Issyk-Kul lake


5 days




1200 km

total distance
длина велочасти

160 km

cycling distance

Route description

Our route runs from Karkara village, the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, to Tyup village and then along the southern shore of Issyk-Kul lake to Balykchi city, the centre of Issyk-Kul region. The cycling route starts from two burial mounds, which, according to the legend were made by Timur’s troops. He asked each warrior to leave a stone in a pile on the way to the battle to the East and to take a stone from the first mound and put it to the side on the way back. This is how the two large mounds appeared.

Issyk-Kul is the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan. It is one of the 25 largest lakes in the world and ranks sixth in the list of the deepest lakes. It is located on the north eastern part of the republic, between the ridges of of the northern Tien-Shan: Kungoy Ala-Too and Terskey Ala-Too at an elevation of 1,609 metres above the sea. The lake is drainless, with up to 80 relatively small feeders flowing into it. The largest are the Tyup and Jergalan, which flow from the East. The water level in Issyk-Kul changes cyclically (it rises and falls); the cycle lasts for several decades. The water is brackish (water mineralisation is 5.90%). Water volume is 1,738 km3, the surface area is 6,236 km2, the length of the shore line is 688 km, the average depth is 278 m, the maximum depth is 702 m, almost 2.5 times more. The west-to-east length of Issyk-Kul is 182 km, and from south to north — 58 km.

Why the southern coast? It is less loaded with car traffic and tourist infrastructure, which is more attractive for cycling. It has crystal clear water, stunning views, many interesting places, beautiful gorges and hot springs right in the mountains that we will visit.


Day one
Almaty — Karkara border — burial mound of Tamerlan — Karakol — Issyk-Kul shore

Cycling: up to 60 km
Terrain: small mountain crossing, flatland, minimum altitude difference

23:00 — 23:30 — Loading
23:30 — 06:30 — Travel by car to the Karkara border
06:30 — 08:00 — Rest after the trip
08:00 — 08:30 — Crossing the state border
08:30 — 09:30 — Travel by car to the start point.
09:30 — 11:00 — Breakfast near the burial mound of Tamerlane (historical site — the burial mound was made of stones by Tamerlane troops, each of his men put a stone into a mound, and after the battle each survivor took a stone from the mound and put them into another pile). Preparation for the cycling route
11:00 — 14:00 — Cycling route to Karakol city
14:00 — 15:30 — Lunch in a cafe in Karakol
15:00 — 17:00 — Travel by car to the beach by Issyk-Kul lake
17:00 — 20:00 — Installation of the field camp, leisure activities.
20:00 — Dinner

Day two
Juukuchak hot spring, sulphuretted

Cycling: up to 40 km
Terrain: descent through the Juuku gorge, along the lake and along the road, minimum altitude difference

07:00 — 08:00 — Wakeup, breakfast
08:00 — 09:00 — Decamp. Travel by car.
09:00 — 10:30 — Travel by car, driving along Juuku gorge to a hot spring of the same name.
10:30 — 11:30 — Bathing in a hot spring, preparation for the cycling route.
11:30 — 15:00 — Cycling route along the southern shore of Issyk-Kul
15:00 — 16:00 — Lunch in a roadside cafe.
16:00 — 17:00 — Travel by car to the Barskoon gorge for the second overnight stop.
17:00 — 20:00 — Installation of the field camp, leisure activities. You can stay in a yurt if you like.
20:00 — Dinner

Day three
Barskoon gorge

Cycling: up to 40 km
Terrain: descent along the Barskoon gorge

07:00 — 08:00 — Wakeup, breakfast
08:00 — 11:00 — Trekking to waterfalls Tears of Snow Leopard and the Cup of Manas
11:00 — 12:00 — Decamp
12:00 — 13:00 — Lunch served by the yurt landlady
13:00 — 15:00 — Travel by car to the upper point of the Barskoon pass (3,900 metres above the seas)
15:00 — 17:00 — Downhill from the Barskoon gorge to Issyk-Kul lake.
17:00 — 18:00 — Travel by car to the overnight stop on the sandy shores of Issyk-Kul
18:00 — 20:00 — Installation of the field camp, leisure activities.
20:00 — Dinner

Day four
The Fairy Tale canyon

Cycling: up to 15 km
Terrain: smooth ascending to the Fairy Tale gorge and back to the camp

08:00 — 09:00 — Wakeup, breakfast,
09:00 — 12:00 — Cycling route to the Fairy Tale canyon (or, if you like, we can go there at the setting of the sun to take more beautiful pictures.
12:00 — 14:00 — Lunch in a camp
14:00 — 20:00 — Leisure activities: you can swim and bask in the sun. Overnight stop on the beach
20:00 — Dinner

Day five
Issyk-Kul — Almaty

Cycling: 0 km

07:00 — 08:00 — Wakeup, breakfast
08:00 — 10:00 — Leisure activities, swimming in the lake, decamp
10:00 — 13:00 — Travel by car to the border
13:00 — 14:00 — Crossing the border
14:00 — 17:00 — Driving to a cafe
17:00 — 18:00 — Lunch in a cafe
18:00 — 20:00 — Travel by cars to Almaty


  • Lead car

    2 730 €
    Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibus (4 WD) with six seats in the passenger compartment, equipped with THULE bike racks
  • Additional car

    1 830 €
    Mitsubishi Delica minibus (4 WD) with seven seats in the passenger compartment, equipped with THULE bike racks


  • Transportation of participants and bicycles to the start of the cycling route and back to the city
  • Full car support along the route
  • Bicycle mechanic with an extended set of tools
  • Cycling guide accompanying the participants along the cycling part of the route
  • Cook’s services and meals along the route (except for cafes)
  • Environmental fees at the entrance to the national parks
  • General tourist equipment: tables, chairs, dishes, tent, canteen tent, washbasin, gas burners
  • Two-person tents (double occupancy), sleeping pads (to be placed in tents)
  • Accommodation in guest houses and recreation camps that are included in some routes
  • Meals in cafes during scheduled stops
  • Services not provided along the route, such as horseback riding, which is available at certain stops along the routes
  • Bike rent in case you do not have your own bike

You can rent a bike with us. You can also travel along the entire route in a minibus. It’s a bit more boring than on a bike, but you will see all the same places and landmarks.

Bike rental price:

  • Hardtail

    120 €
  • Full suspension

    180 €
  • Bicycle
  • Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad
  • Helmet, cycling gloves and other safety equipment if you like
  • Individual medical kit (if you have any diseases)
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle
  • Cycling backpack
  • Windbreaker, raincoat
  • Clothes according to the weather for the active part of the route and for evening hours in the camp
  • Proper shoes for the active part of the route and another pair of shoes for the camp
  • Passport or other ID (you should always have one at hand, as many routes run across border areas, and there may be random checks)
  • Simple carbohydrates to consume while cycling