Riders trail riding in Kyrgyzstan

Celestial Mountain Trail

This adventurous trail ride journeys through a very wild area of Kyrgyzstan. In the homeland of the famed "celestial horses" which were coveted by Chinese emperors, your route follows that of local herders and shepherds, passing through their pasture-lands dotted with yurts. Ride over passes at 3,800m, across rivers and past emerald blue lakes within the Tien Shan mountain range.
Book now Print the details for this ride
Trail Riding
15 days / 11 days riding
From £1,780

From the horse’s mouth

  • Celestial Mountain Trail
    July 2022 Katrine Stange aged 32
    An amazing holiday, beautiful scenery and great horses. It was wonderful to wake up to the horses grazing outside the tent. The horses were well trained and a pleasure to ride. They are incredibly sure footed! The team was great and the food was absolutely first class! We felt we were taken good care of all the time.... Read all
  • Celestial Mountain Trail
    July 2018 Ai Li aged 44
    The trip was good; I really enjoyed it even though I was surprised it rained this often and this hard. We had rain almost every night and there were days when we rode in the rain. And twice, we rode in hail. All that said, it was a great getaway trip; the scenery was amazing, and I loved waking up and seeing the... Read all
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Itinerary

Highlights

- The magnificent endless horizons of the Tien Shan mountain range
- Follow part of the Silk Road to China, through valleys forged by ancient glaciers
- Experience the semi-nomadic traditions of local Kyrgyz herders and be welcomed into their yurts
- A 100% Kyrgyz team who have invested in local development initiatives and ecotourism projects
- The varied and exceptionally rich flora of the Tien Shan mountain pastures
  • Day 1 1: OVERNIGHT FLIGHT TO BISHKEK

    International flight to Bishkek, arriving the following day. Please note flights are not included but can be booked on request.
  • Day 2 2: BISHKEK - BARSKOON - No riding

    Family Guesthouse
    You will likely arrive into Bishkek in the early hours of the morning. You will be met at the airport and transferred directly to the village of Barskoon (c. 4-5 hours). The road follows the rich valley of Chui and you stop for lunch near a lake where it may be possible to swim in the clear, warm waters.

    On arrival at Barskoon you will be welcomed by your guides family and will overnight in a rustic guesthouse.

    Please note that it would be ideal to arrive at the airport around 5-6:00 am. If you arrive earlier, you will need to wait until all of the other riders have arrived. Breakfast is not included as most riders will have had breakfast in the plane.
  • Day 3 3: KOK-BULAK - SARAY BULAK (2,550M) - 5-6 hours riding

    Camp
    Set out on your horse riding trail towards Tarylga river. Cross Chon-Jargylchak river in order to reach the grazing pastures ("jailoo") of Kok-Bulak where you will have your first opportunity for a canter. You should have impressive views of Lake Issyk Kul to the north and the snowy peaks of the Tien Shan mountains to your south.
    Camp in the Sary-Bulak valley close to the river.
  • Day 4 4: KICHY-JARGYLCHAK VALLEY - KOK BELL - 6 hours riding

    Camp
    Continue riding eastwards and climb up the Kichy-Jargylchak valley and through pine forests into the heart of the mountains. View the distant Akterek glacier and perhaps stop at a shepherds yurt to sample your first taste of koumiss.
    Camp in the Kok Bell valley.
  • Day 5 5: KASHKA SUU - JYLUU-SUU - JUKKUU - 6 hours riding

    Camp
    Ford the river and ride through the Kashka Suu valley until reaching the hot springs at Jyluu-Suu where you stop for lunch. In the afternoon you continue riding through the broad Jukkuu valley until reaching your campsite. Here you join one of the major Silk Roads which led from Kyrgyzstan into China.
  • Day 6 6: UPPER JUUJU VALLEY - VIEW OF ITISH PEAK (4808m) - 4-5 hours riding

    Camp
    Today you will set off riding towards the Celestial mountains and follow along the Juuku River. You will likely meet more shepherds with their herds. As you gain altitude the impressive It-Tish Mountain Peak looms overhead at 4808 m..

