountain pass at 3380m then descend through rolling open grasslands to Lake Son-Kol.
Cycling Distance: 60km
Accommodation: Yurt camp
Up and over a 3467m pass before dropping down to camp beside a mountain stream.
Cycling Distance: 75km
Ride through alpine meadows and small farm-lets that look like something out of a ‘Sound of Music’. Afternoon transfer.
Cycling Distance: 50km
A well-earned rest day. Check out felt-making or sit with a beer on the main street and watch life go by in this bustling market town.
We continue around Kyrgyzstan’s largest lake, Issyk Kol, then up towards the mountains into open grasslands.
Cycling Distance: 70km
Ride through small farming villages under a backdrop of snowy peaks. Later we descend to the shores of Issyk Kol.
Cycling Distance: 38km
Ride through a moonscape of eroded hills and valleys alongside the shore of Lake Issyk Kol. Swim in the revered lake ‘the Kyrgyz sea’ and transfer to our hotel.
Cycling Distance: 38km
Morning transfer towards Bishkek before riding into the heart of the city.
Cycling Distance: 30km
Our final Kyrgyzstan Cycle Tour breakfast together. If you are flying out today we’ll arrange your transfer to Bishkek Airport.
Your tour itinerary offers 30-75km biking per day; a total distance of up to 580km spread over 11 days of biking. You should be comfortable riding 3-5 times a week with regular rides of 30-60km in length. Preparing for your cycle tour should involve plenty of gravel, dirt and off-road riding, with some good sized hills.
The Terrain is mostly on dirt and gravel roads with very little traffic. The terrain varies from gentle meandering river valleys, some sustained climbs and lovely long valley descents. The majority of the tour is between 800m and 3000m above sea level with the highest point being a 3467m pass, with moderate gradients. The road surface can be rough at times, loose or corrugated. This tour is suitable for bikers with gravel road riding experience, a good level of fitness, an adventurous attitude, and perfect for a hard-tail mountain-bike.
Support: Our trusty support vehicle carries all your luggage, has lunch, snacks and water at hand, and is there if you need a break from the saddle.
Your cycle tour includes rides of up to 75km per day, but should not be judged by distance alone! Please do read about the daily riding distances taking note of the riding terrain in the itinerary below and prepare accordingly. The more prepared you are the more you will enjoy your adventure! Heat, hills, altitude and road surface combine to offer a good challenging cycle tour…
– Heat is usually only an issue on the first day’s ride out of Bishkek, but may be up to 35-40 degrees C.
– For most of your cycle tour the altitude will range between 1500-3500m above sea-level with plenty of ups and downs. Some of the bigger days offer 5-10km climbs.
– The roads are mostly dirt or gravel and the surface can be anything from smooth, fast and flowing to gravelled and corrugated depending on when the grader last went through.
You should be comfortable riding 3-5 times a week with regular rides of 30-60km in length. Preparing for your cycle tour should involve plenty of gravel, dirt and off-road riding, with some good sized hills. Please do contact us if you would like some help with a detailed training plan.
In Kyrgyzstan we hire new mountain bikes through a local bike shop. Each season they are a brand new fleet of hard tail mountain bikes with hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano Alivio/Deore 27-speed components and available in S, M, L and XL. These bikes are often not as highly spec’ed as we would like, but they will be serviced and maintained by our crew and are certainly up for the job! If you will be hiring a bike from us please let us know prior to your trip. Please feel free to bring your own saddle (as yours always fits best!) and your own pedals if you normally clip in.
You are also welcome to bring your own bike!
Your tour leaders will take care of your meals and snacks throughout your adventure with us. This excludes one lunch and one evening meals which are at your own cost to give you the opportunity to explore eating options of your own choosing. We are able to cater for vegetarians* and special diets and if this includes you, it is essential to advise us of this before your tour begins, so that the support vehicle can be stocked with the necessary supplies.
Typical meals include:
*Vegetarians – Please note that in Kyrgyzstan meat is considered staple and vegetarianism is not widely understood. We will be doing our best to request dishes with plenty of vegetables (and meat-free dishes) however vegetarian options are limited and hence can be repetitive.
**Kyrgyz traditional food consists of meat and potato dishes, rice, vegetables, eggs, traditional round breads and boorsok (delicious donuts). We will do our best to supplement with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
All accommodation for the duration of your tour is included – four nights in hotels, seven nights in local guesthouses/home stays and yurts, and two nights camping in tents. Guesthouses, home stays and yurts are mostly on a twin-share basis, however at times it may be necessary for up to four to share in home stays and yurts. The camping is ‘real camping’ in remote locations with basic facilities, but there is always the opportunity to wash at the end of the day. We supply dome tents which we will show you how to erect. You will need to bring your own 2-3 season sleeping bag, sleeping mat (thermarest or similar) and a small travel pillow.
Singles: We do not charge a single supplement!
If you are traveling on your own, we will pair you with another single biker of the same gender to share a twin room. If you do not wish to share, that is fine too, but a single supplement will apply!
This trip has 6-12 bikers, plus two experienced Escape Adventures guides and a small team of local interpreters and drivers.
“Kyrgyzstan is a beautiful country. I took great photos of the mountains, valleys and farming lifestyle. However, the best you cannot catch on film. This is the warmth of the people; particularly those in the isolated mountain valleys where John and his team led us. Beautiful families who made us welcome and showed us how much they valued their family lifestyle and so wanted to share hospitality, humour and time with us. We felt that we were the first ever tourist to have biked past their yurt.
Excellent personal care, clear and concise daily briefings, great bike care, good food and timely sharing of protocol, finance and personal expectations in this new country. I always felt comfortable and was given the guidelines to cope in a new culture. The enthusiasm and warmth of both leaders made this another special Escape Adventures journey.”