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Magic lakes of Sary Chelek

Discovering the lakes of Sary Chelek on horse

Sary Chelek is a UNESCO bioshpere reserve, 600km from Bishkek and 340km from Osh. The name "Yellow Jar" in Kyrgyz come from the main lake of the region, and the second deepest of the country after the Issyk Kul lake. It's surrounded by other small lakes in the middle of one of the three most important walnut forest of Kyrgyzstan. The rich variety of flora and fauna is another important facet of this area. The program start from the Arkyt village at 1300m., east-side of the main Sary Chelek lake, and will finish into the Sary Chelek valley till the Arkyt village and main entrance of the park. The level of difficulty is moderate and open for amateur or beginner, and can be adapted for horseback riding lovers. The highest point is the Makmal pass at 2655m.

This horse-trek satisfy all the desires of enthusiasts jumper between epic traditions, history of the Silk Road and fascinating landscapes.

6 DaysAdventure toursKyrgyzstan

  • 1 people: $779

  • 2 people: $545

  • 3 people: $467

  • 4 people: $415

  • 5 people: $384

  • 6 people: $372

  • Starting from


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            Osh - Arkyt village
    Osh - village Arkyt
    Osh - Arkyt village

    Early afternoon, meeting with our guide in Osh city, then transfer by shared taxi to Arkyt  village (300km). Preparation of local meal "Dimdama". After dinner we have a small musical arrangement. Overnight in homestay.

    Breakfast Lunch Dinner
    330 km
            Arkyt village - Kara-Suu lake
    Horseback riding from Arkyt village to the lake Kara-Suu
    Arkyt village - Kara-Suu lake

    After breakfast, we ride up and down the forest's nuts on east side of Arkyt village. In the afternoon, we ride up along the banks of the Kara-Suu River, in the middle of walnut and fir forest. The valley becomes rather narrow and the slopes are covered with a beautiful silver fir forest. Further on the track passes below a waterfall and then we climb to Kara-Suu Lake (1802m). Installation of the camp. Overnight in tent.

    Breakfast Lunch Dinner
    19 km
    1400 m
    800 m
            Kara-Suu lake - Sary-Chelek lake
    Day of riding from Kara Suu lake to Sary Chelek lake
    Kara-Suu lake - Sary-Chelek lake

    Breakfast, then continue the trek along the Kara-Suu river where the slopes of the mountains are covered with silver fir forests. The stony road winds through inhabited jailoos (mountain pastures). After lunch we cross the Makmal Pass (2550m), and descend into the Kula Taï canyon till the Sary Chelek river. After 2 km into a canyon, the landscape open on the main Sary Chelek lake. Tonight our guide will explain legends of the Sary Chelek lake. Overnight in tent. (1875 m, 17 km, 4-5 h).

    Breakfast Lunch Dinner
    17 km
            Sary-Chelek lake - Bakaly lake
    Day of riding from Sary Chelek lake to Bakaly lake
    Sary-Chelek lake - Bakaly lake

    After breakfast, we leave the bank of Sary Chelek lake and we cross the Ashuu Pass (2560 m) where we ride through fir forests and have a panoramic view of the infinite ridges of the Tien-Shan mountains stretching to the far horizon and beyond. During the descent from the pass we will have lunch and then continue down through the Keshkil gorge to the bottom part of Sary-Chelek lake where we will have dinner and camp overnight in tents (25 km, 6 h).

    Breakfast Lunch Dinner
    25 km
            Bakaly lake - Arkyt village
    Day of riding from Bakaly lake to Arkit village
    Bakaly lake - Arkyt village

    In the morning excursion to the 5 small lakes of Sary-Chelek (10 km, 2:30 h) till noon. After this we will continue on through the fir and walnut forests enjoying the panoramic views on the way to Arkyt village for dinner and overnight in a homestay (20 km, 4 h).

    Breakfast Lunch Dinner
    20 km
            Arkyt village - Osh
    Drive from Arkyt to Osh city
    Arkyt village - Osh

    In the morning after breakfast, visit of the local zoological and geological museum, then transfer with our guide to Osh by shared taxi. Arriving at midday in Osh. (end of the program, lunch not included). 

    Breakfast Lunch Dinner
    330 km
    400 m
    600 m

    With the help of Nomad's Land we had one of the most unforgettable trips of our lives this winter. Starting in Bishkek we headed east towards Karakol where our adventure was set to start. We spent 10 days exploring the region surrounding Issyk Kul and Song-Kul, crossing valleys, streams and mountains on horseback with our wonderful guide Mikel. The experiences we had during our trip would not have been possible without the network and organization of Nomad's Land. Within a week of our trip ending we have already started to look at the other trips they have to offer and will definitely travel with them again in the future. While traveling in the winter is not always the easiest, the trip we had was certainly rewarding. If you are up for the challenge, Kyrgyzstan in the winter is a special experience that more people should consider!