    Camp overnight in tents in the Chong-Tash Valley.
  • Day 7 7: JUUKU PASS - ARABEL PLATEAU - 5 hours riding

    Camp
    Follow a path through the forest and out onto an ancient plateau. You leave the forest behind at 2,800m but continue ascending along scree paths until crossing the pass at 3,633m. Here you have spectacular views of the immense plateaus, meandering rivers and peaceful mountain lakes. Descend slightly to camp beside a lake at 3,500m amidst a sea of snowy peaks.
  • Day 8 8: TARAGAI RIVER - 4-5 hours riding

    Camp
    Ride across the high plateau which is scattered with Marco Polo sheep and numerous marmots. In this remote valley you will come across the surreal sight of Kumtor gold mine. Still encircled by the snow-capped Tien Shan mountains you camp by the Taragai river under a star filled sky.
  • Day 9 9: TARAGAI RIVER BRIDGE – JAMAN-ECHKI VALLEY - 5 hours riding

    Camp
    Today you ride along the Taragai River. You will reach Jaman-Echki Valley after crossing a large bridge. You will experience big open spaces and enjoy views off the Tien-Shan mountain range on both sides of Taragai River.
  • Day 10 10: JAMAN-ECHKI PASS – BURHAN VALLEY - 5 hours riding

    Camp
    Your ride today goes over the Jaman-Echki Pass and down to Burhan valley. This valley is a summer pasture for many shepherds and their herds. You may stop at some shepherd’s yurts and taste “Kymyz” (the national drink made from mare’s milk). Whistling marmots pop up from the rocks on every side to watch your group of horseback riders and send their alarm call to their fellows. This evening you will camp by the Kok-Jar River.
  • Day 11 11: JYLUU-SUU VALLEY - 5 hours riding

    Camp
    Today you continue along the same valley of Burhan. Every now and then you pass a lone yurt – home to a family for the summer. Move onward along the river to the Jyluu-Suu hot spring. Here you stop for a natural hot spring bath.
  • Day 12 12: UCH-EMCHEK VALLEY – KALCHA RIVER - 6 hours riding

    Camp
    Today’s ride is easy but long. As you make your way gently up along the wide Uch-Emchek Valley, you may see the occasional yurt. You will pass separate herds of yak, horses, cows, sheep and goats. Camp next to the Kalcha River.
  • Day 13 13: KEREGE-TASH PASS (3684m.) – SARY-MOINOK PASS (3128m.) - BARSKOON - 4 hours riding

    Family Guesthouse
    Tosor Pass (3800 m) will stay on our left side while you ride up to Chunkur-Kol Mountain Lake. Then from Karage-Tash Pass (3684m.) you ride down along the river to Sary-Moinok (3128m.) Descend to Arabel valley and say goodbye to your horses.

    You will be transferred by car to Barskoon where you will again be greeted by your guides family and can have a relaxing bath before a traditional meal.
  • Day 14 14: BARSKOON - BISHKEK - No riding

    You will be transferred back to Bishkek, stopping for lunch en-route. In Bishkek there will be time to visit the bazaar of Osh - a colourful and lively market and worth the detour! Dinner is to your own account tonight before a short night in your hotel.
  • Day 15 15: DEPARTURE FROM BISHKEK

    You will be transferred to the airport at the time that is most convenient for all of the riders, if your flight is outside the scheduled transfer, then you will need to take a taxi to the airport. Flights are not included.

Dates & prices

Price details

- Flights to your destination (international/domestic) are not included, but can be booked on request - please contact us for rates.     

- Rates are per person, based on two riders sharing a twin or double room/tent during the ride. 

- Groups are composed of a minimum of 4 riders and a maximum of 6 international riders, plus guides. 

- Prices are based on a group size of 4 or more riders. There is a small group supplement of €175/£155/$175 per person payable if the group size is only 2 or 3 riders.

- There is no single supplement and you must be prepared to share. The only exception is in Bishkek when it is possible to request a single room in the hotel for an additional c. €50/£45/$60. In exceptional circumstances and depending on the group size, it may be possible to request an private tent at an extra cost.

- Rider weight limit is 85 kg / 187 lbs / 13 st 5 lbs. Heavier riders may be accommodated depending on horse availability, but must notify notify us before booking.
Please Note
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.

