Kyrgyzstan: Hiking in the Celestial Mountains

Nomads, Eagle Hunters, and a Silk Road Heritage

Trip Level

The trip is rated Level 3, Moderate. Day hikes and cultural exploration are our focus; many days we are hiking from 2-5 hours. We have four days with hikes of 2-4 miles, and two days with hikes from 7-9 miles. Much of the trip takes place at higher altitudes; the maximum for this trip is approximately 11,300 feet. Trails can be quite rough; be prepared for uneven ground.

We stay in comfortable hotels in Bishkek and Karakol. Other days we’re in more basic guesthouses, tent camps, or yurt camps. Tents and yurts are private, but there is a communal eating area and a communal toilet area (for 8 nights). Single rooms can be requested, but are not guaranteed. Wilderness Travel will do its best to secure single rooms for those who pay the single supplement, but even if this is confirmed in advance, arrangements may change during the trip.

All breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are included, except breakfast on Day 1. Full breakfasts are included at hotels. When possible, we have arranged meals at local restaurants and in family homes. Village food tends to simpler than city food, but sampling it is an excellent opportunity to experience rural life. Please note that special diets may be difficult to accommodate on this trip. Bottled water is provided throughout the trip.

Road conditions can be very basic, and trip members should be prepared for drives of 3-6 hours on some days. Our expedition travels to areas that have experienced very little tourism. While traveling in rural areas, we may have stretches without public bathroom facilities, and you may need to do what the locals do and opt for a “nature break.” The most important requirements for this trip are a spirit of adventure and the understanding that you are visiting a remote and fascinating region.


Because of its many mountain ranges, Kyrgyzstan's temperatures vary depending on location. In Bishkek in the summer and early fall, we can generally expect daytime temperatures to be in the high 60s°F to low 80s°F (and sometimes hotter during the summer). In Cholpon Ata, temperature ranges will be fairly similar, with cooler evenings. Karakol and the Southeast shores of Lake Issyk-Kul both tend to be cooler with daytime temperatures in the 60s°F and 70s°F, and evening temperatures sometimes dropping to the low 40s°F. Along the southern shores, we'll experience lower temperatures and cooler breezes. In Song Kol, where the elevation is higher, temperatures will be colder, especially at night. No matter the time of year, snow is a possibility at the higher elevations, especially at our tented and yurt camps (in Kyzyl Suu and Song Kol). When it does snow, it is typically at night, and then melts by late morning. As always with hiking trips in mountainous regions, warm layers are your best friend, and good rain gear, especially a Gore-Tex jacket, should always be in your day pack.

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

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