    Andrew Curran

    We spent this summer three weeks with family (parents and adult children) in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, with a trip to the city of Kashgar in Sinkiang (China) .Nomads' Land organized all the Kyrgyzstan and China part as well as the trips to Uzbekistan. You can work with them with your eyes closed: impeccable organization, enthusiastic and passionate guide (also speaking perfectly French), good choice of accommodation and activities. Very pleasant preparation with Fabien, who is attentive and has concocted a trip to us. All for good value for money. Allow at least 10 days for Kyrgyzstan to really enjoy it. The change of scenery is total and the way of life is authentic. Expect "average" comfort but the superb landscapes and the amazing welcome of the Kyrgyz people will give you unforgettable memories. To fully enjoy it, nothing like walking: you will go on beautiful hikes: Altyn Arashan, Song Kul, Lenin peak ... They are all doable but still require good condition, especially that of Lenin peak (base camp to camp 1), which is quite long and demanding (allow 10-12 hours round trip), but it is the most impressive. To reach the south of Kyrgyzstan, you have the choice between a few hundred km of tiring tracks or to make a detour through China and the city of Kashgar. The road is excellent and the city itself is worth the effort (with the added bonus of "Western-style" comfort which feels good). However, it was necessary to endure two days of painful police checks between Kashgar and the border, with an occupying army (Han Chinese, from the east) omnipresent. So it's up to you to decide (knowing that this "detour" is quite expensive considering the short season and the few tourists). After Kyrgyzstan, we visited the cities of the Silk Road in Uzbekistan: Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Impressive and superb monuments, a very rich history, few tourists and a very pleasant atmosphere. The historic centers are not very extensive and can easily be visited on foot. Do not forget Khiva: it is the smallest of the three but the atmosphere is peaceful and timeless, you sometimes have the impression of going back 100 years. This trip was really exceptional, thank you again to Fabien, Murat and the whole team.


    On your way

    Sary-Chelek reserve KG

    The State Nature Reserve of Sary-Chelek was created in 1959, a biosphere located between the Chatkal and At-Oynok ridges in the Jalal-Abad region, from 1200 to 4247 meters altitude. In 1978 it was declared as a World Biosphere reserve by UNESCO.

    The largest lake named also Sary-Chelek is situated at 1874 meters above the sea level, with an area of 470 hectares and a depth of 234 meters.

    981 species of plants are repertoried. The region is covered by one of the largest walnut forest (juglans regia), wild apple (malus spp.), pear (pyrus spp.) and an plums (prunus divaricata), fir (abies semenovii), spruce (picea schrenkiana), juniper (Juniperus sp.) and grape (Vitis silvestris) and more.

    You can also observe a variety of fauna (80 species of shrubs, 38 species of animals, 157 species of birds).

    To travel in this biosphere with Nomad's Land, it means you accept the rules of the reserve. With our local partner, we do our maximum to avoid leaving human traces.


    Sary-Chelek lake KG

    Lake Sary Chelek ( Kyrgyz - " yellow bowl " ) - a freshwater lake in Kyrgyzstan. Located in the Biosphere Reserve Sary- Chelek at the junction of the chain and Chatkal Has Moynok chain in the western part of the Tien Shan massif.

    The lake was formed, there are about 10,000 years in a landslide.

    1878m height coastline . alt . , surface water 4.92 km ² , 7.5 km length of the lake . , a maximum width 2280m . , average width of 650m . , maximum depth of 234m . , with an average depth of 98m . in the Total group has 7 lakes.

    In the lake flows numerous streams and springs. The coastline is quite complex, robust and stiff. Kojo Ata River leaves the lake .

    The area of this beautiful lake is rich in flora and fauna. There are about 300 species of plants, 32 species of trees, 80 species of shrubs , 38 species of animals, 157 species of birds.
    The adminstration of the reserve offers tourist activities such as: boat ride , walking and equestrian trails. Lake Sary Chelek is the heart of the reserve , it attracts local and foreign tourists .

    Reserve base is located in the village of Arkit .

    Since 1959, this biosphere reserve Sary Chelek is protected by UNESCO.


    What is included

    • All transportation in a private vehicle

    • All airport transfers

    • Accommodation as described in the program

    • Meals (3 per day)

    • Bottled water (when possible) & tea

    • English-speaking trekking guide

    • Horses with local saddles

    • Pack horses with saddle bags & horsemen

    • Camping & cooking equipment (tents, mats, gas, stove, etc)

    • All the activities listed in the program

    • Entry fees at national parks and/or border zones listed in the program

    • Entry fees at museums and historical sites listed in the program

    • Domestic flights mentioned in the program

    • A contribution to our sustainable development projects

    • Organisation of the trip & local taxes

    What is not included

    • International flights

    • International banking fees (PayPal, ...)

    • Travel & repatriation insurance

    • Visas / LOI (if applicable)

    • Alcoholic and soft drinks

    • Personal expenses

    • Personal equipment (sleeping bag, headlight, personal medication, etc)

    • Additional costs due to unexpected personal events (health, loss of luggage, ...)

    • Tips for guide & driver (always optional, always appreciated)

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    Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

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