Price includes

Support Team

1 English speaking tour leader
1 kyrgiz expedition leader

Logistic

1 vehicle and driver
1 cook

Inland transports

Airport transfers
Private bus

Accommodation

2 person tents
Double room in hotel standard 2*
Yurt or double room in private home

Meals

Full board from lunch on D2 to lunch D14

Extra

First aid kit
Entry fee (hot springs)

Price doesn't include

Meals

Beverage and personal extra
Dinner not included on day 14

Insurance

Cancellation and travel insurances are not included. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend to take out an insurance policy as soon as your travel is booked in case of cancellation.
Visa fees
International flights

Extra

Small group supplement if less than 4 riders
Tips to local team

Optional

Accommodation

Single room supplement (Bishkek)
Extra night in Bishkek (please contact us for rates)
  • Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    09/07/2023 23/07/2023 £1,780 €2,096 $2,083 Open Book now
    16/07/2023 30/07/2023 £1,780 €2,096 $2,083 Open Book now
    30/07/2023 13/08/2023 £1,780 €2,096 $2,083 Open Book now
    06/08/2023 20/08/2023 £1,780 €2,096 $2,083 Open Book now
    13/08/2023 27/08/2023 £1,780 €2,096 $2,083 Open Book now

Equestrian info

Horses

The Kyrgyz horses are cross-breds between the "heavenly horses" of Russia (Orlov and Don valley) which are discussed in ancient texts and the English Thoroughbred. The resulting breed is sturdy, well balanced, rustic, tough and ideally suited for the rough terrain. They live freely in herds in the mountains and are c. 14.2 - 15.1hh.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

You need to be a capable rider who is used to riding outdoors and fit enough for some long hours in the saddle. You are riding in a very remote location across rugged terrain and there is no option to miss a day if you get tired.

Rider weight limit is 85 kg / 187 lbs / 13 st 5 lbs. Heavier riders may be accommodated depending on horse availability, but must notify us before booking.

Pace

The ride is not fast because of the altitude and steep terrain, but the flat plateaus and valley bottoms are conducive to some long canters - although some sections which look inviting may have too many marmot burrows and your guide will assess the conditions on the day.

Tacking ability and participation

You will be asked to groom, tack and untack your own horse although help is on hand. You may also assist with feeding and watering the horses if you wish.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

You need to be fit and in good physical condition. You will be riding at altitude - between 1,600 and 3,800m - with some very rough terrain to cross and significant elevation changes throughout each day. There are some sections where you will need to dismount and lead your horse downhill. Please check with us if you have any medical conditions as you will be a long way from medical help.
You should be prepared for extremely changeable weather and the mountains could show you rain, hail, snow, wind and sun all within 24 hours

Your luggage will be transported by car during the trip.

Previous experience of riding a trail of several days is a definite advantage but is not required. Riders who do not ride regularly are requested to get riding fit prior to the start of their holiday.

Visiting a new country offers the opportunity to meet other cultures with different mentalities, therefore it is important to accept these differences and respect the local way of life.

Equestrian equipment

Saddles are local and consist of a basic frame over which is thrown sheep or goat skins for comfort.
We recommend our riders to wear a helmet to the correct standard and you should bring your own to ensure a proper fit. Helmets are mandatory.

Travel info

Comfort

During the trail you stay in two man tents and should take your own sleeping bags and mats.
In Barskoon you will share a room or yurt.
In Bishkek you stay in double or triple rooms with private bathrooms.

Meals

The food is simple and abundant, using as many fresh ingredients as possible and prepared daily by the cook.
Breakfast consists of eggs, bread, cheese and dried fruits.
Lunch is a picnic and consists of bread, cheese, meat, fruit and chocolate.
Dinner often starts with a hot soup followed by a main of meat, salad, pasta, rice and followed by cheese, fruits or chocolate.

Climate

The weather is likely to be changeable.
In Bishkek and at low altitudes it can be hot and dry, but in the mountains and at altitude you can experience many variations. It can be warm during the day but the temperature will drop to around zero or below at night. You could experience rain, hail or even snow as well as wind but the bad weather rarely lasts long. The area actually reports low rainfall throughout the year but you should be prepared with many warm layers and waterproof clothing.

