Mountain Biking Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Day 1 Arrive in Almaty

We'll pick you up from the airport and transfer you to our centrally located hotel in Almaty. Once the capital of this vast country, it remains the nation's largest city, with a population of 1.5 million. In the late afternoon, we'll meet up to assemble the bikes and gather for a welcome dinner.

Kazzhol Hotel
Dinner
Ride 4km
+370m

Day 2 Turgen and Assy Rivers

We have a three-hour drive to the Turgen River Gorge and the start of our ride. We cycle on a rough jeep track that follows the Turgen River to the end of the valley. Here we start to climb to the top of Assy Pass (2,650 m). The sky is big, the grass is a vibrant green, and the panorama is endless. We also have views here of snow-capped peaks in the distance. We descend for 30 km, following the Assy River down to our campsite nestled in amongst pine trees.

Tented Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 49km
+765m
-1103m

Day 3 Sary Bulak River

We have a long day ahead of us as we have another pass to conquer today. We have a short but tough climb to reach the lofty summit of Zhambas Pass at 3,150 m. Once we've reached the top, the riding is undulating as we cross the Ashyk Dala Plateau where we'll likely not see another person unless they are on horseback. It's a long and exhilarating descent for 23 km along the Zheniska River to reach our camp beside the Sary Bulak River (1,600 m). All the riding is off-road.

Tented Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 26km
+1123m
-201m

Day 4 Chilik River

Today starts with a climb up, but the switchbacks make the gradient easy. We traverse across the Kungey Alatau Mountains and ride through grasslands and fields of wildflowers, including edelweiss. A tough and rocky road leads us through a steep hillside that will test even the strongest of cyclists. We gradually make our way down to the Chilik River where we share our camp with horses and cows grazing nearby.

Tented Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 71km
+1288m
-1954m

Day 5 Kegen River

Today, we hit some tarmac as we follow the asphalt road from Saty village for 28 km to Zhalanash village (1,700 m). We ride through quaint villages with white and blue picket fences and have time to pop into a local store where abacuses are still used. The riding will be mostly flat today with a few undulations, and though we are on roads, they will be in poor condition, and we will see very little traffic. We camp near to the Kegen River.

Tented Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 75km
+1057m
-592m

Day 6 Base Camp Karkara

We enter Kyrgyzstan riding through rolling grasslands on a good road to reach the beautiful Karkara Valley. This section was once part of the Silk Road, traversed by Kazakh, Kirgyz, and Chinese traders. We spend the next three nights at Base Camp Karkara (2,200 m) staying in "walk-in" tents and having use of hot showers, a traditional sauna, and the bar!

Base Camp Karkara
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 44km
+101m
-1270m

Day 7 Base Camp Karkara Heli-biking

Base Camp Karkara is literally the jumping off point for expeditions to summit Pobedy Peak (7,439 m) and Khan Tengri (7,010 m). We'll be using the same helicopters the climbers use for our next two days of heli-biking! With our bikes on-board, we fly up to 3,500 m and then make an unforgettable 1,300 m descent on grasslands, switchback trails, and forest dirt roads back to our base at Karkara. We may be able to stop on the way to meet the nomads who brought their flocks up to this fertile valley. Stopping inside a yurt, we'll see how they live and have a taste of their local tea. The route back to camp takes us along a roaring river fed by the mountains above.

Base Camp Karkara
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 39km
+1488m
-317m

Day 8 Base Camp Karkara Heli-biking

We take the easy way up again, via our helicopter! We are dropped off on a high plateau with stunning views of the peaks of the Tien Shan mountains surrounding us. Again, the riding is pure adrenalin as we downhill it to base camp. Stop with a chance to chat with horsemen and try a hand at milking a horse! Afternoon is free to sweat it out at the traditional sauna at base camp.

Base Camp Karkara
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 29km
+494m
-479m

Day 9 Kokzhar River

We say good bye to base camp and head up and over and down into the Koshkar Valley. For the first section, we'll be backtracking part of our descent of the last two days, then we turn left where the climbing begins in earnest before we descend into a wide valley formed by the glacier-fed Kokzhar River. We have numerous river crossings today, so don't be afraid to get your feet wet. Our camp today is at 3,000 m, the highest of the trip.

Tented Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 53km
+1163m
-326m

Day 10 Saary Zhaz River

Another day cycling off road through grasslands with snow-capped peak as your backdrop – it doesn't get much better than this! We follow the Kokzhar River to a junction of three valleys, then take the right-hand valley to the Mingtur Pass (3,900 m). The views back across to the spectacular Tien Shan and the black pyramid of Khan Tengri will be worth trying capture on camera. A long descent takes us down to Kyrgyzstan and the Saary Zhaz River where we'll camp.

Tented Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 29km
+739m
-772m

Day 11 Chon Ashu Pass

We follow the Sary Zhaz River on an undulating road until we see the switchbacks of our climb up to the top of Chon Ashu Pass (3,820 m). Our legs are strong now, so we'll have no problem with this climb. Once we reach the top, we take a well-earned break to admire the view before we have a long and fast descent. We freewheel down to our riverside camp in the upper part of the valley that feeds Lake Issyk Kul, the second largest mountain lake in the world. Camp near Ak Bulak village on the river cost.

Tented Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 104km
+1557m
-2606m

Day 12 Back to Almaty

Our route today on dirt roads will take us back to Kazakhstan. We ride through quiet villages and past grazing sheep and horses, perhaps seeing a yurt or two in the distance. There will be climbs up and over many hills, but soon we'll come to Kyrghyzstan\Kazakhstan border check point which we crossed on Day 6. Here our cycling ends. We’ll cross the border, pack our bikes, and take a bus for six hours to Almaty. We stop for lunch at Charyn Canyon. This stunning gorge has the look of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We have our farewell dinner in Almaty.

Kazzhol Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 58km
+965m
-706m

Day 13 Departure

After a last look around Almaty, it’s time to box up bikes before we transfer the group to the airport for the flight home. There will be one group transfer.

Breakfast