Over the Talas Ala-Too Range Towards Sary-Chelek Lake

  • Category: Horseback riding/Trekking 
  • Duration: 6 days horseback or 8 days trekking
  • Level of difficulty: Difficult (two passes over 3000 m – crossing on foot)
  • Destinations: the town of Talas, Sary-Chelek Reserve, Kara-Suu village.
  • Best season: end of June to mid-September
  • Requirements: trekking boots, weatherproof warm clothes, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, torch, tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad

Description:  The village of Kara-Suu is 600km from Bishkek on the upper reaches of the Kara-Suu River, 1,300m ASL. The village is 70km from Kerben and 260 km from Jalalabat. A distinguishing feature of the area is the variety and multitude of flora and fauna. The Kara-Suu River flows from the southern part of the At-Oinok mountain range and joins the river Naryn at the town of Tash-Kömür.

Because the Kara-Suu is the Sary-Chelek National Park’s buffer zone, flora and fauna of many kinds are found there. Sary-Chelek (“Yellow Jar” in Kyrgyz) is a gorgeous alpine lake in western Jalalabad oblast, surrounded by walnut and fruit forests and protected, at least nominally, as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The park and area comprise river valleys and settlements which flow along a winding course through almost all the territory of the reserve, in places between steep banks, strewn with boulders forming rapid cascades and waterfalls up to 3 meters high. Glaciers and permanent ice fields and high mountain lakes lie on the north facing slopes.

It is possible to view all this while driving to the shore of the fascinating Sary-Chelek Lake. It is right at the foot of the Chatkal mountain range. The beauty of this lake can be compared with the best in the world; its waters often appear a greenish shade of blue and make excellent photographs.


Day 1: Leave Bishkek.  Arrive in Talas. Dinner. Accommodation in a CBT home stay.

Day 2: Breakfast.  Transfer to Madaniyat village. Meet guide and support team. Tour and horseback riding introduction. Tour starts alongside a stream towards the Urmaral gorge. Short picnic lunch.  Supper and overnight camp near two rivers junction.  Horse riding – 6/7 hours.

Day 3: Breakfast. Tour crosses Talas Range over the Chiyim-Tash pass (3600 m).  Cross steep and stony pass on foot.  Pass by shepherd’s yurts and animals.  Short picnic lunch.  Supper and overnight in a camp in the mountains.  Horse riding – 6/7 hours.

Day 4: Breakfast. Ride alongside mountain river towards the Kara-Kuldzha pass (3161 m).  View griffins and marmots.  Short picnic lunch during the day.  Horse riding – 6/7 hours.

Day 5: Breakfast. This day is quite tough.  Ascent to Kashka-Suu pass challenging but rewarding.  Short picnic lunch during the day.  Supper and overnight in a camp, on the shore of Lake Kara-Suu.  Horse riding –6/7 hours.

Day 6: Breakfast.  Cross Kotormo pass (2446 m) into Sary-Chelek National Reserve.  Observe stunning panoramas, trees and wild animals.  Short picnic lunch.  Horse riding – 6/7 hours.

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