Guide and local team

Your hosts and guides for the trail will be members of the Obolbekov family and they have worked for many years with our sister company in France - Cheval d'aventure. They all speak excellent English.

Tips

It is customary to tip but this is entirely at your discretion. In Bishkek you may wish to tip 10%, but on the trail we recommend c. £5 - £10 per person per day to be split amongst all the team.

Packing list

You are riding at high altitude and the weather can be unpredictable, even in the summer. Please make sure to pack sensibly and bring enough warm clothing to get you through the ride! Warm jumpers or fleece jackets, waterproof gear and gloves are a must throughout the season.

Head
- Helmets are mandatory on the ride. We recommend that you take your own to ensure a correct fit. There are many lightweight options available nowadays
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana
- Warm hat for cold nights when camping

Upper body
- Thermals (long or short sleeved)
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun and are an extra layer
- T-shirts
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm fleece or jumper (and a spare in case one gets wet)
- Warm and waterproof jacket - it can rain at any time of year and the evenings can be particularly cold
- Swimming costume - for swimming/bathing in rivers/hot springs

Legs
- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Thermals
- Casual trousers for the evenings, such as jeans or tracksuit bottoms
- Waterproof over trousers

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps as an extra layer against inclement weather. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged
- Waterproof shoes/boots can be useful for abundant dew in the mornings or when it rains
- Trainers or equivalent light shoes for moving around the camp in the evenings
- Several pairs of warm, thick socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, cold or rain whilst riding. Waterproof gloves can be particularly useful

Nightwear
- Sleeping bag. You need at least a comfort factor down to minus 15 celsius.
- Sleeping bag liner - silk, cotton or fleece - adds an extra layer
- Thermarest or similar sleeping mat for your comfort
- Pyjamas or tracksuits or thermals for sleeping in

Other useful items
- Towels - camping ones will both dry and pack more easily
- Small backpack for accessing items required during the day (carried by support crew)
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around camp at night - bring spare batteries and bulbs
- Water bottle (2 litres or 2 x 1 litre)
- Swiss army knife
- Field glasses
- Wet Wipes or equivalent (for when washing facilities aren't available)
- Toilet paper and a lighter to burn it with
- Small plastic bags for rubbish
- Ear plugs (for light sleepers)

In your hold luggage
- Any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant unless they are less than 100ml and all bottles can fit in a small, clear, plastic ziplock bag. We recommend biodegradable washing products where possible.
- Swiss army knife (or equivalent)

In your hand luggage
- Any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.
- Your riding hat

Medical kit
- Any medication you regularly take
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent, preferably containing deet
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Eye drops
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhoea medication
- Re-hydration sachets
- Water purification tablets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel
- Micropur tablets to purify water

Miscellaneous
- Please don't take a hard sided suitcase. Your luggage should be soft sided with a capacity of 60-80 litres. We recommend taking a backpack or similar.
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (passport, camera, sunscreen, lipbalm etc)
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- Tall riders may benefit from taking a pair of long stirrup leathers with them (the local stirrups are adjustable but are sometimes limited in length)
- We recommend taking a copy of your passport and insurance documents with you in case you lose your originals
- Please take your rubbish home with you. There are no recycling facilities in Kyrgyzstan, so take your used batteries, aerosols etc back home and dispose of them appropriately. Try to leave excess packaging material at home before travelling
- You may wish to take some photographs or postcards of your home with you to show your hosts. You may also wish to take some crayons, colouring books etc for the children

Visa & Health

Formalities

To enter Kyrgyzstan, a passport valid for six months beyond the intended departure date, with one blank page, is required by all nationals of the UK, USA, Australia and other EU countries.

Visas are not required by nationals referred to above for stays of up to 60 days except:
1. Nationals of Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, who do require a visa.
Nationals not referred to are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Kyrgyzstan.

