From the horse’s mouth
Celestial Mountain Trail
- 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: LONDON - BISHKEKInternational flight from London to Bishkek. There are no direct flights from the UK and so you will likely route through another airport.
Day 2 2: BISHKEK - BARSKOON - No ridingFAMILY GUESTHOUSEYou 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 ridingCAMPSet 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 Saray-Bulak valley close to the river.
Day 4 4: KICHY-JARGYLCHAK VALLEY - KOK BELL - 6 hours ridingCAMPContinue 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 ridingCAMPFord 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: DUNGURUME MOUNTAINS - 4-5 hours ridingCAMPSet off riding towards the Celestial mountains and gradually ascend alongside the torrential river. As you gain altitude you will see the Dungurume mountains with their glaciers which give the river its milky white colour. You may meet nomads here with their herds of horses.
Camp alongside the Dungurume river.
Day 7 7: ARABEL PLATEAU - 5 hours ridingCAMPFollow 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 ridingCAMPRide 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: PATYR BASHYK - 5 hours ridingCAMPToday you ride over a second high pass - Ak Bel at 3,833m you cross on a path through snowy high mountains. You should see more sheep and moungain goats before descending to Lake Patyr Bashyk where you camp at 3,600m.
Day 10 10: YSHTYK CANYON - KARA-KERUU - 5 hours ridingCAMPTodays ride takes you through Yshtyk canyon which is at times so narrow that you can touch both sides at the same time! The scenery is spectacular and you will cross the river many times.
This evening you join the shepherds in Kara-Keruu valley, where they await your arrival with traditional tea.
Day 11 11: JETIM BEL - 5 hours ridingCAMPCross the Kara-Sai river and enter the valleys of Kyzyl-Eshme and Kok-Bulak. Here there are many opportunities for long canters across the wide open spaces...
Camp near the pass at Jetim Bel.
Day 12 12: KUMTOR VALLEY - 5 hours ridingCAMPContinue riding through the vast valley of Kysyl-Eshme and into the Kumtor valley where the landscape invites you to canter and perhaps, gallop. Cross the high pass at Ak Bel again and re-enter the valley of Taragai to camp.
Day 13 13: BARSKOON - 4 hours ridingFAMILY GUESTHOUSEYour final riding day and you cross the Taragai river and enjoy one final magnificent view of the Tien Shan mountains. 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 ridingYou 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: BISHKEK - LONDONYou 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
- The group is comprised of between 2 and 6 riders, plus guides
- Prices are based on a group size of 4 or more riders. There is a small group supplement of c. £125 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. £15
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.
1 kyrguiz expedition leader
1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle per rider
Double room in hotel standard 2*
Yurt or double room in private home
visit of hot springs site
Price doesn't include
Free dinner on day 14
Tips to local team
Extra night in Bishkek (please contact us for rates)
July - August 2020
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 05/07/2020 19/07/2020 £1,550 Open Book now 12/07/2020 26/07/2020 £1,550 Open Book now 19/07/2020 02/08/2020 £1,550 Guaranteed departure Book now 26/07/2020 09/08/2020 £1,550 Open Book now 02/08/2020 16/08/2020 £1,550 Open Book now 09/08/2020 23/08/2020 £1,550 Open Book now 16/08/2020 30/08/2020 £1,550 Guaranteed departure Book now
Minimum riding ability
Minimum riding ability
Tacking ability and participation
Trip conditions and Requested experience
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.
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.
In Barskoon you will share a room or yurt.
In Bishkek you stay in double or triple rooms with private bathrooms.
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.
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
- 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
- Thermals (long or short sleeved)
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun and are an extra layer
- 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
- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
Addresses of consulates
- Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in the UK
Ascot House, 119 Crawford Street
W1U 6BJ London
Tél. : (020) 7935 1462
- British Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
21 Erkindik Boulevard
Tél. : +996 (312) 303637
- Ambassade de France au Kirghizstan
32, rue Orozbékova apt. 2
Tél. : +(996) 312 97 97 14
- AMBASSADE DU KIRGHIZSTAN
47, Rue de l'Abbaye / Abdjistraat
Tél. : 00322 640 18 68
Fax : 00322 640 01 31
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.
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.
Budget and money
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.
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
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.