For up to date advice please visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/kyrgyzstan/entry-requirements

Addresses of consulates

  • Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in the UK
    Ascot House, 119 Crawford Street
    W1U 6BJ London
    Tél. : (020) 7935 1462
    Fax :
    mail@kyrgyz-embassy.org.uk
  • British Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
    21 Erkindik Boulevard
    Office 404
    720040 Bishkek
    Tél. : +996 (312) 303637
    Fax :
    ukin.kyrgyzrepublic@fco.gov.uk
  • Ambassade de France au Kirghizstan
    32, rue Orozbékova apt. 2
    720040 Bichkek
    Tél. : +(996) 312 97 97 14
    Fax :
    cad.bichkek-amba@diplomatie.gouv.fr
  • AMBASSADE DU KIRGHIZSTAN
    47, Rue de l'Abbaye / Abdjistraat
    B-1050 BRUXELLES
    Tél. : 00322 640 18 68
    Fax : 00322 640 01 31
    kyrgyz.embassy@skynet.be

Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Kyrgyzstan. It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Kyrgyzstan. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and when travelling longer than 2 weeks also typhoid.
If you are staying longer than 3 months or have a particular risk (travelling by bike, handling of animals and visits to caves) you might consider a rabies vaccination. Vaccination against Tuberculosis as well as hepatitis B is also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months. It is also recommended to have a vaccination against tick borne encephalitis when you go hiking and/or camping for several days or more in the period of March to November.
Malaria does, but only at lower elevations in the south and in Bishkek from June to October. Pills are not necessary; buy repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net.
Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.

Insurance

It is a condition of your booking with Equus Journeys that you have travel insurance which covers you for the riding activities to be undertaken. Your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses and repatriation. Your guides will require your travel insurance details before they allow you to ride and may refuse to let you ride if you cannot provide them. You should take your insurance documents with you.

Our recommendation:
Cancellation and travel insurances are not included. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend to take out an insurance policy as soon as your travel is booked in case of cancellation.

Voltage

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin continental plugs are standard.

Budget and money

Kyrgyz Som (KGS; symbol лв) = 100 tyin. Notes are in denominations of лв1, 000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1, and 50, 10 and 1 tyin. Coins exist in denominations of 1, 3, 5 and 10 som, and 10 and 50 tyin.
Credit cards:
Credit cards are accepted in some of the larger hotels and restaurants in Bishkek and can also be used at banks to withdraw cash from the counter. They are of little value outside the main cities. ATMs exist but are hardly commonplace in Bishkek or Osh and even less so elsewhere.
ATM:
ATMs are easy enough to find in Bishkek, although smaller cities like Jalal-Abad and Osh have far fewer. Some ATMs issue US dollars as well as Kyrgyz Som.

Telephone and jetlag

Standard time +06.00 UTC
Kyrgyzstan Country Code 996

Did you know?

Did you know?

The Kyrgyz horse

The Kyrgyz horse is a cross between the "celestial horses", often praised in the ancient texts, and different Russian breeds or thoroughbreds.

This breed, that contributed to the kyrgyz identity for so long, had disappeared.

Top level rider and journalist Jacqueline Ripart travelled all around the world to study horses. Her curiosity led her to seek out the forgotten horses and equestrian culture. It is her persistence that led to the rehabilitation of the kyrgyz horse. 

Customer reviews

Customer reviews

All of our reviews are real, honest opinions from riders who have recently travelled with us. Upon their return, our riders will receive an email inviting them to share their experiences from their trip. Good or bad, each review will be published on our website, provided that they respect our editorial guidelines.
  • Katrine Stange aged 32 TROMSØ 1 trip
    July 2022
    An amazing holiday, beautiful scenery and great horses. It was wonderful to wake up to the horses grazing outside the tent. The horses were well trained and a pleasure to ride. They are incredibly sure footed! The team was great and the food was absolutely first class! We felt we were taken good care of all the time.... Read all
    • Horses
    • Programme
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide
  • Ai Li aged 44 3 trips
    July 2018
    The trip was good; I really enjoyed it even though I was surprised it rained this often and this hard. We had rain almost every night and there were days when we rode in the rain. And twice, we rode in hail. All that said, it was a great getaway trip; the scenery was amazing, and I loved waking up and seeing the... Read all
    • Horses
    • Programme
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide